Ginger Nuts of Horror
Edward Lorn launched his illustrious career with the brazen theft of fire from the Gods. When questioned, he explained that he could not write in the darkness of his cave, and was tired of chewing uncooked sinew. Wrathful Gods descended upon Lorn’s cave like a swarm of rich men angry about a dent in the door of their new Beemers. As luck would have it, Lorn had just invented French cuisine, and the Gods left with bellies full of coq au vin and gateau a noix. They did not bother him again, except for recipes. Lorn perfected his chiseling-stone technique by working freelance for the Sumerians and Egyptians; he is credited with codifying the Egyptian hieroglyphs, and thus averting war due to misunderstandings. One day, after catching a rook with nothing more than a cold stare, Lorn discovered quill and ink. He celebrated by sharing the secret of gun powder – and fireworks – with the Chinese. By the multi-colored light of the first fireworks show, Lorn devised the horror genre. He wrote the first freaky-as-hell clown, and the world was never the same. In a recent interview, Lorn states that was when he realized it was time to create a printing press. Under Lorn’s constant tutelage, pulp fiction went mass market and he sold the rights to the press to Gutenberg. With this fortune, Lorn was patron to Jules Vern, Poe, and the people who came up with Netflix. Although Lorn taught Chuck Norris almost everything he knows, he left out one crucial move: how to make the sun rise every day. When not running the solar system and setting up show times for meteor showers, Lorn can be found writing horror and living under the glyph “E.””
Hi Edward, how are things with you?
I'm doing great, Jim. This whole "published author" thing has been quite an adventure. I never thought I would see the day where I could search for my name on Amazon and come back with results. Googling my name gives me a chuckle, as well. I don't mean to say I've been an overnight success—as success is a subjective word—but it does feel like such a short period has passed between no one knowing who Edward Lorn was and finding myself all kinds of places I never expected. In less than a year, I've self-published one novel and a collection of three short stories. Then, Red Adept Publishing picked up my second novel, and my life seemed to fast forward. I'm a lucky guy, and no one realizes that more than me.
Can you please give the readers a little bit of background information on your good self?
I'm a happy father of two wonderful children—a daughter, seven, and a son who just turned two months old. My wife and I have been together since 2001, and we're going just as strong as in the first year. My family suffers my writing. They tend to get pushed aside because I have to get the words out of my head, but they seem to understand. Though I could be imagining their patience. I guess I'll find out the truth if the divorce papers ever come calling.
Two months ago, I was able to pay the bills with my imagination. I think the tide turned at that point. No longer was I "Daddy who writes for fun." I became, "Daddy whose brain might actually be good for something other than bedtime stories."
How hard was it to balance your writing with family time? It’s a hard thing for people to understand. When I tell my partner that I have “work” to do, she sometimes doesn’t understand, especially when there is a mountain of dirty dishes to be washed.
For the most part, my wife understands. It's been a little more difficult lately, with a new baby in the house, but I'm trying to find a happy medium. I've never been a morning person, but I've started getting up earlier so I can get more done and call it quits earlier in the day. For the most part, that seems to be working, but I have found myself just writing more on certain occasions. I used to write anywhere from four to six hours a day. Lately, it's turned into eight, and one or two times, twelve hours. I just don't have that built-in off switch some people seem to possess. I need to learn how to end things. I wish daily life was more like a novel, with a dedicated beginning, middle, and end.
Did you treat yourself when the first writing pay packet came in?
I treated my family, in fact. We went out for sushi. I had an expensive cocktail, and everyone else ordered whatever they desired. The evening was quite wonderful. In my younger years, I couldn't understand why any man would want to settle down and have a family. I thought, "What's the point? You waste all that money, spend all that time, and all you get is older." Older quicker, too, so it seemed. But now, I can't see myself doing anything else. Money is nothing but a tool, something I use to make sure my family doesn't want for anything. My wife was with me when I had absolutely nothing to call my own. She stuck around, and for that, she deserves to be showered with anything she wants. With my kids, I stride that fine line between spoiling them and making sure they don't grow up to be brats. For instance, my daughter gets just about everything she wants, but she knows if the rules are broken, those things can disappear fast.
Why horror, what is it about the genre that holds your appeal?
