Welcome to the twelfth of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, directors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with medieval post-apocalyptic novelist and fellow Litopian Joseph V Sultana. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found at https://morgenbailey.wordpress.com/blog-interviews. Today is fellow Litopian and friend Joseph V Sultana (hence some of my tongue-in-cheek replies). 🙂
Morgen: Hi Joe. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
JVS: Where do I start? I am such an exciting person to know… I don’t drink, don’t smoke. I hate all sports and enjoy cooking, shopping… and surprisingly I am heterosexual. I started writing as a kid I guess making up stories in my head or trying my hand at the odd script etc. But I didn’t attempt anything on a serious level until I started ‘Unsceptred Isle’ and that was because of a bet that I came second in.
Morgen: Second out of two? 🙂 What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
JVS: Not too sure about this ‘genre’ label thing. The story is set in a post apocalyptic future with a dystopian / medieval flavour. I’ve been placed in Fiction / Fantasy / Contemporary on Amazon and Sci Fi by friends. So I really do not know. Maybe you can tell me.
Morgen: Er… What have you had published to-date? How much of the marketing do you do?
JVS: Only ‘Three of a Kind’ so far. But I do have at least three more in this series and one other, a time travel comedy inbetween.
Morgen: Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
JVS: Mine are exclusively ebooks and the reasons are simple. The traditional publishers are not too interested in nurturing new writers at the moment unless the writer is top notch, like Rowling or Archer. Us newbies are seen as an overhead too far during the recession and I have to add I don’t blame them. The second reason is that I love tech and innovation. Much to the disgust of my wife who dreads me going out alone in fear of the next gadget turning up. Ebooks are great, it’s like living through the age when the printing press was made available to the masses. I would say most of us who want to write are driven by just that. We want to write. Yes the money is a lovely addition, but it’s not the main reason. I wanted to get this book out and be read, even if by only one person. I have achieved that. Big box ticked. The process has been relatively easy to be honest. I found Book Sanctuary, a start-up project in the ebook-only publishing arena. So a quick email with a follow-up phone call convinced me that this would be a great partnership. I knew I could have done this alone but I wanted the comfort of a hand to hold. We are both learning the trade and to be honest, even at forty eight I can still be taught a thing or three.
Morgen: I like your definition of (presumable Jeffrey rather than Geoffrey) Archer as being ‘top notch’, sorry Jeffrey Archer fans. 🙂 What was your first acceptance and is being accepted still a thrill?
JVS: Oh god yeah it’s possibly the fifth best feeling I’ve ever had in my life. The others being having the two children, getting married, losing my virginity and finishing the novel. They are not in chronological order by the way.
Morgen: 🙂 Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
JVS: Yeah of course. I have the first one framed and in the loft where it belongs. I hate the term rejection, a word that makes it a lot more personal than it is. As a writer, when you send off your latest scribble to someone you are asking people to dissect it, break it down and tell you what is wrong with it, not what is right. They are not attacking you or your offspring, but some make it feel as though they are. My secret is this: whilst it is true that some cannot take criticism, there are just as many who cannot give it.
Morgen: What are you working on at the moment / next?
JVS: The sequel to Three of a Kind, it has no name other than Book 2 at the moment, and no I cannot tell you anything about it, sorry.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
JVS: I wished, I do however constantly think about the story and what ingredients that will go into the pot. So when I do come to sit at the netbook my writing is of a quality that is acceptable to me.
Morgen: Too busy tweeting? 🙂 What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
JVS: Hate it, but I don’t worry about it. If I don’t have my writing head on and if I try to force it, the result is worse than having nothing. The beauty of my deal with Book Sanctuary is I set the deadlines not them. While I also know it’s not for everyone but it suits me.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
JVS: I did try plotting but found I wasted so much time in looking at different systems that I wasn’t writing so I let the story build itself as I went on.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
JVS: Yes, don’t we all. I have culled thousands and thousands of words and they are now forgotten as well as whole story ideas. But that’s a writer’s life. Or is it just me?
Morgen: No, not just you, although I hope you copied / pasted those “thousands and thousands of words” rather than deleted them in case you can use them somewhere else? What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
JVS: I hate the ridicule from small-minded individuals that take great pleasure in belittling anyone at any opportunity. But then these people may have never read a book in their lives and are never likely too either. What I love is the surprises I come up with after I’ve written something. And the pride my family have for me.
Morgen: Ahh… (despite seeing little of you). What advice would you give aspiring writers?
JVS: Write. Write anything you can, and anything you need or want to. I’m so glad you said aspiring as I don’t like the term amateur. To my mind you are only amateur if you only think or talk about writing. If you have written anything, then you are an unpublished author.
Morgen: What do you like to read?
JVS: Mainly sci fi and comedy, the odd playboy, writing magazine and the sun. Am a big Lee Child fan but have not read anything of his in case the Reacher character encroaches into the Maitland character.
Morgen: Hee hee (how ‘odd’ are the Playboy magazines?). Are there any writing-related websites and / or books that you find useful and would recommend?
JVS: Oh God yes … I read yours of course as well as joining in with Litopia. But what I have found is that websites, like books, are not all one fit. Some I just cannot read because of the style or the layout of the navigation has a flawed logic. So all I will recommend is that people need to do their own research find the sites that work for them and don’t forget to bookmark it when you happy. Lol
Morgen: You’re very kind and yes, Litopia (http://litopia.com) is great – I just wish I’d found it when it started c. 2007 rather than late 2010). In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
JVS: I am based in the UK but fell in love with my dad’s country of Malta. Maybe one day I can retire there, who knows.
Morgen: On your royalties. 🙂 Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
JVS: Obviously I do the Twitter and Facebook thang, but am new to networking so I am paying attention. I don’t do Linkedin not sure I trust it yet, but that’s just me.
Morgen: LinkedIn’s great although another time distraction (I’m part of nine writing forums and the emailed comments fly in all the time). Where can we find out about you and your work Joe?
Morgen: We can also read interviews with Joe at http://www.colinfbarnes.com/2011/indie-publishing/joseph-v-sultana and http://www.booksanctuary.co.uk/blog/40-introducing-joseph-v-sultana-author.html. 🙂 Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
JVS: Just to say that for me writing is a way of getting myself into another world, and I love finding out about that world and the people that dwell inside it. Also I want to thank you for your interest in me and my work, and the advice and help you and your other Litopians have given me.
Morgen: Ah thanks Joe… you’re very welcome but I love doing what I do, which is what it’s all about, isn’t it?
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