Author Interview with Eldon Farrell
I was lucky enough to run into Eldon when I first got back to writing. Over the years, he's been a mentor and a friend, and GREAT shoulder to cry my Amazon woes to. But more than that, he's an amazing writer in his own right! I've fallen in love with his "Singularity series", but even more so with the edge-of-the-seat action he writes! And today, we're lucky enough to have him join us for an author interview. Without further ado, check it out below!
1. You've been writing now for a while. What made you start writing, and consider publishing in the first place?
I started writing so I had a place for my thoughts. Back then, it was just about me and the paper. Once I heard about the whole self publishing revolution, I had to take a chance on it. No question about it.
Looking back though, I wish I had known then what I know now. Amazon has done a LOT for writers. They created the world’s biggest marketplace and allow us to hock out wares, if you will. But I wish they would stop telling people (myself included) that you can publish for no cost in less than five minutes. (Given their server speed, five minutes is a stretch, but that’s another matter.)
While you can publish without cost, you really shouldn’t. You only get one chance to make a first impression and the internet is not written in pencil. We don’t get a do-over. I published The Descent series without editing and have to live with the reviews that point that out. I’ll never know how many sales those reviews have cost me. I’ve had them edited now, but the damage is done. If you’re thinking of tossing your hat into this ring, do yourself a favour and spend money where it’s needed, so you can make a splash for all the right reasons.
2. How would you classify your genre of writing, or is it more outside of the box?
I wouldn’t. Genre is a funny thing. You ask me, more often than not, it gets in the way of a good story. Genre is a classification method developed so booksellers would know where to shelf books. In the digital age, I think this has run amok. We now have so many sub-genres and sub-sub-genres, that I fear creativity is lost while trying to adhere to the tropes found within each.
I grant you, readers like to know what they’re getting before they buy, but I refuse to believe they want more of the same all the time. I believe in story over genre. My tagline is Unbound by Genre. And, I mean it.
3. A lot of these interviews tend to be on the positive side. We won't disappoint the readers, but I'm going to ask something a bit tougher. Name me a conflict/issue you ran into through your writing journey, and how you came out of it? (it can be writers' block, or a particular bad review, or something)
Best example I can think of is way early on when I realized I sucked. Quite the issue, huh? I think every writer has that moment though. We all start out believing we can do no wrong—that we’re going to be the next big thing. Our friends and family tell us how good we are and we wrap ourselves up in the adulation. Completely ignoring the fact that our writing is horrid.
Fear not though, because once you admit you suck, you can start to not suck. You can get better. Work on improving your craft. Study how a story is put together. Recognize the beats and flow of narrative. Writing seems easy, and crap writing is. Anyone can write badly. But it takes real effort and desire to push through the crap and get better at this. Keep reading, keep writing, and keep learning. That’s how most authors get better. There really is no overnight success.
4. I'm a huge fan of your work! Singularity's rogue cop character Nathan is my absolute favorite :) Who/what was the inspiration for him?
Nathan is a polarizing character for sure. I know you absolutely love him, but I’ve been told by other readers they preferred Alexis to him. I take both as compliments. Engendering a response from readers is what great characters do. The inspiration for Nathan likely came from Vic Mackey, the bad ass cop Michael Chicklis played on The Shield. I loved how his character was this vicious, basically crime lord type, yet his motivations were pure. I strived for the same dichotomy with Nathan.
5. What about your Descent series? They follow some rather gripping plots, with tons of twists and turns! DId you draw inspiration from something in particular, or is your mind generally a dark place of thriller reads hehe?
The original concept for Stillness—the book that launched the series—was a sweeping adventure story centered around our hero locating ancient relics to save the world. Standard adventure fare, basically. To keep it short, the concept didn’t work for me. Upon retooling to what it is now, I took inspiration from research. Richard Preston wrote a chilling narrative—Demon in the Freezer—about Smallpox and its near eradication. That was the genesis of the outbreak story. As for the more gruesome addition of The Toymaker, probably came from the dark recesses of my mind.
6. You're a fan of comics. Marvel or DC, and why?
You’re trying to get me in trouble here, right? Let me break down my thoughts on this divide. When I was growing up, I was pure Marvel. Spider-man, in particular. But I was known to read Fantastic Four, Hulk, and X-men, too. Keep in mind, this was back before the mainstream success of the properties. It may be hard for people today to remember but, there was a time when we didn’t get three comic book movies a year. Being into comics back then didn’t win you many friends, is what I’m saying.
As an adult, my tastes veer more toward DC. I love the stories they’re telling. Epics like Blackest Night, Identity Crisis, and Forever Evil speak to the quality of the medium more than whatever the House of Ideas is churning out today.
