Welcome to the five hundred and twenty-ninth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with multi-genre author Rolly A Chabot. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Rolly. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Rolly: Hi Morgen, first allow me thank you for the privilege of working with you on this project.
Morgen: <laughs> Thank you for being here.
Rolly: I live in Canada, the Western region near the great Canadian Rocky Mountains, which has become a playground for the avid Fly Fisherman, Photographer, and outdoor kid in me. I left home at an early age and have travelled and worked throughout North America. I have spent the better part of my life in the North. The most memorable was in the Yukon that is located well above the 60th Parallel. It was here I suppose the idea of writing first started to form as I used to journal a great deal of my time there.
Morgen: You write non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Rolly: The first seven book series I wrote is non fiction and somewhat of an autobiography of my time in the Yukon and the many adventures and people who came and went from my life. This was an incredible time of healing and rediscovering the man in me that had been lost for several years. Writing about those years seemed to come easy as I lived them and wanted to share some of my past and experiences with others who may be on the same journey.
Morgen: It’s interesting to say that you rediscovered yourself. It’s great that writing can do that. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Rolly: In total I have written 14 books the first seven were in a series called “Quiet Reflection”. After they were completed I changed genre and slipped into Christian / Fiction and Fiction in general. Of the other seven books I have completed they are of a series called “Checkers Corner”. Two in another series called “Smoothwolf” and two singles. I do write under my own name. I had given a fair amount of consideration to write under a pseudonym but felt I wanted closer contact with the reader and chose to stay with my own name.
Morgen: You do have a distinctive name and it’s all about having a ‘brand’ that people can recognise / remember. You’ve self-published, what lead to you going your own way?
Rolly: That is a loaded question. The first publisher I dealt with from the USA turned into a yearlong nightmare and a fair amount of lost money. I learned far into our dealing that he was not a man of his word, never once meeting any of his obligations for me. It nearly cost me the desire to write and it took me on a soul-searching mission of what the industry was all about. Many have been caught up in much the same. I chose to publish first in the eBook format with Amazon and market my own work and it has been rewarding as sales have proven to be wonderful.
Morgen: eBooks are great because if there’s anything you want to change you can just tweak the Word document and reupload. Are all your books available as eBooks? Do you read eBooks or is it paper all the way?
Rolly: I chose to publish first in the eBook format with Amazon and market my own work and it has been rewarding as sales have proven to be wonderful. I suppose the drawback being that you are out there on your own and it requires a great deal of time to market and promote your work on many different social media sites.
Morgen: Congratulations. 🙂 Out of the 500+ other authors I’ve spoken to only one said that their publisher does all their (her) marketing but she’s still very active on Twitter and Facebook which these days is a big chunk of networking. It’s also the most common answer to ‘what’s your least favourite aspect of your writing life’. Did you choose the titles / covers of your books? How important do you think they are?
Rolly: All part of the learning curve. I had dealt with a few aspects of having covers etc. done and in the end I chose to go through my own photo gallery and design and produce all of my own. As an avid reader, when a book cover catches my eye it is the first step in my buying experience. I do think it is the first step in making the sale for any author.
Rolly: Presently I have a few novels on the go. One is nearly complete. It is called The Fallen Barn and it is primarily about a man who served a number of years in prison and who has found his way back into society again and all the challenges that poses. I do like to keep a few on the go at the same time. I find it gives me a little variety and a challenge for those days when the creative brain decides it wants a rest in one or the other.
Morgen: As it does. Do you manage to write every day? Do you ever suffer from writer’s block?
Rolly: I do write every day. I have set a goal of 3-5000 words a day and have it to be comfortable. Writers block is something I have never really struggled with as I manage to keep busy with variety in writing and marketing.
Morgen: That’s some word count, like two NaNoWriMos (which is coming up in November, and will be my fifth). Do you do a lot of editing or do you find that as time goes on your writing is more fully-formed?
Rolly: I generally edit as I go and then once completed I run through it three or four times to check for mistakes etc. I work on a MacBook Pro and use a great writing product. It is incredible program that allows me to have all the tools on one page, Character map, main writing area, a place for notes, previous chapter and a place to record references. The spell check and grammar check have proven to be invaluable. One benefit I love about the Mac is having the computer read back to me and it is amazing what you can hear which sounds out of place.
