Friday, December 21, 2012

Paul Western-Pittard - HBS Author's Spotlight

Today our blog puts the Spotlight on Author Paul Western-Pittard. He is a Thriller, Fantasy and Science Fiction author from Australia.

Author Genre: Thriller, Fantasy, Science Fiction

Author's Blog: That Thing I Said
Blog: Amazon Author Page
Twitter: @Cerullean
Goodreads: Check Out Goodreads
LinkedIn: Check Out LinkedIn
Facebook: Check Out Facebook
Pinterest: Check Out Pinterest

Author Description: Writer and screenwriter.

The first thing that I was ever proud of was writing a story. Then I went to school and after that got a real job. I’ve worked in and around film and television since 1995. I started in technical support for Silicon Graphics based special effects tools and very quickly thought that it’d be much more fun on the other side of things. Moving over to production, I worked with a number of animation companies, ending up in all sorts of director, script editor and writer roles for web and television. Which was like that very first thing I did, but with bigger budgets.

And then somewhere in the middle of that I wrote the first part of a strange scifi comedy series, ‘Jan and The Spooky Periscope Incident’ which was published early 2012. I’ve recently completed my first novel, a dark psychological thriller – Undreamed, which is available on Amazon now. Two very different stories, but I’m a fan of contrast.

GoodReads, Author’s Den and BookDaily – Just search for Undreamed or Paul Western-Pittard.

SPOTLIGHT Questions and Answers with the Author

Let’s start with what’s next. Rumor has it that you have a couple books on the horizon: one, an Urban Fantasy and the other a psychological horror novel. Can you tell us their names, the timeline for their release and give us a little tease for our readers?

Yes, I’ve got two books cooking. The first, an Urban Fantasy which I hope to release around the middle of next year is called The Transcendents. Our world is slowly being unmade by an ancient magic gone toxic, and the only mages powerful enough to stop this are destroying one another in a blood feud. The Transcendents tells the story of Nick Lejune, the first Transcendent mage born in two generations and how he must unravel bitter lies and betrayals in order to save not only himself, but the world.

The Transcendents will be a serialised novel of six episodes around ten chapters each. I’ve never written a serialised novel before, and it’s fascinating discovering the right pace and voice. The Transcendents is dark, magical and fast. It’s a change of pace from Undreamed, and a blast to write.

The second book, which I hope to release early 2014 is called Godless. When Tara Laskin goes to the Town of Wolenbrook (known as the Mary Celeste of mining towns) to do a piece for her newspaper commemorating the 30th anniversary of the disappearance of the whole town's population in 1973, she unlocks a mystery both hideous and desperately personal. As she becomes haunted by the spirits of the missing, she’s forced to question her own identity and sanity as she confronts the darkest of Wolenbrook’s many secrets.

I grew up in a mining town in a desert region in Australia, so this story has a special resonance. Whilst writing Undreamed, I especially enjoyed the more paranormal moments, and this story is a deep extension of that interest.

You have a great twitter following. (In excess of 12K followers) How important are your social media relationships that you’ve formed? Do you see a carry over to your writing success?

That’s such an interesting question. I wasn’t very active on social media sites until the beginning of this year, and in truth I was quite skeptical of the whole thing. Like many authors though, I realized the need to build this ubiquitous so-called ‘platform’ and understood that social media would be key to that.

I chose twitter because it felt like it was the most accessible forum for making connections and sharing information. I’m relatively inactive on Facebook, Goodreads etc. but plan to change that next year. I like using Twitter because it’s a great way to sample across other reader’s and writer’s views, and good broadcast point if I have any news to share. It’s become central to how I communicate now.

In terms of carry over, it hasn’t much affected sales but it’s definitely increased awareness and helped enormously in connecting to other writers and publishing people. Most of the authors I interview on my blog come from Twitter connections - or referrals from them - and through that I’m able to get a much broader understanding on the state of indie publishing than I ever could if I tried to research it.

