Susan D. Matley interview with David Alan Binder

posted Mar 8, 2016, 6:07 AM by David Alan Binder   [ updated May 16, 2016, 6:28 AM ]

Susan D. Matley interview with David Alan Binder

  Web Site:    http://susandmatley.com/

 Her Blog:    http://www.susandmatley.com/official-blog/the-joys-of-blurb-craft/

1.     How do you pronounce your name?

Mat-lee

 2.     Where are you currently living?

Washington State

 3.     When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always enjoyed writing but I was probably in my mid-30s when I realized I wanted to be a writer.


4.     How long on average does it take you to write a book?

This varies widely. Anywhere from one year to five years. I tend to let several projects evolve at once and though I usually start with an outline, this linear approach doesn’t last very far into the process.

5.     What is your work schedule like when you're writing?

I write Monday-Friday, 3 hours average. Marketing also takes a lot of time, now that I have a book out.

6.     What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

That I’m not quirky, just a person who writes on a regular schedule.

7.     Did you self publish or have a publisher?

I have a publisher.

a.     If publisher, who is the name of your publisher and in what city are they?

WolfSinger Publications, Fort Collins, CO.


8.     How do you feel about eBooks vs. print books and alternative vs. conventional publishing?

I prefer print books to eBooks but both have their place in today’s world. In general, I’d rather read from a book than off a screen. I’m not a big fan of self-publishing; I read a lot of these and a lot of conventional; in most cases, the conventionally published books are a more polished and readable product than the self-pubs.

 

9.     What process did you go through to get your book published?

I found the publisher’s name through some website- https://duotrope.com

It was hard to find a place to submit my book because “Small-g City” is a novella and not a lot of places publish these. I sent the manuscript to WolfSinger in June 2011 and it was accepted for publication December 2013. The book was released August 14, 2015. WolfSinger sent me some edits, handled the typesetting and engaged the artist for cover art; they also arranged production (through CreateSpace), set up an e-book format and some book distribution points.

 

10.                        Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

Just about everywhere. I write both speculative fiction and western historical fiction, so the range is pretty wide.

11.                        When did you write your first book and how old were you?

I finished my first book-length manuscript in the mid-1990s. I was in my mid-30s.

12.                        What do you like to do when you're not writing?

I love working outdoors- -gardening type of stuff. I play a few instruments, tap dance, work on my singing voice and (of course) read.

13.                        What does your family think of your writing?

They are very supportive. My husband is my First Reader and Mom is my biggest fan. “Small-g City” is dedicated to both of them.

14.                        What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That when doing research, people are more than happy to share their expertise.

15.                        How many books have you written? 7                Which is your favorite? “Small-g City” (which is also the only one published, so far)

16.                        Do you have any suggestions to help others become a better writer?        If so, what are they?

You can only become a writer by writing a lot and reading a lot. If you’re not willing to put in the time, do something else. Finding a good mentor can be very helpful, and more than one is better still, especially if they can advise you on different aspects of being a writer (including marketing, which is a huge deal for most writers these days).

17.                        Do you hear from your readers much?

Sure. What kinds of things do they say? That they like the book/story (I have 8 short stories in publication at different print and online journals). Sometimes they’ll talk about their favorite character. For “Small-g City,” many readers have said, “I’ll never look at the Alaskan Way Viaduct in the same way again.” This makes me feel like my book really made an impact.

18.                        Who is your main audience for your books?

Adults with a sense of humor.

19.                        What do you think makes a good story?

A plot and characters that most people can relate to, but with an unexpected twist. Ray Bradbury was really good at this and he is one of my favorite authors.

20.                        As a child, what did you want to do when you grew up?

I wanted first to be a sheep dog, but that career path was discouraged. When I started college I was determined to be an actress. I ended up finishing college as an accountant and spent the next 15 years apologizing for that until I got back to working in the arts. I have worked as a professional musician and semi-professional actor and enjoyed both of these occupations.

 

21.                        How did you become involved with the subject or theme of your book?

Life experience. The characters in “Small-g City” are in crisis about a number of things I’ve been through, including job burn-out.

 

22.                        Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? 

After writing some not very good romance novels (I was attracted to the market more than I was a fan of the genre) I realized my heart was in speculative fiction. I’ve always enjoyed Ray Bradbury’s writing. Re-reading his work nudged me to follow my natural inclinations. Western historical comes out of family history. My family first came “out west” in 1851.

          If you write more than one field or genre, how do you balance them?

I usually prioritize the project that I next plan to pitch, which at the moment is the third volume of the “Small-g City” series. I usually work on two or more projects in varying degrees, but I do better if only one of them is a western historical; keeping the period details straight was too challenging when I tried to write in both the 1850s and the 1890s.

 

23.                        What do you think most characterizes your writing?

I don’t like to waste words and aim to write economically.


24.                        What inspires you?  

Just about everything.

25.                        How did you get to be where you are in your life today?

From living through 56 years and attempting to follow the best path available throughout. About 15 years ago I switched from mostly accounting to mostly playing/performing music. About 3 years ago, I dug in and started writing full time.

26.                        Who are some of your favorite authors that you feel were influential in your work?

Definitely Ray Bradbury. I like a lot of Stephen King’s work, also his work ethic. Christopher Moore has a lot of multi-character craziness in his books that I enjoy. C. S. Lewis’ Narnia Chronicles and L. Frank Baum’s Oz books were very early influences and I still think that living in the worlds they created would be a lot of fun.

27.                        Are you a full-time or part-time writer? 

Full time. Now the trick is to earn full-time compensation! I’m building my list.           How does that affect your writing? Going full-time has made a big difference in my ability to edit my own work, just from having to deal with this on a regular basis. Since “Small-g City” came out I’ve had to dedicate many hours a week to marketing, too.

28.                        What are some day jobs that you have held? 

Retail and accounting, mostly. I was a moonlighting actress/musician/writer for a long time and a full-time musician for more than a decade.  

Did any of them impact your writing?

Sure. Every experience in life will end up in a story, if I write long enough. Mostly, the past jobs are good for creating settings and actions that are authentic in detail.

29.                        What makes your book stand out from the crowd?

“Small-g City” combines Greek mythology with a dilapidated raised highway known as the Alaskan Way Viaduct (in Seattle, WA). Nobody’s done that before!

30.                        What are some ways in which you promote your work?

Interviews online like this one, also with newspapers and radio. In-person events such as readings and book-signings (book stores, libraries, private homes, civic groups, etc.) Through my website http://susandmatley.com/

31.                        What do you like to read in your free time?

“The Bone Clocks” was the last book I read just for fun and I really enjoyed the out-there, complicated world that David Mitchell created. I do a lot of genre and research reading; some of this is a joy and some of it is work.

32.                        What projects are you working on at the present?

Third book in the “Small-g City” series; a local history novella to pair with a completed local history novella; sequel to a western historical novel set in 1850s Oregon Territory

33.                        If you had one thing you could do over (concerning writing, publishing, etc.), what would it be and why?

I’d dig in my heels and go full-time when I was about 35 instead of waiting until I was in my 50s. It takes a long time to get published and then build a list, reputation, marketing platform and fan base.

34.                        What question do you wish that someone would ask about your book, but nobody has?

So many good questions have been asked; I can’t think of one that would improve on the standing list.


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