My featured author today is Daniel Dinnie, from South Africa. He’s here to tell us about his novel, Through the Crimson Mirror.
What inspired you to write this book?
I didn’t have a great childhood, and when I look around, I see so many more children going through similar things. We see reports in the newspapers all the time about teenagers and drugs, alcohol, pregnancy, the list goes on… I have become more involved in the parenting field, and the reality is, what’s really going on in society today is frightening. The sad thing is most parents don’t realize or don’t want to realize what’s going on. Statistics don’t lie though. I don’t know about the drug and alcohol problems in countries other than South Africa, but it’s pretty high here. What inspires me is making a difference in the next generations lives.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Yes, definitely. I blatantly say what I feel needs to be said. There are no hidden themes etc. The main message is about family and family bonds etc. Communicate with your children openly and honestly, tell them you love them, hug and embrace them. Stop worrying so much about money, because deep down what most people really want is guidance, parents who are there for them, who trust and respect them. Often though, as human being, we only realize much of this when we are much older.
What is your writing process?
I don’t know if this is a process. I just write down whatever comes to mind, when it comes to mind. Then I transfer everything to computer and at some point sit down and flesh out my ideas. Then I started linking similar ideas, thus creating chapters. Then I needed to work on the flow. Eventually those little ideas became pages of writing. After that it was off to first editor and so on and so on.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
My book is about me, and all of my experiences while growing up. It’s not easy to open up about all the nasty stuff. So probably that.
Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Yes, I had two editors. I’m deeply saddened when I see other authors who don’t get their work checked by others. It brings down the industry as a whole. Even the most meticulous person doesn’t spot a few mistakes in their own work. After countless drafts back and forth with my editors, there were stills a few mistakes that I didn’t see. Editing and proof reading are an absolutely essential part of the writing process. After three edits from my one editor alone, he still wanted to do another edit, but by then I was finished and happy with everything and it was time to get it out into the big bad world.
What are the future plans for you and this book?
My plan is to talk to as many parents and “broken” people as I can. My book is controversial, so some people don’t get it. However, most people that have read it found some value. I’ve been selling print versions of my book locally for a few months now, and I’ve had a few moms and school counselors email me to come and chat to them. I also need to finish the second and third book in the series. I purposefully make my book a trilogy because parents are the target market and they don’t have the time to read a long book.
Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Sort of. I did a lot of research and contacted a few local publishers. Unfortunately, the sad reality is, local agents and publishers don’t really support local authors much here. I’ve started an organization for local authors and many of them found the same thing. They communicated with agents and publishers and for the most part the response was, “We don’t do local books.” One of my editors has been involved in the literary world for a long time and he told me that most South African authors who “make it,” are published outside of South Africa and have the book imported. It seems such a long way around. I am currently talking to someone about a publishing deal in India, but as you know, publishing can be a slow process…
What have you learned during your self-publishing journey?
I learned a lot. I could blab on about the writing process and the book industry (how publishers, agents, retailers work). I could also go on about book production (cover design, book formatting [I learned to use word like a pro], and printing). I’ve learned all those processes and I am very competent in all. What I really learned though was the value of a book. I learned how much work goes into a book. That’s why I hate seeing books being sold “for free.” It devalues the industry.
Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes, definitely. There is so much one has to do to get your name out there. Make your website and blog look good. Tweet, join this site and that one. Do interviews, host other authors and chat to people. So, I’m really struggling to find time to finish off the next two books. The second book is about 80% complete and the third is about 40% complete.
How have sales been? Where have you had the most success?
Local sales of print books have been good. I do talks at libraries and schools and sales are steadily increasing. I’m passionate about my message of changing the way parents parent their children, so I make a plan to get out there. There are bad days of course and some nasty people out there. As for the digital side, I’m only really starting my digital campaign now. So I don’t have much to write home about there, just yet.
How are readers/reviewers reacting to your book?
Mostly good. As with anything controversial, some people won’t understand. People who have realized that something is a little “off” in the world “get it.” I’m talking about people who work with children such as teachers, psychologists and other mental health care professionals. In addition, people who grew up in similar circumstances: lonely or distant families, families with alcoholic parents, families where the parents are always working or focus too much on the material part of life – I call these people, “broken people,” for lack of a better work. I’ve made it into many local newspaper and magazines, some of which are on my web site. My chapter on communication seems to get me many mails from “broken people.” So that’s cool.
THROUGH THE CRIMSON MIRROR