Monday, December 12, 2011

Interview with Neil Plakcy

Briefly describe your journey in writing your book. 
After my father passed away in 1992, I began thinking about what his life must have been like during the 1960s. I was particularly influenced by Iron John, by Robert Bly, about different male archetypes. I was also really interested in the idea of writing a collection of stories that would have the weight of a novel, like Whitney Otto’s How to Make an American Quilt. I crossed the two together and came up with The Outhouse Gang.

What genre are your books?  Do you write in more than one genre?
Since I read across genres, I often get ideas in different genres. I’d call The Outhouse Gang more literary than most of my work, which encompasses mystery and romance as well.

If you write in more than one genre, do you use a pen name?
The only time I’ve used a pen name so far is for my young adult novel, Soul Kiss, which I published under the name Scarlett Jacobs, because I was worried that YA readers might stumble on my more adult work.

Did you query agents and traditional publishers?  Did you receive an offer of representation or a book contract?
I have a literary agent in New York who handles some of my books, and I have put out books with both traditional publishers and e-publishers. I’m getting hooked on the fast turnaround in e-publishing, though.

What factors influenced your decision to sign with Untreed Reads?
I’ve known Jay Hartman, the editor at Untreed Reads, through an online group for a few years, and when he announced that he was starting a new publisher I was eager to work with him. He published one of my short stories that was all about father-son relationships, and when he was so enthusiastic about that, I decided to send him The Outhouse Gang. I thought it was a book he’d enjoy, and I was very fortunate that he did.

How involved are you during the creative process for your book’s cover design?
I loved the first design that Jay showed me.

What kinds of social media [twitter, facebook, webpage, blog, writing forums] are you involved with trying to garner attention for your book(s)?
I love doing guest blogs—I think it helps the blogger provide a constant stream of new content, and it gets me exposed to different readers. I’m on Facebook and Twitter though I probably don’t do enough there. I love participating in reader forums—I was a reader long before I started writing, and I still enjoy sharing what I’m reading with others, and learning about new books.

How do you feel about the world of digital publishing?  Do you think it will replace traditional publishing one day?
I don’t think that digital publishing will replace traditional publishing—I think that all publishing will have a digital component in the very near future, if it doesn’t already. Just as there are some people who like audio books, there will always be people who want to read in print and in digital form.

What is the biggest thing you’ve learned during your journey as an author?
That it’s such a great privilege to be able to come up with stories that move readers, and I’m very grateful to the publishers and editors who have helped me along the way. I try and give back in my own way; I’m the current president of the Florida chapter of Mystery Writers of America, and I love sharing what I’ve learned about publishing with all kinds of writers.

Do you have any advice for new authors?
Write the best book you can. Get help along the way from teachers, classes, critique groups and mentors. If you write a great book, there will always be someone out there who wants to read it.

What’s next for you?
Right now I’m juggling three different series. My Mahu books are about an openly gay homicide detective in Honolulu; Mahu Blood, the fifth novel, came out in March 2010, and the next one is due in 2011. The Have Body, Will Guard series is about a pair of bodyguards in Tunisia; the third in that series, Teach Me Tonight, came out this spring, and the fourth book is in draft right now. And my golden retriever mysteries are close to my heart, because Rochester, the canine hero, is based on my own golden. And in between I’m writing whatever story comes to me; my most recent book is The Russian Boy, about a chase across Europe in search of a stolen painting.

Character-driven mystery, romance and mainstream novels:

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