Tell us about your latest book.
The short version: Petrified is a book with two narrators. So it starts as a story about a brave knight fighting trolls and defending her kingdom in a fairy-tale-based fantasy world, and then, in the second chapter, the aliens and robots start entering the story. I had a lot of fun writing it!
Tell us a little about some of the others who contributed to your book, such as cover designer or editor.
My cover designer was Derek Murphy of CreativIndieCovers.com. I fell in love with his portfolio the moment I saw his website (seriously, check it out), and in addition to that he’s great at giving e-book marketing tips and he generally seems to be a pretty awesome guy -- one of his projects involves buying a friggin’ castle for writer retreats! Anyway, I ordered a book cover from him, he made a wide selection of mockups for me to choose from (and since he knows what sells, he also gave me good advice on which of those I should pick), he made the few changes I asked for, and I couldn’t be happier with the end result. Seriously, it would make me thrilled if anyone is judging this book by the cover.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ouch, that’s a tough question. Like everybody else I love J.K. Rowling and Suzanne Collins. Kerstin Gier is absolutely amazing, her Ruby Red trilogy is one of the best series I’ve ever read. Jeff Kinney has done an incredibly important job in making children read. Ernest Cline is excellent at sci-fi that’s super-recognizable for people my age. Nobody makes me laugh like Fredrik Backman. And in the world of comics, nobody beats Carl Barks. There are so many more, too, but let’s stop there for now.
What advice do you have for other writers?
Get an editor. Someone good, who knows what they're doing. Under no circumstances your friends or family - they will, more often than not, be afraid to hurt your feelings and thus tell you how great you are even when you're not. You don't need that. What you need is honest feedback on what you can improve, where you can get better. Get constructive criticism. Take constructive criticism. Identify your flaws, and challenge yourself to fix them.
Have fun. If writing is not fun, find a way to make it fun, or stop writing. If you don't enjoy writing, you don't have to write. Sadly, I think that for many of us, our greatest challenge is knowing when to give up. Sometimes, giving up on something is okay, and it actually feels great afterwards. I've tried. But it never feels like that when you're in the middle of it. That being said, don't give up too soon, either - if writing isn't fun anymore, your first step should definitely be to take a break and find a way to make it fun again. How you do that... is up to you.
And if you're self-publishing: for the love of god, hire a professional cover designer. Don't even think about making your own cover unless you're one of those multi-talents that everybody hates because they're perfect at everything. Seek professional help. It's worth it.
What's the best thing about being a writer?
You know all those gigantic worlds that live inside your head? Being a writer allows you to let them out and share them with the world. There is nothing quite like the feeling of creating something, whether it’s a book, a painting, a video game, a casserole or anything else - holding a tangible product and knowing you were the one who made it is amazing.
What’s the hardest thing about being a writer?
The sad thing is that pretty much everything about being a writer is hard. If you’re writing for someone, they may have visions and requests that kind of clash with your own, and writing something you don’t want to write is no fun at all. Sometimes writing anything is no fun at all, because you get writer’s block and spend hours staring at a blank sheet of paper. And when you’ve finally finished writing, you have the pretty hard job of finding a way to make your writing available to readers, either by convincing someone to publish it or by finding a way to market it on your own. Writing is hard! But it’s worth it.
Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
I’ve tried presenting myself and my writing as good as I can on my website, olafmoriarty.com. Also, I’m pretty much always on Twitter, so if there is anything at all you need to know about me, asking me at @olafmoriarty is pretty much the fastest way to get an answer.
How long did it take you to write your book?
Six months. I started writing it for NaNoWriMo November 2011, and after a few big breaks the first draft was finished by the end of April 2012.
Did you learn anything from writing your book that was unexpected?
While I kind of knew already, I guess you could say I learned that getting honest feedback is surprisingly hard. There are so many people out there who don’t take constructive criticism well, so when you ask someone for feedback, often they will assume that you only want to hear good stuff. So they tell you that they loved it, and which parts of it they loved… But they often won’t tell you which parts they disliked or which parts made no sense to them, because they assume that if they tell you that you’ll get angry and yell at them and hate them. Of course, that negative feedback is the one you need the most, so if you’re like me, that’s the one you want the most, too… But it’s surprisingly hard to get it.
