Hello everyone! I'm excited to share with you my interview with author T.A Pace :)
I find the blurb of The Opposite of Love really interesting. What gave you the idea and inspiration for this story?
The story was inspired by the concept of the novel Any Woman’s Blues by Erica Jong. In her novel, control and love are wholly opposed, so that the heroine has to choose which she wants more.
For me, the title is catchy. How did you choose it?
Basically it comes down to this: If we are to describe love as accepting someone as they are, warts and all, then the opposite of that is wanting to change or control someone. Melanie has a need for control of herself and her surroundings, while James has a need for control over others, especially women. Both of these needs create their individual environments in which love cannot thrive.
How did you come up with your main characters? Are some characters in your book based on people you know?
My characters were created as products of their pasts. I let their experiences dictate who they are and who they’re trying to become. They are damaged and human, hopeful and sometimes brave, but they are not based on anyone I know personally.
Tell us a little bit about the cover design of your book. Do you believe the cover can affect the sales of a book?
I do believe a cover can affect the sales, but not as much as word of mouth. My cover design was based on the concept of control. On the front cover, the male hand is in a “pulling” position, indicating force against the female, and the female hand is somewhat closed, indicating self-protection. On the back cover, the hands are open, the arms reaching out, and the fingertips just touching, indicating a willing connection. My dear friends Teresa and Steve modeled for the shoot and I couldn’t be happier with it.
Was there a time frame in writing the book?
The time frame is a story that’s a bit embarrassing, but not unique. I started the novel around 2006 and abandoned it twice. I wasn’t sure if I could publish something “dirty” and have people I know read it and think it was about me. I’m no prude, but I’ve never done the things that Melanie does in the book. And to have my mother think I was that freaky… gasp! But in the end, people are going to think what they want to, regardless of what you tell them. (I’ll say it again anyway: It’s fiction. I’m not a character in this book and neither are you.)
Can you tell us what makes your book unique compared to the other books in the same genre?
I would like to think that it’s a bit more psychologically driven than the average romance or erotic novel. The struggle to overcome one’s past is one that most of us face, and I wanted that journey to resonate with the reader.
How does your reading life influence your writing life?
Completely. I try to stick with authors that I know write well, because in the same way you can learn valuable skills by reading the works of good writers, you can pick up bad habits from poor ones.
Can you share one quote/line from the book that readers could easily relate with?
The death of a loved one carries with it a profound and unexpected knowledge, one that is complicated and difficult to express to others; this Melanie knew from personal experience. When that death is also a tragedy, often this knowledge will feed on blame and what ifs and questions without answers until it becomes its own being, walking beside the mourner and touching everything.
Is there anything else you would like to share about yourself or your book with readers?
Thank you very much for you time!
Thank you T.A. !
Here is my interview with author Dean F. Wilson about his first published novel The Call of Agon. He won a TAP Educational Award from Trinity College Dublin for an early draft of The Call of Agon (then called Protos Mythos) in 2001. He has also published a number of poems and short stories over the years, while working on and reworking some of his novels.
Hi Dean, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background as a journalist.
Thank you for having me. I'm 28, born and bred in Dublin, Ireland, where I still live today. I started writing when I was at least 11 years old, and fell in love with the art. I've worked as a journalist for many top technology news outlets, writing news and features on consumer and business technology. My true love, however, is writing fiction.
How do you balance between journalism and writing?
They are very different styles, so it's important to switch modes when moving from one to the other. News needs to be snappy and to the point. Fiction, however, has lots of extra layers, so there's a lot more room to play around with things. In terms of time, it's like anything else, and there's never enough time to do everything.
How do you think your background in journalism has influenced your writing?
It has given me an appreciation for clarity and reducing redundant words. That said, I did write fiction before I became a journalist, so in some ways that influenced my journalism too.
So about your novel The Call of Agon, tell us about the cover design. Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
The cover was designed by a wonderful artist called Soheil Toosi, who did an excellent job taking my pitch and turning it into reality. It shows the Beast Agon trapped in the Underworld, reaching up towards Ifferon and his companions, who are silhouetted by the moon. This style is something I carried forward in the covers of the next two books, also designed by Toosi.
Cover art is vital, because people really do judge a book by its cover. In essence, it's page 1 of the book, as it sets the mood for the story, and may even give a reader preconceptions about how characters look, etc. A good cover will create intrigue, but a bad cover will turn off would-be readers.
What kind of research did you do?
Since this is epic fantasy, I had a lot of freedom to create new things, but I tried to ground them to some degree in reality. I researched medieval history, old weaponry, and even linguistics, which plays a big role, as it's largely a language-based story (with several invented languages). It helps that I'm fascinated by many subjects, from history and war to politics and religion, so I'm always researching, even if it's not for a current book project.
Can you tell us what makes The Call of Agon unique compared to the other books in the same genre?
I think perhaps the most unique thing about the book is the language, which some readers have described as poetic or lyrical. I think in some ways we have lost this in modern fiction, which becomes solely about the story. I enjoy reading books where the language is as fascinating as the story, where a turn of phrase is as enjoyable as a battle scene.
That said, the story itself is different to other epic fantasy works, because the barriers between humans and gods are effectively torn down. It's a traditional good versus evil tale, but there are lots of things I think readers won't expect. I won't spoil them!
You have published a number of poems and short stories over the years and The Call of Agon was your first published novel. For you, poem/short story/novel, which one is the hardest to write?
I think short stories are the hardest to write, because it's difficult to have a proper beginning, middle and end in such a short space. Usually when I do have those three elements, it's too big for that medium. Poetry can be difficult to get just right, but there's obviously a smaller time investment than a novel. Novels require significant amounts of time, and lots of forced writing (not everything is fun), but to me this is the most rewarding format, as I get to delve deeper with characters and plot-lines.
What ways do you find are most effective in marketing your books?
Free or discounted promotions are probably the most effective, in addition to email newsletters. I've found social media to be considerably less effective than expected, and some other methods can be significant time sinks. All approaches can work for some people, but not for all, and it really depends on how much time is invested, and how it's done. The thing is, marketing is an ongoing affair. A few people get lucky, but most of us have to keep slogging through.
As a reader, I've noticed there are many well written books out there but don't get much reviews. Why do you think that other well written books just don’t sell?
People don't know about them. It's as simple as that. There are over a million new books published a year in the US alone, and the rise of ebooks and self-publishing has made it easy for anyone to enter the market. The problem has always been letting readers know that a book exists, and traditionally published books suffer from this as much as anything else. This is why marketing is essential.
Are there any authors that you would name as influences?
I read quite widely, from classics to genre fiction to graphic novels, and plenty of non-fiction as well. So, I'm sure they've all been influences to some degree. More specifically, there is Charles Dickens, J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephen Donaldson, Terry Pratchett, and Neil Gaiman.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you for your support! Without readers, there'd be no writers (or no paid writers, at least). And, of course, please post a review if you like a book, even if there are tons of reviews there already. They are very important for a book's success. Keep reading!
Thank you Dean!