An insight into the publishing world…

Posts tagged ‘kindle’

Exciting news from author Daniel Pembrey

Today’s interview is a catch up with my friend and author Daniel Pembrey, author of The Harbour Master. He’s dropped by Words Are My Craft to share with us some exciting news…

Daniel, what’s new since we last worked together on the Britcrime Online Literature Festival?

Hi Stephanie! Nice to be here … I just released a short story as a Kindle Single (Amazon’s curated, short e-book programme). The Lion Hunter was inspired by a combination of Cecil the lion, a recent trip to Tanzania and my re-reading of Hemingway’s African short stories. It’s about a newly married British couple who meet a Texan trophy hunter at a remote game lodge. The lion hunting turns out to be less morally straightforward than the husband bargains for. It really is short at approximately 40 pages. I loved writing it, and I love the creature it’s based around.

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You can buy The Lion Hunter: A Short Adventure Story here if you live in the UK and here if you’re in the US …

You seem to like novellas and short stories …

I really do – both as a reader and an author. I love nothing more than being gripped by a story during the course of a plane or train journey. Also I feel so lucky to be living in an era when there is a viable market for them. Before e-books, novellas were the realm of Hemingway and perhaps Stephen King; now, with programmes such as Kindle Singles, they are flourishing.

The Lion Hunter is in fact my fourth Kindle Single; the previous ones are a standalone espionage story called The Candidate: A Luxembourg Thriller and the first two instalments of the Harbour Master series.

Speaking of The Harbour Master, which I read and reviewed earlier in the year (click here to read); what’s going on with that?

Well, thanks to the success of the Harbour Master Kindle Singles (the first became the No. 1 Short Story on Amazon UK), I got a picked up by a great agent, and between her and the visibility I received at our BritCrime Festival this summer, I ended up receiving two offers from traditional publishers. I went with No Exit Press, who have built up a terrific crime list. The Harbour Master e-book novellas are now being withdrawn from sale in preparation for the launch of two, novel length books. The first should be out next year.

How exciting! So what else can we look forward to from you?

I’m working on a novel set in Berlin and the screen adaptation of my standalone spy story The Candidate, which has been optioned for a film in Luxembourg. I’m also working on the new Harbour Master stories, and of course there is the BritCrime Christmas Ball on Sunday December 13th to look forward to!

That will indeed be a ball! Thank you for taking part in this interview.

My pleasure! Thanks for having me, and see you on December 13th if not before!

Before you rush off, can you tell us where our readers can find you online?

Good catch! I am active on Twitter, https://twitter.com/DPemb, and also present on Facebook, https://www.facebook.com/DPembrey … You can view my latest news on my website too, http://www.danielprembrey.com, and also sign up there to receive my quarterly email newsletter with offers of free exclusive content. See you soon!

 

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Introducing Emmanuel Kolade, Founder of Shulph Book Platform

Today’s interview is with Emmanuel Kolade, a truly lovely designer whom I met on Twitter and whose new start-up company Shulph caught my attention. Launching in 2016, it aims to bridge the gap between print and digital books, and I am personally very excited about it. Find out more below about the man behind the product and what Shulph will be able to offer readers…

Emmanuel, founder of Shulph

Emmanuel, founder of Shulph

Please introduce yourself and give a brief overview of your career.

I am Emmanuel Kolade – an entrepreneur and experience designer. In my 14-year career as a designer, I have consulted for large clients across a wide array of industries to provide digital products or services for their people – be it customers, clients or employees. As a designer, I have always had an eye for and limited supply of patience for systems, services or products when they don’t work well enough. Or should I say, as well as I think they should?

I am also the founder of Shulph – an exciting new platform that allows book lovers harmonise their print and digital bookshelves.

Shulph – what’s it all about and how did it begin?

Shulph is an aggregator of a book lover’s print & digital bookshelves. It does this by enabling readers to buy a book once, but read it across multiple formats any time they want. Shulph follows and leads the reader through their buying and reading experience all the way from bookstores and online/in-app downloads to reading print and e-books. In short, we remove the friction people often experience when deciding whether to buy a book in print or digital format, but rather free the reader to move in and out of physical and digital spaces according to their contextual need at the moment in time when they need to read the title.