I like the book trailer you have for ‘Undreamed’ especially the sound of wind and water in the background. Also one of the clips had a thud at the end when the most important part was coming; your book cover. I thought that was quite effective in getting the viewer’s attention. (See link below.)

Do you know how much impact it had on your book's success? Tell us about the process that you used to create your trailers? Do you do them yourself or did you outsource them?

Thank you. I read somewhere that book trailers shouldn’t try to be film trailers, and I agree with that sentiment completely. I’m generally not a fan of trailers with volumes of text, or scenes from the book, however well produced. Having said that, I think trailers can have their place in the spectrum of advertising, but they need to bring something different to the table.

The trailers for Undreamed are pretty abstract, but they explore some of the subtexts of the book and are meant to capture more of the emotion of the central character, Alice.

I should say that I was interested in producing the trailers more as an extension of the storytelling than as marketing tools. After such an intense period writing/editing it was refreshing to explore some of these aspects in a different media.

It’s hard to tell. I can track links back from the trailers to the blog, but how many ultimately convert is difficult to figure.

As to process: I did them all myself. In a former life I used to work in post-production, graphics and effects, so I called on some of that to put them together. As I mentioned above, I wasn’t interested in quoting from the books or re-creating scenes, but in capturing a feeling.

So first, I figured out the theme of the trailer then sought out some key imagery to support that. The audio I sourced from generic audio effects cds and edited/mixed it to work. It’s always interesting how many subtle (and not so subtle) effects end up going in. I put it together with Final Cut Pro (Apple). Since much of the emotional state of Alice is dark and disturbed, I made use of number of distortions to amplify that. Each trailer took about a day to produce.

One of the trailers ‘Alice’s Poem’ is actually an old visual poem I created about eighteen years ago. It perfectly captured her mood, so I included it as well. I find it interesting that perhaps the genesis of this character may have been partially due to that poem.

What kinds of support groups do you belong too? Do they help with writing, marketing and the publishing process?

I have a small, close group of friends and supporters who I use to help get the book into the world. I use these people to read early drafts and critique the story. They’re also very helpful in fine tuning the voice of the stories, as it changes so much from book to book. In terms of writing, I’m actually looking for a writers’ group at the moment; the type of critical feedback and encouragement these groups bring is so valuable. At the moment, I handle the marketing, but again, am looking to team up with someone to help with this.

Have you ever done a book tour before? Along with that, when do you start the marketing process for a new book? Give a brief outline of the steps you go through to get your book to market.

I can’t say I have, but am planning one later for Undreamed. When I began Undreamed, I didn’t have a strong perspective on marketing or how it connected to a book’s presence in this overwhelming marketplace, but what I have learned is that marketing (in my mind - communication) starts very early.

I’m beginning to talk about The Transcendents (and even Godless) now, long before they’re finished. Very soon I’ll blog about them, and start talking about specifics. I think the big difference between social media/old media is that it’s social, that is, two way. I want to share my enthusiasm for the stories and talk with people about them.

Once there’s something more substantial, I’ll begin to post excepts on my site, twitter and the blog and listen keenly for feedback. Following that I’ll post the cover designs.

By this point, hopefully there’s some interest in the books, which I can capture in mailing lists. Prior to launch I’ll seek (honest) reviews and begin to promote the books via twitter, Goodreads, Facebook and my blog. At launch I’ll begin a book tour and offer some free copies in the promotion.

And after that... Well. Probably some intensive beach therapy and start all over again.

You have a great blog. You do a great job keeping readers informed, marketing your books and providing useful information to other writers. What is your primary goal?

If you’d have asked me this question prior to October, I would have said that the purpose of the blog was to provide samples of my work and promote my books. It’s changed now.

