Interview with Lela Markham
Author of Day’s End
Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I was born and raised in Fairbanks, Alaska, and am now residing there.
If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?
Alaska is one of those places that doesn’t hang onto its birth population. Young people tend to want to leave unless they’re adventurous and hardy. My husband and I met just as he was coming into the country looking for adventure and I was about ready to make a decision whether to go or stay. I ended up staying. We’ve traveled, but this is home.
What made you decide to write and publish your first book?
I’ve been writing for my own entertainment since I was 12. I trained as a journalist and worked as a reporter (under my legal name) in the local market and had some magazine articles published, but fiction writing was always a hobby until the self-publishing market took off around 2011. I decided I wanted to bring one of my books to publication and then once I started, I decided there was no reason to stop there.
How would you describe your books to first time readers?
Well, I have three series going — a high fantasy called Daermad Cycle that delves into what makes a people and what makes them hostile to their neighbors, an apocalyptic called Transformation Project which looks at the destruction of the United States of America as we know it and how Americans might deal with that, and the debut novel in a YA/NA series called What If…Wasn’t — Book 1 is “Red Kryptonite Curve”. It explores the personal destruction of a talented young man.
Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?
I’m going to focus on Transformation Project because that’s my biggest seller currently. Fans of Apocalyptic literature would connect with it. Libertarians would enjoy it because I don’t see solutions in government, which failed, but in the people themselves. Christians would be fairly comfortable reading the books — there’s referenced sex and some swearing, but I try to keep it mostly clean. Therefore, non-Christian readers could also enjoy it because I build a realistic world. I don’t sanitize life in what would be rough circumstances.
What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?
I’m constantly learning new stuff as I write. I started Transformation Project before President Trump was elected to office, so it is a universe devoid of his influence. I really didn’t see that coming. So, I’m constantly having to remind myself that things would be different than they actually are.I honestly predicted the economy would be in the tank by now because of out of control spending. I still think it will be, but we aren’t there yet.
If you could, what advice would you give to your past self before embarking on this journey?
Build up an advertising budget over the past 10 years so that when I published my first book, I could have afforded to market it better than I originally was able.
How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?
I figure I need about $40,000 a year to live on, so that’s about 20,000 people a year. Of course, I have a money-job currently, so that’s a give-or-take figure. Certainly I wouldn’t object to a best-seller.
What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?
I’m a character-driven writer, so my characters really present themselves as telling their stories to me and I write those stories down. They don’t much cooperate with my ideas. This means my biggest challenge is figuring out what direction they’re headed in so that I can plot it out. It’s not easy to do because my characters sometimes have minds of their own.I’ve found though, that I’m not really frustrated by it. I just need to be aware of it so I don’t get too far ahead of their stories.
What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
I studied to be a journalist in a time when we were expected to get a job that would require writing, editing, typography and marketing skills. It means I can be involved soup-to-nuts for the entire process. I sub out some of it because you really can’t edit your own writing, but I also give my editors really polished manuscripts.
What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
My writing weakness is that I really love characters and sometimes will chase a bunny trail because I’m fascinated by a side character who really shouldn’t be chased.
My publishing weakness hasn’t really proven to be a weakness, but I struggle with cover design.
Marketing is my biggest overall weakness. I’d rather not, but if you don’t do some marketing, nobody knows your books are out there, so they don’t sell.
When do you think you will write your next book?
Well, my YA/NA series launched March 17, which is the main character’s birthday. I plan to have the 6th book in Transformation Project (Winter’s Reckoning) out this autumn sometime.
Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?
I self-publish through a writers’ cooperative called Breakwater Harbor Books. We’re about 10 authors who use each other as sounding boards and beta readers and we publish under the one label.
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