Shulph came from a dark but special place. The product was born from a personal frustration I have felt for some time. I read lots of nonfiction books. Some fiction books too, but if you take a look at my bookshelf, you’ll find more self-help, academic and professional textbooks than crime, science fiction and thriller titles.

I often experienced frustration when trying to reference content from one of my textbooks but couldn’t get access to it because it was either sitting in my shelf at home while I’m at work and I don’t have it in e-book. Or I want to re-read a fiction title I love but don’t want to carry the heavy hardback I bought excitedly on release day with me on the crammed train ride to work. These situations infuriate me to this day. When I fall in love with a title, I end up buying it twice. I’ve got several books in both print and digital formats because I want anytime, on-the-whim access to them. I am attached to my books like that. I initially thought I was the only person who felt this way until I started having conversations with other book lovers and they shared similar stories with me.

Who are the people behind Shulph?

I am working together with a small team of passionate believers. Mainly technologist who agree with me that the notion of readers having anytime, anywhere and any-format access to their library or shelf of books is one that needs to exist in the world.

What gap in the market do you think Shulph can fill?

The Shulph platform will appeal to readers who don’t want to be bound by format. There are those of us who believe that people shouldn’t have to choose between print and digital content. People who want to be able to put a print book down at page 15 to continue page 16 on a device because it suits their context at that moment and vice versa.

Why does Shulph seek to harmonize e-books with print books? Do you buy into the idea that the print book is dying a slow death?

The print book is not going away anytime soon. The dust is started to settle from the disruption that came about from the rise of e-books. My view is that both formats should complement –not compete with – each other. Both formats have very compelling use cases that it does not make sense that people find themselves choosing one over the other.

There are things digital books are great at which the print does not offer, and experiences that print books offer that digital can never replicate. Alternate endings and title updates (like app updates) are exciting prospects for the digital book in future. The print book offers tactile feedback and engages our senses in way that a digitally flipped pages just can’t. That synchronisation of people’s digital and physical bookshelves needs to happen because not having to choose should be a choice too.

 What are you particularly excited about for the launch of Shulph in 2016?

I can’t wait to see book lovers experience what is coming their way. Shulph will provide a liberating model to buyers of literature and I am just so excited to hear people describe how they feel about it. I think many people will eventually wonder how they ever lived without this service.

shulph-logo

 In your view, what do companies need to do in today’s ever-changing book industry to stay alive?

The book industry is quite an interesting one and we’re constantly having conversations with industry stakeholders including publishers, booksellers, authors and agents. Every one of these players needs to put the reader at the centre of their business strategy. Publishers, for example, need to stop thinking of booksellers as their customers.

Booksellers need to evolve what the in-store customer browsing and buying experience look like. We see bookstores as the most vulnerable players in the industry, and we are weaving the Shulph platform right into the ecosystem of bookstores. Our platform will drive customer traffic into bookstores and see them even start to fulfil book orders for local delivery or click-and-collect.

Authors need to engage more with readers through concepts like creating organic, evolvable titles. The concept of alternate endings and app-style update for titles are some interesting evolutions and innovations that authors and their agents should be thinking about.

In general and across most industries, customers are moving into a place where they expect to be able to engage with products and services through multiple entry points. Omni-channel customer experiences are quite becoming the next frontier for competitive commercial advantage. Publishers and booksellers will need to wake up to this imminent future sooner or later.

Personally, are you a big reader? If so, what have you read recently that really made an impact on you?

I am always reading something. I go through the nonfiction titles more quickly mainly because I apply them to my life almost instantly. I am currently re-reading a book titled ‘Zero to One’ by Peter Thiel. It’s a beautiful entrepreneurial book that talks about how the world is made better when we create new things that didn’t exist before. The ideas in the book keep me going when I often hit massive dead-ends on the road to bringing Shulph to the world.

You can follow Shulph on Twitter @shulph

To sign up for exciting launch updates and further information, visit www.shulph.co.

Terri Cox Talks Chick Lit and Translated Fiction!

