Tuesday, August 23, 2011
An Interview with Author R.E. McDermott
Thriller writer R.E. McDermott recently published his first book, Deadly Straits. He was kind enough to take the time to answer a few questions about himself and his book for Bookhound's Den. Mr. McDermott was also generous enough to offer a FREE e-copy of his new book to everyone who leaves a comment before 5:00 p.m. Friday, August 26, 2011. Make sure to leave an e-mail address to recieve your copy!
Tell us a little bit about yourself. Who is R.E. McDermott?
At least partly the sum of my experiences; I’ve been married to my wonderful wife for thirty-six years (probably seems longer to her), and we have two fine sons. I’ve worked multiple jobs and started different businesses, failing miserably at some and succeeding beyond expectations at others. I grew up on the Texas coast and attended the U.S. Merchant Marine Academy in New York. I’ve been around the sea and ships all my life. I’ve traveled widely, and lived in Brazil for a year in my 20s. We lived in Singapore and China for most of the last decade. I’ve done things I never dreamed possible, including climbing the Great Wall and snorkeling on Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. I like different cultures, and I try to learn a little of the language where ever I go. I invariably screw it up, but just trying earns you friends. I always wanted to write, but earning a living got in the way. I’ve finally reached a point where I can devote time to writing.
What inspired you to write Deadly Straits?
We lived in Singapore, oblivious to the threat, when the towers came down. 9/11 was a wakeup call, especially to those of us who traveled often. Increased airport security was a constant reminder. Tankers were always a big portion of my marine business, and I began to speculate on what form a tanker-based terrorist plot might take. I did my first blog post on the evolution of the idea and how the plot of Deadly Straits closely parallels current events. If readers want a bit more information, the post is up on my site.
Why did you go Indie, and how would you describe your journey?
Reluctant, at least at first. I was querying agents last year while I haunted the internet to learn about publishing. Form rejections were the bulk of my responses, but some agents wrote detailed and encouraging comments. I got a few requests for partials/fulls. Christmas 2010 brought a flood of new Kindle owners (I was one of them), and I watched Indie publishing take off.
I added the blogs of Konrath, D.W. Smith, Scott Nicholson, and other Indie authors to my daily reading list. These guys were amazing, sharing numbers, successes and failures, and experiences in legacy publishing. It slowly dawned on me that life on the traditional mid-list wasn’t all that great. I mean, here were mid-list authors “telling it like it is,” and recommending the Indie route. The logic was unassailable.
So I put down my Kool-Aid and went Indie. But not in haste. I took Konrath’s “don’t write crap,” advice seriously. I hired an editor. I got the book back with tons of comments, all garbage. I put the book down and picked it up ten days later, and somehow those idiotic comments had turned into gold. They were about 95% accurate. (OK, so maybe they were all accurate.) I got on the phone with the editor in New York, followed by some email exchanges. He did such a thorough job explaining the problems, I felt confident taking it on my own from there. I threw out half the book and rearranged what was left and supplemented that with new material.
Then I moved to Konrath’s second dictum, “Get a great cover.” There are many great artists out there, but I really liked Jeroen ten Berge. I had no clue what I wanted, but Jeroen nailed it right out of the gate. I couldn’t ask for anything more perfect.
While Jeroen worked the cover, some guy named Hock in North Carolina (maybe you’ve heard of him) did an incredible job of copyediting and proofreading. When that was finished, Guido (The Formatting King) Henkel formatted the eBooks. He did his usual exceptional job.
Six months after deciding to go Indie, I had a product worthy of readers.
How do you define success?
The conventional answer is making enough to quit your job, but it’s more really. I’m just starting, yet I feel I’ve already succeeded. I’m producing a quality product I believe in. That’s pretty satisfying.
Just being a part of the Indie movement feels like success. The community is amazing. Show up with a good product, and established authors go out of their way to help. Scott Nicholson provided a great blurb and showcased Deadly Straits on his blog. D.B. “Debbie” Henson did the same, and responds to my every email, answering questions patiently and in detail. Michael Wallace gave great advice on getting Amazon reviews. David Gaughran expanded on the finer points of his excellent book. The list is long; people who don’t know me from Adam, yet give freely of their help and advice.
The whole experience is upbeat and hopeful, permeated by a contagious generosity of spirit. Contrast that to the query-go-round. Writing Deadly Straits took years, but I enjoyed it. Querying was the most joyless four months of my life. Even successes were conditional and transient. But now I’m having fun again. And that, my friend, is success.
What projects that you working on currently?
The launch is keeping me busy, but I’m plotting a sequel (working title Deadly Coast), pitting Dugan against Somali Pirates. I’m also working on something different. A humorous short story. I’m not sure where that will go.
How can readers connect with you? Website, Twitter, etc.?
My email and website/blog addresses follow. I’m setting up a Facebook Author’s Page, and hope to have that live in a week or so. I’m still learning Twitter, so that might be a bit longer. I’ll post contact details for both Facebook and Twitter on my website.