The thing is though, why choose? Fans do this all the time. If you like Star Wars you have to hate Star Trek. If you’re into Marvel you have to despise DC. And the list goes on. But why not like both? I have hundreds of Marvel comics in my collection. And hundreds more DC. You can have it all.
7. Is there anything you shy away from writing? A particular writing trope, or subject?
Before I started Singularity, I false started a psychological thriller titled The Missing. The concept was about a child who vanishes on holiday with their parents. Much of the book would focus on the grief and trauma this would create. Year later though, the child would reappear, though different. Changed by the experience. The plot called for the parents to then struggle with reconnecting with their child, who quite possibly could be doing things to harm them. Anyway, what stopped me was the need to climb inside the mind of a molester. Tap out. Couldn’t do it.
8. Aside from your writing, you find time to do beta reads and even launch into side businesses. How do you manage your personal and professional lives?
One word. Organization. For me, writing is a business and I’m professional about business. To succeed in any way, you need to plan for it, and follow it out. This means being organized and hitting deadlines. The competition is fierce and the last thing you ever want to do is tell your readers, or your clients, to wait for you. When they wait, they wander away. Get organized.
I love working with Excel, and use it to keep me on point in both writing and the business side of things. It works for me, might not work for you. But find something that does work for you, and be sure to use it.
9. Any tips for writers who are feeling daunted by the prospect of self-publishing?
This is a loaded question. I could go on for hours with this one, and, in fact have on many occasions with new writers. The thing is, there is no shortage of talking heads out there who will tell you how to succeed. They will promise you everything your heart desires. Some will be legit. Most will not be. So, the one tip I would give is this. Think for yourself.
There is money to be made in this market. A LOT of money. When that happens, you get a LOT of unsavoury types looking to separate the naïve from their money. Before you pay anyone for anything, think. About whether you can do it yourself. Whether you should do it yourself. Two different things, by the way. Research the person offering the service. There are many wonderful sites out there to help with this. Just be sure everything is on the up and up before you spend money.
Take it from me, we all make mistakes. I’ve lost too much money chasing windmills, if you will. Don’t be like me. Learn from me. Think it through and you’ll find this business isn’t all that daunting after all. The indie community is the most accepting one I’ve ever belonged to. Long as you do your work, they’re more than happy to help you along.
10. One more tough question :) Your books have now been on the top Amazon charts a couple of times. What would be the first thing you do when you're there 24/7/365?
First thing I do is continue doing whatever I did to get there. This journey doesn’t end at the top. From the bottom, it can seem the goal is all about topping the charts. That’s the hard part, right? My guess is no. The real hard part is staying on top. Don’t look at this as experience as one that ends with a #1. It ends when we want it to end. That’s the freedom of indie publishing. Take it from an accountant, a number—even number one—is just a number.
11. Tell us a little bit about Ascendant Ink and Ascendant Formats, and what inspired you to launch into offering services to authors.
When I got serious about my craft, I wanted a way to indicate higher quality to readers. Ascendant Ink was that way. A real publishing company, even if it only publishes my stuff right now. It looks better to readers on Amazon who see published by Ascendant Ink, rather than published by Eldon Farrell.
Ascendant Formats grew out of my desire to help others in this community. Writers like me who, once upon a time, didn’t give the interior format a second thought. It’s odd, if you think about it. Everyone sweats the cover, as well they should. But a reader spends their time between the covers (of the book. Maybe in bed too, where you read is your own business lol).
Given the majority of time they spend looking at your page, shouldn’t you spend some time making sure it’s enjoyable to look at? So many writers fluff off this last part and the end product shows it. A great story deserves to rest on the page in a way that is pleasing to the eye. This is what Ascendant Formats will provide at a reasonable cost. An alternative to the same—to the “meat grinder” that churns out blah ebooks.
12. Any other tips for writers struggling with marketing, or in general? What's then main message you'd like them to walk away with?
Main message – have fun. It’s so easy to get swept up in all the noise. We all want to succeed. We all agonize over every bad review. Some of us even agonize over the good reviews. Lack of sales, no visibility, no reviews, no page reads, where to promote . . . and on it goes. Take a breath, and enjoy the ride.
Remember, you should be the most critical voice heard about your own work. Trust your instincts. Your real instincts. Not what people tell you or what you want to hear. Silence the noise and you’ll find the truth of all things.
This last bit will get you started. A great writer always thinks their work sucks, and a terrible writer always thinks their work is great. Which one do you want to be?
And that's it folks! Thanks for joining me, and I hope you check out this awesome writer's work soon! Don't forget to sign up for his newsletter today and grab your copy of this never-before-seen thriller story!
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