The purpose of these interviews are to get a more intimate look at how reading affects people and why certain different kinds of literature appeals to different people. Looking at the differences in reading habits between one identical sister and another proves that the books and literature have the power to touch people in so many different ways. Following on from my Readers Insights interview with the first of my two triplet sisters Toni in which she discussed her love of non-fiction and self-help books, I now present to you an interview with the second triplet sister Terri Cox, who gives us a reader’s perspective on Chick Lit and translated fiction, and why these mean so much to her.

My gorgeous sister. Again, I'm not biased, honest.

My gorgeous sister. Again, I’m not biased, honest.

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself.

I’m Terri, 24. I love reading and have done since I was a kid. My main passion is for Modern Foreign Languages, namely French, Spanish and Italian.
 
What kind of literature/books do you read?

Fiction. Definitely. I think I have read exactly one autobiography in my entire life. My two favourite genres are fantasy, such as Harry Potter, and what people would refer to as ‘chick lit’, although I read much more of the latter as I get older.
 
Why does this genre speak to you and appeal to you more than others? What is it you love about it?

Fantasy and magic are for the child in me – the one that still loves the feeling of Christmas morning – but the adult storylines of corruption, mystery, romance and war that run alongside them are gripping and thought-provoking.
 

I love reading women’s fiction because it’s relatable – a cliché, but true. I can’t count the times I have laughed out loud or shed a tear over stories that have happened to me before.

 

There is nothing more disappointing than reading a whole book and realising you could have guessed the outcome 300 pages ago.
  
Is there a good fan base and/or community behind this work or this kind of book?

Fantasy series always have huge followings. For Harry Potter, the story carries on long after you close the book. There is so much more to be learned from the fan community, I love that the stories are rich and detailed enough to have still have unanswered questions, that whole debates and theories can still be found online or with other fans that you come across.
 
Toni, Me, and Terri

Toni, Me, and Terri

What do you think makes a good book in this genre?

There’s a stereotype attached to ‘Chick lit’ – that it is mass-produced, cheesy, mindless stories. I don’t find that to be true, if you’re reading the right titles. For me, for a book in this genre to stand out, I have to care about the character, believe that someone like that could exist out there somewhere
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A poor book in this genre for me personally is a predictable storyline. There is nothing more disappointing than reading a whole book and realising you could have guessed the outcome 300 pages ago.
 
I had the weirdest sense of déjà vu throughout the entire book – I had read the book before, but not in the same words.
Talk to me about some specific titles that are special or mean more to you and why. Is there a story behind why you value it? Did it make you feel a certain way when you read it?

A memorable title for me was during my year abroad I read a book called ‘Ti ricordi di me?’ in Italian by Sophie Kinsella, or ‘Remember me?’ in English. An advantage of reading a book in this genre in Italian for me was that the content was light and enjoyable, which I found helpful considering the actual language of the book was a big challenge. The book was a mess by the time I got through it, dog-eared and written all over in pencil. Because the book spoke about a lot everyday topics such as work and relationships and used a lot of everyday language, the vocabulary I learned from it was really useful. I read the same book a couple of years later in English, and I had the weirdest sense of déjà vu throughout the entire book – I had read the book before, but not in the same words.
 

Another book I loved was called the Amazing Adventures of Diet Girl – breaking my rule of thumb when it comes to non-fiction. It was written by an Australian lady called Shauna Reid and her weight-loss journey over the space of a few years. It was unbelievable how many of her diary entries could have been written by myself.
 
Who are your favourite authors and why?

Jane Costello and Lauren Weisberger are my ultimate ‘chick lit’ favourites (Lauren Weisberger is the author of The Devil Wear’s Prada). Jane Costello has a brilliant sense of humour, and for me her books have always been very dependable – most follow the stories of three main female protagonists who are friends – so I know exactly what kind of thing I’m going to get by reading the book. Having said that, she does still manage to weave a brilliant and original story for every single one of her characters throughout her books. For me, light entertainment and easy reading.
 

