This is a little late but hey better late than never and the scribe of the gods is never late
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I loved to read as a child, and by the time I was in the sixth grade, I started creating my own stories, purely for my own entertainment. In high school, I wrote a fable for an assignment in English, and mine was chosen to be read out loud to the class. One of the students in the class asked if he could publish it in his Dungeons and Dragons newsletter. I was thrilled.
In college, I took every creative writing class that was offered. My school didn’t have a creative writing major, so I majored in English. My goal was to teach college English and write on the side. So by college I knew I would do it, I just didn’t know when.
What is your work schedule like when you’re writing?
I tend to check email, reviews, and social media notifications in the morning after I get my kids off to school. Then, depending where I am in my work in progress, I’ll either spend the day researching, writing, or editing (or all of the above). I often spend an hour or so marketing each day, too. Most days, I force myself to complete household chores—like cleaning and cooking. But I still haven’t gotten good at stopping my writing at a certain time of day. Some days, I work all day and into the night, especially if I’m on a roll. Other days, I don’t write at all. I give myself breaks to spend time with my family or relaxing in front of Netflix.
What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
Unfortunately, I don’t have an interesting quirk. I gave them all to my characters.
Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?
The inspiration for The Gatekeeper’s Saga came from a movie starring Brad Pitt and Anthony Hopkins called Meet Joe Black. In this movie, Death wants a chance to see what life is like, so he takes over the body of a recently deceased man (Brad Pitt) and enlists the help of a very successful man who’s about to die (Anthony Hopkins). This movie left me with a lot of unanswered questions, and I began to wonder what it would have been like if Death had been based on Thanatos. Then my imagination went wild, and my saga was born.
The inspiration for The Purgatorium came from a 1970’s novel by John Fowles called The Magus. Just like the Brad Pitt movie, this book left me with a lot of questions. As much as I loved the novel, it gave me more questions than answers. As I wondered how I would answer those questions, my idea for The Purgatorium developed. Because it was so different from everything else I was writing, I put it on a back burner. Then a boy in my community committed suicide, and I felt like this story had to be told, because it deals with a girl who feels responsible for her sister’s death, and she thinks suicide is the only way.
The idea for The Vampires of Athens series came from a dream. A sexy vampire bit me, but it wasn’t enough to turn me, and yet for one night, I had his powers of flight, speed, invisibility, x-ray vision, mind control, and mind reading! It was an amazing dream, so, of course, I had to write about it.
Research is one of my favorite steps in writing a book. I absolutely LOVE to learn new things. For my teen fantasy books, it usually means reading up on the ancient stories in Greek mythology and finding some way to bring those stories alive in modern times with modern problems and characters that are struggling with timeless problems.
For my thriller/suspense, I love to bring in history as well. In The Mystery Tomb, I used Native American history–particularly my grandfather’s search for his roots–and then took it to a grander level. In The Mystery Box, I brought in history from Desert Storm and the Taliban, along with science, to create a twist on the mad scientist archetype. In The Mystery House, I researched Weir Mitchell’s “rest cure” used on mostly women in the wake of the Civil War. In all three cases, the narrative goes back and forth between characters in the past and today.
Currently, my Mystery House is ranking really high on Amazon with very little marketing, and my readers have convinced me to turn it into a series. So I have this cast of three empty-nesters and best friends who have lost their sense of purpose now that their kids are grown, and, together, they’re going to flip one historical home after another–each time uncovering a strange new ghost story. I’m going to a haunted pub crawl in Tulsa tomorrow and plan to spend the weekend researching the Tulsa Race Riot of 1921. Interesting stuff!
When did you write your first book and how old were you?
I finished my first novel when I was in my late twenties, but I knew it wasn’t any good, so I kept writing and didn’t publish until I was in my forties.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I love to spend time with my family. I wish we could travel together more. Maybe one day.
I also enjoy fixing up my home and my yard and having friends over.
My absolute favorite thing to do when I’m not writing is watching my favorite shows, such as The Flash and Daredevil.
What does your family think of your writing?
They’re very proud and supportive.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I was surprised by how little most authors make. I feel grateful that I have built my business to a comfortable level where I can write full time. It wasn’t easy, and I continue to work very hard.
