Friday, May 3, 2013

Interview with Author Carl Purdon

Carl Purdon lives in Pontotoc, Mississippi, just a handful of miles from where he was born and raised. Pontotoc is halfway between Tupelo, which is the birthplace of Elvis, and Oxford, which was the home of William Faulkner. Since he can’t sing, he writes. Since he’s not an expert on anything in particular, he writes fiction. In February of 2012 he released his debut novel, The Night Train, and is currently working feverishly with another cast of characters in a manuscript that has not yet been named. Assuming he can decide on a title, the novel is set to be released sometime in May of 2013. Between scenes, Carl blogs about writing, and has an interview series devoted to all areas of the reading and writing community. He also has a collection of short stories and poems available on Amazon.
TradeMark Remark: If Carl Purdon was going camping, what would his role be?
     Firewood Gatherer. For no other reason than I don't want to have to do it.

What kind of programmer are you?
I work for an industrial automation firm. If you’ve ever been inside a factory and seen machines doing things, that’s the kind of programs I write. It’s a fun job, but has a tendency to consume too much time – time I would rather spend writing fiction.

How did you get so many people to review your book The Night Train?
I really don’t know, but I love that they decided to do that. One of my auto-tweets is a reminder for readers to leave reviews of the books they enjoy, so maybe that helps. I’ve had so much positive feedback for The Night Train, much more than the reviews reflect. One of my favorites was right after my wife donated a copy of my book to our local library. A woman called to tell me she checked it out and enjoyed it. She said she read that I was from Pontotoc and looked me up in the phonebook. How awesome is that? Another favorite is that I’ve had a couple of people tell me they were reading it for a second time. Now if I could just get more people to buy the thing I might not have to program those machines.

You stated that one of your inspirations to get published was the EBOOK REVOLUTION. Can you tell me more about your experience and predictions regarding Indie Ebook Publications?
I’ve caught a fair amount of flak from some of my author friends over my reluctance to send my manuscript to a professional editor. It has even been misinterpreted as a disdain for the occupation, but it’s really not. It’s a personal thing. It all goes back to when I was a kid thinking about writing books and having people read my words a hundred years after I’m dead (yes, I actually thought those things as a child). My words. My scenes. Not something polished, tweaked, or abridged by someone else. It’s not ego, it’s passion. It’s not disdain for editors, it’s a desire to create something and have it stand or fall on its own merit. A while back I saw a tweet by another author saying a novel was not the work of an individual, but of a team of professionals. I would stop writing if I felt that way. Honest. Proofreading and beta reading are something totally different, at least to me. Of course I need other sets of eyes to check for typos and places where I use there when I meant their, but the structure, voice, and story have to be mine. This, to me, is what indie means.

My prediction of the indie and e-book industry is that it will effectively sideline the big publishing houses and force them to adapt or go out of business. It is not very much unlike what the internet has done to the newspaper industry. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t want to see Random House go belly up. But I do hope they swing the gates a bit wider.

What has your experience been like as an new Indie Author? Bumps, Bruises, Highlights, and lessons?
Yes. All of those things, but I have enjoyed every minute. I learned, for instance, to hire a cover artist. The one I designed in looked great until I saw it on Amazon alongside other books. It only took a week or so to get a cover professionally designed and uploaded, but I still cringe when I run across that old image on my laptop.

Highlights? Seeing my book on Amazon for the first time; ripping open that brown box and holding my paperback in my hand for the first time; my first autograph; my first review, then every single review after that; all the Facebook and Twitter messages from readers telling me how much they enjoyed it; when my 9-year-old son (now 10) handed me his netbook and asked if I wanted to read the book he was writing.

What have you put most of your effort into regarding writing?
Writing. It is such a time-consuming task. Even when I’m not at the keyboard I’m juggling scenes in my head, or running my characters through different situations to learn how they react. Or, lately, trying to think of a title for my upcoming release. Second would be my online presence. Establishing yourself online is crucial, and you shouldn’t wait until you are published to do it. Most of my social media efforts are with Twitter, with Facebook trailing somewhere behind that. I’m on many of the other sites, like Google+, Goodreads, and others, but I have to admit I neglect them. There simply isn’t enough time to do all those things with a dayjob and an unfinished manuscript in front of you. And there will always be an unfinished manuscript. I hope.

How did you get connected with so many authors for your 10 Question Blog Series?
Twitter mostly. It started out with me finding interesting people and sending them a DM (private Twitter message) asking if they would be interested in an interview. I’ve never had anyone decline, though one or two never responded to my questions. After the first few interviews it seemed I always had a request or two pending. Authors like being interviewed. Almost every single time I’ve received an email thanking me for not sending them stock questions. When I interview another author I make it all about them. Their book. I don’t try to sneak in links to my own stuff. I found that I actually enjoy helping other authors promote their work. Most will reciprocate, and that is why indie is a revolution and not just a concept.

You are shooting for a May finish date for your new book.
Do you have a title yet?
No, and it frustrates me. I joked with someone on Twitter yesterday that I may have to name it with an unpronounceable squiggle, like when Prince changed his name. But then they would have to call it “the book formerly known as untitled” and that probably won’t get much traction. Titles have always been hard for me. I struggled with the title for my first book, too. One morning I woke up and The Night Train hit me out of the blue. I never considered anything else. I’m hoping that happens this time, but time is running out.

What is the book about?
Yes, the elevator question. I’m so bad at this, but here goes: It’s the story of Oscar “Pap” Jones, an eccentric old man waging a private war against the furniture factory next door to his rural Mississippi home. He has discovered a way inside, and torments the owner with nighttime raids on his equipment. Pap is wily, but gets in over his head when the owner of the factory is murdered and Pap is the sole suspect. His adversary is an ex-deputy driven by political ambition and desire for a woman he can’t have. Pap’s battle to drive away the factory becomes a struggle for freedom, and to keep the house his wife had loved so much.

What is your favorite part of the book?
The character of Pap. The book started with him. The name, actually. It popped into my head and wouldn’t leave, then I started wondering what a man called Pap would be like. Turns out he was quite interesting to write about once he told me his story. My other favorite part is Boodie Craig, the antagonist. I love writing villains.

When I read books by other writers, I love it when a sentence, or phrase, makes me stop and reread it just because it grabbed me for some odd reason. When I was making my first non-edit pass of my manuscript recently, I caught myself rereading like that a couple of times. I hope I can grab my readers that way. That’s what writing is all about. Sentences really can be art sometimes.

What book (already in existence) did you wish you had written?
Wow, that’s tough. One that has sold millions and been turned into a movie. I wouldn’t mind being rich. Traveling the world, then going home to a cabin somewhere in the mountains. I’ve always said I would rather be remembered than rich, though, so maybe One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It is such a power story, with unforgettable characters. Or maybe A Tale of Two Cities for its status as a classic. Possibly The Pioneers because it is the novel that renewed my love of reading so many years ago.

 The Night Train on Amazon:

Collected Stories and Poems:

Facebook Author page:

1 comment:

  1. Thanks, Michele. It was a fun interview and your questions were very good. I hope my answers did them justice.