Monday

Kindle Author Interview: Felicity Heaton

Felicity Heaton, author of Love Immortal, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Love Immortal?

FELICITY HEATON: Love Immortal is an action-packed, passionate, and epic paranormal romance novel involving immortals, Greek gods and goddesses, werewolves, vampires, and people with incredible powers.

It’s the story of Lauren, a thirty-something woman who discovers one night that werewolves exist and that she’s a reincarnated demi-goddess on a three thousand year old mission to defeat the original werewolf, Lycaon, before he can gain his revenge on Zeus and Olympus. Rescued and aided by Julian, a handsome and mysterious immortal, Lauren is pulled into a dark and frightening new world full of monsters out to kill her and an organisation of people with phenomenal abilities who want to protect her—Ghost. But the most frightening thing of all is that soon Lauren will need to drink Julian's blood in order to reawaken and regain her immortal powers.

Or she will die.

Julian isn't about to let that happen. He's never met anyone like Lauren and he's determined not to lose her. She's the perfect copy of Illia but is nothing like her or any of the incarnations. She is light to their darkness, and she breathes life back into him, but can he trust her with his heart and bring himself to believe that the feelings she shows him are real after everything he has been through?

Can Lauren succeed in defeating Lycaon when all of her predecessors have failed? Will she be able to crack the armour around Julian's heart and seize her happily forever after with him?

Love Immortal is available on Amazon Kindle at both Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

FELICITY HEATON: I’ve read a lot of books on writing and a lot of novels, and have written plenty of stories myself. I think creating characters comes from experience. I try to put in faults that people would have and not make them perfect. Everyone has faults and I think readers prefer to see those than a perfect person. I tend to start with an idea in my head and then move on from there to writing down my thoughts. I cover everything in a bio sheet for the character, and jot down notes about how they would speak, dress, behave, and react to different situations. I like to give each character a history, and more often than not there’s some pain in their past, as we’ve all been through hard times. I write down a lot about the character. I don’t use most of it, but I feel it helps me come to know my character and what they’re capable of, how they act, and react. Most have my characters have different facets. Not just how they look or speak, or dress, but a different past, a different environment or set of beliefs and morals. Also, different emotional responses or depths of emotions. Humans are unique, so characters we write should be too. Creating the characters and the world they live is the most time consuming thing I do when outlining a new story. During the second draft of my story, I tend to read their bio sheets over again before going to work, so I can make sure that the characters stay true to themselves, and can spot places to emphasise the things about a character that will make them come to life.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

FELICITY HEATON: I write romance, so the majority of my readers are probably female. I do have male readers too, but they’re in the minority. I don’t write the sort of Mills and Boon romance that’s all hearts and flowers. I tend to write darker and more action-based romances. I think if people enjoy other paranormal romance authors like J R Ward, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Christine Feehan, and Lara Adrian, then they will probably enjoy my stories too. If readers are looking for an escape or some time out in which they can be drawn into another world full of romance, passion, action, danger and adventure, then they’re probably in the right place with my books. I’ve often had readers email me or reviewers mention how they were drawn into the story and couldn’t put it down, or how they could see it all playing out in their head like a movie. If that’s the sort of book you like, then give me a go.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

FELICITY HEATON: I started out in 2005 as an e-published author, but after a year I realised that I could probably do just as well if I sourced my own editing, made my own books, and sold them myself. I’m a web developer, and a fellow author friend of mine at the time said the same thing that I was feeling—we should go independent. We did. We gathered some others authors we knew who felt the same and created a cooperative. Back in 2006, things like Amazon Kindle didn’t exist. All we had was our own site where we sold books, and Fictionwise. Because we grouped together, we managed to get our books onto Fictionwise. That was our main source of sales and income. It’s only in the past couple of years that ebooks have really taken off, and it’s only in the past year that I’ve been able to reach a wider audience through Kindle. Being British does have its drawbacks sometimes. I was unable to participate in Amazon DTP until January 2010. At the same time, I was putting my books on Smashwords. In 2009, I had almost given up on ebooks and being indie. I’d been touting my next novel to agents. I’m glad that in the end I decided to remain independent as 2010 was a boom year for me. I promote quite hard, spend time talking to readers, trying to connect with people, and I’m not afraid of putting myself out there and approaching reviewers and sites about promotional opportunities. The first four years as an independent author weren’t easy, but things are paying off now. The explosion of social media, the advent of Kindle and iBookstore, has all contributed to the growth in self-publishing, and also my sales. I think indie authors who started when Kindle became available have had it quite easy. Back when I started, if you sold 500-1000 copies of a book in six months, you were doing fantastically! Quite a few people these days can probably sell 500+ copies in a month on Amazon without batting an eyelid.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

FELICITY HEATON: I’m an outliner. I can’t write by the seat of my pants. Because I love to include twists in my stories, and I do a lot of world and character building, I tend to outline the story quite heavily. I’ll revise that outline, including scenes if the muse has been offering them up, and then I’ll write the first draft. I write quite fast, and I think this is partly because I outline. I work full time but can still write over 100,000 words a month. Once I have my outline, I write the first draft. I then let it sit for three to four weeks, or as long as I can. When it’s rested, I print out a copy and read it through as a reader, only noting parts that need clarifying, improving, adding to or removing. After my initial read through, I read the notes on characters and world, and the story, and then edit. I try to be thorough, but I think that all writers are prone to distraction and laziness during the editing phases. If I get like that, I take a break and do something else because there’s no point in editing when you’re being lazy in your approach. I’ve read quite a few books on editing and writing, so I tend to draw on those. I have a list of things to watch out for, to always address and improve. Because I write romance, it’s important that this element of the story is strong. There’s always room to improve a kiss or love scene! After the second draft, I let it sit again, and then I’ll do another pass on it. If I’m happy with it after that, I’ll proof it a couple of weeks later. It’s a long process. Editing seems to take twice as long as writing the first draft, but it’s really important to be thorough in order to get the best story possible at the end of the process.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

