The following is an exclusive interview with the elusive Evan Michael Martin – author of Sorceress Rising – A Clio Boru Novel.
Sorceress Rising will be released on Amazon on Tuesday, October 7, 2014. The wait is almost over.
Briefly, what led up to this book?
I always wanted to write something. When I was staying with my sister, a few years ago, I babysat her dog Cash, a miniature schnauzer. He spent almost all of his time sitting in the front window staring across the street. There was a corn field across the street, and behind it was a rather large and thick pine forest, the Pine Barrens in the book. I laughed about what he could be watching, and then I remembered Dean Koontz’s book, Watchers, and the story grew from there. I didn’t want to recreate Dean’s novel, so over the course of several weeks I drafted a new story line.
The greatest inspiration came earlier when I travelled to Romania and Ireland while I was an exchange student in Europe. Everyone is familiar with the dark tales of Romania and Transylvania with its monsters and supernatural creatures. When I was in Ireland I met a young woman who became the inspiration for Clio. Her sharing tales of Druids, her own faith as a Wiccan, and the various spirits that inhabit the region where she lived, planted a seed that ultimately took control of this story.
When I started writing this I got very hung up on the accuracy of the physical settings of the story. I remembered a good friend of mine who took me on a tour around Lewiston Maine. He showed me places where one of my favorite authors based his stories in. That experience gave me “permission” to be creative with locations and specific physical features in the story. It was a very important lesson.
Why this genre?
The genre is a combination of mystery/thriller, horror and fantasy. In many instances those define the genre’s I like to read when I need to get away. As a result this book found its way into that genre. When I started, this book was never intended to be either horror or fantasy. That is simply where characters and the story took me.
What was the time frame for writing this book?
I started writing this book in early 2010. I would write some, put it away for weeks or months, and then write some more. I finished it in May 2013 and started searching for a traditional publisher. After about 9 months of searching with no success, I approached my editor, Brittiany Koren of Written Dreams, and we decided to indie-publish.
What were your 1-2 biggest learning experience(s) or surprise(s) throughout the publishing process?
I think the first thing was the large number of rejections and no answers that I received. Several publishers asked for more information such as a 3-page synopsis of the book, but ultimately I was either rejected or heard nothing more. The other was all of the behind the scenes work, some of it elective, that goes into publishing. Things like book cover art work, setting up accounts in publishing sites I never heard of, formatting and the continuous editing process, to get it just right.
Looking back, what did you do right that helped you break in?
The biggest thing was asking for help and learning to set ego and fear aside when the book was being edited. Not everything was “my way.” The other was finally sitting down and setting a goal of 1,000 words a day. I wrote the first half of the book from 2010 until late in 2012. I finished it from during a period from January until April 2013.
On that note, what would you have done differently if you could do it again?
Frankly speaking I would have started this years ago. The entire experience has been exciting and incredibly therapeutic. Writing let me escape from the day to day stresses and go somewhere else. While some think I am a character in the book, I am not, I was able to be in the story because I lived where everything in the book takes place.
The other thing I would have done differently was use more of an outline. While I had a basic outline for the story, the bulk of it was created while I wrote. This caused periodic episodes of writer’s block that delayed my writing. To illustrate that I started writing the sequel to this book, Sorceress Revealed, in June of this year and I am doing my own final editing before I send it to my editor for the real editing process to begin. Basically I finished that book in 5 months.
Did you have a platform in place? On this topic, what are you doing the build a platform and gain readership?
Not really. I had several people who would read and review the story. This was done mostly to see if it was good. Since then I have learned much about marketing a book. A good example of that is the roughly 20 people who have helped me promote in through social media. From that I have also approached friends and acquaintances in the local area who are passing out flyers and spreading the word within their own social circles. Before learning to do that in the way I am I could only envision more expensive methods like paid advertising.
Best piece(s) of advice for writers trying to break in?
In plain simple language, Just Do It. I think we all have at least one story inside of us. Don’t get hung up on how well you write or whether or not you have the ability to develop characters or dialog. Start writing and over time those will take care of themselves. Share your writing with someone who you can trust to give you honest feedback. If you wish to publish, find a good editor to help you do that.
What do you like to do when you are not writing?
When not writing I teach school and tour Wisconsin looking for new ideas and locations for this series. I also do a lot of research. I didn’t know much about Wicca when I started, but I have done a great deal of research on it and other things that will fit into future stories and Clio.
Something personal about you people may be surprised to know?
When traveling in Romania I spent a night at Snagov Monastery where Vlad the Impaler is said to be buried. A week later I spent the night camping at Poenari Castle, a stronghold of Vlad’s. Of course Vlad the Impaler is the historical Dracula. I spent the night in the Moors of Ireland too. That was a bit creepy.
My favorite movie of all time is The Wizard of Oz. That was my escape film as a child. In recall when my Dad’s work took us to Kansas, he convinced us that as soon as we crossed over into Kansas everything would be in black and white. That simply adds to the emotion every time I watch the movie.
Favorite several influential authors
I have quite a few favorites. W.E.B Griffin probably tops the list. SM Sterling, Steven King, H.P. Lovecraft, Stephen Hunter, David Baldacci and Terry Goodkind. I learned something different from each of them. I am a voracious reader and I would encourage those who want to write to do the same.