The fact that you can go anywhere with horror is the greatest appeal. I'm not restricted to one type of story or theme. I can have a love story where everyone dies. I can do a comedy where the laughs are used to give the reader a break from the scarier elements. I can do a drama where the horror element acts as the glue that keeps a dysfunctional family together. As long as I give the monster—literal or figurative—enough page time, I can remain in my beloved genre.
Other than that, I love a reaction. There is, to me, no better reaction than fear. If I wasn't writing, I think I would like to design rollercoasters. Yeah, that sounds good.
And what is it about the genre that you dislike?
The stigma that comes along with it. Not all horror contains mindless violence. In fact, I try to stay away from that as much as possible with my work. There has to be a reason for the disembowelment, or you just end up with a lap full of guts that no one cares about.
Also, I'm tired of reading horror where the scary crap is the highlight of the work. The literary world runs rampant with these stories. They'll have cardboard cut-outs running around, trying to escape the big baddie, and the monster is the only interesting thing on the page. Books like that rely on the hope that you, as the reader, will just be scared because you're supposed to be. You should know why being chased by some creature is scary. If not, then what the hell is wrong with you? I told you the beast was terrifying; why aren't you scared?
I think authors who write horror with the sole intent of scaring the reader will fail every time. We don't need bigger, nastier, scarier monsters. We need characters we can care about. If you have that, just about anything you throw in your character's way will scare your reader. Horror needs heart. And not a bloody one, either.
If you could give any book to someone who doesn’t read horror, in an attempt to change their mind, what book would you choose, and why?
Probably the same book that started my journey into the darker side of fiction, Dolores Claiborne, by Stephen King. I know, I know, I played "The King Card." That's cheating, right? Well, for me, it was a defining moment. My mother was an avid King fan, a member of his book club, and a night maternity nurse. All these things added up to me being supplied with a constant stream of fantastic fiction that I normally wouldn't have gotten my hands on. My mother was also rather protective. She policed what I read and the movies I watched. I wasn't really sheltered, as I was allowed to read and watch such things, but I had to have my eyes closed for the nasty bits in movies, or the pages removed before I could continue reading certain books. Because Mom worked nights for a great deal of my childhood, I was left to my own devices in the evenings. My dad was around, but he didn't care what I did, as long as it didn't disturb him.
After a short time, I realized that the little brown boxes coming in the mail once a month contained books Mom would hide away in her room. So I started watching the post. My first successful heist rewarded me with Dolores Claiborne. I was nine years old, and truth be told, shouldn't have read the thing. But the story was compelling, and the characters were amazing. Before that book, I thought all horror involved some unstoppable masked man, hell-bent on destroying everyone who had made it to their teenage years. Either that, or the Universal Monsters—Dracula, Frankenstein's Monster, The Wolfman, The Mummy. I never knew a monster could be flesh and blood real. The concept of a human as a monster fascinated me. Dolores's husband was scarier than any vampire or werewolf. He was something you could find in real life, something you should be afraid of as a warning to not go around types like him. I would have readers who don't like horror read that book. Because even though it's terrifying, the novel is so much more. The book is horror done right, a literary gateway drug.
The horror genre in both fiction and on screen has gone through a hell of lot of ups and downs. What are your personal favourite periods of horror, and at what point did you think it hit an all time low?
No matter the decade, horror bounces back and forth. It seems that no matter what, schlock artists are allowed to peddle their wares. As far as horror cinema is concerned, budgetary concerns turn a lot of good ideas into shoddy films because they feel the need to settle, to compromise their vision just to make these films.
Personally, the highest and lowest point in horror came around the same time with the influx of torture porn. I loved the Saw franchise; all seven films hold a spot in my heart. Hostel and its eventual sequel—please ignore the third film, as I did—were tremendous films, filled with social commentary and terrible ideas that made people think. The success of these films also ushered in a whole new type of filmmaker, one that tried to go as brutal as possible just for the sake of shock value. Saw and Hostel, both had a message. Jigsaw never killed anyone. He sought rehabilitation for his victims. In the scariest way, he wanted to help them. In Hostel, Eli Roth asked a hard question: "Would you torture and kill for fun if you were allowed a safe venue to do so?" Not to mention the underlying theme at the time: everyone outside of the U.S. hates Americans. Torture porn that is made with the sole sake of shock value ran crazy in the direct-to-video market. It seemed like every week there was a new piece of DVD box art showing a single person, or a group of people, locked away in a dim room, or a male/female tied down to a table/chair. Those filmmakers were missing the point. Sure, there were people who watched Saw and Hostel just for the violence, but they ended up enjoying the movies because the stories meant something.
