Sunday, September 05, 2010

Interview with Graham Storrs

1. Congratulations on TimeSplash. So, up until now the book has been available as an ebook, but now it will be available in print and as an audiobook? Who is publishing the print/audio editions?

Thanks, Gary. My new publisher is a small, Danish company called Big Bad Media. They did the '100 Stories for Haiti' project recently, so you might have heard of them. They're a multimedia company, rather than the usual kind of indie publisher, and it's truly exciting to work with them. Their vision for everything is in multiple media and Web 2.0 marketing. The ebook deal was very much in the mould of traditional book publishing, but this is something else. The pace is breathtaking. 

2. Can you give me the 'elevator pitch' on TimeSplash?

Timesplashing - jumping back in time to create paradoxes - started out as something underground, edgy and cool. Then Sniper took it too far and turned time travel into the ultimate terrorist weapon. Scarred by their experiences in the party ‘scene’ that grew up around timesplashing, Jay and Sandra are thrown together in what becomes the biggest manhunt in history: the search for Sniper, Sandra’s ex-boyfriend and a would be mass murderer.

3. What was the inspiration behind the book?

I was pitching a much more 'literary' time travel novel to a Big 6 publisher when, as I was speaking, the image of lobbing time travellers like bricks back into the timestream came into my mind. I saw the splash and the 'river' of time smoothing it over but carrying some residual turbulence downstream. And I thought, kids would love doing that. It would make a great extreme sport, especially if there was some real danger involved. I was so excited, I blurted it all out, right then. Talk about queering your pitch! I went home and fleshed out the characters who were already forming in my mind and started plotting it straight away.

4. There's been a lot of talk about ebooks in the past few months, with the launch of the iPad. Depending on who you talk to, it seems they're going to either revolutionise publishing or be a disaster for mid-level authors. What's your take on this?

I'm sure ebooks will revolutionise publishing. It may be as little as 10 or 15 years before paper books are only produced as "deluxe editions" and by POD for die-hard technophobes. It looks like the paper book distribution infrastructure - the book shops - will crumble away well before then. Amazon is already the biggest paper book seller on the planet and the savvy book retailers are rushing to acquire market share in this online business. Once the book shops are gone, ebook prices will look very much more attractive. It's a shame about the iPad. Dedicated ebook readers, using e-ink, give a much better reading experience, but whatever the device, the economics of ebooks vs print will force the change in the end. 

Eventually, this will all settle down and everyone - authors, readers and the publishing industry - will understand the new market dynamics, but I think it is inevitable that we will have a decade or two of "interesting times" first. The biggest disruption will come not from ebooks but from self-publishing. This is where everyone is in completely new territory. For mid-list authors feeling threatened by change, I can only point to Joe Konrath and say, do what he does. The author, as always, is the brand.

My own path to publication is symptomatic of all this turmoil in action. TimeSplash was first picked up by an "ebook first" New York publisher. That was great but I didn't have an agent and didn't know what to do with my print and audio rights. Then a UK author, Emma Newman (who had podcast her own first novel before landing a publishing deal for it) said she'd like to record it and we could jointly self-publish it as an audio book. I thought this was a great idea. I love how Emma reads. Even before the recoding was all done, she let Greg McQueen of Big Bad Media hear a sample and he fell in love with the book straight away (bless him!) I sent him the full MS and within 24 hours I was on Skype with him, nutting out the contract details for audio and print deals. 

5. In your profile you say that you were always writing but never had any luck getting fiction published. What do you think was different about TimeSplash? Do you think focusing on writing full-time made the difference?

No, I think that was just sheer self-indulgence. What made the difference was taking fiction writing seriously as a business. I was a complete idiot about it for most of my life then, thanks to an event organised by the Queensland Writers Centre and Hachette, which included great advice and industry insights from people like Kate Eltham, Marianne de Pierres and Bernadette Foley, my eyes were opened. It was a real road-to-Damascus epiphany. I suddenly say how the publishing business worked, where each player fitted, and what each of them needed from me as a writer and business partner. After that, I wouldn't say it was easy, but, on some of the doors I'd been staring at glumly for decades, I could finally reach the knocker.

6. What are you most looking forward to at WorldCon?

Meeting people. I live out in the country and I only communicate with other writers by email. It's very rare that I actually get to meet one. And I've discovered over the past couple of years that I actually like my fellow writers. They're bright, they're fun, and they enjoy talking about writing! The WorldCon programme looks excellent but I'd honestly swap just about every session in it for a chance to have a coffee with the writers I've met on various social networking sites.

Posted via email from garykemble's posterous

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