Tuesday, July 24, 2012

An interview With Jamie Sedgwick: Tinker's War Coming Sept 15th


Today I'm doing something different. Jamie Sedgwick is one of the first people to leave a comment on this blog and one of my first contacts in the indie community. When I heard he was coming out with a new book I knew I had to have him over for a visit.

1. Hi Jamie, it's wonderful to have you on my blog. I've chatted with you through blog comments so often over the last few years I feel as though I know you. Please tell those who might be meeting you for the first time a bit about yourself and your upcoming book, "Tinker's War.” 
Thanks for having me, Karen. Your blog is such a constant stream of information that I check it every day just to what’s news! You’re doing a great job. 
Tinker’s War is the sequel to my novel The Tinkerer’s Daughter, which is by far my best selling book. One reviewer described it as a: “…fabulous combination of YA, Elves, social issues and steampunk, I know go figure but it worked.” That about sums it up. My Tinkerer series is a fusion of high fantasy and steampunk, but clever readers will also find the influence of Japanese anime. 
I approached this series with the main character -a half-breed elven girl named Breeze- stuck in my head. I’ve always been fascinated by the social and cultural clashes over race, and I think this subject lends itself nicely to fantasy. That doesn’t mean it’s the overwhelming theme of the story, but it’s integral to the main character. Take this character and drop her into a frontier setting (like early 1800’s America), add an industrial revolution and a political coup, and you’ve got The Tinkerer’s Daughter. There’s a whole lot going on.

