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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Interview with Steven Lightfoot, author of The Mikveh Scrolls series

The title of your book, The Mikveh Scrolls caught my attention after I read the blurb about it. What drew you to writing this story?
I have always had an interest in archaeology and have vivid memories of digs for pottery in Central and South America and photos of myself sitting atop an obelisk at Stonehenge.

The original manuscript of The Mikveh Scrolls centered around the Geoffrey Proudman character. Proudman, for me, was a catharsis, and is the character I created as a vessel in which to pour my demons from the war. My return from the Gulf War brought with it a severe case of PTSD, and I needed a way to express certain experiences and yet remain detached from them. As a result, Proudman’s flashbacks to his days as a combat Marine are woven into the fabric of the story.

Is the storyline drawn from any part of your own life?
The storyline evolved as my own spiritual journey brought me to a place of healing and I recognized that my survival had a purpose. The Mikveh Scrolls series became an expression of my desire to know Christ and to make Him known. There is a compelling need in the world today for people of faith to step outside their comfort zones and to engage those who have not yet discovered God’s grace and mercy. I cannot help but feel that there is an urgency to reach as many souls as possible before Christ’s inevitable and imminent return.

While it is certainly true that no one knows the time of Christ’s return, it is prudent for us to be ready for that joyous event now… right now. It is in that spirit that I wrote The Mikveh Scrolls and The Yeshua Sanction. It is my deepest desire that those in the community of faith would use these simple books as tools to engage seekers, those who need a relationship with the Lord, but who, for one reason or another are not inclined to immediately go right to the source of God’s word: The Bible.

What do you hope readers will learn in reading your book?
 If my work inspires even one soul to delve deeper; to investigate the source material; to find the scriptures and truths contained within my work and trace them back to their origin; then, I will consider the time and effort well worth the investment.

How long did it take you to write this book? How many rewrites did you do prior to sending it out to publishers? The Mikveh Scrolls series is written as a trilogy. Book One, The Mikveh Scrolls, evolved over several years after I returned from the war. After numerous rewrites, it was finally ready for release in late 2010.

Book Two, The Yeshua Sanction, was written and released 12 months later. The characters seemed to develop a life of their own while I wrote Book One, so Book Two flowed naturally out of me the following year…as if the characters dictated their sequel. Book Three, God willing, will release later this year. I’m still in the brainstorming process for a title.

Did you self-edit or hire someone else?
After many rounds of self-editing, I engaged a professional editor to review and proof before submitting to any publishing houses. In my mind, it is always better to have a trained, unbiased eye review before submission.

Once you wrote the book how did you go about looking for a publisher and or agent?
I didn’t spend too much effort looking for an agent at first. My efforts were centered on publishing houses specializing in Christian fiction. After several months of rejection letters, I refocused on literary agencies and finally found representation. It was a long, arduous process and I can hold my head high and say that I have been turned down by some of the finest publishers in the country.  

Was the second book easier or harder to write?
Simon Cross, Geoffrey Proudman and the other characters have depth, in my opinion. As the characters developed in the original manuscript, I knew that there was no way that I would be satisfied after typing the last word of The Mikveh Scrolls. The momentum these characters built in Book One carried them into Book Two easily; however, Book Two is much darker than the first in content and imagery. The result is characters that are multi-dimensional and adaptive to the darker storyline.

What has frustrated you the most in the publishing process? 
I don’t know that I was ever frustrated during the publishing process. Publishing, like writing, is a journey. For The Mikveh Scrolls series the journey is about healing and ministry. All along the road, from conception, through writing, through publishing, through marketing and distribution, lives have been touched by the message contained within the pages. I simply can’t find frustration in that.

What surprised you the most about the publishing process? 
Not sure that “surprised” is the operative word. Nothing about the creative process, or the mechanics of producing and distributing the results of that process, surprises me. I did experience a realization, however. No matter how important my content and message was to me, no matter what my desired lofty outcome was… to the people involved in the project from a strictly business perspective, my books were simply opportunities to create revenue.

In short, even if your book contains the ultimate in life-changing content, there are some people essential to the processes that don’t have any emotional or spiritual connection to your work. So don’t lose your business sense and keep your wits about you when negotiating with editors, publishers and the like.

What has been the most productive promotion that you’ve had with marketing your book?
My personal marketing efforts for my books revolve around social media and radio and television interviews. I also find that giveaways on Goodreads and other venues generally boost awareness and, of course, sales. I think it is important to point out that, sales, from my perspective, is an indicator of lives touched and the potential for souls saved. The majority of proceeds from the sales of my books have gone to charity, most recently a non-profit clinic ministry providing healthcare to low-income, uninsured families in Texas.

Who are your favorite novelists?
My wife, Angela, and I just spent the most incredible week in New England. We visited the Custom House in Salem where Hawthorne conceived The Scarlet Letter. We walked through The House of Seven Gables, which inspired his book of the same name. We traveled to Concord and walked up Authors’ Ridge in Sleepy Hollow Cemetery, paying respects to Hawthorne, Thoreau, Emerson and Alcott. And we stood on the shore of Thoreau's Walden Pond, watching the rain ripple the glassy surface. So much history and inspiration in New England… A writer's paradise, really.

Writing seminars are always telling us about building a marketing platform. What have you learned from using social media sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others?
Never under-estimate the power of word of mouth to get your book noticed. The exposure my books get as a result of a small Facebook fan page following grows exponentially every time someone “likes” the page. There is real marketing value in that. Of course, you have to interact regularly with your site and your blog to keep people talking.

What is the best advice you’ve received on writing? Or what is the best advice you could give other aspiring authors from your experience?
My advice to writers is to pour yourself into your characters. Use your own trials and tribulations to bring your characters to life. Use your triumphs, your joyous victories to make your characters soar. Observe your world and capture it with words. You can’t write about life if you haven’t experienced it. So put down your pen, close your laptop every now and then and get out into the world and experience the gifts God has for you.

That's all for today's interview. I hope it has encouraged you to look into his writing. 

If you would like to buy his book click here

If you would like to go to his website, here's the link 

Or you can go to his page on facebook

Twitter: @MikvehScrolls

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