Today, on our featured author interviews, let’s welcome Edwin Stark.
Good morning, Edwin. Please tell us a little about yourself:
Hello, my name’s Edwin Stark, and I was born in Caracas, Venezuela. That’s South America for the few geographically-challenged ones out there. I suppose that somehow the stork had just stumbled out from a pub while it was delivering me, (it was confused to say the least) and mishandled my humble persona, leaving me stranded in this unlikely place. I live in the outskirts of a tropical rainforest, which means I have little else to do than write to keep my sanity. Given the current political situation of my home country, I verily doubt that I’ll find my way out from this place. Originally a native Spanish speaker, I attempted for many years to break ground in the local market with no success. It was so that I decided to set aims to a bigger market and I began to write in English, effectively dumping my first language in the process.
Tell us a little about your book.
Eco Station One is an absurdist comedy novel, set in the midst of a Venezuelan tropical rainforest. The title refers to the ecological research station that bears the name, and it’s run by an unscrupulous bunch of people who are only looking to fleece a big corporation. To succeed at this, they hire a regular shmoe that goes by the name of Eduardo Sinnombre to perform some very odd manipulations in their bookkeeping operations. Little do they know that Eduardo is more than meets the eye… and that he has plans of his own about Eco Station. There, he meets Harry The Gorilla, the deranged Dr. Farmington and a bizarre cast of characters.
What inspired you to write this book?
A few years back I was in a chat room on the Web and someone I recently met online asks me where I live. As I stated earlier, I live in a really backward place, nearing a rainforest. In fact, you only have to walk ten yards away from my backyard chain link fence, and you’d be walking in what should be considered virgin jungle. So I was honest and I said that I live in a rainforest jungle. I don’t think she ever took me seriously about it, since she asked me how many monkeys I had seen during the last few days. I jested, mentioning that the only ape I had observed this week was the gorilla breathing impatiently down my neck for his turn at the OC.
The mental image of a gorilla sitting at a desk (and surfing on the Web) never left my mind, and it was a really absurd notion which led to the creation of Eco Station One. After I had an exact idea of the setting where the story would unfold, it became routine for me to sit down every afternoon and see what silly stuff my characters were doing that day.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yep, there is. Even in a world as complex as ours, an individual counts; by his actions he or she can do really amazing stuff if he or she is sitting at the right place during the right moment. That and that we’re destroying our planet for silly bits of green paper. That is no replacement for the beautiful green that Nature has provided us for free.
How much of the book is realistic?
Well, readers have told me that reading Eco Station One is a bizarre, hallucinating experience. That it’s impossible that so many weird things may happen in such a catclysmic series of events, like a very long line of firecrackers.
However, I tried to infuse the novel that certain crazy texture you’d find in any piece of South American literature that comes from the “Magical Realism” genre (read: Gabriel Garcia Marques). You get the funny feeling that the sort of strange things that happen inside Eco Station may ( in spite of their implausible nature) actually happen in real life.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
You know, I’d love to hire an editor. But two things prevent me from it. The first one is my current location. Some of you may say that it shouldn’t be an issue; that with the Internet I could hire an editor anywhere… which brings me to the second thing: How I’m I supposed to pay for an editor services? My home country government has forbidden its subjects of handling of foreign currency, with some very severe laws and punishment for the transgressors. In few words: if you know any editor(s) out there willing to get paid in Venezuelan currency (which is only expensive and colorful toilet paper beyond the borders of my country), please send him/her my way… Got a job for them!
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Yep. Queries, mailing manuscripts, rejection slips… all that jazz. Most disheartening were those rejections that told me and I quote: “We loved your book but we have absolutely no clue on how to market it successfully. We wish you luck elsewhere.”
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yep, they’re for sale on Smashwords… and consequently on all the slew of distributors that company represents: Sony, Apple, Barnes and Noble, et cetera.
What are you doing to market your book?
At this moment, absolutely nothing… save the occasional “I’ve-slashed-the-price” offer, which I’ll tweet with some conservative and low expectancies. I’ve found that the book has reached the saturation point where it only sells when others recommend it; someone says its good and/or reviews it and then I get a few sales. No amount of promotional work that may ever do on my own at this time will improve its stats.
How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?
Quite indifferently. I suspect that any potential customer simply reads the product description and then just walks away. Reviewers, on the other hand, generally give me good ink when the reviewer in question DOES HAVE a sense of humor. Only BELIEVING you have a good sense of humor isn’t enough to tackle “Eco Station One”; you really must posses a fairly developed one… or the book will simply fly over your head. By the way, Eco Station averages 4.8 stars in Amazon and a few other places.
Have you published anything else?
So far, I have written four books: AI Rebellion, a rather preachy cyberpunk thriller that still shows the struggle of switching languages as I abandoned Spanish as a mean of expression (and I only recommend people to read it if they’re on an archeological mood, as in if they’re interested in seeing my progress as a writer), the aforementioned Eco Station One, Cuentos (my short story anthology), and The Clayton Chronicles, a rather cookie-cut vampire tale.
Something very odd is happening in Eco Station One: although it’s doomed because a highway is bound to be built over it, the deranged ecological researcher in charge seems unworried about it. Enter Eduardo Sinnombre to complicate matters: appointed to perform his Arcane Accounting skills on the Station’s finances, he finds himself immersed into an insane plan to protect the place. Can he cope?