Interview with M. A. Malcolm
This interview is from my author page on Smashwords.com with a few updates, like what I'm currently working on ;)
When did you first start writing?
To be honest, writing was never really on my radar. As a child, I read so very much that I thought about becoming an author, but writing never really 'clicked' for me. I've always written poetry, but His Last Hope was my first attempt at fiction outside of English Language classrooms. I started writing it in 2010 but did most of the writing in November 2013 as part of NaNoWriMo.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I haven't written much, but the greatest joy of writing resides in hearing how my books have affected their readers. I know the hand of God is in it, because they are gleaning so much more than I ever imagined. I listen to their comments and I think, "Wow! That was in my book? You saw that? You got that out of it? Wow!" Then there are the little things:
Hearing my father -- who to my knowledge has never read a romance novel before -- laugh out loud while reading my book.... Seeing my brother put a proof copy of the paperback version as his display picture on his phone... Hearing my mother say it's the first book she's read in one day in 50 years.... Hearing another brother mention how much he wanted to read it.... My father reading it a second time and telling me all the things he missed the first time around.... My son telling people his mother wrote a book.... Priceless!
What are you working on next?
Originally, there was never any intention of writing anything else, but my readers asked for a prequel to His Last Hope, which I eventually supplied. I'm currently working on two more novels in the series.
Who are your favorite authors?
Hands-down, my favorite author is Gabriel García Márquez (may he rest in peace). I have read just about every piece of fiction he ever wrote, and my entire Master's thesis focuses on his writing. I love his style of magical realism. I could talk about him for days. I also enjoy Agatha Christie's work. I'll read anything by Ann Marie Bryan, Karen Kingsbury, Jan Karon, and (recently) Steve deMaree.
What do you read for pleasure?
I enjoy reading clean romance novels -- especially those with a Christian worldview -- and cozy mysteries. I've also read most of Agatha Christie's books. I'm currently getting a good laugh from Steve deMaree's Dekker Cozy Mystery Series.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow. Let's see. there's the Bible, which I try to read daily, and a few devotionals, but in terms of fiction, these are my favorites:
1. Chronicle of a Death Foretold by Gabriel García Márquez => I had this book for years before I actually read it after spending some time in Colombia and watching the movie, and even though I knew how it ended, when I got to the last page, I was turning the page looking for more. That was my introduction to Gabo, and it's been 15 years of pure love.
2. Love in the Time of Cholera by Gabriel García M. => There is just so much going on, but I remember this book for its amazing wisdom and insight into relationships, like "marriage is an absurd concept possible only with divine intervention" (paraphrased). Truer words have never been spoken.
3. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee => I was introduced to this book when I was five. My sister, who was closer to 19 at the time, was reading it for school and she would read it to me or I would read it to her (I started reading at two, just like my son). I think the memories are more important than the plot for me.
4. Animal Farm by George Orwell => I haven't studied much history, so the symbolism is lost on me, but I enjoyed this book, mostly because my brother and sister read it in school, read it to me, and had me read it to them.
5. Living to Tell the Tale by Gabriel García Márquez => Gabo's memoirs read like a fictional novel!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I read on my Android phone. That way, I always have a novel (or 50!) in my pocket. With my cell phone, I can read while waiting in lines at the bank or post office (yes, I still use the post office), and I also read while eating lunch if I'm alone.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I'm still learning how to market my book. I'm an introvert by nature, and marketing is a whole new thing for me. It's a rather steep learning curve! I'm using Facebook and BookBub (when my budget allows).
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm a Jamaican who has never lived anywhere else. I've only spent 10 years living in our two local cities, and the rest of the time, I've been in a rural part of the island. I don't know that where I live has influenced my writing much. I would have loved to have set my novels in Jamaica, but because of the plot of the first one, I had to use a space that was much bigger in order to make it believable. I chose the USA because I've visited so many times and most of the novels I read are USA-based. I felt comfortable enough to be able to write with some level of authority.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Once I wrote the book and shared it with a few friends who encouraged me to publish it, I just wanted to get it out of my hands and into the hands of those who need the message. I figured traditional publishing would take too long -- even longer because I am in rural Jamaica. I figured it would be easier and quicker to self-publish. After three books, I felt comfortable enough to start offering self-publishing consultancy services, which I do from my desk in rural Jamaica. I love the internet!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I'm a wife and mother with related responsibilities like cooking the same thing every day for my son's breakfast (sigh). I also see my parents every day because they love spending time with my son, who's almost six. He's their youngest grandchild and the one who has the most time for them these days. I also enjoy quality time with my dogs.
I'm a freelance administrative service provider. I work part-time at nights and part-time in the days. I also work freelance as a copy editor and self-publishing consultant. When I find a little extra time, I read clean romance and cozy mystery novels.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I must admit I have a hard time getting out of bed! I have so much going on at any given time, that I get very little sleep. My son won't let me sleep for too long, though. He inspires (and forces) me to get out of bed every single morning. That smile when he sees that I am fully awake... that makes it all worth it.
Describe your desk
My desk kind of folds outwards, so it can be compact, L-shaped or very wide. It is currently covered in all sorts of drafts, documents and maps (drawn by my son, who at five years old is quite a history and geography buff).
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Most of them come to me through BookBub, Freebooksy and The Fussy Librarian email notifications these days. If I find an author I like through them, I'll seek out more of his or her books. I'm also reading books from authors I meet on social media.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Actually, I don't. We had a lot of story writing in school! I did write a play when I was ten, though. It was based on the Little House on the Prairie, and my summer school drama teacher had us act it out in our prize-giving ceremony. I remember that I wrote it, but I don't remember if I was actually in it. My stage-fright is real!
How do you approach cover design?
I conceptualize the cover myself, and then if necessary, I find an experienced cover designer to bring it to life. For my first cover, I went through several drafts with my designer, until we got it just the way I wanted it. For my children's book, I created the cover myself using images created by the illustrator. For my second novel, I worked with a cover designer but ended up making changes myself until it was just what I wanted.