Where can a reader purchase your book?
Petrified is exclusively for sale on Amazon, as paperback and Kindle e-book.
What are you doing to market the book?
I’m currently on a book blog tour organized by YA Bound Book Tours, doing various things to promote the book on twenty-something different blogs (including this one!). I’m also doing giveaways on Goodreads, running ads online, and trying to use the advantages of Amazon’s KDP Select program (like giving away the book for free for five days). There are probably a hundred other things I should have been doing, but hey, it’s my first book in English, I have to learn this by doing it.
Who inspires you?
So many people. My wife. My comics editor. Everybody I communicate with on Twitter. Books I read. TV shows and movies I watch. Everybody out there who doesn’t give up.
How do you research your books?
I must admit that when it comes to research, I fall on the lazy side of the scale. It depends on the work, of course, but for most topics I have a tendency to stick with Google and Wikipedia. Speaking of online resources, though: WolframAlpha is great for absolutely anything calculation-related -- in Petrified, the characters use different units of measurement, so WolframAlpha could easily let me convert distances and such from one unit to the other. For anything related to names, I use BehindTheName.com -- when I started using it I was mostly using their random name generator, but now I tend to start with an origin (I often know if I want a Scandinavian-sounding name or a Western African name or…), filter it on gender, and then skim through the list looking for names with meanings that I feel are appropriate for the personality of the character.
And some times, of course, I simply talk to people. If I’m writing about a character with a certain problem or a specific hobby or something, I normally reach out to my Twitter feed for a discussion about it.
Do you have another work in progress? Tell us about it.
Sorry, I currently don’t have any works in progress.
Have you written other books? Where can readers purchase them?
I haven’t really written any other books (I co-authored a nonfiction book ten years ago, but it’s only available in Norwegian, and I have no idea if it’s still for sale anywhere), but I’ve been writing Donald Duck comics for the past fifteen years, roughly sixty stories with publications in about a thirty countries (mostly in Europe). Check this link for a list of all my stories (click on the story code for information about where a story is published), or click your country on this list to see a list of stories published in a specific country.
Also, in a freakish coincidence, if you’re American, one of my stories is available in stores right now -- I’m the writer of the lead story in Uncle Scrooge #17, published August 24th.
What are your thoughts on self-publishing verses traditional publishing?
There are pros and cons to both. I love the idea of self-publishing, as that has made it possible to publish a much wider range of stories than before. Traditionally you’ve had to be extremely talented and extremely lucky to get through the bottleneck of publishing, while now it’s a lot easier to get your books out there. However, that also means that a lot of books do get out there that should really have been through ten more revisions before publication - self-publishing means you’re pretty much your own editor (if you hire an external editor, you’re still the person paying the bills, so ultimately you have the final say about anything), and the ability to publish pretty much whatever you want without having to meet the quality standards of an established publishing house makes it a lot easier to publish things that probably shouldn’t have been published in the first place.
I’m self-publishing Petrified, and I think I’ve managed to put together a decent product, but I think I would have had a much better product if I had succeeded in getting a traditional publishing house to help me improve the quality of my writing. So there are really pros and cons to both angles.
Who or what inspired you to become a writer?
I really don’t know. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember.
Does your family support you in your writing career? How?
Absolutely! My wife supports me in... letting me write, I guess? She’s also my most honest beta reader.
What are you currently reading?
I’m one of those horrible people who are “currently reading” twenty different books, to then spend a year and a half to finish any of them. I just finished Off to be the wizard by Scott Meyer - and wow, I can wholeheartedly recommend it. Also, I’m way behind on this, but I just started reading Hugh Howey’s Wool. I should probably have read it ages ago, but I’ve heard tons of great things about it, so better late than never, huh?
When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time?
I’m a librarian, working full-time at a public library. On my spare time I play video games, code websites and watch Netflix.