Today’s post is the first in a new series called “The Author Spotlight.” Going forward I will be posting interviews with some great independent and traditionally published authors. It’s a great opportunity to discover new authors to read or learn more about your favorite authors. If you have recommendations for authors to interview for future author spotlights, please leave a comment below!
My first author spotlight features Joanna Penn. She is an author, internet entrepreneur and international speaker based in London, England. Joanna’s novels have sold over 40,000 copies, becoming bestsellers in the Thriller and Action Adventure categories. I reviewed the first in her ARKANE series, Pentecost, in my January 2013 Book Reviews. Joanna’s enthusiasm for writing shines in her responses!
What is your favorite part of writing a novel and why?
I’m a research junkie so I love indulging myself with reading stacks of books and going on research trips before I start to plot in detail. I always have a rough idea of the theme and then I go from there. I also really enjoy the editing process, honing the manuscript from a rough first draft to something I am proud of. Probably the hardest and least enjoyable part for me is the first draft! It’s such hard work and for me, slow going, although I am trying to rectify that in 2013 with more stringent daily word count goals.
The characters of the ARKANE series travel all over the world and the descriptions of these locations in your novels are beautifully detailed. Tell us about the research that goes into an ARKANE novel (or any novel) to depict these great scenes, especially for locations you haven’t visited.
I am a very visual person as well as addicted to travel so most of the places in the books are places I have been and that resonate with me. The opening scene of Pentecost features the burning ghats in Varanasi, India and when I was there a few years back, I knew I had to write about it as the experience was so powerful. Jerusalem is also a special place for me so it appears in all my books so far.
For places I haven’t visited, for example, Tabriz in Iran, I try to use Flickr.com which has a lot of peoples holiday snaps and less posed photos which give more of a glimpse into the reality behind the ‘official’ websites or guidebooks.
What is the toughest part of being a indie author?
To be honest, I absolutely love my life right now! I was an IT consultant for 13 years working in large corporates implementing financial systems. I was spiritually and creatively stunted, so how can anything compare with that?
I love the entrepreneurial side of being an indie author, so I actually enjoy marketing and project managing my books as well as the writing and creating. We have so much control as indies and I enjoy the experimentation that it allows. I have also actively chosen this life after several years of research and learning about the industry, so I know what to expect. I work hard and I love it!
Perhaps, like any author, the tough part is how long it takes to build an audience for your books and the inevitable bad reviews. But I also know several “overnight successes” who make an incredible living with their books, and it took them 8-10 years to get to that level and I’m only 4 years in. So give it time!
What are your current writing projects? When can we expect a new novel from you?
Exodus came out just over a month ago, that’s the 3rd in the ARKANE series, so I am now working on the first of a new series, working title Hunterian. It is a crime thriller, set in London – here’s the blurb.
LONDON. When the body of a young heiress is found dissected at the Hunterian Museum within the Royal College of Surgeons, Detective Inspector Jamie Brooke is in a race against time to find the killer. An ancient ivory figurine found inside the body is the only lead and she enlists Blake Daniel, a reluctant clairvoyant, to help her discover the meaning behind the figurine and the message it holds.
As Jamie and Blake delve into an increasingly macabre world of body snatching, dissection and the genetic engineering of monsters, they must fight to keep their sanity, and their lives.
My literary agent is interested in trying to sell that for a traditional book deal, as I am looking to be a hybrid author – best of both worlds! After Hunterian is finished, I’ll be getting back into the ARKANE series with the fourth book focusing on Kabbalah and Jewish mysticism.
I’m always looking for recommendations of great self-published books and indie authors. What are a few of your favorite self-published fiction books?
Here’s a few that spring to mind off the top of my head, although there are LOTS out there these days:
For horror, I recommend Martin Lastrapes – Inside the Outside.
For literary fiction, Orna Ross – Blue Mercy.
For action-adventure, David Wood – Buccaneer.
For romance/ new-adult, try Marion Croslydon – Oxford Whispers.
Thanks so much to Joanna for her thoughtful answers. If you want to learn more about her, visit her fiction website or connect with her on twitter @thecreativepenn. Her novels, Pentecost, Prophecy, and Exodus are available on all major ebook platforms including Amazon.