FELICITY HEATON: I’ve always been a fan of the classics, like Charlotte Bronte, Jane Austen, Elizabeth Gaskell, and so on. I’m also quite inspired by Terry Pratchett, as I think he’s fantastic, and I do read other paranormal romance authors too. My current favourite paranormal author is Lara Adrian, although I find her heroes are all quite similar in their manner and speech, and sometimes I wished she’d change that.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

FELICITY HEATON: One book? That’s quite difficult. I think I’d like to have written Carpe Jugulum by Terry Pratchett. He’s amazing. I wish that I could write funny quirky stuff like he does, and build worlds in the way he can. He has an incredible turn of phrase too, and approaches things from a completely different angle to any other author I’ve read. I think Carpe Jugulum appeals most because it involves vampires. His take on them is funny, refreshing, and engrossing.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

FELICITY HEATON: I think I’ve tried everything. I’ve hosted chats at online sites, done competitions, paid for advertising, have author pages, promoted on groups and forums, done video trailers. I blog, social network, and participate in open excerpt days, release parties and seasonal parties. I offer discounts, coupons, and other incentives. I send my books out for review, do guest spots on author and review and genre blogs and sites, and do interviews. In fact, I still do all of that, and I also try out new ideas. I’ve been serially posting the first ten chapters of my latest novel, Love Immortal, at its own special blog: http://loveimmortalromancenovel.blogspot.com—readers are really enjoying it and I think it’s a great way of building up to the book’s release. Giving readers a decent chunk of the book as an excerpt really helps them get a feel for the book before deciding to buy.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

FELICITY HEATON: I think Kindle is a great opportunity for all authors if they know what they’re doing and are in the writing business seriously, not just to make a quick buck. Amazon has an incredible market share and any sensible author can’t resist that. It’s alluring to most people who have always wanted to write a book and make money, but I think quite a few of those authors get a shock when they put their book up and it doesn’t sell like hot cakes. I see it all the time on forums and groups—why haven’t I sold any books? Why isn’t my book making loads of money? Authors need to realise that a lot of selling is in promotion and building a name for yourself, and getting that name out there. Most authors with one book won’t sell many copies. You have to keep writing and producing stories, and then more readers will find you. But even that might not be enough if you’re not putting in the effort to market the story and yourself as an author. I publish on Kindle because it’s a great way of reaching more readers with my stories. I’m not in it to make my million, but rather to reach a wider audience with my stories.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

FELICITY HEATON: Don’t rush into it with your first novel or story. Generally the first stories you write are crummy. All authors know that, but at the time you think they’re the best thing ever. Hindsight is wonderful. You have to read extensively in order to write—both novels and books on writing—and hone your craft. I haven’t stopped reading books on writing because I learn something new every time and it helps me continue to improve my stories. Also, don’t write one story and think that’s all you need to do. It’s a trap so many new authors fall into. You need to start building your platform before you release your first story. That means social networking, blogging, having a professional website, learning off authors, finding readers and a market for yourself. Once you have that, and your first story is out, promote it but don’t shove it in readers faces as that’ll put them off. No one likes to be yelled at by hawkers in the street. It doesn’t help sales. Be professional, polite, and open with people. Oh, and write another book, and then another, and don’t stop. Don’t take six months to release another story. Readers you might have gained will have forgotten you in that time. If you’re blogging like crazy and promoting your first book still, you’ve got more chance of being remembered by them, but don’t let them get away. Hook them with another book as quickly as possible! And then write another.

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Felicity Heaton is a romance author writing as both Felicity Heaton and F E Heaton. She is passionate about penning paranormal tales full of vampires, witches, werewolves, angels and shape-shifters, and has been interested in all things preternatural and fantastical since she was just a child. Her other passion is science-fiction and she likes nothing more than to immerse herself in a whole new universe and the amazing species therein. She used to while away days at school and college dreaming of vampires, werewolves and witches, or being lost in space, and used to while away evenings watching movies about them or reading gothic horror stories, science-fiction, and romances.

Having tried her hand at various romance genres, it was only natural for her to turn her focus back to the paranormal, fantasy, and science-fiction worlds she enjoys so much. She loves to write seductive, sexy and strong vampires, werewolves, witches, angels and alien species. The worlds she often dreams up for them are vicious, dark and dangerous, reflecting aspects of the heroines and heroes, but her characters also love deeply, laugh, cry and feel every emotion as keenly as anyone does. She makes no excuses for the darkness surrounding them, especially the paranormal creatures, and says that this is their world. She’s just honoured to write down their adventures.

Felicity Heaton’s website: http://www.felicityheaton.co.uk
Felicity Heaton’s blog: http://www.indieparanormalromancebooks.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/feheaton
Twitter: http://twitter.com/felicityheaton
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/felicityheaton

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