Morgen: I have a Pro too – it’s great. 🙂 And reading aloud does make all the different. I tend to read it aloud myself but have ‘Vicki’ tell me my alerts so it would be interesting to have her read my writing. Good plan. Do you have to do much research?
Rolly: No, not really as fiction is a genre that allows you to be creative. If any research is done it might be on a location where the story takes place as I do think you want to accurate when naming cities etc.
Morgen: Because there will always be someone out there who knows where you’ve set it and would only be too happy to tell you where you’ve gone wrong. Again the joy of eBooks is that you can change any inaccuracies so easily. Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Rolly: We all do. For me I keep a relatively comprehensive filing system of things that I have written and found never really fit and I file them away and hopefully someday can use them.
Morgen: I’m the same and like to think that I have the experience to see where they need improving. Do you pitch for submissions and / or are you commissioned to write?
Rolly: I did at one time but I found the industry to be a bit cut throat towards the writer. When you reach a point of pennies a word I thought it better to invest in myself in book form. The family of a man, who was a rather colourful character, has recently approached me to write his life story. It has peeked my interest, as I do love a good life story.
Morgen: That sounds exciting, and really interesting. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Rolly: Yes I have and they are a good way to test your marketability. Whenever I make a submission I generally will ask the Editor if he will do a brief critique. Often they are invaluable to the writer. Rejections are part of the writing world and should be viewed in a positive sense.
Morgen: They are indeed. A ‘good’ or ‘bad’ is not very helpful, we want to know why something’s one or the other. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Rolly: Not at this time. I have looked at a few and yes I think they are something that is needed. Again I would caution anyone looking into an agent to do his or her homework and be sure of whom you are having representing you and your work. An Agent can certainly be an asset to a writer.
Morgen: I do think when you have one that they earn their keep, although I have heard mixed reports from the authors I’ve spoken to. http://pred-ed.com/pubagent.htm has a great list of good and bad agents. We mentioned marketing earlier, how much of the marketing do you do for your published works or indeed for yourself as a ‘brand’?
Rolly: I do a great deal of marketing through social media and friendships I have formed in the writing community. We do a fair amount of marketing for each other through placing ads and promotions on each other’s websites. Networking can generate a great deal of traffic.
Morgen: It certainly can, and is an author’s friend for sure these days. What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life? Has anything surprised you?
Rolly: The favourite without a doubt is the writing. Creating a character and building around him or her and the many who come and go. Building a story around them is exciting. The least favourite would have to be editing. Surprising aspect I think is watching the finished project coming together and the responses you get from the reader of how what you have written has touched them.
Morgen: I’m not a fan of editing either. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Rolly: Continue to write, hone your skill and learn from your mistakes and most importantly back up your work regularly. There is nothing more disheartening or devastating than to lose all your hard work at the touch of a wrong key.
Morgen: Absolutely. I have backups of backups, and a memory stick on every key ring. 🙂 If you could invite people from any era to dinner, whom would you choose and what would you cook (or hide the takeaway containers)?
Rolly: Benjamin Franklin, John F. Kennedy, Stephen King and Jane Karon. It would be a simple meal, all from the land. These are people of the people and it would be a great evening of learning more about them and what motivated them.
Morgen: I don’t know Jane Karon but she’s a writer so a great choice. Is there a word, phrase or quote you like?
Rolly: I have over the years adopted a quote and not even sure who penned it “Limits exist only in your mind.” It has been with me for years and I do appreciate it.
Morgen: According to Yahoo it was Lee Jung Tao in 1174, in China. You mentioned earlier that you write fiction. Do you have a favourite of your books or characters? If any of your books were made into films, who would you have as the leading actors?
Rolly: A favourite I think would have to be the three book series called “Checkers Corner”. I think the favourite actor to play the part of Len Jefferson would have to be Dennis Quaid because of his morals and standards he sets in the roles he plays.
Morgen: Dennis is really good. One of my favourite films is Frequency (I’m also a fan of Jim Caviezel) although most people have never heard of it, which is a real shame. Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Rolly: I rarely plot. They seem to appear as I write. I often find my characters going places I would have never thought. I guess that is the beauty of fiction.
Morgen: I’m the same although I might do a bit for this year’s NaNoWriMo, especially as there’s just over a week to go and I’ve not decided what to write about yet. 🙂 Do you have a method for creating your characters, their names and what do you think makes them believable?
