Thursday, October 13, 2011

Interview with Angela Beegle, author of "Werewolves: The Pack"

The following interview took place in October 2011. Ms Beegle is the author of "Werewolves: The Pack" which takes a unique approach to traditional Werewolf stories. This is the first book in a planned series and is available at major on-line retailers such as Amazon.com


Q: What was the inspiration for your novel "Werewolves: The Pack"?
I've been a fan of werewolf books over the years, particularly the Kitty Norville series by Carrie Vaughn and the Mercy Thompson series by Patricia Briggs. One day I had an idea for a story in which a young man is infected via a blood transfusion rather than the usual bite. To explain the need for the blood transfusion, I had him experience a motorcycle crash patterned after one suffered by my older brother when I was a teenager. My brother and the character both survived, and there their stories diverge. The story began originally as a series of story bits intended for consumption by a small mailing list. Eventually, one my readers asked if I was going to turn it into a book, and it grew from there.

Q: How is your book different from other Werewolf stories?
Most werewolf stories focus on the established mythos, which is to say that werewolves always lose control of themselves with the full moon, that their bites are invariably infectious but other contact is not, that silver is the Great Nemesis, and that the change invariably confers supernatural powers or strength which often remains even when they are humans. I've felt frustrated that werewolves in books don't act much like real wolves, and I longed for werewolves who simply became wolves, meaning minimal supernatural strength/speed/healing/opponents. Ironically, I found I simply couldn't convey anything interesting during the fur scenes even to myself  with the doggy body language of wagging tails and pricked or flattened ears, and I wound up adding a supernatural element (telepathy) anyway. Also, I wanted lycanthropy to be transmissible through other than the usual savage bite,because while North American Grey Wolves do sometimes kill humans, the documented number can be counted on the fingers of one hand. I wanted my wolves to be more wolf-like and less monstrous. I think I've achieved this.

Q: Your blog (http://angelabeegle.wordpress.com/) states you are working on a sequel. Does it use the same characters as they continue to deal with their unique challenges? How many books do you plan for this series?
I am currently putting a final polish on book 2 in the series, with another 4 finished (rough draft) manuscripts in the wings! Each book includes Creede, Mandy and Rosemary, but each one also adds at least one new character, or gives more focus to a previously-introduced character. For example book 2, "Werewolves: The Quarry" introduces the Deputy Sheriff Jack Herschel, who has been assigned to investigate the death of a certain Frank Mellencourt. What happens to a guy who sticks his nose too deeply into werewolf politics without knowing it, and how does this tie back into Creede, Mandy and Rosemary's situation? That's the kind of growth I aim for in each book: I bring back the original characters, and then give them new situations, allies, and enemies to address. I don't know how many books the series will encompass, but I am certain there will be at least one more. I have a seventh plot in mind. I won't rule out other books after that.

Q: You say your children are your best critics and most enthusiastic audience. Are your stories slanted toward a younger audience, or are they suitable for all ages?I consider my books to be PG-13, but slanted toward the older teen to adult audience. Since my mother and my children are my major sounding boards, I've tried to tool the stories to fit their needs. My mother is 70. She's never cared one bit about the paranormal or shifter genre, and she doesn't read icky stuff. She loves THESE stories though, because (she says) they are not weirded out or icky. My children love the paranormal and supernatural, but graphic sex and violence would not be appropriate for them. That said, there are several fights in the series, a death or two, allusions to and thoughts about sexual relationships, and (in book 5) attempted rape, so when I read my writing to my children, I edit judiciously on the fly. For adults readers, those kinds of conflicts spur character growth and drive the story. My kids don't need those. They have mom reading aloud to them, and that's good enough.

Q: Why Werewolves?I love wolves and have done a lot of layman-level research into wolf behavior and social groupings. I love the idea that magic might come along and turn people into wolves. I love exploring how life might challenge such individuals, and how they might adapt. I could as easily have explored other supernatural or paranormal species, but I love wolves, and I've never had a great love of vampires, Fae, zombies, or similar.

Q: Some 'experts' claim you send a negative message by pricing your book for 99 cents, in effect saying it is not worth much. How do you respond to such statements?
This is kind of funny, because my oldest brother, one of my staunchest supporters, said the same thing to me. However, I set my price at $.99 because I want people to read my book. It doesn't do anyone any good not me, and not my potential readers to set a price they won';t accept on the basis that it's worth that much. My experience suggests that an unknown e-book title by an unknown author is not worth that much. To test my theory, I tried a higher price point and my sales stopped cold, and then I lowered the price again and sales started back up as before. Also, I know that many first-time authors including ones working through established publishing houses can have low sales numbers even with good advertising. This tells me that as an independent author working without benefit of a publishing house to put my name out in front of the masses, people are hesitant to sample at a higher price. Experience tells me they will sample for a dollar. How is that a bad thing? I think I'm building a fan base. That's priceless.But I'll say this also: I occasionally sell 2nd-hand books on Amazon. For several years I have been disturbed to see how many recent-edition books by big-name famous sci-fi and fantasy authors, originally priced between $18-25 new, cannot be given away for $.01 on the secondary market  even as like-new hardbacks. So what is the true value of that book? Is it $24.99 (HB), $7.99 (PB) or less than a penny? I think it's all of the above: it's worth the full price to a collector or established fan of that author, and nothing to anybody else. I don't have any collectors yet. I have readers who are sampling my work. $.99 is the price the market will bear. Maybe someday, if I attain a little more success, I can raise the prices and people will pay it.

Q: If you could co-write a story with any author, who would you choose to work with, and why?
In my wildest dreams I would write with Neil Gaiman. I've listened to his audiobook of Anansi Boys (as read by Lenny Henry) about fifty times. The narrative style and the plotting are superlative. If I couldn't get him, I'd choose Robin McKinley. Her book Sunshine is my favorite vampire story ever (and is about to become my kids favorite too, with judicious editing). I consider both of them strong influences on my writing style and my understanding of how to plot, even though each uses a very different narrative style and wildly different plot.

Q: What is the biggest challenge you face as an independent publisher?Not enough people have heard of me yet! Commercial advertising is expensive and has to be done right or you annoy rather than intrigue. I've given up on Facebook as an advertising platform, for example. Everybody who reads my posts knows I've written a book and has already either read it or isn't interested. I don't want to or need to keep harping on it there. However, at this point in time I've earned less than $15 in royalties, so I'm not inclined to go out and drop a couple hundred on ads that may or may not result in sales. I'm hoping for word of mouth, for a start. I'm also soliciting reviews from those who have read it, because Amazon promotes a book more, the more reviews it has.

Q: What has been your most successful marketing tool/strategy for your novel?
So far, Twitter is my best (free) advertising platform! I can get 20-50 page views each on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords if I advertise a couple of times a day using targeted #hashtag tweets. It's true that these aren't resulting in more than a single sale every day or two, but I'm operating under the theory that it's more important to get my name and book out there than it is to make the instant sale. I think people remember and come back later. A lot of my sales have occurred on days I haven't tweeted at all. Momentum is the important thing.

Q: Where do you see yourself as a writer ten years from now?Ten years from now I hope to be turning out 2-3 rough draft novels a year. My youngest child will be eighteen then, and I'll be free to write as much as my creativity will allow. I have to write; I don't see that changing in ten years or (if I should live so long) even in fifty years. Time will tell! But I think I'll be doing as much writing then as now.

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