In October I began interviewing authors and learned that talking to and about other people is far more interesting than the (slightly) solipsistic focus on me and my own work. I’ll definitely continue to use the blog to provide updates and announcements - even a few more strange little stories, but the focus has definitely shifted to engaging more with the writing community.

The author interviews will continue, becoming weekly from January 2013. There’s a lot of interest at the moment so I hope I can get the interviews to be bi-weekly as soon as possible. I’m also starting to interview non-fiction authors as well as others from the broader publishing industry.

Ultimately, I plan to expand the blog to become something of a resource to writers, including techniques, services, software etc.

We have had several authors from Australia on the Spotlight. What kind of unique selling and marketing situations does that create? Where is your biggest reading audience, in the US or down under? Does marketing online help in this situation?

I’ve focused all my efforts so far on online - so I don’t consider myself as a writer to be part of a specific region. At the moment my biggest audience is in the US, followed by the UK, then Australia. I’d love to have a stronger local presence, and plan to attend some more of the great Melbourne writers’ festivals next year. Like most things, it’s about persistence and presence.

Besides writing, what other tasks to you do yourself to bring your writing to market? Do you outsource anything?

Like so many writers, I love what I do, which is telling stories. Beyond that, it becomes a struggle to find the time to market the books. I outsource my editing and cover art. I’d love to be able to work with a publicist or agent of some kind, and am hoping to team up with the right person some time soon.

You started in film and television and then became an Author. Is one of your goals to go full circle and see your novels on the big screen?

Yes, that would be exceptional. I’d love for one of the novels to be picked up by an interesting production company or director. Undreamed actually began life as a screenplay. Films are not books, and it’s natural that in the process of converting a manuscript to a screenplay, changes are needed, but the right hands, film can express the characters’ journeys in ways that novels cannot.

Author's Book List
Undreamed is a dark psychological thriller that tells the tale of Alice, a woman trapped between reality and a dream.

Alice is trapped in a nightmare. She leads two lives, both real to her, both flawless in their logic and texture, both filled with people that she loves and hates. One of these is a dream. She has no way of knowing which. A borderline junkie-heiress in Manhattan, or a recovering psych patient in Sydney, when Alice sleeps in one life, she wakes into the other.

Other than her own memory of them, her worlds are separate and seamless. In both her lives she tries to find clues to discover the root of her sickness, but nothing crosses over. She may as well be two completely different people. Caught in this impossible status quo, never able to bring herself to believe that the life she’s leading is true, Alice is trapped. Not believing either, she believes nothing. Then one day, her lives are fractured when something does cross over. First in Sydney then Manhattan, Alice meets a girl dressed in green. She knows this girl for what she is: the key to her escape. But as she unravels the girl’s secret, the realities of not one but both lives are challenged.

The question becomes: who is it that she’s really waking?
Book Trailer: Undreamed
Buy Page: Amazon
Jan and the Spooky Periscope Incident
The Chronicles of Jan
The first two installments of short stories in the Jan Series. Scifi / Comedy.

#1 Jan and the Spooky Periscope Incident. Jan gets all cross-dimensional when she invents a reality trans-locator. Things don't quite pan out as expected as she has to deal with machines with the energy output of the sun, nasal black holes, an evil robot named Lucky and a tribe of periscopes.

#2 Jan and the Mysterious Dishwasher Thing. In the second short, Jan discovers a very, very mysterious thing inside her dishwasher. But that's not the whole story, not by a long shot. It's a tale that involves a bunch of exotic particles, cascading dimensions, a gun that shoots mermaids, an Angelic Choir of one, more periscopes and yes, really a really big explosion.

Jan and The Spooky Periscope Incident is packed with weirdness, explosions, periscopes and shameless abuse of scientific terminology.
Buy Page: Amazon
Author Recommended by: HBSystems Publications
Publisher of ebooks, writing industry blogger and the sponsor of the HBS Author's Spotlight plus the blog: eBook Author’s Corner. Check out the index of other Spotlight authors. Spotlight Index.

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