Pandora's Children, discusses his books, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Pandora's Children?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: The Pandora’s Children collection is a five-volume horror series containing 20 short stories that I have been working on for about three years. It encompasses four for-sale books and one free volume available at Smashwords which contains 7 of the shorter stories. The first three books, In The Chair, Too Young To Die and Death Bleeds Into Life, as well as the free book, Dark Interludes are available now. I am currently editing the fourth book, The Wretched Ones. All together, the four main volumes will contain about 120,000 words. The stories contained within are what I consider to be classic psychological horror in the vein of King, Koontz, Straub, and Barker. There are no slashers, gore for gore’s sake, zombies, post-apocalyptic worlds, or vampire romances. You will find mad men, broken men, ghosts, monsters, murders, two dentists, a demon or two, and poor souls down on their luck. I don’t want people who read the Pandora’s Children stories to simply move on to the next one when they are done; I am hoping each one gives the reader something to think about once they’ve turned their Kindles off.
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: I find writing short stories a little tougher than writing a novel because of the length constraints. It’s difficult to balance character development and plot when you give yourself fifty pages maximum (and most often less than half of that!) to tell your story. It’s hard to start slow and build dramatic tension because the story is often over before you know it. So it’s imperative, especially with the stories that are between 5,000 and 10,000 words long, to start off with a bang and make sure that there isn’t too much downtime in the middle. Go hard, go fast, give the reader something they aren’t expecting halfway through, and lead them to a satisfying, or disturbing, conclusion.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: Again, this goes back to the short story issue. Most of the stories only include 2-4 main characters, so it is easy to keep them defined. In this medium, where you can not waste words, characters need to have a definitive role which moves the story along in some way. If they are just there for decoration, they are a waste.
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: My ideal reader is someone who wants something more than the zombie/vampire/slasher stories which have become the rage these days. I’m not saying that if you enjoy these types of stories you won’t enjoy what I offer, but what I write tends to be a little more disturbing and a little more thought provoking. The stories are not all about action and gore and sex, but the consequences of the decisions we make. But don’t worry, they are scary and fun. They’re just not Saw or Twilight.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journy as a writer?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: My journey as a writer had been a long one. I am 33 years old. I finished my first novel at 18 but it was crap. I pretty much gave up during college (New Orleans offers too many distractions), but started up again with a few failed novel ideas while I was in dental school. Once I graduated, I started a novel, which I am halfway through, but then suspended it as my first child was born. Over the past three years, I have been working on short stories in my spare time, of which there is little (dentist by day, father at night and on weekends). I decided that instead of finishing the novel first, I wanted to focus on twenty or so short stories because I thought I would get better exposure this way. I feel, especially with indie authors, that I would rather invest less time reading short stories first before investing a week on a novel from an author I know nothing about. Short stories also allow me to finished pieces of writing quicker. I don’t have a whole lot of time. Writing a novel may take six months, and then another three or four to edit. I can get a short story collection done in two to three months. And now I have three of them out there for sale, along with the free Dark Interludes stories, and I feel that it is a good start. Once Book 4 is completed, I will get back to my novel, Bloodlines (tentative title).
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: I sit at my laptop at night once my wife and children are asleep, put on some Chevelle, Disturbed, Godsmack, Evans Blue, Slipknot or Tool and write. Once I have five or six stories written, I decide what I want to put in a collection and start editing. The problem I have is, with limited time, if I am writing, I am not editing. If I am editing, I am not networking. And if I am networking and publicizing, I am doing nothing creative. It’s all a balancing act for me.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire me?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: That’s easy, and probably obvious. Stephen King. Dean Koontz (the old Dean Koontz who wrote Watchers and Midnight and Phantoms, not the new Dean Koontz who gave us My Heart Belongs To You and The Husband and Relentless). Peter Straub. Joe Hill. Neil Gaiman. And of course, Clive Barker.
DAVID WISEHART: What book do I wish I had written myself?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: Another easy question. Weaveworld by Clive Barker. Perfect blend of horror, gore and fantasy.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: The usual stuff. I have a blog. And an official Pandora’s Children website. I have a Facebook fanpage. I am in the process of trying to get some indie blog reviewers. I write on forums. And one of the things I do which a lot of people don’t, because it is time consuming, is making video trailers. I have a Youtube Channel which, at the moment, includes a trailer for Books 1 and 2, a trailer for Dark Interludes, and a piece of horror flash fiction I put together. I don’t know how much more of this I will do, though, because at the moment the response hasn’t been what I expected, and it can be a pain to do. But…I am considering doing another combined trailer for Books 3 and 4 when Book 4 is released. We’ll see.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: Have you seen how much it costs to produce a softcover book through Amazon’s service, or any other for that matter? You have to sell your book for at least twelve bucks to see a profit of even $2. You can sell the same ebook for $5 and make three fifty. If you are an established author, people will spend more than $10 for your book. But if you are an indie author with little exposure, the Kindle gives you the ability to sell your book for whatever you think someone will pay. While I don’t make a whole lot selling my books for $.99, it's all about exposure right now, and I’d rather sell my book for cheap and get the readers than ask for ten dollars and have no one buy it. E-readers are on the rise. Hell, you don’t even need an e-reader, just a smartphone. I love to download indie stuff onto my Droid X and use the Kindle app so I have something easy and on hand to read while I’m out.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would I give to first time authors publishing on the Kindle?
DR. BRADLEY CONVISSAR: Learn how to work with HTML. I tried uploading stuff in Microsoft Word and it butchered it. I had to convert it to HTML, preview it, alter the HTML a bit, and then re-upload it. Guys, keep the formatting simple. And, if you’ll let me get this in, read the Smashwords guide to formatting. It is invaluable. I had all sorts of indentation problems until I learned you couldn’t tab to indent a new paragraph, but had to use special formatting which indented paragraphs automatically. All sorts of good nuggets of info in one place.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
I am a diehard Philadelphia Phillies fan who was lucky enough to be there when they won the World Series in 2008. I’ll tell you, I feared for my life when I stepped out of the stadium that night; I felt like I was in a post-apocalyptic America. Teenagers were rioting, cars were overturned, broken glass was everywhere, and every trashcan was full of flames. My wife and I raced back to our car as quickly as possible for fear of being trampled.
I love reading comic books and playing my Nintendo Wii.
I took the tips of two of my fingers off in a circular sander accident when I was twelve years old. Down to the bone, my friends.
During my oral surgery rotation in dental school, I actually had the honor of extracting the teeth of felons while they were handcuffed to my chair. I was warned more than once to keep the sharp instruments away from them.
And one morning, not long after 9/11, while living in an apartment in Northern Jersey, I was awoken at 8:00 am by 2 men in full biohazard suits searching for the presence of a mystery chemical reported by one of the residents. Turned out to just be liquid curry spilled in the common room.
And that, my friends, is the extent of the interesting parts of my life.
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