Monday, May 6, 2013

Interview with Larry Enright


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My latest book is “A Cape May Diamond,” published October, 2012. It is the sequel to “Four Years from Home,” though reading “Four Years” first is not required to appreciate the book. It picks up the story of Tom Ryan after his release from jail in 1975. He is a convicted draft dodger, alienated from his family and friends, who winds up in the town of Cape May. At that time in history, Cape May was like Tom, down on its luck and sinking fast. It was a rundown shore town that had never recovered from the devastation of a storm some years before, and was struggling like Tom against a tide of desperation and hopelessness. In this book, both Tom and Cape May are seeking renewal and redemption, and the plot is a weave of the two stories into one theme. I would classify it as a mystery/romance, though I don’t think there is such a category on Amazon.

Do you have a favorite character?
Tom Ryan has always been my favorite character. He appears in four of my five novels, though not always as the main character. He is not a person you would find easy to like if you met him in real life, but if you can get through his often obnoxious and sarcastic exterior, you might come to love him as I do. I guess that’s the result of my drawing him in a way that is sometimes how I view myself — someone trying to do the right thing and very rarely seeming to succeed.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
I have not tried this route since the 1980s. I actually wrote three novels before self-publishing “Four Years from Home” in 2010. The first of them was in the early 1980s. I queried agents and publishers when it was done and got nowhere. It was very ego bruising. The second and third novels, I wrote and simply put on a shelf, chalking them up as efforts to get better at the craft. When I finished “Four Years from Home,” I decided to self-publish mainly to avoid the anguish involved in the drawn-out process of trying to get an agent or a publisher. Yes, I am a chicken at heart. I later found out, though, that there are many advantages in self-publishing. But that does not make me any less the chicken.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
I write in silence because I think best in silence. I cannot listen to music and do anything else, probably because I am a musician and am too easily drawn into it to detach the writing part of my brain from it. I work best in a room by myself because I often will read my writing out loud. It’s kind of like singing in the shower for writers. It may sound funny, but it’s very important that it sound right to me. I think that makes for better dialogue, in particular, but it also gives me a better sense of the flow of the story to hear it read.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I work with an editor and a separate proofreader. I’m not sure it’s possible to do without either and still come out of it with a good finished product. I know nothing I do will ever be perfect, but a good editor and proofreader will get me a lot closer.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
All of my books are available in paperback and for Nook and Kindle. They’re all listed on Barnes and Noble, Amazon, Google Books, Books-a-Million, and Alibris.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have a Facebook fan page https://www.facebook.com/LarryEnrightAuthor .
I tweet from @LarryEnright .
I am somewhat active on the Kindle Boards www.kboards.com .
I am on Goodreads in several groups http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/4496550.Larry_Enright . 
I have a website at http://www.larryenright.net/ .

I post fairly regularly on my Facebook page, though I only have 300+ followers.  Generally the posts are not to sell my books but just things I have found either funny or appropriate or newsworthy. On Twitter, I try to support other authors as much as I can by retweeting them and I tweet one or two sales-type things a day. Google Plus is a similar place for me. I try to share other authors’ posts and do one of my own. Kindle Boards and Goodreads are spottier for me, mostly because of time. I blog once a month or so, and my website is fairly static unless I have a new book out.

Not a very imaginative marketing plan, is it? I have found that the problem with this style of marketing is that it connects writers to writers, not writers to readers. They’re a great bunch of people, don’t get me wrong, but the whole point of marketing should be to connect to the customer, not the competition. (I use this term loosely because the other writers I am connected to are friends and not really competitors, but you get the idea, I hope.)  But, I plug along and enjoy writing, and thank God I don’t rely on my writer’s income for my total support, or I’d be a starving old artist for sure.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Absolutely yes! I’m finding it harder and harder to keep up with it and my writing. It is a part of the business that I have never liked and am not very good at. But in the position I am in, it is necessary, so I keep at it and try to do my best without driving myself crazy. (It may be too late for that, but don’t tell anyone.)

Besides writing, do you have any other passions?
Music is my other passion. I have played guitar since 1964, making it the longest running endeavor of my life. I used to be better at it when I was younger and more agile, but I can still pick a little. I’ve recorded a few things for Youtube over the past few years that I collected onto one page of my blog http://fouryearsfromhome.blogspot.com/p/music.html. In the late 1970s I played professionally and I still do the occasional open mike night, but I guess you would call me a semi-retired musician.

What’s next for you?
I am currently working on another novel that is in its fourth draft now. It is the story of a young man’s search for his place in life, an old man’s search for closure in his, and the woman who brings them together. I started it back in October 2012, so it’s been a long haul. I like the story, but it’s been difficult in the telling. I want to get this one right, just as I want to get them all right.