I was so excited by the idea of a possible new book in this series and the Kickstarter campaign that I wanted to ask JM a few questions. Watch the video and then have a read!
1) Is the mystery genre one that you’ve always been interested in writing in? Who are your favorite mystery writers?
It’s funny, I’ve never thought of myself as a mystery writer. I didn’t set out to write a mystery with Restless Spirits, but I guess it definitely has elements of that. The sequel, if I write it, will be even more of a whodunit–that’s one of the things that really tripped me up when I tried to write the original draft without an outline. I got about 30,000 words in and had to throw it all out and do an outline to untangle the knots of the mystery aspect of that whole story.
I don’t really read the mystery genre, outside of Sherlock Holmes–although I’m a big fan of The Dresden Files and I guess those qualify as mystery (and were undoubtedly a big influence on my writing at the time). I also occasionally read suspense thrillers like Tess Gerritsen’s Rizzoli & Isles series, which definitely have a crime solving aspect. But for me, with this book, the mystery aspect was just a backdrop for the characters to be interesting. It wasn’t really at the forefront of my mind when I wrote it.
2) I like the way the romance is worked into the story very organically and how it ties into other plot points. It’s not just “tacked on”. Was that romance part of your early planing?
Restless Spirits happens to be the one and only book I’ve ever managed to successfully pants (i.e., write with no planning or outline). So everything did unfold very organically. Once I started writing Ron and got into her character and her voice, everything just clicked and I just let her tell her story. I was more or less along for the ride on that one.
3) What challenges have you faced getting this out there, as you aren’t only the author here but also the editor and publisher?
This was the first book I self-published. It was my NaNoWriMo project way back in ‘08 (the first time I “won” that event, too–lot of firsts with this book), and in 2009 I made my first foray into self-publishing by posting it on a blog (I come from a fan fiction background so that felt really natural at the time). When people complained that it was hard to read in that format, I posted it on Scribd, and after a while I tried charging for the full download.
Around this time, there was a big movement in postcasting, where folks like J.C. Hutchins and Scott Sigler and Mur Lafferty were doing really neat things with serial podcast fiction. So I tried that next, but I only got two chapters recorded and edited before I knew that podcasting and I just weren’t a good fit.
Fast-forward to 2011, when Kindle Direct Publishing and Createspace were starting to be seen as legitimate roads to publishing. By that point I had taken my book (back then it was titled This Old Haunt) off of Scribd because it wasn’t really selling, but I’d gotten a lot of good feedback on it. So I decided to do another revision and release it as an actual book under its current title.
It got some great reader reviews right off the bat, and sales were small but steady for about the first year. They picked up a bit after I wrote my second novel, but it didn’t really gain traction until I made it “perma-free” on Amazon. Since then, I’ve given away probably a few thousand copies, but it’s garnered a respectable number of positive reviews and has done a lot to drive sales and borrows of my other books.
4) You’ve decide to put together a Kickstarter to fund the second novel in this series. What made you decide to go this route?
People have been asking me to do a sequel almost since the current version was first published, but for a long time I just didn’t see where the story could go from there. I felt like Ron’s story was done, and I had other story ideas I wanted to write. But then last year I was struck with inspiration for not just a sequel, but a whole series–at least four books, if not more.
So I tried to write the second book, and hoping that lightning would strike twice, I attempted to pants it. As I said above, that didn’t go so well and I had to throw out most of that first attempt and do an outline. But unfortunately, I haven’t been able to write any more on it, because life.
I would really like to write this series, but although requests for a sequel have been passionate, they haven’t been great in number, and since work forced me to put it on the back burner I’ve had inspiration for a number of other books I’d like to write.
I thought doing a Kickstarter would kill three birds with one stone; if successful, it would let me cut back on my freelancing hours and finally write the book without having to worry about how we’re going to buy groceries for the next three months, and also provide the needed funds to produce a big-publishing-quality book. It would also tell me whether there’s really a viable audience for this series. If there is, then I’ll know what I’ll be working on for the next year or two. If there’s not and the campaign doesn’t reach its funding goal (or even come close), then I can move on to one of those other projects with no guilt.
5) How will you be using the funds that you generate?
Whatever’s left after Kickstarter fees, processing fees, and order fulfillment costs (i.e. shipping, etc.) will have a sizeable chunk set aside for book production costs–editing, mainly, but I’d also like to see what a professional illustrator could do with the cover. I’ve always designed my own covers and I’m kind of a control freak in that area, but I don’t have a lot of ideas for this one that I’d be able to pull off well with my graphic design skills alone.
If there’s enough left over (in terms of either money or time), I’d also like to re-format the original Restless Spirits. I made a lot of amateur formatting mistakes with the paperback version that I haven’t had time to go back and correct now that I know what I’m doing. If I ever put out a boxed set I want everything to be consistent in terms of quality.
If we reach my initial funding goal, then the rest will help cover living expenses while I actually make the book. If we go over, then I’ll put together some stretch goals and new prizes. I’d like to do fun stuff like swag–I know a local artist who creates awesome jewelry around literary and fantasy themes–and maybe some kind of book launch event. I think it would be a lot of fun to get together with the local paranormal society and do a ghost tour that culminates with a reading and book signing at this local haunted theater; but that’ll be a big stretch goal, if my campaign ever reaches that point.
Thanks for coming on the blog! I wish you great success.