So what would you do if you had a “safe place” to do it?
You had to go and ask me that, huh? Well, Jim, I don't think I'd have the stomach for it. The only violent bone in my body is well hidden. I only show it when my family is threatened. I don't think I could ever hurt someone for pleasure, mainly because I wouldn't derive any pleasure from it. There are quite a few people in this world who deserve to be strung up by their tender bits—rapists, pedophiles, murderers—but I wouldn't want to be the one tugging the rope. Unless, of course, their victims were from my family.
Who would you say has been the biggest influence on you and your writing?
I think I'm a mixed bag of Richard Laymon and Stephen King. Richard Laymon showed us the side of humanity that no one wants to believe exists. I know other authors have covered the same themes, but Laymon had a minimalist approach. He simply showed you what was going on, scared or disgusted you, and moved along as if nothing ever happened. He made horror commonplace, just something you had to accept.
Stephen King gave horror that heart I was talking about earlier. The man's characters sing and dance to a tune of their own. What makes a character real are the faults present within him or her. Good guys are not always good, and bad guys are not always bad. People make crappy decisions all the time, and those acts cause pain and strife. Strip any supernatural element away from a King book, and you still have a story.
Richard Laymon, seems to polarise a lot of readers, there is a contingent out there that thinks all he writes about is women getting raped. That’s a really unfair assumption on his writing isn’t it?
You're absolutely right. Even though he wrote about rape on many occasions, the act was never the central theme. Most of his novels are about survival. Human versus human. Even his supernatural works center more on people than impossible monsters. The Cellar is a perfect example of that, as is The Traveling Vampire Show. Though there are creatures in both books, the people are far scarier. Human horror always trumps the supernatural. But monsters are so much damn fun to write about. You just can't ignore the pull of a good, old-fashioned creature feature.
Who do you write for, do you write for yourself, or do you write for a particular audience?
I write to retain some semblance of sanity, Jim. If I didn't write, I would be the wino on the corner talking to himself, the nut-job in the straightjacket yelling about the aliens who reside in the soup. My mind is a playground for a vast array of characters. They want to be let out, able to run around free, and my writing allows them to do that.
When my wife first moved in with me, she had trouble sleeping. The talking I did at night kept her awake. My conversations would get in depth. Each character had its own voice; some even had accents. They would go back and forth, and I would take mental notes on the dialogue. Luckily, wifey stayed with me, and now she can't sleep without my diatribes. They are like a warm cup of milk to her. She came to understand that my nightly sessions were needed. If I don't let my characters out every now and again, they get cabin fever. The last thing I need is to be standing in line at the bank, and one of them pops up with something to say. I believe financial institutions frown upon people who talk to themselves. Banks don't seem to like people who wear masks, either. Funny lot.
Talking to yourself is fun, but isn’t it scary when you start having a heated debate with yourself?
I actually enjoy it, Jim. I do a blog called “Ruminating On” found here: http://edwardlorn.wordpress.com/ where I normally argue multiple sides of a case. Normally. I think its success stems from the fact that I argue with myself constantly. I like to see both sides of any story or argument. For me to see only one viewpoint would prove disastrous. No good story is one-sided. Your bad guy just isn't as scary if you can't make the reader see why he does the evil he does. You may not agree with your villains’ politics, but you have to be sure of his ideals. If not, he'll fall flat. I despise people who molest children, but for my first novel, Bay's End, I had to dive into the actions of a disturbed man. That's just how he was, and I had to argue his case to make him believable. He saw nothing wrong with what he did. To him, we're the weirdoes.
Can you remember what first motivated you to start writing, and has your motivation changed over the years?
