Monday, 29 August 2011

INTERVIEW: Alison Goodman

Becoming a published author is the dream of many but after that initial hit of success with your first book, many start to learn the tricks to surviving in the writing world. Here we chat to friend of the blog Alison Goodman now that she has a few more titles under her belt to discover how life has changed, what tips she’s picked up and what she’d recommend to anyone else starting out…

Falcata Times: How would you say that your perspective has changed about selling your own work with multiple novels under your belt?

Alison Goodman: With four books now under my belt, and with all the rapid changes that are occurring in the publishing industry with the rise of the e-book, I believe more than ever that an author needs to create a marketing strategy for their career that does not rely solely on the resources of their publishing house. There are a lot of opportunities opening up for writers who can ride the wave of change.

FT: How would you sell yourself as an author?

AG: I would say I am a maximum engagement author. I write in a way that takes my reader straight into the middle of the action. They will feel like they are fighting the sword battles, wearing soft silk against their skin, smelling vibrant spices, tasting rich broths, and holding the heat of earth energy in their hands. I write novels for people who want to live the story.

FT: How would you say that your experience of writing and publishing has changed your method of writing?

AG: It probably hasn’t changed my method – I plan, I research, I write - but just the sheer amount of words written has made the process a bit quicker than it was at the beginning of my career.

FT: With the experience that you've gained now, what do you wish you could have told yourself when you were starting out that you now know?

AG: Boring but essential stuff about tax and accounting.

FT: What characteristics of your protagonists do you wish that you had yourself and why?

AG: I wish I had Eona’s sword skills – I haven’t practiced in a long while, and mine are rusty – and I wish I had her ability to commune with the Mirror dragon.

FT: Which of your characters are most like you and why?

All of my characters have aspects of me in them, but none of them are really like me. I’m not an autobiographical writer, but of course I do use my own human experience to create the emotional complexity of my characters.

FT: What of life’s little addictions could you not live without and why?

AG: The internet – I spend a lot of time on-line when I am not writing – and strong black coffee, because I love the taste, and because I know that if I don’t get my daily five to six cups, I will be curled up in a little ball with a withdrawal migraine for days.

FT: With regular trips for book tours around the country as well as to various Conventions, what is an absolute travel essential that you couldn't do without?

AG: A few months ago I would have said my laptop, but now it is my iPad – I can use it to Skype my family, write, keep up with my email, read e-books and research on the hop, all in a device that fits in my handbag.

FT: How has multiple novels under your belt changed how you accept criticism?

AG: I am much better at distinguishing between well thought-out critiques and critiques that are sneakily based on genre prejudice or a political agenda.

FT: On long journey's, reading is often the pleasure of choice, who's work will you grab at the airport to ensure a good journey?

AG: I’ve flown a lot of long haul flights lately, and I have come to realise that I am usually so exhausted by the time I step on to the plane that the best thing to do is to buy a couple of high-end fashion magazines and flick through the pretty pictures, watch a couple of movies, hoover my way through all the meals, and sleep.

FT: Out of all your novels, which is your favourite and why?

AG: All of my novels are my favourite in their own way – Singing the Dogstar Blues because it was my first published novel, Killing the Rabbit because it was the most challenging to write, EON (aka The Two Pearls of Wisdom) because it was my breakthrough novel, and EONA (aka The Necklace of the Gods) because it took me on to the New York Times Bestseller List for the first time.

FT: With everyone having their own personal view as to who should be cast in a film version of their work, who do you think should play your principle protagonists and why?

AG: Eona needs to be played by quite a young actress who can be both vulnerable and tough, so maybe Katie Leung who played Cho in the Harry Potter movies.

FT: Authors are generally a superstitious lot and upon completion of novels follow a certain ritual, what is yours and how has it changed from the original?

AG: It’s probably not really a completion ritual, but once I have finished a novel, I like to have my next project up and running fairly quickly.

FT: What was your impression of an authors lifestyle and status and how has that interpretation changed since you've published a number of books?

AG: I never really had any stars in my eyes about an author’s lifestyle. I studied professional writing at university and in our first week of class we were told that only 5% of us would ever get their fiction published, and even less would make a living from it. So, I am just pleased to be in that tiny percentage who are earning their living by publishing professionally.

FT: What are the best words of wisdom or tip that you'd give to a new or soon to be published author?

AG: Writing is an art, a craft, and a business, so my best tip is to study your craft, develop your art, and learn as much as you can about the business side of things, even if you have an agent. Finally, join a professional organization that represents the interests of authors in order to keep up-to-date with the rapid changes in the publishing industry.

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