How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?
Seventeen. And I don’t know which is my favorite! I love all my babies equally!
Speaking of favorites which is your favorite character, couple or thing to write about?
As one of my readers, you’ve probably noticed that I enjoy creating love triangles. I’ve always enjoyed them as a reader, and I enjoy them even more as a writer. I know they’re not for everyone, though.
I also love writing about the actual Greek gods. Although I’ve enjoyed some stories in which a god or goddess has been “reborn” into the body of a modern teenager, I don’t fancy them as much as I do tales about the actual gods in their original form. I write stories in which these ancient gods interact with modern people.
One final thing I like to write about is the Stockholm Syndrome. I find it’s been a common theme in my mystery/suspense stories, such as The Purgatorium and The Mystery Box.
And tomorrow I get to talk to an expert in paranormal studies to learn about the ghosts of Tulsa! How cool is that?
Do you have any suggestions to help me become a better writer? If so, what are they?
My best advice for writers just starting out is to read as many books on craft as you can. My favorites include John Gardner’s The Art of Fiction, Browne and King’s Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, and Donald Maass’s The Breakout Novelist.
I also suggest that you read as many books in your genre as possible and learn from the bestsellers already out there.
I think the biggest mistake new writers make is stopping after the first book. Most people write three or four before they create a good one that is ready for the reading public. Also, once you do publish a book–whether you find an agent or go indie–write the second immediately. I didn’t see a surge in sales until my third book was released.
I recommend that you search for an agent while you’re editing your first publishable story. You can find information about agents at http://www.agentquery.com.
While you are waiting to hear back from agents, you should begin the process of educating yourself about the publishing industry, especially the choices you have: to go traditional, indie, or hybrid. You can find lots of free resources on the internet.
You can find more resources on my website here: http://www.evapohler.com/resources-for-writers/
Do you hear from your readers much? What kinds of things do they say?
I hear from readers every day. Most of the time, they write to tell me how much they loved my books. Sometimes they ask questions about my inspiration or about what I have coming out in the future. It truly makes my day to read these messages, and it’s my absolute favorite part about being a writer.
What do you think makes a good story?
Interesting characters and a tension-filled plot full of unpredictable twists and turns should be written in such a way as to take readers through every single emotion—the full range.
What have you found most helpful in marketing your book? What have you found least helpful? Is there anything you want to warn authors to stay far, far away from?
I recommend that you write a series or a collection of similarly branded books and make the first one permafree. Use that permafree book as your “loss leader” to lure readers into your series. Invite readers to subscribe to your newsletter, and send out news to them once or twice a month, being as personable as possible so that they get to know you and your work. Your email list can become a powerful tool if used in the right way. Then just be sure to produce a book at least once a year–more often if possible. I try to release three a year.
I would warn authors not to rush out to publish their first book without having it read and revised multiple times. I would also warn readers against trying to please everyone with a single book. It’s impossible. So pick your target audience, and write to please it.
Who created your cover art? If you did it yourself, could you explain how you did it? If someone else did it, how did you hear about their services? What was it like working with them?
Melinda Vanlone of Book Cover Corner created my covers for The Mystery Book Collection and The Gatekeeper’s Saga, but the latter are currently being redesigned by Benjaminoftomes of Crisp Quartz Design, who recently redid my Vampires of Athens Series and Hypnos. A cover artist in Poland designed my Purgatorium series.
Do you have an editor? Did you edit your own manuscript? Do you have advice for other authors editing it themselves or hiring someone else?
Yes, I definitely use an editor. Even though I earned a Ph.D. in English and taught composition and grammar for over twenty years, even I use an editor! Her name is Kathy Eccleston.
Where have you decided to publish your books? (Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Smashwords, etc.)
Everywhere. I believe in going as wide as possible with distribution.
Did you format your own book? Did you run into any trouble formatting it? Do you have any advice to fellow authors about formatting their books?
I do format my own books. They aren’t fancy, but they’re clean. I learned everything I know from Mark Coker’s The Smashwords Style Guide, which is free at http://www.smashwords.com.