Interview with Elton Gahr
Author of Random Fantasies
Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I was born in Kalispell, MT. I moved to Joplin, Missouri about 15 years ago.
If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?
I moved away from Kalispell because it is an expensive place to live. I moved to Joplin because several friends from High-school had moved there for college.
What made you decide to write and publish your first book?
I had been writing my entire life, but through most of my time in school I never considered it anything but a hobby and planned to go into computer programming. Then one day my computer teacher sat me down and explained what life was like for a computer programmer.
I began to consider writing as a career then and began writing more. During that time, I was writing comic books with a friend who drew them. We regularly do conventions and so I printed one of my books to sell alongside them. It got a fairly good response so I have self pushed five more since including two more epic fantasies, a space opera and two anthologies one science fiction and one fantasy.
How would you describe your books to first time readers?
I write both fantasy and science fiction books that are safe for anyone but written with adults in mind. The fantasy is mostly epic fantasy set in a unique world. The science fiction is generally inspired by TV such as Star Trek, Firefly and The Twilight Zone.
Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?
People who are looking for writing with modern sensibilities but with a style closer to the classic science fiction writers.
What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?
I never realized how much effort went into formatting a book. Picking out fonts, layouts and numbering pages took far longer than I expected just to meet minimum expectations.
If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?
Writing better is important, but it doesn’t matter how well you write if no one sees it so start marketing early.
How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?
I aspire to the peaks of the genre. I’d love to be as successful as Terry Brooks, Brandon Sanderson and even J.R.R. Martin. But I would be content with enough sales to quit my day job.
What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?
The general difficulties of getting people to try something new. Even when giving away free books it’s difficult to convince people to read even a short story from an author they don’t already know instead of rereading the same books for the tenth time.
What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
I consider myself a storyteller more than an author and so I think my strengths lie in the plot and characters while I try to make my writing style as unobtrusive as possible as to not impede the story. As a publisher I try to make books that aren’t intimidating or off-putting.
My skill as a marketer is a genuine interest in individuals. People interest me and creative people most of all. I enjoy talking to my readers and potential readers not only about my work, but about any books and try to be encouraging to anyone who wants to follow their dreams. Whether in person or online I always respond, usually quickly to fan letters or requests for advice.
What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
As I writer, especially in my early work, I can sometimes focus too much on getting to the next part of the story and leave out the details that make a world feel real. I will never be the writer who spends several pages describing the feast that the characters are having and I have from time to time realize that I’ve written entire books without telling the reader what the main character really looks like instead focusing on his or her psychology.
In publishing I am painfully aware that my proofreading skills are not perfect. I have found embarrassing errors and typos in finished works and hopefully someday I’ll sell enough to afford both an editor and a proofreader.
Marketing is a new area for me. Until recently I had convinced myself that I could wait to market while I improved my skills as a writer and that once my writing was good enough, the marketing would be easy. Because of this I am years behind in both knowing how to market and in building an audience and am just beginning to learn of the many tools and venues where you can go to tell people about your work.
When do you think you will write your next book?
I just finished the penultimate draft of the second of my Spaceship Vision novels and once I get feedback from my beta readers will begin the final draft and pick a release date, hopefully in the first quarter of 2020. I am also most of the way through the first draft of a modern fantasy novel which has the working title The Thirteen Gates.
Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?
I am self published.
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