A. R. Silverberry
Preteen Fantasy Adventure
Tree Tunnel Press
Date of publication:
Who or what inspired you to write in this genre?
Every since I was a child, I’ve been drawn to fantasy literature. One of the first books I saw as a toddler was an illustrated tale about two aboriginal children, who were known as the Dream People. You can imagine what ideas that inspired, and I spent hours lost inside the illustrations. After that, fairy tales and myths were my mainstay, even in high school. By then, I was also reading anything by Tolkien I could get my hands on, and lots of Robert E. Howard. Not just the Conan stories, but the creepy tales set in the south. Then sometime in the late 90’s, I started re-reading the Oz books. At some point, I thought I’d like to write something like that, creating a world so wonderful and magical that people wished they could live there.
Tell me about your story:
Jen has settled into a peaceful life when a terrifying event awakens old fears—of being homeless and alone, of a danger horrible enough to destroy her family and shatter her world forever.
She is certain that Naryfel, a shadowy figure from her past, has returned and is concentrating the full force of her hate on Jen’s family. But how will she strike? A knife in the dark? An attack from her legions? Or with the dark arts and twisted creatures she commands with sinister cunning.
Wyndano’s Cloak may be Jen’s only hope. If she can only trust that she has what it takes to use it . . .
How long did it take you to write this book?
I started it in 2004 and finished it in 2008, followed by another year working with two editors. The first editor worked with me on content, continuity, and did some light grammar and sentence structure edits, which were very helpful. The second editor did copyediting, proofing for typos, grammar, and the like. I’m really glad I used both. The book went out as clean as anything out there.
What made you self publish?
For an entire year, my first editor urged me to submit Wyndano’s Cloak to an agent. He even wrote an agent about the book without me knowing! Quite a vote of confidence! But I just decided that this one was for me. I wanted total artistic control. When a book is traditionally published, authors have no say over the cover art, and editors can demand changes in the text. Even the title may be up to the editor. If you refuse, you me may lose the contract and have to give back your advance. I knew they would fuss around with it and demand changes that I wasn’t willing to make.
How have you promoted your book and what is most successful?
I published it first as a hardback. I sent out ARCs to reviewers, entered it into contests, and displayed it at book and library expos in an effort to place it in book stores and libraries. I did dozens of book signings at Borders and Barnes and Noble. Most of my sales have come from those, and meeting with children in person has been the best part of my experience as a writer. So many kids tell me they want to be writers, and several have written to me that they are working on their own books!
How do you combat writer’s block, if you indeed experience it?
As a psychologist, I find the term writer’s block to be too general. It doesn’t specify what the problem is. Is the person experiencing fear of failure? Procrastinating? Or are they hung up on a creative issue, like not knowing how to handle a particular point in the plot? These are very different things, and require different solutions. I seldom have difficulty with the flow of my creativity. When I get hung up, it’s usually while working on revisions and I’m trying to find a solution to something that needs to be changed. I have several kinds of files I set up that help. For each chapter, there’s what I call a sketchpad. In this file, I can take sentences or paragraphs and work on them somewhere where it doesn’t matter. I also have a journal I write in while I’m working on each book. I’ll often play with ideas there. Finally, I have worksheets for exploring emotions, scenes, sequels, and the like. I also save files from the previous day’s session by date. That way, I never lose anything. The main thing is to get away from the tyranny of the manuscript page, because anything written there seems to have more weight. The other thing that really helps me is to carry a notepad in my pocket wherever I go. I get my best lines and breakthroughs away from the computer, usually when I’m out walking.
What other writing do you do?
I’ve written some short stories and picture books. I do book marketing in the form of blogging, interviewing, and press releases. I used to write a lot of psychological assessment reports, but I’ve gotten away from that so I can concentrate on creative writing.
What methods do you use to plan/write your book?
Ideas can come in many forms. An image, a title, a character. Whatever the form, I try and nail down an initial statement of the theme. If I don’t, it’s more challenging to come back later and unify the story. After I’ve got the theme, I develop the main characters, establishing their motives and traits. From there, I work out a plot outline. Usually that’s in my mind, although for Wyndano’s Cloak, I had it on paper. Then I’m off on the first draft. At this point, I let my creativity run. If the characters or the story seems to be going somewhere different than I had originally thought, I allow myself the opportunity to discover what that is. I trust my unconscious, and I listen to my gut. If something feels right, even if I can’t quite explain why it’s right, I’ll go with it. After the first draft, I sit down to see what I’ve got. I’ll adjust the theme, characters, and plot accordingly. This is the toughest part for me. It takes real discipline to cut out things you love for the good of the story. And I may think about what direction I want to go in for weeks or months. I allow myself as long as it takes. Brahms took twenty years on his first symphony!
How long have you been writing prior to getting published?
Before I could write words on paper, I used to dictate stories to my mother. I wrote a few stories and poems in high school and after college, but I didn’t start writing seriously until 1998.
How do you cope with rejections?
I consider any constructive feedback, and then continue to hone my craft. Getting published traditionally is like winning the lottery. It’s an ever-narrowing doorway that a growing number of aspiring writers are trying to squeeze through. The lack of a sale to a publisher doesn’t mean the story isn’t good. Editors are human, and ultimately, they’re are deciding whether to publish something based on how strongly they resonate with it.
What piece of advice would you give to debut writers?
It’s a cliché, but still essential. Read a lot, write a lot. At the same time, learn as much as you can about the craft. Work with a critique group, if you can find other authors that you resonate with, and who will be supportive of your creativity, not just critical for the sake of their own egos. Work with a professional editor. Get your manuscript beta read before publishing. Don’t rush your work out there. If you feel any misgivings about anything, keep working on it.
Are you currently writing another book?
Yes. I’m now sending out a draft of my latest novel—part survival tale, part spiritual journey—to beta readers. The book is as yet untitled. Hopefully, I’ll just have one more revision before it’s edited. I’m planning to submit this one to agents and publishers first. If it doesn’t get picked up, I’ll publish it independently. This is a marathon, not a sprint!
Where can a reader purchase your book?
Soon, the Wyndano’s Cloak hardback will only be available on my website. Ebook editions are available on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and iTunes. It’s currently on sale for .99.
A. R. Silverberry website: http://www.arsilverberry.com
A. R. Silverberry blog: http://www.arsilverberry.com/blog
Follow Silverberry on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/pages/A-R-Silverberry/122991764395051?ref=search
Follow Silverberry on Twitter: http://twitter.com/arsilverberry
A.R., thank you for participating in the author interview. Tolkien has certainly influenced my fantasy trilogy. As an indie author myself, I know how helpful the network of indie authors has been for me in bringing my stories and journey as an author to the general public. I wish you the greatest success with Wyndano’s Cloak and all your future works.