This month, I am featuring Texas author Richard Bradford. We met while doing a signing together at the BYU Bookstore earlier this year. His debut novel, “Seventh Earth” was selling like crazy and looks like a great read! I plan on getting my hands on a copy soon myself.
W What inspired you to become a writer?
– I first fell in love with writing when I took a creative writing class my senior year of high school. Previous to that I really had no interest in writing. However, once I was given the freedom to let loose and allow my creative juices to flow, I realized that I loved writing. Writing allowed me this unique chance to express myself and escape into new fantastic worlds. I find an inexplicable amount of satisfaction in writing.
2. Do you do any other type of writing besides novel writing?
— I am in the process of writing several short stories, the first of which I am entering in an upcoming contest. I prefer writing novels, but sometimes I get the urge to write from ideas that just aren’t expansive enough to fill hundreds pages. In those cases I often craft the ideas into short stories. My plan is to have a section on my website that I can display my short stories along with short story submissions from other authors and readers.
3. How do you deal with rejection? What advice would you give others?
R Rejection is never easy. I think rejection is one of the most difficult things about being a new writer. But any writer looking to be published needs to understand that no matter how good your story may be, no matter how perfectly written your novel is, there are going to be rejections. And you also need to understand that a rejection is not necessarily a reflection of your work. My advice to writers in dealing with rejection is not to give up. If you are passionate about writing then find a way. Don’t allow some snooty New York agent with a Masters in English Lit, who spends their Tuesday mornings sipping cappuccino in the Village decide your fate as a writer. Find a way to make it happen. Start a blog, go to publisher’s conferences, join writer’s groups, write short stories you can submit to contests or share online, network with other authors, self publish your book. Just find a way to make it happen and then write a book on all the hoops you had to jump through to make it happen. My point is, don’t give up on your dream and don’t let someone else decide your fate for you. There are too many wonderful books out there that never made it to print because some agent said ‘no’ and some author believed them.
4. As an author how do you interact with the community?
I I spend quite a bit of my spare time interacting with my community. I think this is an important part about being an author, as you get a chance to help other writers and get your name out among readers. I have put on several free creative writing workshops for both kids and adults through the local public libraries. These workshops are fairly easy to put on and are quite a bit of fun for myself and the attendees. I love sharing my writing experiences with others and helping them to develop their writing. I have also had the privilege of speaking at several local high schools. I find that English teachers and the librarians at the schools are usually more than happy to have an author come and speak. I have done these for groups as small as 10 and as large as several hundred.
5. What is your revision process like? Do you do most of it yourself, or do you enlist many others?
My revision process starts with my wife. Luckily I have a wife who is an avid reader of the genre I write in. She is great at helping me figure out areas that need more polishing or areas where the story is lagging. She is great at giving me that first level of review that I can use to begin my revision process. Another revision trick that I have found is to use college students majoring in English. These students will look over your work, give you great advice and come cheap. These students often look at this as a resume builder so they will often review your work for a fraction of the price of a professional editor. You can find these students by reaching out to English professors at a local college, putting up flyers on campus, putting an ad online or by placing an ad in the school’s paper.
6. Do have an ideal writing environment?
I do have an ideal writing environment. But my ideal environment changes based upon what I am writing. I am the type of writer that likes to try and feel the same emotions and experience the same thing my characters feel. This can be hard when you are writing sci-fi or fantasy but it can be done. For example, if I am writing a scene that takes place in a forest, I like to take my laptop and head out to the woods. This allows me to experience firsthand the sound of the birds, the feel of the grass on my feet or the texture of the bark on the trees. If I am writing something dark and mysterious I will turn out the lights in the house and crawl into a dark corner and write. Whatever it is that I am writing, my ideal environment is to take myself as close both mentally and physically as possible to what I am writing about. I think this helps bring legitimacy and believability to my writing. I want my readers to feel like they are there, to be able to picture the trees, feel the wind on their face, hear the sounds of the waves crashing against the jagged rocks.
7. Do you like to follow trends when you write, or do you think it’s best not to “jump on the bandwagon?”
I don’t like to think of myself as a follower of trends. For example, I tried to stay as far away from vampires and werewolves in my book, Seventh Earth, as possible. There is a certain satisfaction that I think can be gained by finding and developing relatively unique ideas. I also think that it can bring more credibility to you as a writer if you’re not perceived as a trend follower.
8. What advice can you give new authors about the business end of being an author? For example, what makes a good book signing?
A good book signing starts and finishes with an engaging author. If you just sit back at the table and wait for others to come by you will miss out on many sales and many great marketing opportunities. I once did a book signing at a store that was really lacking in foot traffic. The signing took place on Easter weekend in a college town so many of the residence were gone. Instead of sitting at the signing table waiting for the occasional customer to walk by, I went out and found customers in the store. I had a handful of book marks and walked around handing them out. I was able to get several sales from that. Many authors are introverts and would rather sit in a room and write. That is okay for when you are writing. But you need to be willing to switch gears and market as well. You have to be willing to put yourself out there and engage people. As a new author your chances of success will be much higher if you are out there setting up book signings, talking to librarians about doing workshops, handing out bookmarks to strangers, etc.
9. Are you planning on making this book a series? How long do you envision it?
There are three books in this series. I am currently working on the second book and hope to have it completed by the end of this year. The third book will probably be released the following year. After that I don’t have any plans to continue the series.
10. Is there anything else you’d like to tell your adoring fans?
I would like to thank all those who have read my book. I am overwhelmed by the wonderful support and great comments from fans of Seventh Earth. I wrote the book not knowing what to expect from readers. It has been great to see that so many not only enjoy the book but are passionate about it.