Thursday, 23 January 2014

Author Interview Series – T.B. Markinson

Today ATUA has the pleasure to be one of T.B. Markinson's stops on the her blog tour.  Markinson is an American expat living in England and the author of two novels.
Giveaway info will follow the interview.
Have you always known that you wanted to be a writer or did that come later in life?
In the sixth grade we had to write a short story. My teacher loved my story and wrote a small note at the top of my paper. It read: When you grow up, you should be a writer. That was it. I was hooked and wanted to write. Over the years I would jot down stories and I started at least one novel but never finished it. Life always interfered. I was working full-time and whenever I tried to take my writing to the next level, something would happen and I found myself consumed with everyday life. Then over two years ago my partner’s company asked us to move from Boston to London. Suddenly I was unemployed. The transfer was supposed to last two years and my partner and I decided that I would use the time to give writing a go. So I pulled an unfinished manuscript out of the drawer and got to work. Now the book is published and I’ve completed the second one, Marionette.

Your Goodreads profile states that you had pledged to publish before 35.  What made you want to set that age as a deadline?
I’m not sure why I selected that particular number. I was in my early 20s when I made that declaration and maybe I thought it was completely reachable. And since I was still in my 20s I may have thought 35 was old. In a few months I’ll be 40 and I no longer associate my age with being old since I still feel like I did twenty years ago. However, I have more aches and pains.
I missed my deadline by four years, but I never lost the desire to succeed. For everyone out there who has a dream of publishing, my advice is never give up. 

Marionette is your second book.  How different was it writing YA?

Marionette is the second book that I’ve published, however, it was the first novel that I wrote. I worked on the first draft back when I was in college. I pulled the original draft out of my drawer last year and even though I shredded most of it, I was able to maintain the young adult voice since I was basically a young adult when I started it. Thank goodness I kept that draft for two decades. 

Painter Chuck Close once said, "Inspiration is for amateurs - the rest of us just shows up and gets to work." How do you "get to work?" Do you have any ritual or specific requirements to get the juices flowing? 
I work from home so this can be challenging on some days since there are so many distractions, mainly my cat and dog who always want attention. My goal is to write 1000 words a day. Before I sit down to accomplish that, I like to get all of my emails answered and to take care of the other administrative details concerning my books and life. I find it’s best I do this first thing to eliminate one distraction. That way I can’t say, “Oh wait, did I answer my emails.”
Then comes the hard part. I sit at my desk, with a cup of tea (I’m addicted), and write. Some days the words flow. Other days they don’t. But it’s rare for me to stop before I reach 1000 words. And on most days, I go over my goal. The most important part is to sit down and do it. I know that sounds too easy, but that’s what it comes down to. Just write. 

Homosexuality and sexual discrimination are recurring themes in your books.  What motivates you to tackle those topics?
Both of these themes fit with the stories. I didn’t sit down to write specifically about these topics, they just happened to work for the characters in my stories. For me the most important aspect is the story.
Saying that, I do think these topics are important and should be discussed openly. Human rights should never be ignored, even though it isn’t always an easy conversation to have. 

Are you working on a new novel at the moment?  If yes, can we get a scoop?

The next book is about a woman who had everything going for her. She graduated from Harvard, had a literary agent, and a fantastic deal to write her first book. However, everything has fallen apart and she’s working at Starbucks to make ends meet. She has a crazy, but loving family and girlfriend. It’s about whether she can find her true path in life and get everything back on track.

What advice would you give to emerging authors?
Relationships are key to emerging authors. My advice would be to foster relationships now with other authors and readers. Marketing is important, however you can’t just shout from the rooftops, “Buy my book!” There are so many books out there. Readers want to connect with authors. If they don’t feel that connection then there’s a good chance they’ll buy a different book. And don’t expect instant success. It’s takes time. Don’t give up in the beginning just because it’s a lot of work. Patience is important.
Our previous featured guest Tania Mignacca wants to ask you: I read on your blog that you have self-published your first novel. What advice would you give to writers or comic artists who are looking to self-publish for the first time?

I recommend doing your homework. Two authors really helped me with my decision to self-publish. The first is David Gaughran. I recommend his books: Let’s Get Digitaland Let’s Get Visible. Also his website is a fantastic resource: .The second person that helped was Joanna Penn. Her book: How to Market a Book is a great resource and her website is useful: Both of these authors have also published fiction and the methods they describe in their books are ones that they have used.

There are a lot of companies out there who claim they can help you self-publish for a reasonable fee. Do your research so you don’t get conned by them. I hired my editor, cover designer, and book formatter. I would be careful about signing up with a company that says they will take care of all of these details for you. There’s no easy way out. It is hard work, but I find it rewarding. And don’t be afraid to reach out to other authors who have self-published. So many of them are willing to answer questions. It’s a supportive community. You may feel lonely, but if you reach out, it will help.

My question for Owen Hortop, owner and swing dance instructor at Cat's Corner, is:

What advice do you have for people with two left feet, but who aspire to become an adequate dancer? 


For a chance to win an electronic copy of Marionette (see my review here) leave a question for T.B. Markinson's in the comment section.  Giveaway ends on Tuesday January 28th 11:59 ET.  Winner and answers to the questions will be posted on Thurday January 30th.  Good luck!

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