Welcome dear readers to another fairytale story-themed interview, Once Upon a Time with… where we interview a fellow author.
Today, we’d like to welcome W.R. Gingell, a Tasmanian author who lives in a house with a green door. According to her own biography, she spends her time reading, drinking an inordinate amount of tea, and slouching in front of the fire to write. Like Peter Pan, she never really grew up, and is still occasionally to be found climbing trees. Solid stuff and probably much better than working on a lighthouse in land-locked Vermont.
I ran into her during a Facebook interview I was having during A.F.E. Smith’s Facebook launch promotion for the epic fantasy, Darkhaven. W.R. was good enough to laugh at my jokes and knowledgeable about fairytales, so when I discovered she also wrote fairytale fantasy, I had to invite her to visit.
So, let’s get started. W.R., what’s your “Once Upon a Time”? Where did you live in the beginning of your tale and what sparked you to decide to write?
I’ve lived in so many different places! My family has moved about once for every two or so years that I’ve been alive. It was all about finding new, magical places to make my own, wherever the move took us.
As for writing, well, I wrote my first story before I was really reading for pleasure. Apparently I had no interest whatsoever in reading as far as 1st or 2nd grade (though I did write my first short story then). Then Mum and Dad got me to read Bible verses aloud in our family devotions, and I just took to it like a duck to water. They might have even regretted it, because very soon after that I was reading 2-3 books a day. I’m not even kidding. I raided the library every few days and checked out 10-15 books each time. I read in the bath, in the shower, on the loo, in my reading trees; I read when I was supposed to be washing up, cleaning my room, doing my schoolwork, etc, etc. You get the idea. The opshops were my favourite places- I could get ten books for fifty cents. Before long I had several thousand books in my bedroom.
I started writing for real when I was ten. Dreadful stuff, it was. But it was a beginning, and I knew from that point that what I wanted to be when I grew up was an author.
Sometimes a fairy godmother appears to make dreams come true. In this case, the dream involves becoming a published author. Let us know how you got your first break.
If I’m honest, I’m probably my own fairy godmother (don’t laugh, or I’ll hit you with my wand). I did originally start my journey to publication with the idea of being traditionally published, but over time it became more and more obvious to me that the advantages of self-publishing (for me) far outweighed those of traditionally publishing.
And then when I did decide to go for it, I really went for it. By then I had three books very nearly ready for publications, requiring only general edits, proofreading, and/or a few thousand words. I had the motivation, I had the material, and I had the means.
The rest, as they say, is history. (Yeah, I know, I’m being just a tad egotistical, but when I’m rich and famous, you’ll see!)
If I had to thank anyone, though, I’d probably thank Lindsey Buroker, whose wonderful blog and twitter feed not only encouraged me to take that step, but showed me how to take it.
Now, no story would be complete without an adversary. In the story of your writing career, what’s your biggest nemesis? What do you struggle against… fear, doubt, a mortgage, time, ice cream? What tactics, allies or weapons do you use to win those battles?
I’m probably my own worst enemy. Most specifically, my laziness. (Though I do have to admit, ice cream is a serious problem for me, and doughnuts have almost been the death of me a time or two).
(Same here! Curse you, ice cream and doughnuts!)
I knew when I really started getting serious with my writing (at about age 14/15) that I would have to commit to write every day and commit to either a certain number of words, or a certain amount of ‘writing time’.
I don’t always do that, even now. I get lazy and distracted, and stuff happens. I’m a lot better than I used to be, but I still fall into the trap of complacency every now and then, when everything seems to be going well and it seems like the book can write itself. Then I discover that it’s been two weeks and I’ve only written a couple thousand words.
As we all know, the hero can’t ultimately triumph without a few defeats along the way. Can you share a defeat that you suffered in your writing career and what you learned from it?
I’m not sure it’s a defeat as such, but my latest book is currently on Netgalley, and it’s through that that I got my first one star review. So that sucks. More importantly though, it helped to take away the fear of low reviews. Mentally, I know that everyone is not going to love what I write (I know, I know, crazy, right! Right??) It’s another thing to know it experientially. I’ve also discovered that star ratings are a mixed and not very helpful system. I’ve had three star ratings ranging from very complimentary (‘loved it from start to finish, loved the characters, will definitely read the other books!’) to unenthusiastic (‘meh, didn’t like the protagonist much, it was okay I guess’). It’s stuff that isn’t fun to learn, but still really helps me to grow as a writer.
