My Interview with Pam Ripling
I’d just like to say thank you for paving the way to remove some of the taboo characteristics of eBook publishing. You’ve paved the way for other authors such as myself to get their works out to the population. Do you ever see a day when people will look at paper books with disdain? Can you see the eBook replacing the book?
Hey Sean, thanks for hosting me today. You know, it’s been a long, interesting journey for early ebook authors. The first offerings were published on 3.5″ floppy disks packaged in mini-jewel boxes, cardboard fold-ups and even paper boxes designed to look like paperback books. There was, at least, a tangible item that purchasers could hold in hand while admiring the cover art. Today’s technology puts books into the realm of downloadable media, a world that divides readers. As the population has grown more accepting of virtual products and electronic “gadgetry”, so does the comfort zone for reading ebooks.
I think there is already a generation (for want of a better word) of readers that look at paper books with a sigh and an eye roll. These are people already so entrenched in reading-on-screen that the thought of turning the pages of a heavy, physical book bores them. But the broadening of our choices doesn’t spell the demise of the paper book, in my opinion. They have their place; some experiences cannot be duplicated electronically, and some folks still prefer cooking over a flame to a microwave.
I’ve noticed that most of your work is of the cross-genre variety. I’ve often found that cross-genre opens up more possibilities for plot development and character development. The only drawback I’ve found is interesting your reader in a story that is not one genre. I like to name them the “DIEHARDS”. Have you found this to be true in your work?
Absolutely. I recently experienced this challenge, as my newest release does include elements of three popular genres that don’t necessary interest all readers. Complicating the matter is the fact that the genres themselves are further broken down into sub-genres by the readers themselves. A mystery is no long just a mystery, nor is a romance simply a love story. And don’t even try to simplify the categorization of the paranormal, where you find the ever-popular vampire, were-creatures, shape-shifters, psychics, and all varieties of spirits, ghosts and ghouls.
The cross-genre author will typically attempt to interest some readers in each of the genres a book touches on. The risk is, of course, that the readers will be suspicious, or will find that the book doesn’t focus enough on their genre of choice. It’s kind of shotgun marketing, but there it is. Alternately, the author can broaden their description and not try to shoehorn the book into any category, but they then run the risk of confusing bookstores and libraries—and we don’t want to do that!
You bring an element of paranormal or supernatural to your work. When I say this I mean ghosts. Have they always intrigued you? Are they fun to write?
My ghosts are sort of stereotypical. Souls of people whose deaths were unreconciled. They are non-threatening, frustrated, benign sorts only looking for justice. No, I haven’t had any sort of history with this stuff, but I write them the way I perceive they would be if they actual exist, and I can’t say unequivocally that I’m a believer. But it’s fun, and my readers love them.
I’ve never met one person who wasn’t absolutely intrigued by lighthouses. The history behind them is staggering and their purpose noble. I’ve got to ask, how did your fascination with lighthouses start?
I do get asked this a lot, and I don’t have a great answer or story. I’ve always loved them. On a lesser scale, I also find windmills intriguing, too. These are architectural structures that are different from everything else, almost fanciful in my mind. Unique. When people travel, and they happen to glimpse one along the way (and I’m talking both lighthouses and windmills), they are usually excited at the sighting. I have an acquaintance who built his own lighthouse several years ago, and I’m so envious!
You’ve had works published by several different publishers. May I asked, what works for you? Is there one thing that one publisher does that makes them shine above the rest? Is there something that they do that makes you want to find another?
First let me share that all the publishers I’ve been with are small press, so I can’t comment on the “New York” variety. Publishers have decided “personalities” and I think you get a feel for them by discovering their goals. It would be a mistake to say that all pubs are in it for the money. Similarly, it’s probably also inaccurate to categorize small pubs as simply book lovers who like to see good works in print. A balance is important. No one gets rich in this business, and pubs who aim only for bestsellers are doomed.
A good publisher is one with a passion for great stories. He/she is human and open-minded, ambitious but not greedy. Must be professional, and not put up with mediocrity. I’ve left publishers who were (a) only in it for the money and (b) tried to publish more books than their time/resources could handle.
Nowadays it is very difficult to find a work with a major romance component that doesn’t border on the erotic. Romance is often replaced with just sex. Do you think we’ll ever see a day when we revert to the emotional over the physical in popular writing?
Oh, I think it’s still there, and I believe the current fascination with the erotic works will die back some. This goes back to the labels and genres again. These terms are still evolving. I honestly believe that readers will seek out and find the stories they are looking for, despite all this marketing confusion. Word of mouth is still the number one seller of books, and readers talk to each other a lot via book blogs and forums.
Since the beginning of your writing career, what part of it has been the most difficult? What was the most fulfilling?
“Selling” my first novel was extremely thrilling. The difficult part is and always will be the marketing. Because we are living in a time of great changes in the publishing business, it’s a challenge to identify and keep up with it all. The model for book selling is, like the film and music industries before it, shifting and those who want to be successful must stay savvy.
Usually when you ask an author, what author inspired them to begin writing they name a specific book rather than an author. Was there one for you? How did you know you wanted to be an author?
I’d already been writing in one form or another for a number of years, but hadn’t really dreamed of being published. One day I was waiting on a plane at Burbank Airport, and I bought a copy of Nicholas Sparks’ MESSAGE IN A BOTTLE. I read it in one afternoon, and I was so excited. Excited because (sorry, Nick) I found it to be sub-standard writing in my opinion, and I thought, as many of us do, “I can do better than this!!”
What’s next for you? Do you have any works in progress or even story ideas you would care to share?
My last two novels, POINT SURRENDER and CAPE SEDUCTION, are romantic mysteries set in lighthouses, and each has a paranormal element. The third, ANGEL’S GATE, is in the works. I’ve just finished the manuscript for a more mainstream book that tells the story of a long-term relationship between a young woman and a man who struggles with his gender identification. Yeah, experimental for me.
If you could impart one bit of wisdom about being a writer to aspiring writers, what bit of advice would be the most helpful in your eyes?
It’s a tough task to give advice! The trick is to balance your ambition with your realism. Don’t give up your enthusiasm, your passion, but be aware and fully educated about the challenges of actually selling your work, your SELF, to the book buying public. It’s easy to get discouraged, helpful if you go into it with eyes wide open. Too many people write a book and think their work is done. Ha!
Thanks, Sean, for a fab interview! I look forward to returning the favor soon.
Today kicks off my two week cyber tour celebrating the release of CAPE SEDUCTION! Be sure to stop over at The Romance Studio today for a fun blog about LUST vs. LOVE in romance, and don’t forget to enter my easy-peasy contest to win a bunch of free books from Echelon Press! (Do it NOW so you don’t forget!)
Pam Ripling, who also writes as Anne Carter, is a self-proclaimed Lighthouse Nut and the author of Beacon Street Mysteries CAPE SEDUCTION and POINT SURRENDER, in paperback or for your Kindle; also for your nook, iPhone, Sony eReader and other formats at Omnilit. Visit Pam/Anne at Beacon Street Books.
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