Friday, April 22, 2016

Interview with Tom and Nancy Wise, LIFE ON BASE TOUR: QUANTICO CAVE

Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
Life On Base: Quantico Cave is the first in a series of stories about children of military parents. The story follows Stephen as he explores the Quantico Marine Corp Base in Virginia, a place filled with military history, battles fields, and competition designed to build warriors.
Have you ever had a minor character evolve into a major one? Did that change the direction of the novel at all?
That’s an interesting question. We have had some bloggers choose the antagonist as the predominant character in Life On Base. The story has several strong characters that compete for the title of a major character.

Did you try the traditional route to publishing, i.e. querying agents/publishers?
Tom’s non-fiction work is published traditionally in the UK. Traditional publishing is very different. We haven’t decided yet whether we like the hybrid process, self-publishing, or the traditional path. Self-publishing is nice because the author maintains control of everything, but it does include all of the headaches that go with the process.

How long before you got your offer of representation/your first contract? Was it for your first novel?
Well, timing seems to be important with traditional publishing. The author has to do the homework before querying. Taking the time to read and understand the publisher or agent’s interests makes all the difference. Tom’s contract with the publisher only took a couple of weeks to find because he queried editors with a strong interest in his subject.

What factors influenced your decision to go with a particular agent or publisher?
On the subject of traditional publishing, the strongest factor was the editor’s interest in the subject. If the publisher’s representative has a strong desire for the book, then the entire project flows so much better. Ashgate Publishing is a great company with which to work.

For Life On Base: Quantico Cave we chose to work with Koehler Books’ hybrid process. Hybrid is nice because you share the costs, but maintain a lot of the control as well.

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?
We haven’t made that decision yet. We are in the middle of working on two stories, one of which is a second story in the Life On Base series, but we are exploring the idea of going traditional just to free up some of the time it takes to do the work in self-publishing. What a lot of people don’t realize is that when publishing a book most of the marketing effort is made by the author. It works that way with every publishing method, so if the publisher carries the load for design, editing, book covers, and sales, then the author does gain some time for writing.

What is your writing process? Do you listen to music or do you like silence?
Our writing process is what we call collaborative writing. Nancy and I have to work hard to find writing time together because Tom’s schedule is crazy at best. He has a day job and several night jobs teaching at Universities in the area. We tend to sit down together to debate the story line and often the action and reaction of characters.
We both have favorite characters and tend to try and protect those characters personalities and activities throughout the story. This helps to keep the characters real.

Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
This part is hard for us. Nancy is a planner while Tom tends to like to follow his muse. It keeps things interesting, but then we do tend to toss a lot of chapters that just don’t fit the plan.

Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
Absolutely. Although Nancy is a great editor with a wonderful eye for finding those inconsistencies and plot killers throughout the story, Mary Rosenblum did a wonderful job with the editing for Quantico Cave.
Besides Amazon, are there any other sites where your books are for sale?
Life on Base: Quantico Cave is on almost every online bookseller site, including B&N, and Books A Million. Whichever is your favorite seller, you will find Life On Base: Quantico Cave there.

What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
We try hard to be in every place at once. Tom tends to focus on Twitter, Amazon, the weekly blog, and many book club forums while Nancy manages our Facebook presence. Facebook is the big one for us since it requires constant attention as that is the one place that we can enjoy and almost real-time interaction with readers and other authors.

Do you find it difficult to juggle your time between marketing your current book and writing your next book?
Juggling the time between marketing and writing is a lot like the spinning plates trick on the old children’s shows like Bozo’s Circus. Just when you think all the plates are safely spinning, plates begin to wobble.

What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
Find your peers and begin to establish good relationships. Authors are wonderfully creative and sharing people by nature, so most are very willing to help with advice, contacts, and introductions to the people a new author needs to meet.  Build your online presence long before he book is released and make connections with your readers.
Some fun facts about you, which do you prefer – dogs or cats? Chocolate or vanilla? Coffee or Tea? Talk or Text? Day or Night?
Funny you should ask.  Nancy is a night person, staying awake to two or three in the morning while Tom wakes every morning before six. Nancy prefers cats while Tom prefers dogs. Nancy prefers tea while Tom prefers coffee and Tom hates phones, but Nancy will always prefer a phone call.  I think our differences make the stories so much more compelling because the conflicting styles create a great balance in the story.

What’s next for you?
We have two sequels in the works now, one a second book to follow up The Borealis Genome and the second in the Life On Base series. Tentatively titled Life On Base: Spirit of Quantico focuses on Lori, Stephen’s sister and her challenges and dreams growing up on the Marine Corp Base. Nancy and I are very excited about this story because it brings in many of the animals that have served alongside our country’s warriors.

Book & Author Details:
Life on Base: Quantico Cave by Tom & Nancy Wise
Published by: Koehler Books
Publication date: December 23rd 2015
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

For Stephen, his life on base is much the same as most other children’s. The difference is in the details. Look both ways before crossing a tank path and be sure to check if the spent bullet casings you find in the long-abandoned trenches are actually empty. Sports stop at the sound of the evening trumpet call as he and his friends stand at attention while the flag is retired. Quantico Cave is a story of friendship and competition, and when Stephen meets up with a friend he once knew at a previous home station, the contest hits a whole new level that places everyone at risk.


Tom and Nancy Wise are award-winning authors. Their first novel, The Borealis Genome, is the grand- prize winner of the Chanticleer Book Reviews Dante Rossetti 2013 Award for YA Novels and 2014 Cygnus Award Lab Lit Category. Thomas grew up in a military family moving from base to base as the child of a Marine, living the life of an officer’s brat in times of war while Nancy was raised the youngest child of a WWII veteran. When not working together on their novels, Tom teaches at University and authors articles on project management topics and nonfiction books published by Gower Publishing in the UK.

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