Welcome to my Self Publishing Spotlight!
This month I'm very pleased to say my spotlight has landed on author Daniel Piros and his lupine superhero novel Project New Age.
I'm afraid I have been useless and not yet posted my review of Project New Age - I've been too caught up in Christmas and New Year... But it will go up this week so stay tuned! For now, Daniel has written me fab guest post all about his writing journey.
So, no pressure, right?
I don’t deal well with stress. But I am good at overcoming obstacles. During the summer of Kindergarten, I went from a below-average reading level (to the point that my teacher gave me a “special” list of books to read over the summer) to reading chapter books. In one book.
Those “special” books the teacher recommended bored the hell out of me. I didn’t want to read them. I had my sights set on more interesting — and more challenging — books.
Eventually, my stubbornness forced my mom to let me try to read The Magic Treehouse books, which were the books my two older brothers were reading. She thought I’d finally realize that I couldn’t read anything that hard, and quit bugging her about it. But, by the end of the first book, I was reading every word by myself, without any help from my mom.
One book was all it took for me to learn to read, and learn to love to read.
Needless to say, Mom was surprised.
About two years ago, I finished another one of James Patterson’s Maximum Ride books. I was addicted to them. And I couldn’t find any other author who could satisfy the intense craving I had for more of his books. So I tried to write my own book.
I failed. Very badly.
But I enjoyed failing, so I kept trying. I became obsessed with writing novels. My mom worried about me a lot. Then, she read Project New Age, and urged me to self-publish it.
Seems like she has a habit of underestimating me, huh?
Well, I underestimated myself, too. Writing had always been a challenge for me. And I hated it. Or so I thought. Turns out, I love writing when I’m writing freely about something I’m interested in. When I’m writing about something I don’t care about (like an essay on Prohibition), I hate it.
Writing has now become my greatest passion and obsession. When I sit down at the keyboard, I can just type away, letting the ideas flow freely. What comes out is mostly humor, with some deep thinking beneath the surface.
Project New Age is largely a satire of superhero stories, although it does have some deep ideas in it. In school, too much emphasis is placed on the themes of books, what you can learn from them, how they can change your life and make you a better person, yadda, yadda, yadda. None of the books I’ve read for school have had that kind of impact on me. They just bore me. Reading is supposed to be enjoyable, so in my writing, I strive to make it so. That’s why my dedication reads, “I dedicate this book to anyone who enjoys it. And I apologize to everyone else.” If my books change someone’s life for the better with the meaning beneath the surface, and help them through tough times, that’s great. But I’ve found that the best thing when times are tough is to just laugh and have fun.
Life needs humor. People like to laugh. And when people take things too seriously, there can be a lot of conflict. For example, there’s a taboo against making jokes about religion, and look at the things that have happened when people take their religion too sternly. The Crusades. The Inquisition. Terrorists who call America the “Great Satan”. George W. Bush. If people would just take a step back and think, “Wait a second... I believe in a giant man in the sky who reads minds and grants wishes” and laugh a little, a lot of that conflict could be avoided. If people were more conscious of how crazy their own ideas sound, they’d be more willing to accept that others disagree, and even that their ideas could be wrong, and aren’t worth killing people over. Of course, that’s just my opinion.
Project New Age relies heavily on the characters, particularly the narrator, Chris. Chris is half human and half wolf. He loves BACON!! and being petted and scratched behind his ears. He can also be very philosophical. Sometimes, he’s asking to be petted, or showing his great love of BACON!!, and other times — or even simultaneously — he’s talking about his views and philosophy on life. For example, towards the end of Project New Age, Chris says, “My thought is, ‘Believe whatever you want, just don’t let it interfere with others’. If that means you believe God is a flying spaghetti monster who turns into a giant pig, then that’s fine. Just don’t let it interfere with my spaghetti and bacon marinara.”
I have no idea whether Project New Age — or any book I ever write — is going to be successful. The odds are against it. But I’m not worried. I’m pursuing a career in Engineering, so I can make a steady income with that while writing on the side. That way, I don’t have to worry about selling enough books to support myself or whether I’ll have the next book ready in time. Writing will remain a free and enjoyable activity for me.
When I write, I don’t worry about what word works best or is the most descriptive. I just let the words flow naturally from my mind to my computer. It gives my writing a more natural, laid-back style. Conversational, I think it’s called. It doesn’t have much detail, but it seems to work pretty well, because I’ve gotten nothing but compliments on Project New Age so far.
I’m now almost done with the second book in the series. There are a lot of loose ends in Project New Age, so it was a little hard to tie everything up, but I think I managed pretty well. The second book isn’t quite as humorous as Project New Age is, simply because the plot gets a lot thicker and deeper. I think it’s still good, though.
I actually started working on the third book recently, which involves ghosts. Originally, I had no intention of having supernatural elements in the series, but I like it this way. It’s a lot of fun to try to figure out explanations for how things like that could work.
So, to any aspiring writers out there, my advice to just relax and write naturally. Don’t worry if you’re absolutely awful. I was when I first tried, but after writing a few stories, I got better. And don’t let writing become something you “have to do”, make sure you’re writing because you want to write.
Sound advice Daniel! Thank you so much for participating in my Self Publishing Spotlight, letting us in on your experiences with writing. Daniel's book is available in paperback from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com or in digital format from Lulu. Find out more about Daniel and his books on the Project New Age website.
To find out more about the Self Publishing Spotlight feature or to submit a book, click here. I'm especially interested to hear from authors planning to publish in 2012.