Jodi Picoult is another. I think the woman is a genius. But as a general rule after reading one of her books I need a good few weeks or even a few months break before reading another, as they go into very complicated, very deep, and very emotional storylines and are often full of sorrow.  They question society and morals. The court room trials are fascinating.
 

A great middle ground is Cecilia Ahern. Not quite as heavy as Picoult, but covers a wider range of issues than Jane Costello. And there is just a slight  mystical or spiritual edge and sometimes even a hint of the supernatural in some of her books.
 

J.K Rowling…for obvious reasons.
 
 
Where do you most like to buy your books?

I have a Kindle which is great for travelling, or if you need to get hold of a book straight away, but at the minute is in a corner gathering dust. I don’t see the appeal of yet another screen full of data. I buy my books from Waterstones…the closest I’ll get to the feel of a traditional bookshop.
 
How do you find out about new titles in this genre?

I rely on word of mouth from friends and family to recommend books for me. I find they have a much wider range in taste than me. If it were left solely up to me, I would stay in my comfort zone and just read authors similar to ones I already read. For that reason only, I am part way through a Stephen King book that you recommended to me. I wouldn’t have ever considered reading it otherwise. Likewise for the odd Dan Brown book, and books such as the Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime. Genius works that I would otherwise miss out on.

 

What are you reading at the moment/looking to read next?

My next aim to find a good title, and buy it in French, Spanish and Italian. Reading books in foreign languages are a lot like study for the first few books you read, and can take a long time. But my long-term aim is to be able to read them for leisure just like any book I would read in English. A brilliant way to combine my two favourite hobbies.
Me and my literary sisters.

Me and my literary sisters.

The Print vs. Digital Argument – Should Sentiment Be Ignored?

So here we go again: the Digital vs. Print debate. I fully understand that there are many, many posts on this subject, and I can’t even pretend to know in depth or to have studied intently the data and statistics behind this huge publishing topic. I have read numerous articles from a large number of sources, all more equipped with and informed by numbers that I personally don’t have. But I guess I’m not pretending that this article is going to be backed up by lots of figures and graphs, etc. I want this post to be a little more personal, sentimental and emotional than a market analysis.

Now, I’m not going to pretend that any amount of my friends can be used as a sizeable enough sample – but just like the topic and nature of my post, I don’t want to look at this like a scientific or quantitative experiment. I want to look at it from a sociological and qualitative point of view. And I’m taking a look at the world directly around me. To this end, I asked my friends on Facebook which they preferred: digital or print?

print v d

Out of 23 friends who answered, all but two of them said they preferred print. But again, it’s not really the numbers that mean anything, but rather the reasons behind their decisions.

What I’ve noticed that with all of the responses I received is that those who answered that they prefer digital, or prefer print but still like digital, gave purely convenience and practical-based reasons. For example, one friend has severe arthritis and using a Kindle makes reading far easier for her than reading print books. Another friend has vision impairment and finds the ability to adjust font size a real help. One preferred to be able to carry around large numbers of books without using up a lot of space.

Those who preferred print, however, tended to give reasons that were rooted in emotion and senses. And that’s the general theme of my post.

6 or 7 people claimed to love the smell of books. 3 people mentioned that cuddling up to read a good book somehow ‘doesn’t feel as cuddly’ when you’re holding onto plastic and metal. Many said that you can’t beat going into a good book shop and buying a physical copy, and that it reminds them of their childhood. One friend stated that ‘you can’t beat a gorgeous cover and pages to turn.’ (It’s also worth pointing out that print was also deemed to more ‘practical’ than digital in a number of ways, too – you can’t leave it hanging around on the beach, it makes people’s eyes blurry, charging is a pain). Two of my friends – Kevin Duffy and Mark Moreau, both of whom are publishers – also professed their love of print.

print v digital

Sentimentality and emotions play a big part in the book-lover universe. In my view, there is only so far that convenience can take priority over sentiment and emotion. We need our comfort, senses and emotions in life in order to make life worth living. In a world where I am reading more and more about Big Data and having to look at readers as statistics and figures, it just kind of helps the sentimental girl in me to look at things from this kind of perspective. To engage with other readers and take a look not at how their buying habits combine with others to form a large dataset (as critical as they are in today’s business, I admit) but rather at their emotions and their feelings toward the print book and its counterpart.

