Friday, June 18, 2010

Karen Syed Interview

1: What is the most productive time of the day for you to write?

This is a tough one. I have to juggle the publishing business and my writing and often my writing takes a backseat. When I do write, I get the most bang for my buck late at night. I know, weird, right. But I have had all kinds of inspirations throughout the day and it really helps get the creative juices flowing.

2: Do you start your projects writing with paper and pen or is it all on the computer?

I am actually a longhand freak. My first three chapters usually come in a notebook and then when I put them in to edit, I can normally go on from there on the computer. My old hands ain't what they used to be.

3: What do you draw inspiration from?

Holy cow, everything. Generally, I will see or hear something that triggers a book title. Yup, I almost always have a title first, then I build a story around that. I tend to write in order: title, character names, dialogue, plot, description, emotion. I have to know who everyone is before I can have them do anything. Then I get them talking, which is the easy part for me because I normally hear their voices in my head. Then I put them where they need to be, getting the setting all in order, then finally I go back and insert the emotional and dramatic reactions to what is being said and where they are. It plays out kinda cool for me.

4: Do you set yourself goals when you sit down to write such as word count?

Never. I am ADD and I flit like a butterfly. I am good for about five minutes on any task and then I bounce to another, then probably back, then to another. It is not very conducive to goal setting. Plus, I have an immediate gratification problem. I have to be happy with what I have. If I have too many goals, I get bogged down in them, then if I don't meet them I have to deal with serious guilt issues which slows me down even more and it all just ends badly.

5: Are you a published or a self published author and how do you come up with your cover art?

Okay, for me, published it published. I know some people say self-publishing isn't really fair, but I know so many people who have done it on their own and have sold tens of thousands of books, won numerous industry awards, and have become widely respected. Too many labels in the book industry. That being said, I have been traditionally published. My company did publish my current novel, but it had already been published by another company. When Echelon picked it up, it went through the same editorial process as any book (and my editor hated that I could not meet a deadline and had issues with dangling participles…as if). There were definitely no favors for me, so all those who consider me self-published, here is a big wet raspberry for you!

As for my cover, as is the case with any cover Echelon puts out. I came up with a basic idea that suited the story and then tried to convey that to my super-duper fantastic graphic artist and then she sets me straight and we go back and forth until we are both happy. I try to keep the covers as relative to the story as possible.

6: What drove you to choose the career of being a writer?

I think in some capacity I have always been a writer. You know scribbling my own stories in a language no one could understand at three and then actually learning to read at four, and up from there. I have always loved words. But I think what really turned the page for me and made me want to write for publication was during my first marriage. It was a dreadful and abusive marriage and I used boos to escape. Honestly, there were days I wanted to die, but the books I read (mostly romance and fantasy) allowed me to step out of my life and go to places where nobody hurt me. I decided when I knew my marriage was over that I wanted to do the same for others, so I started seriously seeking publication. I stopped listening to the people who told me over and over that I would never amount to anything, and I made certain that I did, and still do matter. I am not the greatest writer in the world, but I am confident that just about everything I write touches someone in a way that matters. Words are not my career, they truly are my passion and salvation.

7: Do you own an ebook reading devise?

Oh yeah, baby. I stated on a Palm, advanced to my iTouch (which I use fairly regularly), and recently bought a Nook. Oh my GAWD! Everyone should have an eBook reader. I am not one of those people who thinks eBooks will ever replace paper, it doesn't have to. But there are times when the eBook reader is just more convenient. I can carry hundreds of books on one little device. When my eyes get tired, I can increase the font size, and honestly, easier to hold than a hardback. I have discovered so many new authors in eBook format. Authors who have tremendous talent, but can't seem to find anyone to take them seriously. That is the beauty of independent presses. We aren't afraid to take chances. Plus the eBook device allows me to read multiple books without the clutter.

8: Who are some of your favorite authors and What are you reading now?

If you go way back, my favorite romance author is Jill Barnett. Her book BEWITCHING was the one that made me turn that page in the bad times. I will always adore her for that and was fortunate enough to be able to meet her and tell her that in person. Amazing! I love James Lee Burke and my favorite by him is IN THE ELEWCTRIC MIST WITH THE CONFEDERATE DEAD. No offense to Tommy Lee Jones in the movie, but read the book! I adore Tasha Alexander and James Rollins, oh and J.A. Konrath, and Andrew Gross, oh yeah Marcus Sakey, oh and Luisa Buehler and Robert Goldsborough. I could go on…oh I forgot John Maxwell and Donald Trump. Yup, I said it.

Right now I am reading THE ONE MINUTE ENTREPENUER by Ken Blanchard, TWITTER POWER by Joel Comm, ANGEL'S TIP by Alafair Burke (James' daughter), STARTING OVER by Laura Rittenhouse, and 39 Clues MAZE OF BONES by Rick Riordan. I tend to be a bit of and overachiever. 

9: What do you think of book trailers and do you have any plans to have any?

I think they are really cool. I think if they are done properly they can be very effective, but so many authors get out there on their computers and just slap some stuff together with some cheesy music and hope for the best. I won't do one for myself, because I am not willing to spend the money and I know I can't do it myself. However, several of my authors have done them and they have done a really good job. I do enjoy watching "most" of them out there.

10: What are you working on now that you can talk about?

Well, I have about 60 projects started (remember that ADD comment?), but I have recently taken out two projects to work on. One is what I like to call a Retro-Futuristic mystery. Is set in the future, but it seems like the past. It is set in the 2030's so we gangsters, and the cool clothes and cars, but all the gadgets. My main character is a PI named Gloria Gumshoe. It is one of the coolest things I've ever written.

The other one I am working on is a historical romance set in the west. A story of being reunited with the one you love. My heart has always been with the historical, but I never thought I would write a western myself. This is a set of three. Go figure.

On the publisher front, I am working pretty hard to get our Quake line into the mainstream. Reading is so important to kids and I want Echelon/Quake to really make a mark in the industry with our books.

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