G.T. Anders, author of The Tower of Babel, talks about his approach to writing and his plans for the future.
Why do you write? Is it something you’ve always done, or always wanted to do? Or is it something that you started fairly recently?
I’ve been writing since age 10 or so. I stopped writing for about two years as a young teen, but otherwise I’ve been steady with it. I always considered myself a novelist, even when I was a kid. I’m doing what I was made to do.
Tell me a little about your books.
I find life to be a hard, terrible thing at times. It feels like you and the people you love are lost in the dark, waiting for dawn. That sense of community, of unwavering dedication to people with whom you are fundamentally incompatible and with whom you fight against the dark, has permeated my life and, thus, my writing too.
Are there any authors who inspire you?
C. S. Lewis, for his redemptive vision; Tolkien, for his epic vision; and Faulkner, for his agonizing humanity. Of the three, I consider Lewis the best theologian, Tolkien the best historian, and Faulkner the best poet/prophet. Faulkner doesn’t step down from shattering portrayals of brokenness, and this is where his work gets its profundity. He’s taught me a lot.
How do you write? Do you make yourself write a certain number of words per day?
It depends on life. Sometimes I can get into a rhythm of getting up every morning and using the first hour or two of my day to write or edit, before my mind has gotten cluttered up with book promotion and the internet and my day job. Lately, I’ve had trouble finding focus to write after 11 AM, although the groove can be there after 11 PM as well. I’ve never really focused on word count, but rather on stopping place. Have I reached a cadence? Then I can put it away for today.
Did you try to get a conventional publisher or agent interested before you opted for self-publishing?
No. I read a lot about the industry and decided that, given the unconventionality of my stories and the emergence of a whole new self-publishing infrastructure that was at last completely viable, the time was now to go DIY.
What goals have you set yourself? Do you want to sell a certain number of books in 2012? Is there some way you measure success, on your own terms?
Success. What a word. It doesn’t mean what it meant to your dad, you know? In this post-mainstream, hipster, niche-market culture, success is the knowledge that your book has influenced someone for the better. The goal is not bestseller status–not even necessarily break-even financial status. The goal is excellence of craft. The goal is true Story. The goal is to shout Redemption in streets of despair.
How have you marketed your books?
I’ve used Facebook primarily, but that doesn’t mean I have any idea what I’m doing. A carefully targeted Facebook ad has brought tons of new Likes to my book’s page, but it’s hard to know how many of those will translate into real interest or purchases.
Do you worry about Amazon gaining a monopoly in the ebook market?
Actually, as a lost little self-pubber, I would prefer a monopoly. This would reduce the amount of work that authors have to do to get their stuff out there. I look at it as a DVD vs BluRay thing, but maybe that’s selfish. I do believe that reducing things to a single format benefits everybody in the end. I mean, for hundreds of years, there was only one format–dead trees and ink. If you’d walked into a bookstore and demanded Atlas Shrugged on scroll, you would have… you get what I’m saying.
What’s next? Are you working on anything at the moment? Do you have anything new coming out in 2012?
My next project will most likely be a reworking of Distant Eden, the prequel to The Tower of Babel. I originally wrote this in 2008, but I was clueless. I love the story, but not how I told it the first time around. Distant Eden might come out in 2012, but it’s difficult to promise at this point. Otherwise, a story chronologically after The Tower of Babel is in the conceptualization stage, but that means it’s several years away from anything resembling publication. Joel Friedlander wrote something like “the best pace for self-publication is slow and steady”, and I apply this to everything I do.
The Tower of Babel by G.T. Anders is available from Amazon.