Writing was a stopgap measure. In kindergarten through second grade, I lied constantly. My stories got me in a lot of trouble. I told one class my brother died in his sleep, even though I didn't have a brother. I went on to concoct other tales. In one, my father had rescued me from a bear, killing the animal with his bare hands. That story was kind of funny, considering my dad wouldn't leave his recliner long enough to fix me lunch, much less wrestle a beast to its death. My first or second grade teacher—sorry, but I'm not sure which, all I remember is her name was Mrs. Kratz—offered my mother a venue for my elaborations. Mrs. Kratz said I needed to write that stuff down. Mom went out and bought me a typewriter, and the rest is history.
I think my motivations are still the same. Only now, I'm a useful liar.
And how would you describe your writing style?
I try—not that I always succeed—to say as little as possible when I write. I'm a fan of imagination, and I want my reader to do a little bit of the work. I don't want to bore anyone with in-depth details about items and people that are not important to the thread of a story. The reader doesn't need to know what kind of wood a desk is made of, only that the character is seated at one.
I'm also a fan of metaphors and similes. If I can describe diarrhea as sounding like a water-filled trombone, that might hang around in a reader’s mind longer than just telling the reader my character has a bad case of mud-butt.
Let’s talk a bit about the mechanics of your writing. How do you go about the writing process? Are you a plotter or do you go with the flow?
I go with the flow, most definitely. A simple thought spurs a short story, or a novel—never know which it will be—and I go from there. My characters dictate what will happen. With my first novel, Bay's End, I knew I wanted to write about a group of kids being harassed by a crazy cop. That book grew into much more than that. Had I plotted it out, Bay's End would have stunk. I guarantee that.
How much research do you do? And have you ever had any nasty letters saying your research is flawed?
Haven't really tackled a story yet where I needed to research a whole heck of a lot. I went back into the early nineties with Bay's End, so I did use Google to verify that my memory of that year was correct—movies and music, mostly. With Dastardly Bastard, I created a fictional tourist attraction called Waverly Chasm. That lent me the freedom to do what I wanted with the history of the site. With one of my new projects, I have to look into the juvenile justice system. I think I'm doing more research on this new book than anything I've ever done.
And no, no hate mail... yet.
Pen and paper, or computer for the first draft?
This has changed over the years with my financial situation. When I was broke, I wrote with scraps of paper and drawing pencils because they were just lying around. When I could finally afford a computer, I wondered how I ever suffered using those archaic devices of penmanship. My brain works too fast. Writing on paper is an act of frustration. I don't even carry a notebook when I'm out. If my ideas can’t wait, I type up them into my cell phone or my tablet.
Do you have any rituals that you go through when you write?
I have to have music playing. If not, the real world filters in, and I become distracted. If I can focus on the music, I get lost in the story. I know it seems odd, as if the music should bother me also, but it doesn't. Every book I've written so far has been to a certain artist. Bay's End was Tom Waits, and Dastardly Bastard was Adele. I would like to think you could put any song on from either artist while reading and it would act like a soundtrack for the appropriate book. Sorry, no Darkside of the Moon/Wizard of Oz type of connections, but the music should lend itself to the emotional aspect of the piece.
For the new one, I have Amy Winehouse on repeat. Shame about her.
Those seem rather odd choices for a writing a horror book. What does Adele bring to your creative process?
Passion and heart. Adele, with both of her albums, covers loss in astounding detail. I don't know who broke her heart, but I'd rather like to shake that man's hand. I know that sounds horrible, but you have to look at it this way: If she'd never been through all that heartache, we would have never heard those songs. Adele speaks to the broken, the left behind, the forgotten, and at the end of the day, that's all Dastardly Bastard is really about.
How do you edit, do you edit as you write, or do you edit after each draft is finished?
My editor would tell you I don't edit at all, and I would agree. Sure, I go over typos and glaring mistakes that would bite if they had teeth, but other than that, I truly rely on the talents of my editor, Lynn McNamee, formerly Lynn O'Dell. She just got married.
I'm not a lazy writer by any means, but I just can't see what's wrong with the work. I have author's blinders on. I only see what I intended to write, and not what I put down on the page. It's a handicap that I deal with on a daily basis. I know how lucky I am to have a coherent partner in crime, for lack of a better term. If it wasn't for that wonderful woman, people would have thrown Bay's End in the trash, or returned it to Amazon with a lovely little fiery complaint attached.
