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Tuesday, August 2, 2022

Why Not You? Author Interview with Tricia Cerrone

You've published 3 books set in the 1790s. What drew you to write in those genres? 
Why the 1790s? That is a great question. When I imagined the series, I imagined five very different female heroines and I always knew I wanted one to come somewhere from China or Macau and one to come from Brazil or up to be a Portuguese background. I also like this time because sailing technology brought cutters ships which were much faster than typical merchant ships and which expedited a lot of the travel to China and around the world to different locations. And then not far off once there would be steam boats coming along. So it’s sort of this transition decade where a lot of technology and innovation was clashing with an old way of doing things and superstition. And I kind of liked the opportunity of that world and having everything to play with.

How did you go about doing research for those books? 
For research I do what all writers do - I have a ton of great history books which I love acquiring. I’ll go to the library and get history books sometimes too. And now I can really go to the Internet for most things.

Why did you choose a pen name for these books? 
I chose a pen name because I knew I was going to be writing in different genres and I was also starting a new corporate job at a creative company, and I didn’t want there to be any overlap with my writing work and any work that I did for the company so I made clear delineations in the work and also by using a pen name.

Moving forward to your two newer books, they are futuristic sci-fi novels. Why the switch in genres? Why one is easier to write and why?
It might seem like a major switch of genres from historical to sci-fi futuristic. But actually both  are adventure series and have lots of action. Both have strong friendships and strong relationships, just in different time periods. I think young adult sci-fi novels are easier simply because for me the research is easier. Most of it I already know and I also have my hand already on innovation and technology so the inspiration for some of the ideas and being able to extrapolate what could be coming in the future is fairly easy for me.

Your first books published were with a traditional publisher and then you switched to indie publishing. Tell me about that transition.   
My first series was published by Leisure Books, which was an imprint of Dorchester, so I was able to have that New York publishing experience under my belt with editing and working with different publicity agents and things like that. When I decided to self publish the young adult series, The Black Swan Files, I didn’t have any hands-on self-publishing experience. 

How much of the non-writing details do you personally do? 
I do are sketches and design layouts for how I want the website to work because I have done interface design for a living. But I pay someone to do the formatting, the cover design and the website design. I do have strong opinions about art direction for cover design and branding purposes. And I’m also very open to changing it to test what works best. 

What’s the hardest part of publishing and marketing your own books?
I would say the hardest part of that whole process in terms of the publishing and marketing, is the marketing. I think you have to pick a few platforms and focus on those and build. But it’s a whole art learning how to do Amazon ads or Facebook ads and they rarely seem to be worth the money for authors. So you really have to learn what works and take a class with someone who’s successful at it. But I still feel like they will tell you you have to play with the keywords and track and see what works so there’s no silver bullet for anyone. 

The other part of marketing which took me a long time to get over was just telling everybody I knew about my book and to buy it! For real! How many baby showers and birthdays do you support and your friends don’t buy a $6-$15 dollar book you just poured your guts into. That’s going to be the shock for all newly published writers. Lol.

What sales venue have you found most successful in not only getting clicks but sales as well?
I don’t feel like I have hit it out of the park in any venue. I feel like my best sales are organizing events whether it's club events, school events, o through my newsletter.

What is the hardest part of writing for you? 
The hardest part of writing for me is either editing - because I already know the story and it’s more about the detail and finessing, so there’s no surprises. And surprises are kind of what make writing fun. Or the part where you have to declare it done even when you feel like it’s not quite perfect but you don’t know the solution. Sometimes I have a scene where I feel like it could be more emotional and I’ll go back and I still can’t solve the problem. That’s where a good critique partner can really help. Which I’m fortunate to have had on my first five bucks.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?
The best encouragement I've had in my career was an editor who read my work in a group one night. She read the first 10 pages and gave me a great critique and comments. Then she told the group something like this... There are thousands of people out there trying to get published and many haven't even completed their manuscript. Less than 2% of writers get published. But so what. You can be part of that 2%. Why not you? Just keep writing and getting better. Don’t let people tell you you’re not the kind of person, or writer, or woman who gets published. Anyone can who does the work and persists. Just say, “Why not me?” 

And I got a contract offer a year later. If you are not completely and utterly passionate about writing many novels or many stories or many screenplays, then don’t do it. Because it is hard.

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?
It’s why a character does something, not what they do that makes for a really compelling read. The why is what makes you connect and root for her.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
More career advice for new writers… I mostly wished I had found writing organizations sooner and joined them sooner. You learn more craft and skills at conferences than in classrooms and more about the business and networking, too. 

You also can connect with other writers and find support on the journey. I started out with a critique group of four women and we all ended up published. How’s that for 2%! Making each other better matters but in a safe environment where the others also understand storytelling and craft will yield benefits. Iron sharpens iron.

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
Even if you are not in the mood sit and write. The inspiration will come if you show up. Show up!

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a few details?
My next book is The Black Swan Files 003: Shimmer. The preciousness of time haunts Jocelyn as she seeks a cure for her brother, loses a loved one, and needs to gather her loyal friends to help hundreds of girls who have been injected with her blood and now are targeted for termination by the very government experimenting on them. She’s executing a massive mission while trying to maintain a job, pay rent, and have a love life. It’s a lot for a budding superhero to deal with. But the greatest superpower is a true friend—and she’s got a few of those!

Sounds intriguing! If you'd like to learn more about Tricia's books, here are some links to get you started.

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