Olga—A Daughter's Tale, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Olga—A Daughter's Tale?
MARIE CAMPBELL: In 1994, my mother was admitted to the Royal Sussex County Hospital in Brighton, UK, seriously ill. As she slowly recovered, I realized that, had she died, so too would the chance of my finding out about her past, her family in Jamaica and, of particular importance to me, who my father was, information she had resolutely refused to share with me. So, I decided to find out for myself.
Olga—A Daughter's Tale is the story of my mother's Jamaican family and Olga, my mother, in particular. It’s a story about a family’s experiences of hardship, discrimination and love. Set in Jamaica and London between the years of 1900 and post war England the reader is taken on a journey through the history and Jamaica’s fascinating culture and heritage.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
MARIE CAMPBELL: Because Olga—A Daughter's Tale is a great human interest story, I think just about anyone, male or female—young or old, is the ideal reader. We all have mothers, and to my mind they are in many cases unsung heroes. I wrote Olga as a tribute to my mother and so future generations of my family would know about her.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
MARIE CAMPBELL: Protracted. I started researching my book over 16 years ago and then left it alone for years because I couldn't find my voice. And then one day in 2006 out of the blue I remembered when I was little girl finding a school exercise book full of writing and it turned out to be my mother’s diary but I couldn’t read what she’d written. However, even though I was very young I recognized that it was a treasured possession. And that also triggered my memory of how, when I was a teenager, at Christmas time, Mum would give me a 5-year diary with it’s own little key and which I loved to write in. Those memories where the trigger to finding my voice to write Olga—A Daughter’s Tale.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
MARIE CAMPBELL: The research came first. I did a lot of research with Olga—I poured over archived newspapers both The Gleaner in Jamaica and The Times in the UK. I visited the National Archive Centre in Kew just outside London to find out what sort of people travelled back and forth from Great Britain to the West Indies. And I read books written about Jamaica at the beginning of the twentieth century. Then armed with my voice, the research and what I had discovered and already knew about my mother and her family, I started to write. And I found the writing process relatively easy because I knew my mother so well I could get inside her head.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
MARIE CAMPBELL: Isabelle Allende because she writes from the heart and with passion. Charles Dickens because he draws his characters so well I see them so clearly although his books are a bit depressing but such wonderful stories.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
MARIE CAMPBELL: House of Spirits by Isabelle Allende.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
MARIE CAMPBELL: I’ve attended the Sydney Writers Festival and given away free copies of my book—300 to be exact! I’ve handed out 500 bookmarks to people coming out of a supermarket; I’ve sent a copy of my book to some of my local TV and radio programs in the hope that they will do an interview. But so far nothing. I recently went on a 12 day P & O cruise and took along 3 copies of my book which I deliberately left in the ship’s library for future passengers to read and with contact details in the event they wanted to give feedback. The other day I received a wonderful review from a passenger who’d read the book while cruising and loved it and asked where she could buy a copy.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
MARIE CAMPBELL: It’s a long, lonely path, not to mention a challenge and costly for a self published author to market their book. If sales are forthcoming they’re not going to be in the same volume as an ebook. Of course, publishing on the Kindle, you still need a marketing plan, but on Amazon one’s book has the potential to reach so many more people at one time than a physical book and for a new author like myself, who has been rejected quite a few times by literary agents, I think it’s the best way to go. If you believe in what you’ve written and you’re focused on your marketing plan and you’re patient, eventually people will buy your book and hopefully word of mouth will spread the word even quicker and a publisher will pick up the book.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
MARIE CAMPBELL: Take time to make a good marketing plan. If it’s not working change it. Read all the FAQs relating to self-publishing on Kindle. Do research on the internet particularly amongst community forums—there’s a wealth of information there. Be brazen and tell anybody and everybody that you’ve written a book and they’ve got to read it!! And most important of all, never give up.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Olga—A Daughter’s Tale is Marie’s first book. Marie is currently writing her second with the draft working title Letter to Emilee.
Read her blog and follow her on twitter.
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