Today I have an interview with one Emily Devenport, of the wonderful authors who have a book listed on the Awesome Indies site. Pop on over and take a look at my post on her site Have the courage to write what you want.
Emily Devenport has been published under three pen names in the U.S., the U.K., Italy, and Israel. Her novels are Shade, Larissa, Scorpianne, EggHeads, The Kronos Condition, GodHeads, Broken Time (which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award), Belarus, Enemies, and (exclusively in ebook) The Night Shifters, Spirits Of Glory, and Pale Lady.
Tell me about your book. What is it about?
A very scary thing happens to the colonists on the world of Jigsaw: one morning the people in the North wake up and the people in the South are gone. The cities where they lived stand silent and empty, and the highway that led to them has been shattered, as if someone picked it up and cracked it like a whip. Everyone is pretty sure the gods of the South are responsible for what happened, but they’re afraid to ask why. The only person with the courage to pursue answers is a young woman named Hawkeye, a research librarian who specialises in the Disappearance. One day a group of Neighbors, almost-human aliens who also live on Jigsaw, show up on Hawkeye’s doorstop to recruit her for a journey into the South, right into the heart of the Disappearance. She agrees, even though she’s going into more danger than she can imagine.
One of the things I like about Indie books is that they tend to be a bit different. Is yours different, and if so, how?
Until I read some of the reviews, I wouldn’t have been able to tell you what was different about Spirits Of Glory – I was surprised when reviewers mentioned that they thought it was interesting my main character Hawkeye wasn’t a great beauty, and that she was disabled. Spirits was inspired by a series of compelling dreams, so the writing process was a little different from my other books. I sort of felt my way through the narrative instinctively, it wasn’t as nutsy-boltsy, so I didn’t spend any time at all wondering what Hawkeye should look like and whether or not she should have a disability. She already was who she was from the beginning.
When I look a little more deeply, I’m fascinated by Hawkeye’s contradictions. She has a pretty face, but she walks like an old woman. She could have paid to get her hips and knees replaced, but she bought a house instead, isolating herself. She’s compelled to pursue answers about the Disappearance, but it scares her. She wants to love without reservation, but she’s afraid to get hurt. What I admire about her the most are her integrity and her courage.
How long have you been writing?
I tried to start writing when I was twelve, but I couldn’t come up with much. I had plenty of inspiration, but no framework to hang it on, so I never got past a few pages. For the next ten years, I kept throwing myself at the problem, getting my butt kicked, and giving up. But in my early twenties, the compulsion came back twice as strong, and this time I stuck with it. By the time I was 27, I had sold my first short story. When I was 30, I sold my first novel (Shade).
Why do you write?
Writing is an obsessive-compulsive condition, not that different from compulsive hand-washing or repeatedly checking to make sure you turned the stove off. You could think of it as having obsessive thoughts. The difference is, you write them down and deliberately craft them into a story.
For years, I entertained myself by telling myself stories – until the compulsion to write them down finally got the better of me. But writing doesn’t consume my whole world anymore. I can channel my passion into other things too, and that’s kind of a relief. Hiking and studying geology are a lot less frustrating than writing.
Does your personal philosophy show through your work? In what way?
I don’t think about my personal philosophy when I’m writing, but maybe I don’t have to. My philosophy is probably going to be revealed in the attitudes of my main characters, or at least in the way they behave.
How do you see the role of Indie publishing today and in the future?
I don’t think it’s even a matter of choice anymore. Unless something drastic happens to make print books affordable, the economy will continue to drive people to ebooks. Once a writer truly explores the possibilities of e-publishing, it becomes more apparent that publishers are an unnecessary middle-man.
But that’s not the only reason writers are being driven to Indy publishing. Publishers are doormen, and they let very few writers in. If you’re driven to write, you don’t want to get the door slammed in your face. So of course you’re going to try Indy publishing.
Why did you decide to take the Indie route for this book?
My agent managed to get a couple of nibbles on it, but they came to nothing. Unfortunately, there is a list (I have my own name for it, but it’s not for mixed company) that editors use to see if a writer’s past sales justify publishing another title by that author. If you’re on that list, you’re just not going to get published. I’m on that list. So I have nothing to lose by self-publishing and everything to gain.
What does it mean to you to be listed on the Awesome Indies site?
It’s wonderful to get some recognition, and to be recommended to readers. Getting reviews and endorsements can be like pulling teeth. Sometimes you just want to run off to Tahiti and forget it (alas for the lack of funds to do that sort of thing).
What have you found the most difficult aspect of Indie publishing?
It’s frustrating to be lost among thousands of other writers. Sometimes I feel like a voice in the wilderness. The lack of respect is also annoying, but to be honest, most writers don’t get much more respect when they’re published conventionally. It’s one of the unhappy aspects of being a writer.
What have you found the most rewarding aspect?
It’s gratifying to be able to write what I want without having to justify it to a publisher who thinks I should only write books that are pretty much like what I’ve already written.
What advice would you give to anyone starting out who is considering self-publishing or setting up their own Indie publishing company?
Hire an editor – not a friend or your mom, a professional you pay to edit your manuscript like a New York editor would. It should cost you at least $200. Listen to that editor, even if you don’t make 100% of the suggested changes. Hire a professional to do your cover, too.
Thank you, Emily.