On Tuesday author Ebony McKenna talked about her romantic fantasies Ondine: Summer of Shambles (Egmont UK Limited, 2010) and Ondine: The Autumn Palace (Egmont UK Limited, 2011). Today she’s back to talk about what it’s like to be a writer.
Miss the first half of the interview? It's at http://michellefayard.blogspot.com/2011/08/wonderfully-witty-its-romantic-fantasy.html.
By the way, Ebony would like to send a signed copy of one of her books to two lucky winners. Contest details are at the end of this post. And now for the rest of the interview ...
When and why did you begin writing?
I've been writing since high school. I subjected my friends to all sorts of yarns that I would write each night and then bring in the next day. We lived outside of Ballarat, a regional city in Victoria, Australia.
Why did I write? This was before the Internet, and we only had two TV channels to watch. Yes, two channels! Talk about deprivations! Books were a wonderful escape from the sheer drudge of homework and the general mayhem and under appreciation of being a teenager.
My mother and stepfather bought a typewriter so they could write job applications, but I would use it to write my "masterpieces." Looking back, I realize now they were thinly veiled Belgariad fan fiction. But we all have to start somewhere, don't we?
I'm so relieved we didn't have the technology to share unready writing with the world. I would have been so eager and impatient. I would have put everything on a blog or collated it all into a novel and sold it electronically. And then been horribly, horribly hurt by the reviews.
What marketing have you found works best for your genre?
Twitter has made the biggest impact. I join in writing chats and follow various hashtags and give writing advice where it seems appropriate. I also like to tell jokes and tell people a little about myself or my take on the world. I figure if people like me or like my style, they may like the books.
I'm updating my blog a lot more regularly now for the times when I have more to say about the publishing industry. I'll have a writing epiphany and blog that too in a "this technique works for me, it might work for you" kind of way. I'm trying very hard not to simply "promote" myself all the time because that puts people off. I know it puts me off when someone I follow is only tweeting where to buy their book/s.
What do you like best about your publisher, Egmont UK Limited?
I love Egmont, I love them so hard. They understood where I was coming from and embraced the crazy. The editing suggestions they gave me were brilliant, as if they could reach into my head and say "Here it is!" They made me want to be the best writer I could be. When I saw the covers, I nearly fainted. They captured the essence of the books, the fairy tale qualities, the sense of fun and romance. And Egmont was my first. A gal never forgets her first. :-D
Do you ever experience writer's block? If so, what is your most effective cure?
All the time! I doubt myself. I find excuses. I remember I need to put a load of washing on. I feel the familiar burn in my shoulder from 20 years of bad posture and put a heat pack on it and lie down. I sit for two minutes at the keyboard then get up and go for a walk instead.
The only cure I've found is to sit down and actually write. It may take a few goes (and a few cups of tea and then a quick break for some toast and oh my shoulder, the pain!) but I get there in the end. I've also have to pick a target-say 500 words a day-and keep writing until I get there.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
The toughest criticism so far has been the sales figures. Don't get me wrong, they've been very good, but not quite good enough. I find this truly upsetting because we all worked so hard on the books. The competition is fierce, and the economy is terrible. It's probably the worst time in history to be an author.
The best compliment has been the incredible support from the reading community. I've had the most amazing reviews. They are overwhelmingly positive. Something like 95 percent of the reviews have been four or five stars, which blows my mind. Not everyone knows about Ondine, but those who do know absolutely love her.
If you had to choose, which writer would you like to have as mentor?
Oooooh, a mentor? Well, I sort of had an unofficial one for many years. Frank Muir was an English humorist and author of the What a Mess books. I wrote to him when I was about 11, and he wrote back. So the letter exchange continued right through to my late 20s. I got to meet him in London, and he was fabulous (and incredibly tall). He would send me his latest books, and I would send him essays and silly stories. He got the rough end of that deal! He died in 1998, and I miss him still.
What do you do when you aren't writing?
I love gardening. All year round. I also read and read and read. Sometimes for fun, sometimes because I think it might do me some good. I recently read (OK, I 50 percent skimmed) War and Peace. So that you don't have to.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
The only guarantee is that if you stop, you are guaranteed to get no further. You have to keep going.
What is something about you or your writing that might surprise your readers?
I really do cry when my characters cry, and when they're up to no good, I giggle like a toddler on a sugar bender.
Thank you again, Michelle, for spreading the Ondine love.
Visit Ebony at http://ejmckennablog.blogspot.com/.
Here's how you can enter for up to eight chances to win:
+1 Become a new follower. (+2 If you're already a follower.)Then comment on this post with your point total and your e-mail address! If you commented on last week’s book review and/or the first part of this interview, commenting on this post will give you an additional +1; give yourself another +1 for retweeting and another +1 for a new FB wall post.
+1 Subscribe to Bird's-eye View. (+2 If you're already a subscriber.)
+1 Tweet this contest.
+2 Follow my tweets.
+1 Post this on your Facebook wall.
+2 Like my Facebook fan page.
The contest will be open until 12:01 a.m. Aug. 7, and the winners (one for each book) will be announced the week of Aug. 7. Good luck!