Tell us a bit about yourself and the book!
The “about me” bit is probably less interesting than the book, so I’ll simply say that as a kid I spent a great deal of time travelling around the world following my father’s career in international development. One of the stops was St. Lucia in the Caribbean, where I spent about five years and had a few – shall we say unique – experiences… some of which ended up as big chunks of THE CLEARING.
The book itself follows Nate Mason, who is compelled to go back to the island where he spent five formative years in his youth (hey, is there an echo in here?), and where he was in some way involved in the death of another young boy – from a very prominent island family. As a backdrop to the story, the book brushes up against the supernatural, and against an island culture rich in lore and superstition. But at its heart, it deals with the question of our pasts, and our willingness to face the errors we may have tried to outrun.
You've done a publication interview with me before for THE CLEARING and have had quite an interesting journey to pub day interview #2! Let us know how the book ended up with Diversion.
Yes, the journey to where the book is today has been a bit of a roller coaster ride – including one of those rare moments where the coaster comes off the tracks, plunges to earth and everyone dies. Whoa – that just got a bit dark! Let me backtrack: The book was originally published in the fall of 2013, and after a year on bookstore shelves, the publisher was sold off, the imprint closed, and the rights were released back to me. A year later, Carrie did what she does and landed another publisher – Diversion Books – who will be (re)releasing the book tomorrow. The novel itself has remained largely intact, although the editor at Diversion had some insightful thoughts about a couple of key elements of the book. We did a bit of a rewrite to address them, and I think it’s come out the other side as an even stronger story. It also has a brand new cover, which is moody as all hell – a perfect fit for the story.
What do you think authors can take away from THE CLEARING's unorthodox publishing journey?
You know that old expression that it’s not the destination, but the journey? Well, those folks are just plain wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. At least in publishing. The “journey” is something to be endured while you find your way to the nirvana of a publisher that wants to print your book. So journey be damned. It’s all about the destination where getting published is concerned! Does that sound a tad shallow? Well, maybe it is, but it’s likely a form of protection, I think – the development of a tough outer shell to help you weather that damn journey we’re talking about. So all this is to say that the “take away” I see from my experience with this book is a simple one: Don’t let the journey get you down. That pedestal you plop yourself on today will invariably get knocked out from under you, but that’s okay: there are plenty more pedestals where that one came from.
What is some fun promotion you've done for the book? Anything upcoming we should be keeping our eyes or ears out for?
The folks at Diversion are engaged with me where marketing is concerned in a way the initial publisher never was. Chris in particular at Diversion (and Chris, if you are reading this, yes, this is me sucking up to you in exemplary fashion), is super. I’m not alone in bringing ideas to the table, and what’s more, they’re booking things – interviews, blogs, and lately a podcast or two. I can’t tell you how energizing it is to have someone else on your side when you’re out there trying to draw a bit of attention to the book. We also just completed a giveaway on Goodreads, which I am pleased to say pulled in almost 1400 entries – which is a pretty solid number according to Diversion. The beauty here is that those folks are all now in a database and we can begin marketing to them and turning them into buyers...
The book has gone through its own set of edits at both Exhibit A and Diversion, but is obviously the same story at its heart. Even though THE CLEARING has remained the same story, do you feel like you've changed as a writer?
Yes – I am now without question one of the top three writers in the world – according to a poll I took with two of my pals in the pub the other night. (And in a related and outrageously crazy coincidence, all three of us ended up on that same list.) But yes, there’s been change. Not so much in writing ability or creativity and such, but more in the area of temperament. I think I’m much more open to opportunity now, and less rigid in what it may mean to be published “successfully”. Now, that doesn’t mean I don’t want a six figure advance, a movie deal and a tuxedo clad portrait on the cover of Awesome Authors Weekly, but it does mean I’m a little more laid back in my thirst for commercial success – however that may be defined. Diversion Books is a small press with a hybrid approach to publishing including a heavy reliance on digital. Five years ago I may have thought that was not the right route for me, but today I’m okay with it, and hell, even grateful. I still get pretty excited by the prospect of my name on a book spine in an honest to goodness bookstore, but now I’m open to new ways of getting there.
Any message for authors you'd like to share?
There is one thing I heard along the way somewhere that does seem more relevant to me these days –now that I’ve spent a few years chasing this strange compulsion to see my work in print – and it’s simply this: don’t compare yourself to the accomplishments of others. It’s a tooth-grinding merry-go-round that never lets you enjoy what you’ve worked so hard to accomplish so far. There will always be some schmo who lands a crazy advance for a novel you know can’t hold a candle to yours. And then you’ll come across a clear genius who can’t get the publishing industry to pay him or her any attention at all. The point is your path is your path, and the fact that you’re out there trying to connect the dots in pursuit of something you seem to enjoy (if not love), means you’re moving in the right direction, regardless of the pace. And for now, cut yourself a break and let that be enough. It seemed wise when I first heard it, and as I lay it out here it seems every bit as relevant now. So I plan to stick with it.
At least until I next hear of that giant advance that someone other than me nails down... :)
Make sure you pick up an e-copy today! And also, to up the scary factor, take a gander at the chilling book trailer below!