Monday, October 26, 2009

Interview with author Pat Bertram




Joylene: Pat, please tell us a little about Daughter Am I.
Pat: Daughter Am I is the story of a young woman who inherits a farm from murdered grandparents she never knew she had. Since her father won’t talk about them or explain why he told her they were dead, she sets out on a journey to discover who those grandparents were and why someone killed them. Armed with a little black address book she found in a secret room in the farmhouse, she travels halfway across the country talking to people who knew her grandfather. Through the stories those feisty octogenarians tell, she learns the truth about her grandparents and herself.
Joylene: What is the origin of Daughter Am I?
Pat: I have an historian friend who used to tell me stories about the Mob and how so much of what we thought we knew was untrue. For example, Al Capone was not the great crime boss depicted in so many old movies. He was the front man for the commission that ran Chicago. When he served a ten-month prison sentence for carrying a pistol, it was business as usual in the city. I decided to write a book so I could tell some of these stories. I’ve always like the story within a story format.
Joylene: Do you think writing this book changed your life? How so?
Pat: I wish I could say writing this book changed my life, it would make a good story, but the fact is, it made little difference. Daughter Am I was the third novel I wrote. I’d already experienced the joy and sense of accomplishment completing a novel gives one, and I’d already experienced the disappointment that comes from having a novel rejected. Now, if Daughter Am I would go viral, that would change my life!
Joylene: What has changed for you personally since you wrote your first book?
Pat: The main thing that changed for me in the eight years since I wrote my first book is that I learned how to write! That first book was such a horror that I have it locked away in the basement. Not really. I don’t have a basement. But the novel really was dreadful. Other changes came when I got a computer, signed up for the Internet, and began communicating with writers around the world. The final change came when Second Wind Publishing accepted my novels for publication.
Joylene: What do you think was the greatest obstacle in completing Daughter Am I?
Pat: The greatest obstacle? That’s easy -- me! The story came to me all in one day. Even the biggest story problem -- why the gold was buried -- was resolved that very night when I read a book about the war on gold. Still, even though I knew the story, it took me eleven months to write the first draft. Words come slowly to me. I’m not one who can sit down and just write what comes to mind. I have to dredge the words from somewhere deep inside.
Joylene: Can you tell us a little about the process of getting your book published?
Pat: Getting Daughter Am I published was simple. I just told my publisher I had another book and asked if he was interested. Getting the first two published was the hard part. Two hundred rejections! That pretty much tells the story. I did have three agents over the years, but none of them were any good, so I started querying publishing companies that accepted unagented submissions. During one of my querying spates, I happened to stop by a discussion thread on Gather.com and found a link to Second Wind that someone had posted. I immediately shot off a query, got a manuscript request in a couple of days and an acceptance within a couple of weeks.
Joylene: Has having two books under your belt made the writing and marketing of Daughter Am I easier or harder?
Pat: Daughter Am I was written before A Spark of Heavenly Fire and More Deaths Than One were published, otherwise it would never have been written. Since publication, I’ve written almost nothing except blogs and articles. I’ve been spending my creative time trying to figure out how to get my books known. The promotion is a bit easier because I’m more comfortable with social networks, and I’m friends with a lot more people, but marketing is just as difficult. To me, promoting is letting people know about the book, marketing is getting them to buy it. I still need to learn how to market!
Joylene: What's the future hold for you? What's your next book about?
Pat: I hope the future holds more books! One of these days I will get back to my work-in-progress, a whimsically ironic apocalyptic fantasy. My poor hero has been sweltering under a tangerine sun for over a year! He’s not very happy with me. I am also planning to write a graphic novel. And lastly, I’m planning on selling a ton of books . . . as soon as I figure out how.

7 comments :

  1. Thanks so much for the interview, Pat. Best of luck with promoting and marketing Daughter Am I. I'm still waiting for my copy to arrive. Can't wait to read it.

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  2. Nice to get an inside peek at your journey, Pat. Thanks to you and Joylene for this. I wish you much success with Daughter Am I.

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  3. Hi, Joylene and Carol, I am pleased to be here again today. It's always fun to visit Cluculz, and it's always fun to talk about my journey as a writer.

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  4. Hiya Pat! Coupla questions if you don't mind.

    What motivated you to start writing novels? Had you written short stories, articles or novellas previously & simply expanded?

    Do you find that offering readers the opportunity to read a substantial part of your work online for free helps your sales? (As someone who read a significant portion of 'Daughter Am I' on Smashwords - I can say it resulted in at least one sale down here in Florida).

    Well, I hope you have great success with your book. Enjoy your tour. Thanks for sharing the insights.

    Joylene - Thanks. Great interview. I knew you would do a terrific job.

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  5. I sympathize with the first book horror story. I have a awful attempt at a romantic thriller locked away in a box somewhere.

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  6. When someone asks me about my work, my first impulse is to say I've written 5 books instead of 6. But in fact I have written 6, even if the first one is horrible and will never see the light of day. I still wrote it. Took me 7 years, too.

    Thanks for the interview, Pat. I learned a lot.

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  7. Joylene, how funny. I always say I wrote four novels, though in fact it was five. I simply refuse to acknowledge that first horrid attempt!

    A.F., I suppose most writers have a monster in a closet. I'll rewrite mine if you rewrite yours!

    Dave, as for your questions. What got me started writing novels. It always nagged at me that I lost the ability to write. I used to write short stories and poems, but one day the words disappeared out of my head, possibly because I discovered I had no talent. It was one of the many sadnesses of my life. One day when I needed to cope with an even greater sadness than not writing, I decided the heck with talent. I needed the therapy of putting my problems into fiction form. So I did.

    As for Smashwords, as far as I know, publishing a significant portion of the book online has resulted in only four sales -- yours and three others from Smashwords. I've been curious why it hasn't created more interest. I've had a combined total of about eighty downloads from Smashwords, so either people didn't read the downloads, they couldn't spare the $5.00, or I'm not as good a writer as I think I am.

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