Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Interview with Jeff Suwak


Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
“Beyond the Tempest Gate” is a standalone dark fantasy novel. It tells the story of Gabriel Aterias, Holy Knight of the Church of Dunrabian, and his quest to destroy an ancient evil named Elezear.

To reach his enemy, Gabriel must pass through the Tempest Gate, something that no person has done for 500 years. Over the course of his quest, he’ll be forced to confront some hard questions. What if Elezear isn’t meant to be destroyed? What if, rather than saving the world, Gabriel’s task might destroy it?

Did you try the traditional route to publishing?
Yes, I am published with Vabella Publishing, which is headquartered in Georgia.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
I went with Vabella Publishing and North Star literary agency for essentially the same reason. I like the idea of growing my writing career side by side with my publisher and agent. There is a feeling of teamwork while working with them. I can get into personal, one on one contact with them any time I need to.

Are you currently under a traditional publishing contract for future books or do you have manuscripts that you will self-publish? Are you doing both?
I’m not under contract for another book, but will be seeking one. Long term, I want to use a combination of traditional publishing and self-publishing. Both options have something to offer. I write because I love to write, and I have a mountain of material that I’d love to get there. To me, my books are sort of like my children, and I just want all of them to get out into the world and see what they can make happen. Ultimately, I’ll explore any option that gives them wings.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
For me, the writing of the first draft is completely different from the rest of the process. While writing first drafts, I like to blast music and bop around in my seat, writing spastically from start to finish of a scene or story. I try to move too fast for my conscious mind to slow me up. Sentence fragments, gibberish, it’s all good.

During my revisions, on the other hand, I work in absolute silence. I prefer to work in the library, but no matter where I am, I work in silence and absolute focus. This is where 90 percent of my writing time is spent, because I blast out first drafts very fast, but then revise dozens of times until the work is polished and complete.

Do you belong to a critique group?
Yes I do. They are helpful in some ways, and not so helpful in others. Some people can just be jerks, but they’re usually easy to spot and so easy to disregard. The more nefarious threat comes from those well-meaning people that earnestly believe they’ve got it all figure out and know the ‘right’ way to do everything. Number one, they’re just a drag to the creative process. Number two, they plant seeds of doubt, exaggerating and misinterpreting offhand comments from editor’s blogs, or some writer’s words of advice that they use to extrapolate rigid rules to every aspect of writing.

Feedback is great and I’ve benefited from my group. At the same time, a writer has to be careful to hold on to his or her central vision for a story. The only advice that should be heeded is that which helps bring story closer to that vision, and makes it more of what it’s meant to be. It can be a dangerous thing to let someone’s well intentioned advice totally derail a perfectly good story.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I do a little bit of both, really. Some stories are a little more muse-driven, but others are a little more outline-driven. Usually the dual processes are happening simultaneously.

Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Yes. My book is also available at Barnes and Noble (http://barnesandnoble.com/) and at Vabella Publishing (www.vabella.com). There are also links at my website at www.jeffsuwak.com.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Yes, it’s extremely difficult. I miss all the writing time I used to have. It’s actually caused me to rethink all of my publication goals. I write because it’s what I love to do. Making money is very low on my priority list, and the notion of fame, to me, is horrific.

I keep marketing, and will continue marketing, because I want my books to sell. I want them to sell because I take pride in them, and I think they’re worth reading. Also, it comes back to that idea of the books being my children. Every good parent wants to see their children do well in the world, no matter what sacrifice it costs.

What’s next for you?
Well, hopefully I sell enough of my book to get my next project published, as well. That’s really the goal. I have an endless backlog of ideas and partially finished stories. Ideas are no problem. The challenge is in deciding which idea to focus on first.

If I don’t attain respectable sales and become pariah to publishers, then I’ll self-publish. No matter what I’ll keep writing, and I’ll keep producing quality stories without shortcuts. That’s the most important thing to me. If they sell…great. If they don’t sell, I can rest knowing that I did my absolute best and putting everything I had into my work.