Friday, April 15, 2011

Friday Featured Writer: Sue Dent

Today my "Featured Writer" is... (drum roll please!)... author SUE DENT! Yep! She is indeed the very writer whose debut novel NEVER CEESE was on the 2007 preliminary ballot for a Bram Stoker Award (and if I am not mistaken Sue "signed a one-book contract with Nicholas Grabowsky of Black Bed Sheet Books" in April 2010)! Thank you so much, Sue, for being my "Featured Writer" today!!! I am so excited to present the following interview:

Sue: First of all let me THANK bloggers like Brook who give authors like myself the opportunity to promote my work. It’s all about getting out there and small published authors often feel like a Who in Whoville. So on with the interview. ;)

Me: Your blog posts address being published and dealing with large bookstores. I joined CEESE's journey a few years back (gosh what year was that? 2006 maybe?). And how did things progress from there?

Sue: I completed my professional edit with Arlene W. Robinson of Never Ceese in 2005. I followed all the “customary” routes of seeking ANY kind of publisher straight away and actually got a nibble after a little trial and error. But the publisher wasn’t interested until the end of the year. Eager to start making some of the money I put out on my edit back, I self-published. I bought a block of ISBN numbers from Bowker and became S D Enterprises. There was no fancy hoopla. No nothing. Wow. Who’d a thought becoming a publisher would be so easy.

Later in the year I went back to the publisher who nibbled and asked if they were ready yet. They said yes, gave me a $500 advance against royalties (that never came because as we should all know by now, small publishers can’t survive using the rules in place. Those rules only work for large publishers.) About a year later they buckled under the weight of returns etc . . . and liquidated over 4000 hard copies of Never Ceese. Since I’d self-published initially, I still had my paperback version to sell. Of course with no way to really get distribution because that costs way more than a small publisher can afford EVER, I still had no real revenue.

Wonderful things did happen with Never Ceese during that time. It was short-listed for a Bram Stoker award in 2007 for Superior Achievement in a First Novel. That alone really helped get Never Ceese noticed. It also garnished wonderful reviews and unprecedented attention from readers of a market that won’t touch work like mine.

Me: What inspired you to write NEVER CEESE?

Sue: The same thing that inspires doctors to help patients, painters to paint, engineers to well, engineer. I’m a writer. I write. I don’t have to have inspiration so it seems. LOL I enjoy these stories in my head all day long and I’m inspired to share them. If someone else enjoys them then that’s wonderful! The more the merrier.

Me: The genre for which you write is Christian "Horror"?

Sue: Nay, nay! ;) There is no genre called Christian “Horror” officially and to say that I write for it would be to mislead. Never Ceese is a story that has horror elements so I do market it as horror. It also has fantasy elements and suspense and even a little romance. I initially and on my own used the word “spiritual” as in Spiritual fantasy but never, ever, ever called it Christian. The reason is because Christian is a broad label and doesn’t really tell a reader much about the story. Secondly, in the publishing industry a group of very targeted and discriminating publishers have taken this label and attached it to all of their fiction. Now the broad label is being used to define specific work. NOT GOOD but there’s little I can do about that.

Me: Though it is technically horror I love NEVER CEESE because it is not gore. I am not a fan of vampires but I have a real soft spot for RICHARD (as he is not the average vampire, in my opinion). What lead you to write a faith based vampire/ werewolf story?

Sue: There are MANY sub genres of horror. I’m not a gore-horror-hound myself but have many author friends who write those kind of stories. As far as what led me to write a faith based vampire/werewolf story—nothing in particular. It’s simply the story I had on my mind. To me all stories are faith based as we all more or less write from our faith whatever that might be.

Me: What is your target audience?

Sue: Folks who want to read a good story. It’s fast paced and a quick read for most. Or so I’ve heard. It seems to appeal to a very wide group so that’s good. I initially targeted young adult because my editor felt it read a lot like J. K. Rowling’s books. But I quickly learned it doesn’t matter who a small-pubbed author markets their books to, no one is going to see it for a long time. When the book finally does get out there and folks are paying attention, THEY pretty much determine the target audience.

Me: Do you feel CEESE is geared more toward baby believers, mature believers, or "unbelievers"?

Sue: Never Ceese is geared toward anyone who wants to read a good story. ;) It isn’t written for a specific or targeted audience though readers from very targeted audiences read and enjoy it and it isn’t written to offend. I certainly know that there are folks who might read Never Ceese and not enjoy it but that’s as far as that goes. Most readers of the horror genre enjoy it, readers of fantasy, and yes even readers who generally only read stories put out by targeted Christian publishers. I feel lucky to have written something that appeals to so many. I always wondered if it were a fluke but Forever Richard, the second book in my Thirsting for Blood Series made the 2009 long-list for Best Novel at the British Fantasy Society after earning a resounding review from them. That was nice!

: Have you seen God at work during this whole process? If so, how?

Sue: Aw, I see God at work every day in my life. He is my life. Egads! Couldn’t do it without Him. Wouldn’t even try. I thank Him everyday as well for giving me the gift to share my stories with others. ALL kinds of others! ;)

Again, Sue, thank you so much for this opportunity! I think you are wonderful and if you are ever in the San Francisco area, please let me know! Personally, I am thankful there is a vampire/werewolf story out there for enthusiasts (though admittedly I am not one of them :(---so sorry) that can be used as a preference to the ones that have a strong (how should I put it) sexual undertone. And, God's word is mentioned in your book---like the Bible story CEESE remembers at the pond---(which is important to me as a reader).

For more information about author Sue Dent and her books NEVER CEESE and FOREVER RICHARD, please check out Sue Dent's Official Blog Spot! You can also find her on Facebook and Twitter @SDent1.

(Photo and all other (c) Sue Dent material is posted here with permission.)
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