When did you know you wanted to be an author?
My whole life I have known I would be an author, but I felt, “you have to live it before you write it.” I set off on adventures around the world and am now able to bring my amazing experiences to my writing.
Was there any author or book in particular that inspired you to write? Or a teacher/mentor?
I was most influenced as a kid by CS Lewis and Frank Peretti.
What genre do you write?
YA (Young Adult) magical-supernatural, suspense, realism with comedy, religion, cross-cultures, romance, thriller, and mystery tossed in. A simpler answer might be young adult speculative fiction. That really is a lot of words, but don’t worry, it isn’t as convoluted as it sounds when written like that. Actually, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix influenced the structure and pacing of my first book even though the plots are extremely different. My second book was influenced by the structure of The Testament by John Grisham and the pacing of the third book was influenced by the 39 Clues series. Again, my plot is quite different but those books gave me some direction.
What inspires you to write the most?
Frustration. When I witness an injustice I immediately begin thinking about how I could communicate my concerns about the problem in the context of a story. For instance, I am angered by human trafficking, but I wanted to introduce the problem to very young readers (my own kids read my books at age 8) or displacement (with dams) and murder of remote minority groups in Asia (especially the Karin) and the complete destruction of vast ecosystems. One method I used for naming my Burmese villager characters, I went through a list of civilians murdered by the Burmese military and chose the names easiest for English speakers to handle.
What is your favorite thing about writing?
I like “having written.” When I first sit down to write it is neither comfortable nor enjoyable. Eventually, an amazing feeling settles over me and I go into the “zone.” In that zone, I try to kill my characters, and then find amazing ways of keeping them alive despite all odds. I especially enjoy watching young readers read my writing out loud and react to the story with gasps and laughter and shock.
How many books have you written? What are they called? Where can they be found/bought?
The Naga Trilogy: Rescue, Journey and Dragon. I have written a couple of other books but it will take a while before I get around to finishing those. For now, I am focused on the adventures of a boy named Chaz.
You can learn more at mkchronicles.com
You can also buy them on Amazon: amazon.com/Naga-Trilogy-Supernatural-Missionary-Chronicles/dp/1505611709/
What do you write — short stories, poems, novels, novellas, blog posts etc. — and which do you enjoy writing the most?
Short stories, movie screenplays, and novels.
Have you tried to go the traditional route with publishing? How did it go?
I had the mistaken idea that I needed to finish my trilogy before finding a company to publish my books. Along the way, I put my first two books on Amazon. If you want to have a company publish you and do all the complex marketing for you then do NOT first go the self-publishing route. Fortunately, I enjoy all the complex aspects of self-publishing and so this actually worked out well for me.
Are you self-published? How did that go and what route did you take? What advice would you give to others who want to self-publish?
Initially, I chose CreateSpace and Smashwords. I regret that Amazon absorbed CreateSpace because they were a fantastic company for self-publishers.
If you want to self-publish:
- 1. Write a book
- 2. Get a manuscript critique and comprehensive structural edit. (I deleted a character who was so evil she dragged everything down.)
- 3. Get the book typeset, copyedited, and proofread.
- 4. Upload your book to Amazon but don’t release it yet.
- 5. Send your book to your review team and find anyone who will review it on Amazon or Goodreads.
- 6. Find a marketing team (Fiverr) who can help you manage the pre-release of your book.
- 7. Create content for Instagram and begin your drip campaign.
- 8. Release the book on Amazon and get depressed that it didn’t take off like you wanted.
- 9. Write your next book with excitement.
- 10. Repeat.
Who is your favorite author now? What is it you like about them?
Kingdom Keepers by Ridley Pearson vividly reminds me of the summer I worked at Disney World: Magic Kingdom (I was Davey Crockett). It is an exciting read.
Angelfall by San Ee. This is not appropriate reading for younger readers. I like that this author has made angels seem grouchy, accessible, and realistic. It is a completely different slant than you might expect.
Do you have any favorite books you recommend right now?
Unlike the above author, many of the following authors are fairly safe for younger readers.
The Harry Potter series, Artemis Fowl, 39 Clues, Percy Jackson series, Gregor Series: Suzanne Collins, The Testament:John Grisham, Enders Game: O.S.Card, and authors Terry Brooks, Tom Clancy, Timothy Zahn, Ridley Pearson, Christopher Paolini, Brandon Mull, Bill Meyers, John Flanagan, Frank Peretti, and Ted Dekker. Looking up at my bookshelf that’s what comes to mind right now.
Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
Dude, it’s a lot harder than you could imagine.
- 1.Market yourself before you market your book. Start marketing before you start your novel. The actual writing will be easier than letting people know you have written. You need to find your tribe of people who absolutely love your writing style.
- 2. Don’t be a perfectionist. Just write it. You can always fix what is broken but you can’t fix what doesn’t exist and if you are always fixing and adjusting what you have truly finished then no one will see it. Just write.
- 3. Don’t assume every word you write is golden. Sometimes you have to toss out several chapters for the sake of streamlining the focus of your book. Just stick it in a file to use later.
- 4. Don’t reveal too much too soon. Take your time, you have hundreds of pages ahead. Think of what can be kept a secret. What can be a shocking reveal at the end?
- 5. Decide whose head you will be inside and stay there.
- 6. Avoid the passive voice and adverbs.
- 7. Try to remove these words -> really, very, that, thing, just, then, completely, start, begin/began, somehow/somewhat, down, up, think, thought, feel, understand, realize, … you get the point.
- 8. Read the genres you want to write in.
- 9. Create super characters, not merely realistic ones. If I mention the name Rubeus Hagrid you instantly know more than merely how that character will behave or their history. That character is more than 3D and he is nothing like anyone you have ever met. Make your characters funny, kind, weird, and memorable.
- 10. Don’t get depressed-> you can do it!
Are you on Twitter/Instagram/Facebook or do you have an author website we should check out as readers?
Is there anything else you want to share about your writing or that you want your readers to know?
Writing is a lifelong endeavor. There is a lot to learn and you well never learn it all. Don’t let that stop you. Just write what is on your heart and fix it up later.
End of Author Interview with Sean Sanborn
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