Tuesday, November 1, 2011
Interview with Darian Wilk, author of Love Unfinished
You’ve just released this novel which you started writing while you were caring for your mother during her illness. How instrumental was she in getting you to write this book? How did she encourage you in your writing?
My mom was a very, very chatty woman, nonstop talking, but when I came over one morning and said, “Mom, I’m thinking about becoming a writer…” it was her peaceful silence, something in the faint smile and nod that assured me after all my trying and failing at a career choice, I had finally figured it out.
During those first few months I experimented with several ideas, bringing each piece I wrote with me to mom’s house in the mornings to pick her brain about them. Mom understood my passion about making it work as a writer, and her help came not from the “Go get em tiger!” attitude, but from giving me no nonsense feedback. If something didn’t work, she said so, she refused to read with a mother’s heart and read with the eyes of a critic.
After a few months of sifting through possibilities for a novel the idea for Love Unfinished sprung itself on me and took on a life of its own. She never made it to hear the end of the story, but when I felt frustrated or discouraged I would just remember her smile from that morning, and I pressed on.
The title of Love Unfinished can apply to many aspects of relationships with people. Are the any semi autobiographical aspects in this book on your life?
I am a lucky woman, my life is filled with more love than I probably deserve, so when looking for similarities between this book and my life you’re not likely to find many. However, the loss of my mom has left a deep impact, an emptiness that very much carries an ‘unfinished’ heaviness with it. I still have things to learn from her, still have questions, still need her.
One of the beginning scenes, after the bride dies, reflects the unfinished feeling that plagues me. Who she meets is a combination of my mom, and my grandma who passed away from cancer when I was 12. The words, movements, and scent of that person were theirs alone.
What authors/movies inspire you to write in this genre?
When it comes to movies, I am a chic flick girl at heart, I love love. There are a few emotions or feelings in life incomparable to others, and the rush of falling in love is one of those. If any movie offers the chance to feel that, I’ll watch it.
But when it comes to authors, absolutely Anne Tyler, and she is not an author known for gooey love, quite the contrary. I love her style because she brings real life to her stories, that life and love can be messy and not always what you hoped it would be, that what your heart desires is not always what your heart needs. She has an amazing ability to make characters seem so real you begin to feel like they are actual people.
This genre offers me the chance to have what I love about movies and her style; love, challenge, and relatable characters.
Why did you go the self-publish route? Did you try to get published by a traditional publisher or get an agent?
I was amongst the thousands of writers out there, fingers and toes crossed that my query was snazzy enough to pull me out of the slush pile and into the maybe. I played the query, wait, full submission, wait, revise, wait again game. I had the daydream we all did at some point, contract from a big publishing house. That’s what I hoped my future would hold.
Of course, I had read everywhere that self-publishing was on the rise, and fast, but the thought of trying it never crossed my mind until a friend asked me when I would put my work on Kindle. I started doing research, lots of it. I do not like to jump into things without knowing what it’s all about and what needs to be done. I am a woman that likes to be in control, being in charge, I like holding the power of my future in my hands. The more I researched the more I realized self-publishing might be a better fit for me than traditional publishing.
What were your writing credits/ background prior to writing this book?
As far as writing credits, the list is small! When I was a teenager I had some poetry, written under a pen name, published in a few anthologies. Aside from that, my background is that of a writers heart. The insatiable need to write before your head explodes with ideas, and the hope to entertain readers with a good story.
What pitfalls if any did you run into in going the self-publishing route?
The biggest pitfall I have run into thus far is marketing, mostly because I am just not a very good salesman! I am often uncomfortable talking about myself, so finding ways to push my own work usually leaves me feeling awkward and like a cheap door-to-door salesman. But I love a good challenge, so again, this route suits me well.
Did the costs overrun what you expected?
The expenses incurred during this process never overran what I expected, because I planned. If one takes the time to do the homework on ISBN’s, copyrights, the costs of marketing material, cover art, etc, then your costs are minimal, and any unexpected items are minor and in an ‘unexpected items’ budget. If you want someone to do it all for you, then yes you pay considerably more. If you want to have as little start up costs as possible, then do as much of it yourself as possible.
Who were your mentors in getting the book published?
My biggest mentor has been Deb Hanrahan, author of Changing My Wardrobe. She’s a strong woman with an “if they can do it, I can too” attitude and I often pester her for advice.
How do you balance writing and having time for family? When is your most creative time to write?
My family comes first, always. If my daughter has a book report to work on, then my work waits. But I do set aside my own time to work, every day, and that’s when my son is napping. Whatever is on the to-do list waits, whoever can’t find something in the pantry waits for those two hours, that chunk of time is mine. I’ll also work after the kids are in bed for the night if I feel I’m running behind, but I’m hesitant to do that because it cuts into my time with my husband.
My most creative time to write is at night, I think because I’m tired, more relaxed, my thoughts come freely then without the day-to-day duties shushing them. My husband usually is asleep before I am, so I don’t quite feel the guilt, or feel like I’m being selfish for writing then.
What are one or two pieces of advice you’ve received about writing that has helped or encouraged you the most?
One of the best pieces is to work every day, write, marketing, editing, something. Just make sure that at the end of the day you have done something on your to-do list, make your goals a priority in daily life.
The other was a quote, I have it on a sticky note on my laptop for writing and editing, “Write for you, edit for readers.” It helps me because I write best when writing for myself, like singing when you think no one can hear you. I edit best when remembering the writer is not always right, readers have expectations, and only your inner editor can get you there.
What are some of the ways you plan to promote your book?
Word of mouth is key for any writer with their first book, but I also have a marketing plan. Regardless of self or traditional publishing, every author should have a marketing plan. Gone are the days when publishers have publicists who do it all for you, you have to be prepared to put a lot of work into promoting.
I am sending out press releases, contacting smaller, local papers with story pitches that aren’t just a standard release, working with local libraries to get my book added to their catalog and host a ‘meet and greet’, blog tours, interviews, getting reviews, submitting articles to magazines where I might be able to squeeze in a mention of my book; I have a big list!
You’ve got a 2nd book in the works called Reinventing Claire. Where are you in the process right now?
On the brink of finishing the first draft, already running it through critique groups and beta readers as I go. My goal is to have it published in late spring of 2012.
With both your books you say they came about from trying to create stories about people you see in public. Have you done that for years (creating lives of strangers) or is it a new process?
I have always been a curious person. I see people and I wonder what they’re like, how they got to be the person they are, if they’re happy, what thoughts roam through their mind at the end of a day. I have asked questions like that for as long as I can remember.
Do you do that on a regular basis?
I do it daily, I can’t help it. I see someone and I inevitably wonder something about them. But seldom do I let it carry on so far that I’ve lost touch with the conversation I’m in.
Many times I’ll pull my husband into my wandering questions, “Why do you think she’s dressed like that?” He too is inquisitive, a problem solver, it’s something we both do, and many times he is the one who poses the first question.
Do you have any other works in the process right now?
I have several ideas on the back burner for after Reinventing Claire, but they’ll stay there until it’s finished. Because I have such limited time to work every day I like stay focused on current projects so that I’m not spread too thin. Personally, I would rather give my all to one, than give a little to many.
That's it for today's interview. If you'd like to learn more about Darian and her writing you can go to her website at http://darianwilk.weebly.com or follow her blog at http://crazyladywithapen.blogspot.com. You can also buy her book through Amazon by clicking here