interviewing a published author!

So hopefully you were able to read A.J.’s guest blog yesterday. (If not, you might want to check it out, because this post is a follow-up to that one! Also, did you buy her book yet?) She was kind enough to agree to be interviewed, and here it is!

Now that your novella has been out for a couple of weeks, has your anxiety about releasing it gotten better, worse or the same?
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t still have some anxiety, but I think the focus of my anxiety has changed. I’m no longer worried that readers might not like my novella. I am more concerned that I’m going to confront the same group of worries every time I publish something, that I’m going to hear that little voice wait “what if they hate it” every time something goes to press. I’m not terribly worried, though. I imagine that I’ll be a little more confident the next time I publish. If I publish often enough, I bet that I’ll eventually be able to hit that little voice with a gag order.

What has been one of the best experiences/conversations/whatever since the novella was published?
Wow – there have been so many. I think one of the coolest things I’ve seen so far took place on Facebook. Two or three people I knew from high school were reading the book and discussing it in a comment thread. They were quoting parts of the book back and forth. Seeing my own words quoted on Facebook by folks I haven’t seen in years was amazing.

How has the feedback been? How did your processing of the feedback change (or confirm) your anxiety about “letting it go”?
The feedback has helped me with my own fears. Many people I know bought the book and told me they enjoyed it, but some of the most validating feedback came in the form of reviews and emails from people I’ve never met. Some of them asked for a sequel.  I’m not exactly sure how some of these readers found my book, but it was wonderful to know that there is an audience for my work, and that this group of readers would like more. The knowledge that there is an audience for this work did help me to let it go.

Any advice for writers who are about to be published?
Enjoy the experience and, if your inner editor refuses to stop editing even when you’re published, try to silence her. Give her a cocktail or something.

Publishing Beware the Hawk

And the Defining Moments Series continues! A.J. O’ Connell, who was previously kind enough to write a guest blog for this series- on having two names– is back to discuss another defining moment in her life. I know A.J. because we both attended Fairfield University’s incredible MFA program. I’m so proud of her for recently publishing her first novella, and I couldn’t be more excited to promote it (you can purchase it here for only $2.99!!) on my blog.

The day my novella, Beware the Hawk, went up for sale on Amazon was the day I realized that I could not take the book back.

It sounds like a strange and ungrateful realization for an author to have.

I sent the manuscript to my publisher, Vagabondage Press, in September, with the hope that it would be published. I proofread the galleys in December, knowing that the book would be published. I promoted the book in January, because I wanted people to read it once it was published. All I’ve ever wanted to do is write  – and publish – fiction.

And then, one day before my official release date, when Amazon put my book up for sale and people actually started buying it, I started to panic a little.

I watched the comments on Facebook as friends spread the word that my book was for sale. Some people even bought it and started reading it on the same day.

I was elated, but in the back of my mind, something clicked: This novella, this story that sat idle on my computer for eight years, while I and I alone had access to the plot and the characters, could no longer be edited. I would no longer be able to make changes. If someone didn’t like it, I couldn’t make it better. It was published.

A little voice in the back of my brain, a voice I didn’t even know I had, started wailing “It’s not perfect. What if they hate it?”

I couldn’t believe my own reaction. I thought I’d been hardened by years of workshop, and it’s not like I hadn’t been cautioned about this. I’ve been hearing the Warning for as long as I’ve wanted to be a writer. If you’re an artist, you’ve probably heard it too.  It goes a little like this: “Once you put your work out there, you cease to have complete control over it. Other people have a stake in it. Other peoples develop opinions about it. You have to let it go.”

In other words, your work is no longer living in the safety of your head, and is no longer even in the relative safety of a writers’ workshop. It’s out in the big bad world, where some people will love it, some people will hate it and some people will remain indifferent to it.

Being published means accepting that, and I think, accepting your own fears about your work and yes, now I know that I have these fears. On the flip side, there is a thrill in knowing that the characters I invented are roaming around in the heads of other people.

I’m elated to know that other people are living in the same imaginary world I created 10 years ago, and I can’t wait to publish something else.

Congrats, A.J. on this incredible accomplishment. I hope many of you will go and purchase the novella. It’s cheaper than a cup of coffee, but will keep you happier for much longer. Also, even more exciting news. I interviewed A.J. after reading this guest blog, and will be posting the interview TOMORROW! So check back tomorrow morning!

On a side note, I’ve decided to start accepting submissions again for the Defining Moments Series. I’ll write more about it in a couple of days, but if you think you would like to contribute, get in touch with me.