Thursday, January 10, 2013

Interview with Ira Nayman

      Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
      According to my publisher, Elsewhen Press, “This hilarious science-fiction comedy novel follows the first case for Noomi Rapier, rookie investigator with The Transdimensional Authority – the organization that regulates travel between dimensions. When a dead body is found slumped over a modified transdimensional machine, Noomi and her more experienced partner, Crash Chumley, must find the dead man’s accomplices and discover what they were doing with the technology. Their investigation leads them to a variety of realities where Noomi comes face-to-face with four very different incarnations of herself, forcing her to consider how the choices she makes and the circumstances into which she is born determine who she is.

“Ira Nayman’s new novel is both an hilarious romp through multiple dimensions in a variety of alternate realities, and a gentle satire on fate, ambition and expectation. Welcome to the Multiverse (Sorry for the Inconvenience) will appeal to comedy fans who have been bereft of much good science-fiction fare these last eleven years. Ira’s style is at times surreal, even off-the-wall, with the humor flying at you from unexpected angles; he describes it as fractal humour. Anyone who has read his Alternate Reality News Service stories will know how funny Ira is. The characters we meet from around the multiverse deserve to become firm favorites with all fans of science fiction comedy.”

This is the first Transdimensional Authority book. Audience willing, there will be more.

Do you have a favorite character?
You want me to choose among my children? What decent parent would do that?  Okay, having made my objection, I will say this: although he doesn’t play a major role in the novel, the lurker in the shadows of the alleyways behind the eyes of inmates in asyli for the awkward will return!

Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
Funny you should ask that…

My main science fiction project is the Alternate Reality News Service (ARNS), which sends reporters into other dimensions, and has them write news articles about what they find there. It has been described as “a science fiction version of The Onion.” I have self-published three books in that series (Alternate Reality Ain’t What It Used To Be, What Were Once Miracles Are Now Children’s Toys and Luna for the Lunies!), and will be putting out two more in 2013. The Transdimensional Authority was part of a throw-away line in a couple of articles in those books. So, you could say the entire novel is an evolution from a minor idea to a major one!

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Music all the way. Silence is creepy.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
I outline. I don’t think I have ever written a narrative where I didn’t know what the ending would be before I actually started. I couldn’t stand the suspense.

Did you hire a graphic artist for your book cover? Were you actively involved in the creation of the cover?
For my first two self-published books, I went through a company (iUniverse and Eloquent Books) that hired their own artists. However, I sent the companies a rough description (including stick figure drawing) of what I wanted and their artists executed it very well.  For the most recent book, I worked with an artist I found on Twitter; it was a very satisfying experience. I currently have two different artists working on the covers for the next two ARNS books.

For Welcome to the Multiverse, the publisher hired an artist. There was a month of back and forth before we were satisfied with a basic design, then another month of picking at details until we were all satisfied with the cover. For myself, I am very pleased with it – I do believe it is unique.

Covers are really important – they are the first thing a potential reader will see of your book. If it doesn’t grab the reader’s attention, they may not look at it to read your stellar back cover prose, or lead through it, or read the excerpt on Amazon. I find a lot of current book cover design bland and uninspired, and like to have as much input into the covers of my books as possible to make sure that they are original. So far, I have been lucky to have had that input (especially with Elsewhen Press; professional presses are under no obligation to get a writer’s input on anything other than the manuscript).

What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
You need to know how to market yourself. And, when it comes to marketing, I’m still learning. I hope I’m getting better, though…

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I am on Twitter (as ARNSProprietor) and Facebook (under my own name). I also have a Facebook writer’s/fan/whatever page called “Ira Nayman’s Thrishty Freidnishes” (some day, I’ll explain what that means…probably). My Web page, Les Pages aux Folles (which celebrated its 10th anniversary last September), is updated with new writing and cartoons (yeah, I do that, too) every week; I don’t consider it a marketing tool per se (as opposed to a publishing medium in its own right), but it is a public way readers can connect to me.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Not really. I find I have a limited amount of time in the day when my subconscious talks to me and I can be creative; I do as much promotion as I can around those hours.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Building an artistic career is a long-term prospect. It takes time to build an audience. It takes time to master the necessary skills and develop your voice. I recommended to my students (I used to teach part-time at a university in Toronto) that they need to be thinking of a commitment of 30 or 40 years. For this reason, you should only become an artist if you really, really, really, really, really love creating art (and, that’s five reallys, so you know I’m serious about it). There’s no point devoting yourself for that long to something you have no passion for. On the other hand, if you toil for that long and you never become well known, at least you’ve spent your life doing something you love, and very few people can say that.

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