I would like to welcome indie author John Abramowitz who has kindly agreed to be interviewed and has generously offered a giveaway for Jera’s Jamboree readers.
Born and raised in Fort Worth, Texas, John is currently living in Austin. He works as a lawyer as well as an author.
John’s debut novel Weaver is a mixture of suspense, conspiracy, science fiction, romance and thriller. His short story The Antlerbury Tales is a humorous magical journey and his latest novel Atticus for the Undead is a legal thriller/fantasy/paranormal
Busy with his WIP, I pinned him to down to answer the following questions:
- Would you share with us John, how your writing journey began?
This is actually my second attempt at being a writer. My first one started way back in junior high. I was young, (even more) immature, and full of grand dreams about writing the next great fantasy series. Well, after a few years of trying, I put it away when I realized that my work … well … sucked.
I spent the next few years running role-playing games and making serial fiction, strictly as a hobby. I had no intention of doing anything with it, I was just having fun. And then I noticed that for several weeks in a row, the episode plots on one of my favorite shows were very similar to things I’d just done in the serial I was working on at the time. So I thought, “Huh, maybe I can play in the big leagues.”
As everyone knows, the economy is awful, so I figured I had nothing to lose.
- Joss Whedon has an influence on you. In what way has this affected your writing style?
The better question is, in what way hasn’t it?
I think that consuming a lot of Joss Whedon’s fiction is what gave me the tools I needed to make my writing good. As I said before, for a long time it wasn’t. I took creative writing classes, read books in which other writers talked about their craft, and all sorts of things like that, but I still wasn’t telling stories the way I wanted to tell them.
And then I found Buffy. The things Whedon did with his plot and character arcs just blew me away. He took his characters to places you didn’t think they were capable of going, and he did so believably. Whedon’s development wasn’t BOOM, this bad guy is now good. It was gradual, it was step-by-step, and Whedon made you understand why the characters were taking each step they took. For a brief period in the series, he had turned things on their head so successfully that he had me feeling more sympathy for Spike than Buffy. That was when I knew that this was how I wanted to tell stories.
There are other things, too. For instance, I learned genre-mixing from him (although he has said that it has hurt his career). I won’t say I got mood-mixing from Whedon, since that was something I already liked in my stories. I wanted fiction that could engage all my emotions. But he definitely taught me how to do it better.
- Are you a panster or a plotter?
Both, actually. I come up with the broad strokes of a novel (or a series) at the outset, and then write it chapter-by-chapter. After each chapter, I have my trusty team of beta readers review what I’ve written and give me detailed feedback on whether I’m hitting the desired emotional notes, whether the characters feel believable, and things like that. If they’re not, then the chapter gets re-written.
These re-writes sometimes mean that I come at the chapter from an entirely different direction than I’d thought, or completely change how I had planned to have parts of the plot unfold. (This has happened to me several times in the course of writing The Void, Book 2 of The Weaver Saga, which has made the writing experience very frustrating.)
So, my process is that I have a few Big Ideas that are inviolate, but how I get to those ideas often involves much pantsing. (Is that a word?)
- You obviously have a grand sense of humour. This must help during the frustration of the writing process. Do you have a particular incident that you could share with readers on how this helped you?
Oh, not really. I would say that humor helps me during the writing process in that, when I think of a hilarious situation to put my characters into, or a particularly snappy line of dialogue to put into one of their mouths, I’ll be more motivated to slog through the writing to get to that point.
- How do you market and promote your work?
Every way I can. I have a blog. I have a Facebook page. I have a Twitter account. I use Google Plus. I bought some ads on Goodreads. I go around the web begging kind and patient people like yourself to let me do guest blog posts or to interview me. Marketing for an indie is like making spaghetti — you throw things at the wall, and you see what sticks.
- What’s the best thing about being an indie writer?
Well, I like the creative control, and the sense of accomplishment that comes from knowing I did everything myself. The better royalties don’t hurt, either. But for the absolute best thing, I point you here.
- What’s the worst?
Trying to get your name out there. I have a new respect for people who do marketing for a living, it’s a hard job. As a totally unknown writer, it’s roughly like trying to get someone to hear you by shouting from the middle of a mosh pit during a concert. Having said that, I really love interacting with readers and potential readers, so, it has its up sides, too.
- Your first two books have similar covers with a symbol and black text. Atticus for the Undead departs from this. Was this a conscious choice or are you re-branding?
I’m not re-branding. The Atticus cover is different for the simple reason that I commissioned it from a different artist. I’ve just struck up a relationship with an entirely new artist, who’s doing the cover for The Void (coming soon!) and for a re-release of my debut novel, Weaver. The Weaver Saga is a very different animal from The Legal Fiction Series, and both are different from The Antlerbury Tales, so different covers are probably appropriate for that reason, as well. But mostly, it’s just a function of which artist has time to do a cover when I’m near the end of a book.
- What is your current WIP (work in progress)?
The Void, Book 2 of The Weaver Saga. You see the bald patches in my scalp? Those are from pulling my hair out in frustration over the writing process.
- What tips would you give for aspiring writers?
Well, I have several Cardinal Rules of Fantasy fiction (which can be found here, here, and here). But the most important one: love what you write. If you love your story, there’s a good chance your readers will too.
If you’re planning to go indie or self-publish, here are some other useful tips.
Get rid of your sense of pride/shame. Once you finish writing, you’re going to be writing to a lot of blogs to set up your blog tours or ask for reviews. Some of them will say no. Some of them won’t even answer. That’s normal. Don’t get discouraged.
Don’t be afraid to talk to random people on Facebook or Twitter and ask them if they’ll read or review your book. Offer them free copies in exchange — that way, it doesn’t feel like you’re doing a sales pitch to someone you’ve never met. That can turn people off.
Always be searching for articles or blog posts to leave comments on. Twitter is a good place to find those. I left a comment a few days ago on a blog post about whether our criminal justice laws would apply to the vampires from Buffy. I swear, I’ve gotten more blog hits from that lately than anywhere else.
And no matter whether you’re going the traditional or indie route, I can’t stress this one enough: make friends with other authors. We’re your best support network.
- and finally, who are your favourite authors?
Actually, once I finish The Void, I’m hoping/planning to start reading a raft of books from authors I’ve never read before. Let me get back to you after I’ve finished them.
Hunter Gamble is an idealistic young attorney in a very special area of the practice: arcane defense. Funded by enigmatic billionaire Charles McClain and aided by shy-but-energetic research attorney Kirsten Harper, he’s making the world a better place — one vampire, zombie, or werewolf client at a time. After all, they deserve their day in court too, right?
When a young zombie walks into Hunter’s office accused of murder (by brain-eating), Hunter’s idealism is tested as never before as he struggles to secure the man’s freedom. To do so, he must square off against a savvy and ambitious district attorney, contend with a judge who is deeply biased against arcanes, and stand up to a human-supremacist group which will stop at nothing — not even Hunter’s own death — to see his client convicted.
John has kindly offered to giveaway an e-copy of Atticus for the Undead. To enter, please follow John on his blog (called On The Bird) and leave a comment saying you have done this. This is an International giveaway and closes midnight (GMT) Wednesday 11th April 2012.