Your short story collection, Three After, has three stories that deal with revenge, justice, and retribution. Are these themes that feature strongly in your psyche?
They are all basic, sublevel ideals in the human mind. If you have some wrong done to you, you require recompense. It's in our nature. War is based on that fact. "Oh, you want to fly planes into our buildings? Well, we're going to hunt you down and put a couple bullets into your thinker for it." I believe in an eye for an eye. I'm not a turn-the-other-cheek type of guy. If someone were to harm any person in my family, they would have to pay. But I'm not a violent guy, if that makes any sense. I just believe the punishment should fit the crime. If you kill people to get your jollies, you deserved to be killed. If you feel you must rape and abuse women and children, you should have your genitals removed with a rusty butter knife. Coldblooded murder, to me, is an unforgivable sin, as are pedophilia and rape. You cannot justify them, and you cannot change them once they have occurred. I hear South Korea just instituted chemical castration. Good on them. I just wish it was more physical and less chemical.
Do you ever feel that taking the law into your hands is justified?
That's a tough one. Let's speak hypothetically for a moment. If someone harmed my daughter, I wouldn't wait for the police to act. I would take matters into my own hands. Damn the law. I don't have patience for such things. Not when it comes to those closest to me. Now, if someone were to steal from me? That would be a job for law enforcement. So I suppose it's all about the severity and type of crime.
Do you like me think the Michael Douglas film Falling Down is more of a self help and how to film?
Love that movie. I think the theme is brilliant. It's been done before, but that doesn't lessen the movie's effect on the viewer. I would say yes and no. The movie is quite educational. But self help? Not for me. Michael Douglas's character is beyond help, beyond all hope of living a normal life ever again. Plus, he dies at the end. It's bad when a twelve-step program leads you to the edge of a cliff and you no longer have anywhere else to go but over the side.
Just how far would you go to make things right?
For my family? To the end of the earth and beyond. This world is a maddening place, full of evil and darkness. I would love to help clean some of that up, but society won't loan me a vacuum.
Bays End, your first novel, continues with these themes. Do you use your writing as a way of therapy?
Bay's End was as cathartic for me as it was for its narrator. It focuses on some terrible happenings. Some of it revolved around local lore where I grew up. Only in reality, the perpetrators got off unharmed, went on to live normal lives. I wrote the story to offer some closure on those events. The book is a complete work of fiction, but any good fiction tells some form of truth. The truth of Bay's End was simple: If you do wrong, it will come back to haunt you.
Can you tell us this local lore, or will that be giving away too much of the novel’s story?
Oh, wow, I opened up a can of worms here. I hate not answering good questions, so here we go.
On the street where I grew up, there was a man who liked to mess with children. I didn't know the guy, had no interactions with him, but I was privy to all the stories. I won't go into great detail, but he was finally arrested and hauled away. This was well before sex offenders had to register for any list, so he wasn't required to stay a certain distance away from his victims. When he was let out, no one knew. The man would park his car at the end of the street and walk down the road as though he didn't have a care in the world. There was nothing anyone could do about it. He'd served his time and was free to go where he wanted. Some of his victims still lived on my street, and his presence disturbed them to no end. Finally, they moved away, and he stopped coming back.
Just thinking about that again gives me the willies.
The description for Bay’s End contains a disclaimer that the book has graphic language and adult situations. Why did you feel it was necessary to put this disclaimer in? Surely even the most simple of person could figure out that the book isn’t going to be an easy or pleasant read?
You think so? You'd be surprised. Jack Ketchum's The Girl Next Door needed a freakin' disclaimer, I can tell you that. Just look at Jack's reviews. People were pissed when they found out the subject matter. I don't want anyone reading my book under false pretences. They should go into it expecting the worse possible content. The book is a coming-of-age story, but the content is horrifying. If I were to rate it like a movie, I'd either give it a hard R, or a NC-17.
So what’s your favourite swear word?
If you read "Bay's End", you'd think it was the f-bomb, but that's not completely the case. Add "mother" to that word, then put "er" at the end. I like the way it rolls off the tongue. Bernie Mac did a terrific segment in "The Original Kings of Comedy" where he explains how many ways the word can be used. Now that motherf’er, was funny.