I would also like to discuss this subject on a publishing business/community level as well. I’d want to talk about this year’s London Book Fair.

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At the London Book Fair, I attended the Real ‘New’ Publishing talk with a panel of publishing professionals – Katharine Reeve, the Course Director for Publishing at Bath Spa University, Caroline Harris, the co-founder of Harris & Wilson, Vince Medeiros, publisher at TCOLondon Publishing, and Miranda West, publisher at the Do Book Company. The purpose of their talk was to discuss what independent publishing companies are doing differently to traditional publishers, and also how they are preserving the creativity in this creative industry:

A new generation of independent publishing companies, starting from scratch, are doing things rather differently. They are creating highly-desirable publications, putting editorial and design, innovation and creativity at the heart of what they do, and setting new trends and communicating with their audience.

Each publisher spoke of the importance of preserving the print book in an increasingly digital age.

Katharine Reeve kicked off proceedings by discussing the changes that are happening right now in the publishing world. Publishers are having to experiment with new, different formats to get their voices heard and their products noticed – among those are social media, talks and events, multi-channel marketing and, most importantly, experimenting with different types of print.

The print book is still dominant, she said. And there are a number of publishers who are using that to their advantage. As well as this, new publishers don’t have that awkward transition from print to digital with their backlists – they can start both from scratch and make their products an art form.

I think that was also an underlying theme in this discussion – that the print book, or pamphlet, or newsletter, or whichever format publishers are playing around with these days, can still be made into, and considered, an art form. The finished product means something to the owner.

Miranda West of Do Books Company acknowledged customers’ appreciation of well-crafted, well-designed books. She pointed out that smaller publishing houses can think more about layout and the creative look of a book. They have complete creative freedom, and can use this to create a strong brand and a strong identity. Overall, she emphasised that books – and print books especially – can change lives and inspire, as well as being genuinely useful.

Vince Medeiros of TCOLondon explored the idea of print and how it was majorly disrupted by the economic crisis and the growth of digital. But he also stressed that print and physical literature and books can give the reader things that digital will never be able to achieve. Magnets and heat sensitive paper are just a couple of his ideas for ways to be creative with print. He explained that these kinds of things can inspire a level of excitement that digital just can’t touch.

The London Book Fair at Olympia.

The London Book Fair at Olympia.

Books are the perfect medium, he argued. Even some of the largest companies, like Apple, are producing print publications for their employees. And why print books? Because they add value. The scarcity of a finite print run gives them value. They are tangible. We can physically interact with them.

This is not to say that print lovers and those who are still advocates of the print book are not moving with the times. Embracing print does not mean ignoring digital, and vice versa. As Caroline Harris of Harris & Wilson discussed, in these turbulent times publishers need to start positioning themselves as ‘brands’, and in order to achieve this publishers need to create a beautiful and well-crafted book or publication, and then build an online community by supporting the publication with extra media channels. It’s about publishing professions being responsive and agile. It’s about taking a look at the current climate and trends and being able to adapt your business to keep up with that, without losing the core focus and love of the print book. We can keep our love of the print book at the heart of what we do – it’s just that we can’t put all of our eggs into the ‘Just Books Basket’ any more. Business needs diversification.

Her final point was that print books have even more value now, and are more desirable precisely because the general reading society perceives there to be a threat. Again, sentimentality and emotion kicks in here. We want to preserve what once made our culture so great.

Perhaps I’m wrong, but I did get a sense here that the general argument was that we’re not necessarily now living in a ‘digital first’ era, but rather publishers are using digital in order to strengthen the particular book or publication. In other words, the whole thing becomes a brand rather than a product. And a brand can produce a core idea or value in many different formats. For this reason, and this is just my own point of view, I think that while this is true of business, one format will not kill the other. We need sentimentality just as much as we need convenience. One does not necessarily trump the other.