I think all authors get to experience some rough reviews. Don’t let it get you down. Thank goodness that we don’t all like the same things. Could you imagine if all ice cream were vanilla? (Curse you, ice cream for being in my thoughts!) Okay, we’ve heard about your defeat, but what about your greatest victory as a writer? Do you have a triumph over overwhelming odds, the stuff of epic poetry, perhaps the sort of thing that Prince Charming from my book might praise in couplet?
Ironically enough, that’s possibly my latest book as well. Writing is such a learning curve, and self-publishing is an even steeper one, and Spindle was the first book where I began to feel I had a handle on things from both directions. I was really pleased about how the book itself turned out (characterisation, plot movement, pacing, etc), and I was terribly satisfied with how up to the mark I was in all pre-publication process (which is a growing beast in its own right). It’s the first book where I’ve felt I’m doing all I can be doing. It’s also the first book I’ve published that hasn’t put me through the stage of “I hate this book. This book is bad. Everyone will hate this book, and they will be right, because it is dreck.”
Mind you, I’m getting closer to that stage with Spindle now, so we’ll see!
Focusing on the present, where do you see yourself today? What’s happening in this chapter of your career? What are your current projects and what can we look forward to in the next year?
I still see myself as being at the very beginning of the journey. I’ve only really been self-publishing since the beginning of the year (2015), so in terms of publication, I’m still a baby (FEED ME).
Next, I’m hoping to settle to a schedule of publishing two books a year. More specifically, my next two projects are Blackfoot (the 2nd Two Monarchies novel) and The Staff and the Crown (the 3rd Two Monarchies novel). I’m also in the brainstorming/notetaking stage of a sequel to Wolfskin, entitled A Place Of Small Things. I’ll also be working on my 2nd Time-Traveller’s Best Friend volume. I’m going to be quite busy, I believe!
I like the title to A Time-Traveller’s Best Friend. Of course, my daughter wakes up every morning hoping that a blue Police box has crashed into our shed…
If you could write your own “Happily Ever After”, what would it be? Tell us where you’d like to go and have fun with it.
Well, there’d be bacon, apple-pie, and doughnuts involved. Probably also a lot of tea in assorted types. (Ahh…doughnuts! Wait… no… must resist…)
Mostly, though, I’d be immensely happy just being able to make a real living with my writing. I don’t particularly want to be famous (yeah, I heard ya say ‘just as well!’) but I do want to be able to write full-time. I love the process, I love my characters, and I love floating away in bubbles of my own imagination. To be able to do that for a living would be a dream come true.
In the mean-time, I still work the checkouts part-time and answer questions at random whenever a story idea I can’t quite shake takes up a bit too much of my mind.
For everyone out there wishing on a star hoping to be an author, what advice would you give them?
Work out what you want from the publishing process, and plan accordingly. Most importantly, write. Keep writing. Don’t stop. If you want to be a writer, you gotta write.
Oh, and read an awful lot. That’s the best way of learning to write that I know of, other than practise.
If we’d like to learn more for the About the Author section of your story, what’s the best way for everyone to keep up with you? And is there any last message that you’d like to share?
The best way to keep up with me is to follow my blog (wrgingell.com) follow me on Twitter (@WRGingell) or like my Facebook page (W.R. Gingell). I’m also on Instagram now, where you can see artistically filtered pics of my food, books, and random stuff that I see and like.
Oh! And if you want a free ecopy of my first book, Masque, just sign up to my newsletter to get a Smashwords coupon (until the end of July). The sign-up form can be found here.
Messages? Here’s a carefully concocted subliminal one.
BUY MY BOOKS. READ MY BOOKS.
/end subliminal message/
Thank you so much for sharing your story with us.
OH, I see what you did there! Story! Ahaha! Hahaha! Oh? I’m the only one who finds that funny? …okay…
I did mention that I liked the fact you laughed at my jokes. 🙂
Thanks for having me!
I’m looking forward to having you back when you are basking in the glow of your future success. Keep writing!
For everyone interested, I’ve interspersed links to your books throughout the interview, and I’ll give one last one for Wolfskin. Thank you again for sharing!
Now, I need to go and check my freezer to see if there’s any ice cream…
All the best!