Welcome Back to Author's Corner
Today I have the pleasure of Interviewing Peter Difatta
Peter is the Author of Finding Pluck. While it was in the manuscript form, Finding Pluck won the William Faulkner Literary Award in 2014.
It has recently been reviewed and recommended by The American Library Association. See the review here.
Now on to the Interview!
Why do you write Peter?
I write mainly because I enjoy it, and I think I have something creative and interesting to say. Plus, writing is a powerful force in changing the way people think, and I think I can offer up some important insights that perhaps not everyone has.
When did you decide to become a writer?
I've always appreciated the art of storytelling even when I was in grammar school. While I was in my first year of Literature class in college, I was recognized as having some skill with writing and was put in a special creative writing class. At the end of the semester, a novella I had written as an assignment was highlighted and read in its entirety to a large gathering of professors and students. While this was happening, I was extremely nervous about this and fortunately was sitting in the back of the room. However, it was well received, and from then on, I wanted to do more writing.
What genre are your books?
The latest book Finding Pluck, is difficult to place. In one regard, it is a coming of age novel. However, it does have a paranormal twist, it includes some romance, it has some mystery, and it is set in two historical time periods outside of the present. So, it could fall in any of these categories. However, if there was a genre category called “social agenda” genre, I would put it in there. It is because the novel addresses the culture of prejudice in our society—how prejudice is formed and how it is reinforced in our religions, culture and our laws. My previous novel was a paranormal (supernatural) thriller. The novel I’m working on now is set in the future so it will be in the Sci-Fi category.
What draws you to this genre?
Above everything else, I consider myself an entertainer. I may have a message to get out, but unless I get an audience to read my book, I’ve accomplished little. So, my goal is to entertain while at the same time delivering my message. I think a lot of people are drawn to the paranormal, as I am, so I use that genre to convey my message.
What have you written?
My first novel was a supernatural thriller entitled Utility. Finding Pluck is out now. Presently, I’m working on a anthology of my short stories, mostly paranormal and also working on my first attempt at sci-fi.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he do that is so special?
Um! Taylor is really not so special as a person. I tried to make him into an ordinary high school senior (when the book starts) who has a loving home environment, yet one facing numerous setbacks. Taylor desperately wants to go to college and is accepted, but financially his father can’t afford to send him. Taylor lies, saying he is gay, in order to receive a fully paid scholarship. What he does that is special is that he learns from this experience of being exposed to prejudice by walking in other people’s shoes, and he becomes a better person.
Where do your ideas come from?
I’m sure I’m influenced by everyday happenings one encounters in the news. I find myself clipping interesting newspaper stories. Real life is often stranger than fiction. And everyday actions with people are a source of inspiration. But after I have decided on the premise of my book, my most creative thoughts come when I’m swimming laps. It is a wonderful way to block out the rest of the world. All you hear are the bubbles from your breathing and the rhythmic sound of your strokes. This is a time when my mind can work best. It is a time when I can solve narrative problems.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just seeing where an idea takes you?
I outline using a database. Each chapter is one record. Each record shows a synopsis of the chapter, a time frame, people in the chapter, which draft (1, 2, 3, final), a rating of the quality of the chapter, notes on problems, and notes on things to add. New chapters can easily be added when needed. There are probably commercial writing programs to do this, but I just created my own database. It is extremely useful for examining your narrative arc, making sure time frames are plausible, and makes it easy to experiment with re-arranging chapters. When I am actually writing the chapters, they often go in a different direction than I originally intended. This may or may not result in revising the outline. Also, the outline is not fixed and definitely changes as the novel progresses.
How do you think you've evolved creatively?
I think I am much more demanding of myself. The narrative becomes more complex, and the characters become more developed, all hopefully making a more interesting read.
How do you market your books?
Marketing is a never ending challenge. First I seek out as many reviews as possible. I do this by contacting bloggers, and giving away my book on various sites in exchange for reviews. I've done press releases, opened a Facebook page, a Twitter account, a Pinterest page, advertised on Facebook and Google Words (neither worked) and had price reduction promotions. And, I enter contests. I am very selective about which ones, choosing only not for profit contests.
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
The price reduction with promotions by far worked the best. The paid sites are the most effective, but you have to weigh the cost to benefit results. I've spent money on sites only to receive half that amount in royalties. Others are free and were quite beneficial.
Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
Google Adwords, Goodreads ads, and advertising on Facebook did not work for me, and I felt was a waste of money. Possibly other genres might work, but I have my doubts. I've heard the same comments from other authors who are a lot more successful than me.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?Be very devoted to your craft. Write as much and as often as you can. And truly believe in yourself and what you want to say.
Is there anything else you would like to add that I haven’t included?
Yes. Marketing is a never ending process that builds on itself. As an example, when I first published Finding Pluck, I contacted local media stations seeking air time to talk about my book. The only one that responded was a NPR (National Public Radio) affiliate. I posted an edited version of that interview on my website. Through Goodreads, I requested an honest review and a blogger, who saw the request investigated my book, and after hearing the NPR interview was convinced she wanted to review it. When she did, she loved it and has heavily promoted it through her blog, twitter and Facebook. See her entire review here.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
Amazon Page: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00T8LYQZW
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