Welcome Aaron Blaylock
Author of, among others, The Gorge.
(Links to where books may be found are at the end of this interview.)
Please tell us a little about yourself.
I was born and raised in Arizona. I claim Sacramento, California and Jamaica as well but the desert is home to me and I always seem to make my way back. It is where I met and married my wife and it is where we are raising our four amazing kids. The places I’ve lived and the friends I’ve made have shaped and informed who I am and the stories I tell. Oh, and the food I’ve eaten. I like the food.
What first inspired you to write?
There’s a tremendous amount of joy in entertaining and telling stories. It’s something that’s come as natural to me as eating and breathing. Did I mention I like food? And breathing. Anyway, we connect with each other through moments and events in our lives and through the stories we share about them. I discovered with a little tweak and twist here and there I could change a story from ordinary to extraordinary. So of course I was drawn to the arena where fantastical liars play.
In what genre(s) do you prefer to write?
I honestly don’t have a preference. My goal is to play in nearly every genre before I’m finished. My inspirations are not born from a genre so I don’t confine my writing to genre either. I have written mystery, historical fiction, adventure, suspense, children’s picture books, and satirical works. As a challenge I’ve even written an agoraphobic, love story with a ghost and a lawyer. Put that in your genre pipe and smoke it. I just finished what I refer to as a contemporary western and I’m playing with a horror idea as a follow up.
How/Where do you get the ideas for your stories?
If I say life, is that too brief of an answer? I have written about things that I’ve experienced or events I’ve read about. The idea for my first book, The Land of Look Behind, came to me as I was traversing a dark cave in the middle of the Jamaican wilderness. The idea for my second novel, The Unsaid, came as I was falling asleep one night and wondered what happens to the thoughts I choose not to say. A pet project that I don’t know if I’ll ever get to write came from a broken clock on my bathroom vanity. When you start to look for stories they are easy to find. The hard part is finding the time to write them all.
Are you working on another book?
Yes, several. I am writing the third book in The Land of Look Behind series and I just started another book this morning but I’m keeping that one to myself for now.
If your books have required research: What do you consider the best resources?
Yes, for me it is history and living. I studied the history of Jamaica in order to get the life and times right for the historical piece of the story. I read stories and legends about the region for the contemporary western I just finished. The most important thing for me though is that my experiences have at least come close to my characters. If your character climbs a mountain, then you should have seen the top of more than a few summits yourself.
Do you consider your book(s) convey messages to readers?
Absolutely. In some cases they may be subtle or complex but there are themes throughout my stories that the reader can take with them long after the story is finished. Whether the message is ‘You can do hard things’ or ‘The thoughts in our head matter’ a story is far more meaningful to the reader when there is more for them to digest than just what’s on the page.
What advice would you give to authors who are just starting out?
Just write. Don’t worry about whether it’s good or not. Some of it won’t be. Don’t worry about getting published or discovered. You might not be. Just write. Try new things, different styles, learn the rules of writing and try breaking a few. The more you read and the more you write the better you’ll get. That’s a fact.
Do you self-edit or do you think a book should only be professionally edited?
I edit my work two or three times before I let anybody see it. When making my first pass I just write without stopping. Hopefully I catch the egregious errors on my second pass and by the third I may have knocked off a few more rough edges. I am confident, however, in saying you will never be able to see all your errors and while professional editors miss things too they are far more likely to polish your manuscript to a level you cannot attain on your own. A good professional editor makes a dramatic difference in the quality of your work.
How do you go about marketing your books?
The first is a good pitch. I start by distilling my work into two or three sentences that will intrigue a reader. If you can’t do that you will not get very far. After that I share everything on social media from the book cover to the book trailer, from release date to appearances. Then I hit the road. I schedule a blog tour, a launch party and book signings. I get a foam board poster of the cover and go out and talk to readers in book stores and libraries. I teach classes, workshops and go to conventions. That’s the dirty little secret of authoring, nobody is just going to find your book, you’ve got to get out there and tell people about it.
How important do you think reviews are?
Reviews are like warm cyber-hugs to authors. Good or bad it says that somebody cared enough about what you wrote to say something about it. Of course everybody wants all five star reviews but the reality is that writing is subjective and you are not going to connect with every reader on the same level. Some people will be into what you’ve wrote and some won’t. For me, if they have taken the time to say something about my work I honour that regardless of how they rate it. Reviews are crucial for reaching readers online and getting them to give you a chance.
If you consider reviews important, how do you go about obtaining them for your books?
I beg? Honestly, it’s difficult because most people, even those that like a book, don’t take the time to write a review. I started a #RevieWednesday hashtag where I share a review from one of my books on Wednesdays and invite people who follow me to share their own. Really that’s all you can do is invite, repeatedly.
Do you have a preferred genre for when you read?
I like stories that transport me to a new place. That’s kind of baked in to Fantasy so I probably gravitate to that genre naturally. But there are authors across genres who can do that so I try and find those wherever they are.
This is an age old question but one I consider of interest. If you were stranded on a desert island, which three books would you like to have with you?
Robinson Crusoe, The Martian, and How to Survive on a Desert Island.
Please share with us links to where readers may obtain more information and insight into who you are.
Amazon Author Page: http://amazon.com/author/aaronblaylock
Thank you Aaron for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.
The Gorge is only available in digital (e-book) formats from Smashwords.com. It is FREE.
Smashwords (multiple digital formats to suit all devices.)
It may also be read in the author’s blog. (N.B. Website has now superseded the blog.)
If interested, you may read T. R.’s review here.