When did the author first feel the desire to write? How does he feel about self-publishing?
How long did it take you to decide on a title for your book?
The book came from several different ideas. The original battle idea didn't have a title. If a title does not come to me at first, I don't try to force one on the story. I prefer to just call it work in progress 6 or something similar until a real title comes to mind. I don't feel rushed to think of one either. When the right name comes, it will come, and for me that will usually arrive no later than half way through the book. Sometimes I do pick a title and then later change it. If the story changes during the writing and the original title no longer seems to represent what it is really about, then I will have no qualms about changing it.
Were there many other possible titles you had picked out?
Not for Information Cloud. That's the one and only title it had.
The sequel was almost called General Markov, but has since been changed to Central Command.
Again, it was because the original title was originally the core focus of the book, but as that focus shifted during drafting, so too did the title, so that it still reflected the core focus of the book.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing?
Self-publishing has come along at the right time for me. It has provided opportunities to reach out to readers and has opened doors for many people that would never have gone the traditional route through publishing houses. In the past it had its stigmas and many stayed away because of that, but times are changing rapidly now.
Amazon KDP has done a lot to make self-publishing mainstream. Smashwords has also had considerable impact by simplifying the route for authors into multiple distribution channels. Since the Kindle was launched it has opened the market wide and shown the way for other companies to either follow, or revitalise their own efforts with eBook publishing platforms, distribution channels and eReader devices.
Ebooks have made self-publishing financially viable for many authors who could not justify the expense of producing paperback books. Createspace has opened up opportunities for self published authors to produce Print-On-Demand paperbacks also.
Self-publishing is now more possible and realistic than it ever has been. Now the only obstacle between an author and potential readers is their own talent and how willing they are to put in the tremendous amount of hard work required.
When did you first have a desire to write?
I didn't read much fiction until I was around 26 years old. Nobody in my family read much and books were not a great part of my life until then. It wasn't until I met a friend called Neill Rank that I was introduced to great fiction that I could enjoy. He leant me a copy of book 1 in the Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. It was a huge book and I didn't think I would get beyond twenty pages, but to my surprise I actually really enjoyed the book. I completed it and went on to read many more books.
It wasn't until years later, around the year 2001 that I started appreciating books like Stephen Donaldson's The Chronicles of Thomas Covenant, and thinking about how the characters were so powerful that they stuck in the mind for years and decades after the book was originally read. Some books actually changed the reader as well as entertaining them. Great books could make people sad, happy and amazed and leave them with memories that stayed with them for years. I began to want to channel some of my creativity into the direction of creating stories that would affect people. Back then my English was really bad and I had no idea what the Craft was, so I had to begin right at the start of learning English again, and learning how to put stories on paper, in their simplest forms. It was the beginning of a long journey that will continue so long as I live.
Do you plan out the entire book before writing it? Or do you just sit down and write?
I find that if I just sit down and write, most of what I write will be thrown away when I think of a better plot line. Every author is different, but for me it makes sense to write a complete plot outline in terms of short summaries of each chapter and scene, before I write any of the scenes. This way I can see the whole plot in summary and I can make repeated corrections to tighten it, give it more impact and think about how to improve the twists and turns. The outline is a work in progress and it will continue to change as I start writing the first draft and think of new ideas, but I'll make sure I keep it up to date as I go along.
I think it is too easy to lose track of the overall picture if you start writing without a plan. You may end up with a great novel when you are finished, but you may take a roundabout route in getting there and waste a lot of time writing chapters that an editor will later point out add nothing to the book. If you have a tight outline then you can always ask yourself, does this sene add any value? Why is it there? Could it be improved or replaced with something else to make the final product more interesting and exciting? It's faster to change an outline than to throw out completed scenes and write new ones.
The interview continues in Continuation of Interview with Peter J. West