Tuesday, 11 September 2012

Chandler McGrew, author of Crossroads

Chandler McGrew is the author of Crossroads, available for Kindle and PC on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk:
UK:  Crossroads by Chandler McGrew on amazon.co.uk

Crossroads by Chandler McGrew,
available for Kindle.
An interview with Chandler McGrew, author of Crossroads...

What are you working on now and what projects and ideas do you have lined up next?
I just published my first digital book for Kindle, Crossroads, and I’m currently working on converting my first published novel, Cold Heart into digital format. Over the next year or so I hope to get all my backlist uploaded so that a whole new world of readers can enjoy them and I can continue to make a living. And of course I’m always writing. Right now I’m working on a Steam Punk series.

If you were to write a novel outside your usual genre, which genre would you like to experiment with and why?
Well this falls back to my last sentence. For years I wrote (and still do write) paranormal suspense thrillers. But a couple of years ago my agent, Peter Rubie of Fine Print Literary Management, suggested that I do something with all the reading I’ve done over the years on Winston Churchill. Everything that can be written about the man has been written, however, so I decided instead to write a novel about a Churchill-like character who is caught up not in the Industrial Revolution but a magical revolution from nature magic to technomagic. That led me to a backstory of how the empire came about and I began a prequel series I liken to a cross between Shogun and Waterworld.

If you were to write a story featuring a fictional character from another author’s novel, who would you choose and why?
Duncan Idaho from Dune, simply because I love Herbert’s world and Idaho most of all. 

Are any of your characters based heavily on people you know or have met from real life and if so, would they regard it as a compliment or an insult to discover they were the inspiration for the character in question?
Cooder Reese, a character who inhabits Night Terror and writes poetry for The Darkening is based loosely on a local with some mental disabilities. I believe the man would have enjoyed his character since Cooder could talk to and control wild animals.

When deciding on your book title what influences you most; potential sales or artistic integrity?
Well, it certainly isn’t sales because the titles come to me before the first scene. I basically write the novel around them. Night Terror, for instance, was a book I knew I was going to write for my youngest who used to suffer terribly from them. I named it and began to write, starting knowing only my first sentence. “Silence hung over the darkened house like a shroud.” Then I discovered where I was and a character inserted herself. “Outside the window the moon peered bleakly through the skeletal pines. Gray-black clouds scudded across the sky, rats deserting a sinking ship. Audrey Bock screamed.” Then it’s just letting the character tell her story.


How do you see the publishing industry changing over the next few years?
It’s going to be an exciting and scary time. It’s sort of analogous to the period around the nineties when vanity publishing made the claim of leveling the playing field for authors who have always had a hard time getting published. It did and it didn’t. There was always a reason that a lot of authors weren’t published, and when they tried to sell their unagented, unedited masterpieces they learned why. Right now Kindle, Nook, etc. etc. are being flooded by everyone who’s ever written a novel, and that’s a lot of people. When I got my first contract over a decade ago agents were receiving hundreds of thousands of queries a year, and there just isn’t that much reading time in a life for most people so they have to narrow what they read to only the cream. That’s not to say that talent doesn’t get passed up every day. It does. I personally wrote 14 novels, had 5 agents and 300 rejection letters before I got my first break. Eventually bricks and mortar publishers are going to find their niche in this crazy world again, though. One way they are starting to do so is ‘unbundling’. Whereas you used to have to garner a contract with them to get editing, some are starting to sell their professional services, and those authors who work with them will start to get the cachet of ‘professional’. That will lift the overall quality of what’s being marketed. There will no doubt be other major changes that we cannot even foresee right now. Somehow the review system will have to get sorted out for one thing. Today there are actually unscrupulous people out there who 'sell' reviews. It's causing a lot of confusion for readers, but eventually the system will find its feet in one way or another so readers can trust what they buy. One thing that's helped is the ability on Amazon for example to actually read part of the book before purchasing. Sort of like in real book stores with hard copy books. I use that option all the time.

I read a book review on amazon once where the reviewer described the book as a page-turner and had clearly enjoyed the book, and yet only gave it three stars out of five.  Have you had any similar experiences with reviews yourself and if so did you take pleasure in the positive comments or frustration from the unduly ungenerous rating?
That happened years ago and for a while it did disturb me, but authors have to develop skins of rawhide. After Cold Heart was published and was getting great reviews a gentleman I hardly knew drove three hours to personally bring me a copy of the review in the Bangor paper trashing the book. I thanked him as I smilingly led him back to the door. It was so bizarre my wife and I laugh about it to this day.

Would you rather sell 1000 books at $10/£10 each or 2000 books at $1/£1, i.e. what gives you the greater sense of satisfaction; overall earnings or overall sales?
Well of course most of us want to make money, but in the beginning it’s all about building readership. My goal is to give away at least twenty-thousand copies of Crossroads on the Kindle Select program over the next twelve months and when it's not free (Kindle Select only allows 5 free days out of 90) to keep it priced at the minimum so other readers will find me. I'm proud that I have a pretty high reader satisfaction rate, so once they find me I’m reasonably certain I can entice new readers to purchase my next book. So the more readers the better.

What advice would you give to a new author who has just finished writing their first novel and is unsure as to what steps to take next?
Try the old method. Submit it to agents. Your chances of getting one are small, BUT you may be the next big thing, and you won’t know until a professional (I submitted all 14 of my unpublished novels to a minimum of fifty agents) has made a decision. Most won’t reply with anything but boilerplate if that, but if you’re any good a few will give you pointers. I kept those. When I got my present agent a few years ago, I sent him a copy of a half page note he’d written on a rejection to me in the early nineties comparing my book favorably to Stephen King (but noting that horror sales at the time were abysmal). Then, if the rejections pile up, FIRST pay to have your book professionally edited. It really is the only way and every published author will tell you the same thing. Then and only then publish it yourself, but bear in mind that then you are in competition with a universe of people who have done the same thing and are involved in marketing their book on a daily basis. The people I pity are those with talent who write a decent book, skip the agents and editors, leap right into publication and then go back to writing assuming that their book will stand out and take care of itself. The odds are a zillion to one against THEM.

Can you list a few other books which you feel would appeal to a similar audience as your own book?
Well, I’ve often been compared to Dean Koontz, and have always been very pleased to have been so. I am by no means claiming to be the ‘next Dean Koontz’. I have far too much respect for the man and his talent, but readers do see a connection and I certainly meant for them to when I wrote the books in question. So, reversing that thought, I would point people who enjoy say Crossroads, toward perhaps One Door Away from Heaven, by Koontz or perhaps From the Corner of His Eye.

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Thanks for your comments, Chandler, and good luck with your writing.

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Follow Chandler McGrew on facebook and twitter:
Facebook:  Chandler McGrew
Twitter:  @ChandlerMcGrew

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Chandler's website can be found at the following link:

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Crossroads is available on amazon.com and amazon.co.uk:
UK:  Crossroads by Chandler McGrew on amazon.co.uk

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