2. How long have you been a writer? What made you want to be a writer? 
2nd grade. I remember the day. I had an assignment to write a one-page story, and our teacher discussed the fact that some people did this for a career. I already loved to read but it hadn’t clicked yet that someone wrote those books. I started dreaming about being a writer that day and in a way, I still do. The reality of being a writer is that it can be real work, but it’s the best possible kind. 
3. I never know which term to use, independent author or self-published. In any case, are you indie and, if so, could you say a few words about why you made that choice? If you could do things over, would you do anything differently? 
I think those terms are two ways of saying the same thing, but I will admit that the self-published moniker brings a certain amount of baggage with it. I think Indie is a nice way to say self-published, but this term also implies that the author has done a lot of homework in the publishing process, whereas self-published draws up images of vanity publishers and people who will pay any price to see their work in print. I think the term Indie implies a certain degree of professionalism regarding editing, artwork, etc. In my case, it also means that I filed for a business license and started my own publishing company. 
I made this decision out of necessity. Sadly, I couldn’t get published, mostly because I couldn’t get a second glance from any of the literary agents out there. I still have several hundreds of rejections stored on my computer and in paper files; rejections for books that have gone on to sell thousands of copies. I may not be buying a new house and paying cash like some Indie authors out there, but I do feel a certain sense of validation from my experience. I’ve proven to myself that I can make a real business out of this, and my books that didn’t fit “in a competitive marketplace” might actually have some life in them. 
4. I noticed you've given your website, JamieSedgwick.com, a makeover. Very nice! Let me ask you, do you think every writer needs a web-presence of some sort, whether that be a website or a blog or simply a webpage with information about their books? 
Thank you! I’ve gone through a love/hate thing with my website over the last few years. I became convinced at one point that blogs would replace websites completely for writers, and I shut mine down. I assumed that readers would want personal contact with writers and nothing else would suffice. I was wrong. 
What I have learned is that the majority of readers do not go to your blog and they only glance at your website. Authors who sell thousand of books rarely have more than a couple hundred followers. Even authors who sell millions never seem to get more than a couple thousand followers. That’s a tiny fraction of their market. In fact, most of those fans seem to be other writers, rather than readers. 
However, readers do expect a website because they consider it a sign of professionalism. Anything less and some people assume you’re an amateur. So the website’s back, but I’ve made sure to keep it very simple and streamlined. Links and info… what more do you need? 
5. One person who has influenced me and my writing is Joss Whedon, Buffy was the first character I remember feeling was a take-no-prisoners kind of person who happened to be a girl. Who are your artistic influences? What authors or cultural figures have inspired you? 
Whedon is a genius, no doubt about it. I’m a huge Firefly fan and I remember seeing Buffy in the theater and kind of staring at it with my jaw hanging open. For me, it was pretty much the first urban fantasy. It was like the next generation of The Lost Boys and I knew then that it was going to be something huge. 
Literarily speaking, J.R.R. Tolkien was my first influence. I started reading fantasy very young and I found The Hobbit at age nine. I devoured it and reread it several times before moving on to LOTR. Of course, I branched out from there and I was probably influenced in some ways by most of the fantasy writers out there. Over time, I did find that movies started influencing my writing almost as much as literature. I love the rhythm of film, and the way the story moves through the acts and keeps our attention with all these little tricks. I keep trying to find a way to integrate some of that energy into my writing. I’m not sure if I’ve succeeded, only the readers can make that decision. 
6. The publishing industry has changed radically over the last few years, what advice would you give to a new writer? 
New is a relative term, I suppose. If you’re really, really new, don’t go Indie if you haven’t gotten some feedback on your work. If you’ve cranked out some work and you feel that you’re ready to face public scrutiny for better or worse, (and you have a thick skin) then go for it. Of course, it’s still not a bad idea to submit to agents and publishing houses. Your chances are one in a million, but who knows? You just might be that one. In that aspect, I’d say follow your heart. 
If you do choose Indie, this is my advice as of right now, but bear in mind this business is subject to overnight change: Write short! Some of the most successful writers out there are doing their books as a series of novellas. If you can capture an audience in thirty thousand words, then you can probably write a new book every month or two. Then you can combine those into a novel-length collection and sell that as well. E-book readers don’t seem nearly as concerned with word count anymore, they want regularity. They want a steady stream of new material. 
7. Here's a fun question -- or at least it's supposed to be! Someone asked me this in an interview and it was a lot of fun to think about. If you could live in one of your fictional worlds would you and, if so, which one would it be? 
That is a good question. My answer is Hank Mossberg, Private Ogre, without a doubt. The setting is San Francisco (which is located less than an hour’s drive from where I live now), but there’s a magical undercity in a cavern beneath the streets, and it’s home to all sorts of fantasy and fairy creatures. The series tries to capture the feel of a pulp/noir detective story and bring that into a contemporary urban fantasy. Elven gangs packing sub machine guns, goblins who are pixie-dust drug dealers, and a stony-faced ogre representing the law… seriously, how cool is that? I have a feeling I’ll be writing that series for a while. 
8. When is your new book, Tinker's War, coming out and where can folks buy it? Also, are you going to have print copies available for purchase as well as digital? If you are coming out with a print version would you mind saying a few words about which POD solution you chose and why? 
September 15 is the official release date for Tinker’s War. It should be available in paperback and Kindle at Amazon.com on that date. I’ve pulled my distribution from other vendors in order to partake in Amazon’s Select program. I’ll probably stick with them through this year, and then reevaluate the program’s value. 
All of my full-length novels are available in paperback as well as e-book, and I publish them through Createspace. There are pros and cons to every P.O.D. service out there, but I found Createspace to be very affordable. They also allow me a great deal of control. Technically, it’s possible to upload and publish a paperback for less than $10 if you do it all yourself. They have a nice website that allows a complete overview of the process, so that you have a fairly complete idea of what you’ll get before you ever even order a proof. 
I do have plans to put out some hardcover work in the future, and I’m afraid that as they are now, Createspace will not be able to fulfill that need. But for trade paperbacks they’re hard to beat. 
9. Coming up with questions is hard work! Is there anything you'd like to say before this interview is over? 
You did a fantastic job, these were some great questions. Thanks for having me here! I would also encourage your readers to visit my blog if they like my books, and to follow it. Those who follow the blog and/or sign up for the newsletter get opportunities for special giveaways regularly. I’m currently publishing three to four novels a year, and most of my promotion goes right there. You’ve got nothing to lose, so swing by and sign up! 
Readers can find my entire collection at Amazon right here!

Thanks for all your kind words Jamie! My cheeks are burning. And thanks for taking the time out of your busy schedule to do this interview. I love your blog! You have eclectic interests and an addictive writing style. I'm looking forward to reading Tinker's War. Best of luck with the release, not that you need it!

Related links:
- Jamie's blog: jamiesedgwick.blogspot.ca
- Jamie's books: www.jamiesedgwick.com/books.html
- Jamie's website: www.jamiesedgwick.com

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