Rolly: No real method they just appear and I build around them. Names are easy I do think a good name can create the character. Your explanation of your main character can generate all sorts of emotions in the reader’s eye. I like to make them as real as possible and yet leave a little room for the imagination. I recent received an email from a reader that stated “As good as what you have draw a picture of Wes I created my own.” She then gave me a description of who Wes was in her eyes.
Morgen: It’s always good, as you say, to leave room for the imagination, and is perhaps why most people say they prefer the book to the film version of it, because they have their idea of what the characters look like and it’s usually not who portrays them on screen. What point of view do you find most to your liking: first person or third person? Have you ever tried second person?
Rolly: The first seven books were all written in the first person. I found it easy as I had lived all I wrote about and yet it was a challenge. Now I right all in the third person and find great freedom in doing so.
Morgen: It does allow you to expand more on each character. Are you involved in anything else writing-related other than actual writing or marketing of your writing?
Rolly: I do blogs and many social media sites and answering emails from people who have purchased books. I so love to hear from people and have formed several friendships just through email exchanges. I have learned much about what people like to read. People are the greatest gifts in this sometimes solitude life.
Morgen: Many of the authors I’ve interviewed have become email friends, it’s great. Apart from having a wonderful research network, we’re so lucky having the interaction we do these days. What do you do when you’re not writing?
Rolly: I have become an avid Fly Fisherman over the years and love the sport. Photography is a pleasure and attempting to capture the perfect photo. Hiking back into some remote location and enjoying the piece and quiet of nature is a must for me. The solitude is something I love and take it whenever I get the chance.
Morgen: Which makes you ideal as a writer. 🙂 Designing my own eBook covers has made me more aware when taking photographs; the composition and leaving space for title / name. Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful?
Rolly: Three books can be found on my desk at any given time, they have become a great resource for me:
- The Elements of Style by Strunk and White
- Grammatically Correct by Anne Stilman
- Student Writing Handbook by Sharon Sorenson
Morgen: Strunk & White’s book has featured regularly in these interviews. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
Rolly: I have tried a few and have since backed away from them as often they are not the most positive places to be. I do read several forums though but choose to stay back.
Morgen: I think most sites can have their good and bad points, and although they can be very time consuming they can be effective in getting yourself known. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Rolly: I think that is up to the writer. With the advent of the computer and the Internet it is a hard career choice for people. The writer has the key to success if he decides to seek out his niche of readers. I do see a trend going in the direction of the eBooks as more and more people are purchasing readers and phone where they can read on these devices.
Morgen: Oh so do I. Where can we find out about you and your writing?
Rolly: I think of four places online will take the reader to where I have work.
- My Personal Website: http://web.me.com/woodcarver2009/Site/About_Me.html
- My email is firstname.lastname@example.org
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Rolly: No. I would say that you have done a great job of asking all the right questions.
Morgen: Oh thank you very much. 🙂 Is there anything you’d like to ask me?
Rolly: Where do you find the time and the energy to do all of this plus write.
Morgen: <laughs> The ‘time’ by not having as much sleep as I should and the ‘energy’ by being passionate (some would say obsessed) by all things writing, but give me a deadline and I find the time. 🙂 Thank you, Rolly.
I then invited Rolly to include an extract of his writing…
The Yukon is a captivating place for those who care to reach deep to probe the secrets she holds tightly to herself.
It is not a land for the fainthearted. If you choose to you can close the door on your past and live according to the elements you are surrounded by.
Fear has claimed many lives in the backcountry I have written about. I have shared some of my fears when I often found myself completely isolated with my closest friend Tannis, a rescue dog, who understood the true meaning of pain, suffering and rejection.
I will take you, the reader, through a process of 12 years of personal healing. God brought many people into my life, who, unbeknownst to me, had an impact upon His intervention and the love He has for me.
As I have written this series God has reminded me of the power of sharing our faith with the lost and the impact it can and will have on their lives.
As you read, I encourage you to hear what the Father wants you to hear as He has spoken it to me.
Be blessed on your adventure with Tannis and me.
Update January 2013: “I have added another five novels since the interview and the sixth is being edited and have two more completed in an exciting series I have started based in the high Arctic of Canada. Sill in the process of waiting on a publisher who has shown interest here in Canada to put some work out into print.”
If you are reading this and you write, in whatever genre, and are thinking “ooh, I’d like to do this” then you can… just email me and I’ll send you the information. They do now (January 2013) carry a fee (£10 / €12.50 / $15) for the new interviews on this blog but everything else (see Opportunities on this blog) is free.
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