By John Vance
1. What message are you hoping people will receive when they read your book? That the trials a young person experiences are transcendent to time and place and that experience dealing with these matters is the true test of courage and goodness regardless of how well one has been taught by others.
2. Why did you write this book? I wanted to write a book with a boy as a hero—one that incorporated my love of a historical setting and one that would reflect on issues and challenges still affecting young people today. In addition, I wanted to create characters I remember so delighting me in my own youth—e.g., the worlds of Davy Crockett and Huck Finn.
3. What has been the hardest part of the publishing process? For me, Marketing. My personality does not make me a good salesperson for my own work. I’m not the type to post constantly about my books or to “push” anyone to buy or order.
4. What has been the biggest (pleasant) surprise in your publishing journey? That I have been able to publish novels in several genres—mystery/thriller, Gothic, humorous, & historical and to have been able to indulge further my love of research.
5. Give some advice to someone who wants to get a book published. For the Independent Press route: No bragging in the query. Send multiple queries to various presses. Research carefully any offer to publish—check the reputation of the press. Don’t fall for “hybrid” come-ons.
6. What’s the worst advice you have ever received about publishing? Don’t sign any contract unless it provides optimal advantages to the author. Given the difficulties of getting a book accepted by a press, the notion of “If it’s not perfect, then forget it” is utterly unrealistic.
7. What author or book has influenced your writing? As a professor of English Literature, the influences on my fiction are more classical than contemporary. I would point to Charlotte Bronte, Mary Shelley, Charles Dickens, and William Faulkner as the most significant to my writing.
8. What is your philosophy about rejection? Move on to the next possibility. Rejection is part of the game. Reasons for a no or a yes are so varied that it does the author no good to assume the characters weren’t interesting enough or the book isn't written well enough as the only reason for the rejection. Consider specific remarks in a critique but move quickly on from such comments as “The characters didn’t inspire” or “The plot failed to engage me throughout.”
9. You are stranded on an island with only 3 books. What are their titles?
The Plays of William Shakespeare, Jane Eyre, Frankenstein
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