Author Interview with A.J. Ponder

Author Interview with A.J. Ponder

interviewed on Oct 29, 2020 New Zealand
Q. How would you describe yourself?
Weird.
Humans are weird though, aren't they? Two legs, a torso, arms, and a head that's both somehow too big and too small.
Q. Tell us something about the books that you have written and the story behind them.
So, I started writing Quest as a fantasy spoof...a long time ago now.
Think sword and sorcery with dragons, in a setting straight out of Diana Wynne Jones "The Tough Guide to Fantasyland." Something a fellow writer pointed out AFTER I'd written the book. But what do they say, great minds think alike... The big difference was that mine had a story and "reads like a gameplay record" and not a guidebook.

And then I got waylaid by writing short stories and plays for The School Journal in NZ and it's equivalent in Australia. From those stories I developed my science-loving character, Frankie, of "The Frankie Files.
Q. What place does writing hold in your life, how has been your writing journey so far?
Writing is everything. Except for reading, which is even better because it's easier to discover other people's worlds than create your own. Also, there's an endless array of fantastical options and styles, all of which are fascinating.

Journeying, on the other hand, is something I never do...wait a minute, this is a question about a writing journey...
I think, all in all, my writing journey has been relatively eloquently displayed in "The Sylvalla Chronicles". Everything starts out sweetness and light, and yes, there's a dragon, but the true problems are yet to surface like a kraken out of the pits of hell. By the end, even butterflies are no longer as cute as we all thought they were.

And so, here I am a fair way down the path at the end of one adventure, but with infinite possibilities ahead. Thriller, paranormal romance (with Eileen Mueller - because I don't actually do romance), more satire, steampunk...
Q. What is your writing process, a typical writing day routine?
Panic
Think about writing
Panic some more
Get some ideas on paper...
Advertising, promotion, design....
Write

OR

Edit like mad and forget everything else
Q. What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
None.
I'm really rubbish at marketing, although I do enjoy writing my newsletter and giving away prizes. You see I never win prizes, and so the next best thing is to give them away.
Q. What do you think makes a book sell, or makes a reader buy it?
I think a great cover and a great blurb help. Along with social proof.
To be honest, most of it has very little to do with the content of the book at all. And that, to me, is sad. I try to convince everyone that they should check the inside of a book, see if they like the actual author's writing. It's really worth while, especially if you can reach the middle of the book, because that's where an author has really got into their stride.
Q. What's the most moving or affecting thing a reader has said to you?
The cute pictures a mother sent showing her daughter's experiment that she'd set up to make a Marty Monster. OMG it was so cute. That and all the sad stories I've been hearing lately. But I'd rather focus on the fun one. :)
Q. What are your favourite three books, and why?
Verdigris Deep - Frances Hardinge
The Hobbit - J.R.R. Tolkien
Moving Pictures - Terry Pratchett
Q. Who are your favourite three authors and what do you like the most about them?
Lee Murray, Peter Friend, Eileen Mueller, Charlotte Kieft and Kevin Berry. I love them because they're all amazing writers and part of my writing community and we all support each other and together our writing has grown amazingly.

But I also love Ursula K Le Guin because she was fierce and spoke truth to power. If you haven't, go and see her acceptance speech that she made not long before she died. And a great author. I loved her little known, the Word for World is Forest.
Q. Tell us about the books that you are currently writing and their progress.
Snow and Red - Dragon Shifters's Hoard - this is very close to being finished
Wizard's Guide to London - I was supposed to go to London this year...but that's been delayed a bit
A fae story with thriller elements...from an idea that I originally titled, Blood of the Demonspawn. Now it's a little less thriller and with a secondary world of (dark) fairytale elements. So, we'll see how that goes. It's definitely the one I'm most excited about.
Q. What challenges do you think are faced by writers, what's the worst thing about the book industry according to you?
The biggest challenge for any author is staying motivated, and making money. Or surviving without money.
I believe a UBI - that's a universal basic income - would fix those problems and level the playing field. And having followed some of the studies, it seems clear that a UBI would help more than just writers, but give everyone the chance to succeed.
Q. Apart from writing, what goals do you want to achieve in life?
It's all writing, health and happiness . As far as I'm concerned, there is nothing else.
Q. At QwertyThoughts.com, we are trying to bring authors and readers under the same roof, to connect, discuss and socialize over books. What's your take on this?
Thanks Qwerty. Bringing writers and readers together is a fantastic idea.
Q. What message do you want to share with budding writers?
1) Don't Panic, you will find your own voice if you write enough.
2) Reach out and find a crit group. All my writer friends met up through crit groups, and we've grown together.

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