As promised Dylan is back today to answer some questions for us! Please give him a warm welcome!
I was the very strange person, not the way I was dressed as we had a uniform and dress code at my high school, but just wandering the halls a lot and constantly plugged into whatever very loud music CD I had loaded into the Discman. I did have people I got along with well but I had trouble settling down with any one group, I just felt like I had to keep moving.
Were you good at English?
Interestingly, in my last years of high school, I couldn’t crack an A in English, but could score 98% in Writer’s Craft. English encompasses many other skills, and in my case I had more of a problem with motivation and giving school projects their due.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
I would like to do this all the time, make at least thirty thousand dollars a year, and not have to work any other job. So far, as a self-pub, I’ve learned that the first book is more of an investment than an earner, and I haven’t quit any of the various freelance jobs (transcribing, editing) which put together don’t really earn my goal amount.
What made you decide to sit down and actually start something?
It took a couple of tries. My educational background did involve shorter stories, but nothing about how to write novels, so this is something I had as a goal for many years but needed to fail at (and learn from) for a couple of years, in lieu of any other novelizing education. The supportive group environment of National Novel Writing Month motivated me to get a first draft of a minimum 50K length, even though it would take me six years to get that first project to become my debut, The Gift-Knight’s Quest.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I am a computer man. I write with a keyboard. Preferably a portable computer such as a laptop, but it must have a keyboard. Caught between an early childhood education where handwriting was the trendy thing, and a junior/high school education where I managed to learn how to print but never quickly or particularly well… I find that keyboards get my ideas on to some media at a satisfying speed and reading clarity, and it takes longer for my hands to cramp up as they’re much more used to typing than to handwriting. That said, I buy some notebooks for their covers, and occasionally take one out per year for some contrived use (this time, taking notes from the first 11 chapters of a sequel manuscript before I actually did any rewriting/revision of the digital copy).
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I work best when I have some form of “starter’s outline”, but don’t feel chained to it. If I get a better idea/visual along the way and it feels right, I bend and sometimes break the outline. Whatever’s best for the story is more important than strictly adhering to a prescribed process. The outline does get some credit because it contains notes and ideas that I can easily forget; in that sense, it’s more like a map to consult only when needed.
My first book was published self-edited. The outcome was okay, but I do open it up and find a couple of “ou” inconsistencies (honor/honour); while Canadian English often uses these alternate spellings interchangeably, it’s probably a good idea to pick one and stick with it for the duration of the book. I do get beta readers to search for logical inconsistencies, and only the most glaring anachronisms.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
I left The Gift-Knight’s Quest to stew for over a year, which is one key reason why my revision process took six years; you can’t finish the process that you don’t start. I admit to being afraid that the story could never be good, or else that I couldn’t fix its problems despite my commitment to do so. It was also too short, and there was too much that I didn’t know about the world and the plot. In the end, I learned what I needed to know by writing the sequels, and only then could I go back for confident revision.
Who designed your book cover/s?
My good friend Rona Dijkhuis, a webcomic artist I met on Keenspace/Comicgenesis/SquareOne (lots of change during those past years). The work of hers I most remember is American Gothic Daily. When I decided to self-publish, I knew I would need lots of help, and she happily offered me a few pieces of artwork—the cover, and some other caterpillar life cycle drawings we didn’t end up using for the campaign itself.
How are you publishing this book and why?
I have published this work through Matador Books, which is the self-publishing imprint of Troubador. I paid for the services they provide. It was just about the top recommended self-publishing service in the English-speaking world that I could find through Google (when looking at services that include/go beyond Amazon as a platform). They’ve been helpful in setting up my ebook sales on iTunes, Barnes & Noble, the Kobo Store, and Amazon (US, UK, Canada). The UK is also one of the biggest English language markets for paperbacks because there’s still a vast preference to hard copies over ebooks there, and so I had a good shot at shelf space in high street bookstores there. However, my first efforts were always aimed at traditional publishers and agents; what I’m doing now is making as much of a name for myself as I can, because letters which read “Breaking out a new writer is difficult, you’re an unknown” get dull. My current efforts are to persuade publishers to take a smart risk on this work, with the renewed confidence that comes from a 4.5/5 star average and knowing that the vast majority of readers are happy with this book. I hope it’s easier to convince them this book is worth it, now that I believe it myself.
Do you have a trailer or do you intend to create one for your own book/s?
I have two trailers, one for each main character. Each is under a minute in length. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=W2pmynBirXA (Trailer 1 / Derek Wancyek) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ijbjkukQTL8 (Trailer 2 / Chandra Kenderley)
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Dylan, I think some part of you already knows that not all of a writer’s development comes from within, or at least not in your case. The people and the world that you like to hide from are actually going to provide the experiences you need to get better at what you want to do. The need for those experiences is not going to make them less scary, because you have an undiagnosed psychiatric difficulty. There are people who can help you, but be careful of getting discouraged when the first people you go to for help are the opposite of helpful.
Thanks so much Dylan for taking the time to answer our questions and share ‘The Gift-Knight’s Quest’ with us! Be sure to follow Dylan:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00YIX70GM
And stay tuned next week as we welcome Mistral Dawn to the blog!