Coming of age stories are a staple of the horror genre. Why do you think this is?
It's a scary thing, growing up. Our bodies change, we're fighting hormones we can't control, and we're too young for anyone to take us seriously, but too old to ignore the bad parts of life. Coming of age is really nothing more than realizing we're all going to die. The bus eventually stops, and you have to move on to destinations unknown. The joy of being a child is the lack of worry. Life comes on like body odor. One minute, your world is as fresh as spring rain, then all of a sudden, it stinks. Most coming-of-age stories revolve around a group of friends. That's because friends are like deodorant. They stave off the funk and help you to not sweat the small stuff.
So what’s your view on swearing? I take it you don’t subscribe to the feeling that swearing is a symptom of a simple mind?
Foul language is only language. People get bent out of shape over words. I don't understand it. But I have toned my language down quite a bit since picking up the publishing contract. Gotta play nice with the other kids in the pool, and all that. No one wants a guest blogger, or interviewee, spouting off at the mouth, throwing expletives around as if he's being paid per curse.
This is another reason I put the disclaimer at the beginning of Bay's End. If you're offended by foul language, you shouldn't read the book. It staves off the bad reviews I'd get, like "I just couldn't get past all the language." I'm sure they will still come, but they might be fewer with the warning in the synopsis.
As far as simple-mindedness goes, people who believe that don't really bother me. I think it comes down to when you choose to use such language. If you're in a pub and everyone around you is cussing up a trip to Hell, then you have their permission to speak as they would. But if you're in church, and you feel the need to tell the preacher, "Fucking righteous goddamn sermon, asshole," you might just be simple-minded after all. Choose your battles, I say.
Your latest novel, Dastardly Bastard, has a… let’s say a rather colourful title. What’s the significance of the title? I can’t help but imagine Dick Dastardly as the big villain.
Think conniving, fatherless type. Tellin’ you any more would be giving away a branch of the story.
I'm a big fan of Dick Dastardly, but I'm sorry to say, he makes no appearance in the story. You know, copyright and all.
I’m intrigued by the description of “personified memories.” Can you tell us exactly what you mean by this?
Imagine your worst memory. Now, imagine you're reliving it, but it can hurt you, both mentally and physically. In Dastardly Bastard, I give memories substance, weight; they're tangible things. Reliving bad memories is hard enough, but what if they became reality again? Maybe you got away the first time. This time, you may not be so lucky.
Is this based on any real psychology or belief system?
Maybe my own belief system. If you focus too hard on the bad memories, they can dictate your life. Mentally, they can damage you for future relationships with people. They can give you preconceived notions about someone just because they resemble another person who has hurt you. I think we all know tarnished memories can lead to actions like cutting, or the big one, suicide. We just have to realize that all that crap is in the past. Sure, it was horrible to live through, but you managed to come out the other end, and you're still breathing. Hold on to that fact. Smile and move on.
So which of your memories would you hate to come back and haunt you?
Anything involving my father. He wasn't a physically abusive sort, but his words were like the lashings of a whip. My father was not an overly intelligent man. He could barely spell his own name. When he was five or so, he had some dirty swamp water settle in the bottoms of his ears. They got infected, and he lost all but ten percent of his hearing. School was a chore for him, and he dropped out after the fourth grade. Because of all this, people treated him as if he were mentally challenged. His own memories festered, leading him to believe that if he belittled everyone in his life before they had a chance to degrade him, he'd become the victor. I suffered countless verbal assaults where I was told I would never amount to crap, or I'd always be just as stupid as he was. If I sit here, today and relive anyone of those memories, I'm useless for a week afterward. No one has ever had that kind of effect on me, aside from him. He's been dead since November 2011, but he still haunts me. The success of my writing has helped with my self-esteem, but Dad is still there, lingering in the wings, waiting for me to drop my guard.
Hell, maybe I should write about him.
The stage is yours; sell the book to the readers.
Horror, for me, is about emotion. I want you to feel something by the end of my books. Dastardly Bastard is no different. Sure, it's a horror story, but the tale has a heart. The characters living in those pages are friends of mine. I've gotten to know them over the course of the past year, and they have plenty to say. Their story is worth reading. Give them a chance. I don't think you'll regret it.