My overall argument here is that the reason I don’t believe that print will go the same way as other outdated formats and become completely obsolete is because, while there are still humans out there, there will always be some level of sentimentality. And I believe there is enough sentimentality and love out there to keep the print format alive. It may be smaller than before, and it may be facing opposition – but this publishing enthusiast believes it will always be around. Call me old-fashioned.

Or maybe I’m just a bit sentimental.

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Me and my book shelf – can you tell which format I prefer?

What do you think of this ongoing argument? Which still has your heart – print or digital?

Sam Harrison explains the fantasy genre!

Today I’m talking to one of my best friends, Sam Harrison, about the books that he most enjoys reading. We’ve heard from one reader already who discussed his love of the graphic novel and comic books and why; now we take a look at the fantasy genre and why it is so appealing to readers…

Sam Harrison...John Samuel Harrison in formal social circles ;)

Sam Harrison…John Samuel Harrison in formal social circles 😉

Please introduce yourself and tell me a little bit about yourself.

My name is John Samuel Harrison, I am a 26 year old Geology graduate and experienced IT technician from Kingston Upon Hull. I have a varied interest in art, sport and science. I have read throughout both my childhood and adult life from the tentative age of around 5 or 6 years old. This I believe has helped create what I have been told is quite an active imagination, which I have used to fuel projects of my own from short stories to comic book ideas throughout my life.

What kind of literature/books do you read? Why does this genre speak to you and appeal to you more than others? What is it you love about it?

Predominantly I would say I read more of the fantasy genre than any other. I would say this is because fantasy isn’t bound by modern convention, social norms or laws of physics. The worlds authors create are often so different to our own that the mere fact that it is a planetoid is the only similarity. The author can be as otherworldly or as familiar as the he/she wants and for the reader, there are a dozen sub-genres to choose from (as well as all the combinations thereof).

Overall, it’s the unknown element of fantasy that appeals to me. I like not knowing and discovering new things, I like to feel the thrill of adventure across an uncharted land. I love the hot-headed decisions that are made in dire situations, such as the sudden occurrence of a mythical beast no one has encountered. I love that a well-structured magic system can make or break a story and add depth that isn’t possible within conventional fiction. All of these elements allow me to ingratiate myself in the world as I read and make it my own. I get lost in the story which means more often than not I struggle to put a book down once I have started to get my teeth into it, as it were. If a reader wants to go out on a limb and experience a story that’s wholly new, fantasy is the genre to explore.

Talk to me about some specific titles that are special or mean more to you and why. Is there a story behind why you value it? Did it make you feel a certain way when you read it?

Jacka_Alex_Verus

I have read many different types of fantasy fiction, one example being the Alex Verus series by Benedict Jacka, which is a great introduction for to the world of urban fantasy series. It has a lot of what you’d expect—magical people doing magical things in a modern setting, with enough emphasis on the setting to make the story both original and believable. It also has some original elements that I found particularly intriguing, not least the fact that the protagonist’s main powers are passive and seemingly weak compared to others in the story.

Reading this particular book made me reflect on something which I found quite amusing. As a child I would imagine the Harry Potter world to be my ideal fantasy life. A hidden world of magic and mystery where for the most part everyone is kept safe and is moderately unaffected by magic, and when evil rears its ugly head some pure hearted soul quashes them with minimal losses. However, now that I’m a little older and I would hope to think wiser, the Alex Verus universe is what I think a real fantasy world would be like. It wouldn’t just be good people that always win. There would be no pure of heart goody-two-shoes who fixes everything. There would be real people making real, often catastrophic, mistakes. The Alex Verus universe accurately depicts the underlying dark element of our world that would still exist in a fantasy setting.

This has made me realise how much I have grown as a person, from a young, naïve dreamer to a man who accepts and understands the real and often harsh world we live in. That’s why having such a vast range of fantasy literature out there, for all ages, is so important.

Reading at a young age has helped me develop quite an active imagination.

Who are your favourite authors and why?

