Almost a year ago I interviewed two great author’s about their experiences of writing and publishing, Kate Rigby and Alec John Belle. You can find the interviews here. I’ve been meaning to interview more author’s since then, and just have not had the chance to get around to it. Anyway, that’s all about to change! Joel Dennstedt is a very diverse indie author, and I have enjoyed all three of his novels. Here he chats to me about his indie journey so far, his books, his on-going travels, and his plans for the future.
1) You and your brother are currently travelling through South America. Could you tell us a bit about what made you decide to do this? And was there a conscious decision to write and blog about it as you went?
Everything was Steve’s idea. As of 2010, I was working for the same evil corporation as he, a criminal organization known as the largest bank in the United States. He couldn’t take it anymore and decided to retire. His wife could not take that, so they divorced. He said he was off to see the world. I had to ask him twice – he did not believe me the first time – if I could tag along. So, in April of 2012 we packed everything we owned into our backpacks and duffels and went off to see the world …. slowly. Four years later, we have made it to Peru. He began his blog a year before we left, and once we hit our first stop in Merida, Yucatan, MX he said: you should publish your novel Orange Cappuccino. So I did. Because he has really great ideas.
2) Your novels are all quite different. Could you tell us what inspired you to write each one? Where did each idea come from?
Orange Cappuccino is true. I wrote it as a novel for the style. It tells the story of my life with my second wife and our trials and tribulations in Alaska. I had to write that story to make way for other things. And yet, the first book I wrote was Hermit – A Novella. I wrote that during my breaks at work, and though the main character is a lot like me, the story was simply a fantasy to help me get through my days in the real world. I published Orange Cappuccino first, and Hermit only after a hundred hours of editing while ensconced in a hostel/brewery in the jungles of Honduras. Guanjo is my science fiction novel, a promise to myself when I was young. The idea came from two photographs I had collected along the way: one of a huge longhouse situated in the canopy of a rainforest; the other of a little native girl with her pet frog.
3) Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
I have never wanted or intended to be anything else. I considered myself an abject failure for 60 years of my life because I caved to the necessities of the real world.
4) What has been your journey so far as a writer? How would you describe the experiences you’ve had?
Mostly, I have felt rather lost. The writing is not fun. There has been little appreciation for my work. And yet, when I compare now to four years ago, that is not true at all. I have had a lot of fun. The appreciation has been immense. Now put those two feelings into one and shake them up every single day, and you know something of the rollercoaster ride that you and I are on. The experience of writing has called on every reserve of wisdom that I possess, and made me practice the path I follow with an intensity far beyond what I had known
before. The best things come unexpectedly. The worst come from my own expectations. The lesson: stop expecting and start accepting. And all I can say to that is when I do, things seem to progress perfectly.
5) What would you say are the best things about being an indie writer?
This is pretty easy. The creative control is great. The ability to immediately respond to any new idea, whether in the writing itself or in the marketing and sales keeps everything alive and fresh. The rebelliousness of it all. The interactions with other indie writers, their support and commiserations.
6) What would you say are the worst things about being an indie writer?
Only one thing that I know of: lack of exposure. The challenge to locate your audience, when mainstream authors seem to find their audience ready-made.
7) What are your personal top tips for indie survival?
Be prepared to do it all. Create, Write, Proofread, Edit, Produce, Promote, Market & Sell. If you don’t understand the essential elements of business, then enjoy the vanity of it all, but don’t expect success. And one personal tip for Indie Authors in general: if you don’t start learning to edit and correct your mistakes, you are going to fail. I read a lot of Indie works now, and I am nauseated by the typo’s, grammatical errors, misspellings, and simple format errors that permeate their books. It has given and will continue to give Indie Authors a bad reputation.
8) What are you working on at the moment?
I am supposed to be working on my literary novel: In the Church of the Blue-Eyed Prophets. Instead, I work most consistently on my blog, my collection of horror short stories, and my book reviews.
9) Who are your favourite authors?
My top 5 favorite authors are British: Barry Unsworth, Jean LeCarre, William Golding, Charles Dickens, and Graham Greene.
10) What are your dreams/hopes for the future in terms of your writing?
My biggest dream is to be accepted by the industry professionals and regarded as a writer of great literary merit. I know I ought to be seeking popular approval, but mostly I just want affirmation from those who know good writing.
11) Tell us about your writing routine/process
I guess that you’re assuming I have a routine. Not so much, really. I write what I want, when I want, at the pace I want. In this regard I pretty much go against all the advice of others. I do not write a certain number of words a day. I do not challenge myself to write so many pages. I do not even make myself write each day. It does not work for me. And even if it did, I would not do it. When I have experimented with such a program, what I wrote was trash, and I had to go back and rewrite every word. Sometimes I write a single paragraph in a day. Sometimes a page. Much more than that, and once again it turns to trash. I also ignore the trusted advice to just get the first draft out. Doesn’t work for me. I edit as I write. A lot. I cannot proceed until the writing is almost at the standard I maintain. And when I’m done, I go back and edit, edit, edit all over again. You see, writing does not come easily to me. And if I don’t take long breaks between, the writing suffers … a lot!
12) Tell us three interesting things about you
I am the son of a dwarf.
I believe that I am high-functioning autistic, enough not to be diagnosed.
I believe that animals can talk.