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Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Creating A New World: Author Interview with Doug Felton

What inspired you to write dystopian fiction? How long did it take to write your first novel? How many revisions did you do?

I love the dystopian genre in TV shows, movies, and books. I had always wanted to write creatively. I guess it was really the Hunger Games series that inspired me to give it a shot on my own. I am guesstimating here, but I think it took me a couple of years from start to being published to finish the first book. I was halfway through when I started over from the beginning. (The reason for that is explained below). Editing was the most difficult part of the process. I don't know how many revisions there were, but the editing process seemed to never end. A good editor is worth his/her weight in gold.

What is the hardest part of writing for you?
Starting was the easy part. I can start stories all day. Finding out what to do with them was the hard part. When I first started The New World, it was wide open, going in all kinds of directions and I didn't know how to bring it all together or to move it forward until I got a handle on story structure. I know there is a debate about the use of structure in writing and I won't get into that, but for me, it was key to making it work.

Once I understood story structure, the hardest part of writing was developing the scenes with a sense of timing. Because it might take a long time to write a scene, it feels like a lot of time has past in the story. But when I went back and read what I had written, it is much shorter and faster than it needed to be. So it was a struggle for me to learn how to draw scenes out to give a proper sense of time without adding unnecessary filler.

What’s the best encouragement you’ve had in your writing?

Of course, it is encouraging when people say they enjoyed The New World and want to buy the other two books in the series. However, way before that, I was surprised/encouraged when my wife told me how much she enjoyed the books. A new writer needs a boost of confidence to keep going and her support gave me that. On another level, it was encouraging to study the craft of writing and then see the story take shape on the pages. The "I did that" moment when you go back and read a chapter or a scene and it actually sounds good to you is a great motivator. 

Finally, I think my mother was a big encouragement to me. She is a successful non-fiction writer and she's always encouraged me to explore writing. Interestingly, she's never read my books because she doesn't enjoy fiction, but she is always nudging me to keep going.

Marketing is the biggest key to getting sales. What is the best marketing source you've used that has produced more sales rather than just clicks?
I'll let you know when I figure this one out! Marketing has been the second most frustrating part of writing. With self-publishing, there are so many books vying for attention that getting noticed is not only crucial but difficult. At first, I read all the articles and books and followed as much of the advice given as I could to little avail. I wish I had a more satisfying answer, but I don't. I appreciate the opportunity to be a part of this blog because I do know that the name of the game is getting your book in front of readers!

What do you know now about writing you wished you had known sooner?

STORY STRUCTURE! Sorry for yelling, but this is the number one lesson I learned in writing The New World. I was 50,000 words into the book when I realized I didn't know what I was doing. I had a bunch of ideas and scenes in my mind and I wrote and wrote and wrote until one day I realized I had no idea where this was going or how to get there. So I stopped writing and did some research. 

As you can imagine, there are myriads of resources out there, but I happened on the one that was meant for me. It was a website devoted to teaching the art of writing, and it focused on story structure. For me, this was like finding the cipher to a coded message. Again, I know there are different thoughts about the role of structure in writing and since then I've read people on both sides of the debate. I use story structure moderately when I write, allowing for some spontaneity along the way. I don't plan out every scene before I start writing, but I've got to have the key turning points and conclusion in place before I start writing the story.

What is the best writing advice you’ve received or could give?
My answer to this question will follow on the heels of my answer to the last question. Find what works for you. Should you structure your story before writing or fly by the seat of your pants, letting the characters take you on a ride? Whatever works best for you. As a pastor, I learned that I had to find the style of preaching that worked for me, and I had to be okay with that. That doesn't mean we don't learn from others, but we need to find what fits with our particular DNA. (Also, get a good editor. You won't regret it.)

Are there any other points about writing you would like to add?
When I was a kid in school I was always amazed at the other kids who could come up with a dynamic story when we had a creative writing assignment. When I got older and started reading novels, I was amazed at the stories authors would come up with, and I wanted to do that. I started a lot of stories that never went anywhere on and off over the years, but I never lost the desire to write something. I don't know when it happened or exactly why, but one day I decided I was going to write a book. And I did. It was a lot of work, but it was worth it. My point is that if you are going to write, you need the desire and you need to choose to do something about it and not give up until you've finished.

What is the next book coming out? Can you give me a short synopsis?

I don't have a new book in the works. I've written three in The New World trilogy and one short novella. The past sixteen months of my life have seen a lot of changes and right now I am focusing on the day-to-day stuff. Every now and then a story idea comes into my head, but so far I haven't had the space I need to commit to another book. If I do, I'll let you know.

That's all for today's interview. There is a lot of good advice packed in Doug's responses and I'd suggest you re-read it if you're a writer. Now, here's the link to his Amazon page so you can get more details about each of his three books.

Now for the last notes on this interview. Doug is willing to give a FREE eBook (book one in the trilogy) to one of my readers who leaves a comment on this post saying why you'd like to receive the free book. The contest will be open until midnight EST on January 31. The giveaway is for U.S. residents only. 


  1. This comment has been removed by the author.

  2. It would be a shame if there were no comments to pick from.

  3. Even worse would be to have a comment with no name attached and no way to be contacted if they were a winner.

  4. I would love to win a book!

  5. Congratulations, Ashley, you're our winner! We'll be following up with you to get the eBook to you.