Today, I'm honored to be part of author Ian Healy's blog tour for his release of Just Cause, which is the first release on New Babel Books.
BEX: You started writing in Junior High – can you tell us who your inspiration was? A teacher? Another writer?
IAN: I can't put my finger on anyone in particular as being inspirational to me beyond my parents, who encouraged reading and indeed read constantly. I remember walking down the hill to the library with a duffel bag once a week and climbing back up to go home with it bursting full of books. To say I started writing in Junior High is like saying I started breathing then. I have always been a writer and a teller of stories. It just took a more serious focus around that time period.
BEX: 141 rejections for your first book? I think you may well have set a record there. Got any suggestions for authors to deal with rejection?
IAN: Don't dwell on them. 99% of all rejections are form letters, and there's nothing to be gleaned by agonizing over them. Recognize that landing an agent is largely a matter of hitting the right person on the right day with the right manuscript and the odds of that are not in your favor. Don't sweat the rejections. Learn to say "Next!" and get the next query out the door. And in the meantime, keep writing on your next project.
BEX: Some say that if you e-publish you ruin your chances of getting a contract with a regular publisher. This clearly is not true in your case. So tell me, what would you suggest to up-and-coming authors?
IAN: Learn how to produce your own eBooks, because that puts you ahead of the game. Learn how to design a cover, or find someone affordable who does a good job. Edit, edit, edit, and edit some more. There is no good reason to rush an eBook into retailers when it's full of errors (or even only has a smattering of them). Get a group of trusted beta readers who won't blow sunshine up your ass and instead actually help you improve your work. Decide whether you want to query a project or release it as an eBook. If you query it, don't worry about the eBook until you've reached whatever you feel the critical mass of rejections is (and it should be a large number--if you give up after your third rejection, this business is not for you). If you decide to release it as an eBook, then don't query it, but mention that you have eBooks out when querying other projects. This isn't the 2000s anymore, and showing that you have eBooks tells an agent that you've made some effort to understand the business and to make your writing good enough to sell.
BEX: Writing in so many separate genres, is it hard to change hats when you need to?
IAN: Actually, I write in about eight different genres regularly: Superhero, Cyberpunk, Space Opera, Steampunk, Western Fantasy, Post-Apocalyptic, Mainstream Young Adult, and Urban Fantasy. It's not hard for me to change hats at all. I don't believe you should limit yourself to only writing in one genre. If you normally write Romance, and have a Humorous Fantasy that you're dying to write, do it!
BEX: You write about superheroes. If you could pick any superpower which one would you want?
IAN: Today would be the ability to teleport, because I have friends I want to visit for the holidays and alas, they all live in different states and countries, and I am still waiting for that big fat advance from a big fat publisher. And waiting. And waiting...
BEX: And corollary to that – would you want to be a superhero or super villain?
IAN: I'd be a hero. I'm much too nice a guy to be a villain. Which isn't to say that I don't enjoy writing them. One of my favorite characters is the brilliant psychopath Harlan Washington, aka Destroyer, who makes his first appearance in the book Just Cause (and whose origin will be told in another book in the JCU series).
BEX: If Destroyer’s one of your favorite bad guys, who’s one of your favorite good guys?
That would have to be Jackrabbit, from the JCU novel of the same name. He's the avatar or prophet (no, really) of the Rabbit God and he saves the world by jumping real high (again, no, really).
BEX: Very impressed that you chose to write Just Cause (at least the portions I’ve gotten to) from Mustang Sally’s point of view. Is it difficult for you to write an opposite sex POV? Any revelations about females you’d like to share?
IAN: Girls is diff'rent from boys, see.
It's imperative to have beta readers of the correct gender to vet your characters if you're writing from the POV of one whose equipment you don't share. I feel comfortable writing characters of either gender (including some LBGT characters and in my current WIP, characters from an alien race that are completely without gender).
BEX: You’ve got some interesting superpowers assembled at Just Cause, even music. How do you come up with all these gifts?
IAN: They just come to me. Some of them are pretty bizarre, like Bluebird (a character from the Jackrabbit novel), who has the ability to mesmerize others by talking incessantly at them.
BEX: Yours is one of the first superhero books I’ve ever read. Mostly, I watch the cartoons and movies. Are you hoping at some point to turn Just Cause into a graphic novel – or go into film? If so, what would be your dream?
IAN: I'd love to see Just Cause done as a movie. Anyone interested in making one should contact me with a proposal. Although I'm not sure a movie could really do the story justice. Perhaps a miniseries?
Of course I'd love to see Just Cause as a graphic novel, being the long-time comic book guy that I am. Again, an artist who would like to adapt the book into graphic form needs to contact me.
BEX: And if that happened, which action figure would you like to see first?
IAN: Mustang Sally deserves her own action figure. And she also deserves a Limited Edition Ford Mustang (and there actually is one in the Graceful Blur short story featuring her attempt to break the sound barrier on foot during Speed Week at Bonneville).
BEX: Hey thanks for the ebook on writing better action using cinematic techniques. Brilliant idea. What inspired you to write the book?
IAN: I have received numerous compliments over the years about how well I write out action sequences, and have often been asked to help other writers develop theirs. I thought perhaps I'd try to analyze what I was doing instinctively in such a way that it would be useful to other writers without my direct assistance.
BEX: For those of you who are interested in Ian's action writing book, here's the link:
Action Writing Cinematic Techniques (eBook)
BEX: So, where are you going from here? A Just Cause sequel, or does some other (or several other) project(s) call your name?
IAN: There are four more Just Cause sequels/prequels completed, and my next project will be to finish a sixth JCU book that will essentially complete what I'm calling the "Mustang Sally Trilogy." The second book in that trilogy is The Archmage and will be released sometime in 2012 from New Babel Books.
BEX: Is there any other question you wish I'd asked? This is your shot, Ian. Go for it!
IAN: You never asked me about my hair. Yes, it's real, and it's all mine, and it's really that curly. I'm also available to do signings, readings, children's parties, escort duties, and further guest posting.
Just Cause is available for the Kindle (and all other ebook readers) on Smashwords. You can download it for the Nook directly on Barnes & Noble. The print edition is available from Amazon.com. You can, of course, buy all editions directly from the publisher as well: http://newbabelbooks.com/.