My featured author today is Walter Spence, author of the five-star rated novel, House of Shadows.
Thanks for joining us today, Walter. Tell us, what inspired you to write this book?
Like many authors, I wanted to tell the kind of stories far too few were telling. Someone once said writing is simple, you just lean over the typewriter and bleed onto the page. Prior to House of Shadows, I had done just that. So after finishing my previous manuscript (a fantasy novel titled The Caballa), and setting it to the side for later when I had questions as to its quality, I decided to write something just for me, in the hope that others would find as much pleasure in the tale’s telling as me. My beta readers claim I succeeded in this. Time will tell whether or not the reading public agrees with them.
What’s your favorite part of the writing process?
Finding out, along with the theoretical reader, what comes next. While I typically have a skeletal structure in mind at the beginning of a given work, I do not force myself to adhere to it in case the muse takes me by the hand (or grabs me by the collar) and leads me off in a different direction. Anticipating the reader’s expectation of an oncoming cliche, I take great pleasure in making a hard right, whipping him or her about, and completely disrupting any and all preconceived notions about what is coming next. ::insert evil grin here::
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
I got to one point where I literally did not know what was happening next. You go to the well, and the well is dry. The best part of my work comes from a place deep inside, a ‘knowing’ what is coming next, and (speaking only for myself) the story suffers if this is forced. So I had to wait, completely ignorant, while my subconscious mulled things over. Then one day I just started writing and there it was, the next part of the tale. Not a terribly serious moment, all things considered, but still . . .
Do you have a favorite line or scene from your latest release?
There are any number of favorites, particularly lines, metaphors and similes which appeal to the poet inside me. But if I had to pick one particular line, it would be part of Barb’s email to my first person narrator, Eugene, after he has contacted his sister to let her know he is still alive, and she replies: “I must admit, however, you do sound a bit like him, as though you’ve spent the last hour French kissing a thesaurus.”
Do you belong to a critique group? Have they helped improve your writing?
I was once a member of an excellent critiquing group called the Unknown Writers Group, later renamed Schrodinger’s Petshop after some of the members began getting published. It would be difficult to overemphasize how much of a positive effect those years had on me. That was one of the great formative times of my life, and I long for a similar experience nowadays.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
No, and if I do have one regret, it was that I did not make use of Createspace’s option for a copy editor. Not that I make a poor one myself, I copyedited the rerelease of my collaboration with Holly Lisle, The Devil & Dan Cooley. But no matter how good one is, something always seems to get missed. Having a copy editor does not assure there will be no mistakes, but it does minimize them.
What are the future plans for you and this book?
House of Shadows is intended as the first of twelve novels, a series I have titled The Breed Wars. My intention is to create a prolonged story arc where each novel can stand alone, yet where there is a central mystery these tales revolve around. And I have plans for other novels connected to the same shared universe.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I decided not to go this route because this novel was intended as a personal pleasure/indulgence when it was first conceived, and I wanted to retain that. It may seem that taking the independent road shuts the door on traditional publishing, but if anything, I believe it creates greater possibilities for such if the author chooses to go that route. Novels that succeed as self-published works are more and more often being solicited by traditional publishers.
How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?
Because the book is new, and priced a bit higher than a number of other ebooks (particularly those from new authors), there have not been many reviews yet, but the few I have received have all been five stars. As for the readers who have contacted me, the typical response so far has been along the lines of, “OMG! Couldn’t put it down! Loved it! Stop reading this post, Walter, and finish book 2!” That’s a direct quote, by the way.
What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Vet your work. Nothing is more important than this. Readers are like anyone else, they are being shouted at on all sides by multiple forms of entertainment, all screaming for their attention. To stand out amidst the hubbub, you have to be more than good. Mark Coker of Smashwords has said that most ebooks sell in the 100-150 copy range. That’s total, period. If a new author wants to break out of that ghetto, he or she has to be producing outstanding work. In my opinion, one of the best ways to do this is to participate in the online writer’s workshop, critters.org. You critique the work of others, which helps one to see one’s own work in a much clearer light, and you earn credits for getting your own work critiqued. Mature writers develop thick skins, and well they should. While literature is subjective, much of the composition of it is not (good grammar, etc.), and it’s best to have the flaws in one’s work brought to one’s attention in private rather than hearing about them later in a very public setting from a reviewer.
From an early age Walter Spence channeled his fascination with life, the universe and everything into an obsession with the literary and dramatic arts. After years of splitting his attention between writing and acting, he realized a choice had to be made. After collaborating with fantasy author and Compton Crook Award winner Holly Lisle on The Devil & Dan Cooley (book two of the Devil’s Point trilogy) he began working on various projects, including a novel called The Caballa, which he describes as “The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as written by Stephen King.” During this time he was “sideswiped” by the idea for a multi-volume tale of humans and vampires joining in common cause against a mutual enemy, a series he titled The Breed Wars. This saga begins in his most recent novel, House of Shadows, and will be continued in book two of the series, The Secret Room. If you’d like to drop by and say hello, his newsgroup can be found at http://webnews.sff.net under: sff.people.walter-spence. And if you’d like to visit his web site, it can be found at http://sff.net/people/walter.spence.
To purchase HOUSE OF SHADOWS, or any of Walter’s other novels, visit Walter’s Amazon Author page.
The Sleeper has awakened, hear the call!