My favourite authors within the fantasy genre are the following:

Patrick Rothfuss

Patrick Rothfuss : The man is an all-round amazing guy. He is an avid RP player, bard and fighter extraordinaire within Acquisition Incorporated, as well as being an amazing writer. Just take a look at what he wrote on Goodreads about the third instalment of his book, which somehow has reviews despite the book not being released yet:

“While it’s nice to see folks out there giving this book five stars, and in some cases even reviewing it, I’ll admit that I’m kinda puzzled. After thinking it over for a while, I’ve realized there’s only one explanation for this:
Time travellers love my books.
This is strangely reassuring, as it lets me know that, eventually, I do finish my revisions, and the book turns out good enough so that I still have a following out there in the big ball of wibbly-wobbly…. timey-wimey…. stuff that I like to think of as the future.”

Scott Lynch: This is another man who is a wizard of words and puppetmaster of your emotions. He makes you fall in love with a character and hang on their every word before giving you a metaphorical wink and dropping the character off a cliff, ripping out your heart and stamping on it! I now don’t trust him as several times he has brought me nearly to tears or so angry with the “bad guy” I could have spit blood!

To demonstrate this man’s sheer tenacity, here is a tweet from him from July 17 2012:

“If you want to write a negative review, don’t tickle me gently with your aesthetic displeasure about my work. Unleash the goddamn Kraken.”

Is there a good fan base and/or community behind this work or this kind of book?

In short – yes! The longer answer would be that there is an amazing and incredibly vast fan base and community across the fantasy genre. Fans from every category, from steampunk to entire world-building extravaganzas such as the Discworld series, flock together and create vast amounts of fan-based content. People write fan faction, fan art, develop games, graphic novels, films, all stemming from fantasy fiction.

Fan bases are represented at EXPO’s and various other conventions worldwide, where the authors can come and meet their fans and give talks on their thought processes. More well-known authors such as Patrick Rothfuss often help out smaller projects and raise vast amounts of money for charity. The fantasy genre is the estranged cousin of sci-fi and “nerd” culture which often overlap in various crossovers. It is a very supportive but often highly critical fan culture where the meek tremble but the brave rise among the masses!

The fantasy genre isn’t bound by modern convention, social norms or laws of physics.

What do you think makes a good book in this genre?

What makes a novel good? This is certainly one of those questions that can generate a lot of debates and discussion. Most, I believe, would describe a successful fantasy novel as original, interesting, or maybe even breath-taking. None of these things actually define what a fantasy novel is. The bare bones of it is that it needs to be a compelling story. It doesn’t need to be 100% original.

What it needs is a spark, and that spark triggers off the reader’s imagination. It creates a bond between the literature and the reader, and if you can do that, you can make the reader relate to the story, no matter how fantastical.

Fantasy writers also need to make their characters believable. This is essential if you want to hook and keep readers interested in the story. A great way to achieve this is to apply logic to every character in every fantasy world you create.

This means creating a set of rules that apply to the world and the characters. The rules can be based on either real life or they can be simply invented by you. These rules will also have to dictate how your magic systems work in the world and how they affect inhabitants. And most of all – get to know your imaginary world – you need to be able to describe it in detail if you are going to convince your readers that it exists!

There is an amazing and incredibly vast fan base and community across the fantasy genre.

Where do you most like to buy your books?

This depends on my mood, and whether I am planning on any travelling in the imminent future. If I’m planning a nice quite evening at home with my slippers on and rum in my hand, I would go to Waterstones and buy a hardcopy of the book. If I am planning on travelling anywhere I would purchase it from the Amazon Kindle Store and download it to my aptly named “travelling companion” which is of course my Paperwhite Kindle. This allows me to carry multiple books and still travel light.

How do you find out about new titles in this genre?

I use Goodreads which is a website that allows the user to log what they’re reading and have read as well as those they wish to read. The website also includes a rate and review function, which allows all members to review the book and rate it. It is usually through these reviews that I pick my next purchase. Alternatively, I’m sometimes approached by my friends with new book suggestions.

What are you reading at the moment/looking to read next?

I have just finished the second instalment of the Kingkiller Chronicle by Patrick Rothfuss (recommended by a friend through word-of-mouth.) I am going to start reading Rogues which is a thrilling collection of twenty-one original stories by an all-star list of contributors including a new Game of Thrones story by George R. R. Martin.

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