When you compare Dastardly Bastard with your earlier work, how much do you think your writing has changed? And what do you think are the biggest lessons you have learned?
That's a tough one, Jim. The books are two completely different stories. And not just in content, but in delivery. Bay's End was a first-person narrative piece about a man seeking catharsis twenty years after the events of the book. Dastardly Bastard is a third-person narrative told from the viewpoints of six characters. I think the voices are much different, but that's not because I've grown. It's because I couldn't have told either story any other way. I guess I'll have to wait for my next book before I can fully answer that question.
That was a rather long way of saying, "I don't have the foggiest."
Going back to the start of the interview, you said you started out as a self-published author. There are a lot of strong feelings about self publishing; what are your views on it?
Self publishing gave me a venue to showcase a story I thought needed to be told. Bay's End is short, around 55,000 words, and there's not a traditional publisher out there that would have touched it. I would have had to add mounds of filler the book didn't require.
My own views are split. Gone are the gatekeepers, the content guardians that chose whether or not a book was good enough to be let out into the world. This is a double-edged sword. On one side, you can publish anything you want, no matter how bad it is. On the other, you can get your book out there without having to wait on a publisher to pick you up. There are just as many pluses as there are minuses. I think people should form their own conclusions and stop listening to all the detractors that would stomp on the hopes and dreams of writers. Haters will hate, or so it's said.
What do you think are the biggest mistakes self-published authors make?
#1. Covers! No one abides by that old adage, "Don't judge a book by its cover." It's important to have a smashing cover, something that will catch the eye.
#2. Get an editor! Everyone needs one. Indies need to get over themselves and let someone give them a sea of red. If nothing else, get a proofreader who isn't in your circle of friends or a family member.
#3. Do not, no matter what you see other indies doing, DO NOT respond to reviews you don't agree with. You will only come off as pompous and will not change someone's view of your book. If the reviewer trounces you, look for the positive. If there is none, ignore them. If they critique you, check and see if they're right. Just because they gave you a one star, doesn't mean it's a "bad review." It's just one person’s opinion. Let them have it. You said all you needed to say in the book. The work should speak for itself.
I would even say don't respond to the positive reviews either. The problem with the internet is you can't express inflection. If you just say, "Thanks! I appreciate it," you could, possibly, come off sounding sarcastic. No one knows what you meant other than you. Just be careful.
Who designed the covers for your self-published books?
LFD Designs did the cover for Three After. Dara England is a pleasure to work with, and seems to love helping out wherever she can.
Now, when Bay's End first came out, I had a completely different cover. That was done by an independent contractor that I no longer have contact with. The artist did a great job, but the rights to the art were rather obtuse. Since I couldn't reach this person to go over details, I decided to change the cover. Lynn McNamee pointed me over to Glendon Haddox at Streetlight Graphics. He'd just done a stellar job on Dastardly Bastard, so I figured why not. Boy, did he nail it! I love what he did. Glendon just seems to know what sells. After I added the new cover art, sales went up almost fifty percent. I have Glendon to thank for that. Here, I'll post links to the two cover artists I mentioned:
Streetlight Graphics: http://streetlightgraphics.com/
LFD Designs: http://mycoverart.wordpress.com/services/
If you hadn’t been picked up by Red Adept Publishing, would you have continued with the self-publishing route?
Of course. People were so gracious to me with Bay's End, I wouldn't have been able to stop.
Can you tell us about any future projects?
I can tell you I'm working on several things right now, but I have no idea what's next. You haven't heard the last from me. Knock on wood...
Edward, this has been a really fun and informative interview, thank you for stopping by Ginger Nut Towers. Do you have any final words for the readers?
Let's take a tour. I'll be your guide. Mind the chasm; the trail can be a bit rocky. And if you would, please keep all memories inside your head for your own safety and the safety of the other passengers.
Allow me to introduce the Dastardly Bastard. He's been ever so lonely.
YOU CAN PURCHASE ALL OF EDWARD'S BOOKS BY CLICKING THE LINKS BELOW
EDWARD AT AMAZON UK EDWARD AT AMAZON US