The Last Pendragon, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about The Last Pendragon?
SARAH WOODBURY: The Last Pendragon is a story set in 7th century Wales. It is about Cade (Cadwaladr ap Cadwallon), heir to the throne of Arthur, and his love, Rhiann, who is the daughter of the man who killed Cade's father and stole his birthright. The book is historical fantasy, since it is based in the history of the time, but also brings in elements of Welsh mythology. Cade himself has been touched by the sidhe, and is thus not entirely human.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
SARAH WOODBURY: My characters—the main ones anyway—develop as people as I write them. I do plan my books to a certain degree, but I'm not one for a detailed outline. Often a character will start talking to me before I start writing the book in the first place. They can be very insistent that I get to work!
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
SARAH WOODBURY: You know, I'd have to say anyone who wants to be swept off to another time and place will like my books. I work very hard at grounding my books in the details and culture of the time, without making it something that the reader notices. 90% of the history I write into the book in the first draft, I delete in later drafts—the point being the creation of a fun adventure that keeps the reader in the past with me.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
SARAH WOODBURY: I have a Ph.D. in anthropology, so I've been writing for most of my life. I started writing fiction intensively 5 years ago. I wrote that first book just to see if I could. Given that I spent so much time in school, I hadn't used that creative side of me in many years—and wasn't sure it still existed. But I discovered that I love writing fiction and have written 7 books.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
SARAH WOODBURY: I started out as a 'pantster'—someone who just wings it, and have since disciplined myself to a more controlled process, even if I don't outline as fully as some. I try to write every day and when I'm actively working on a book, I aim for 1000 words a day. Now that I have books to sell, I split my day between blogs/forums/twitter and writing. Writing sometimes gets squeezed a bit!
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
SARAH WOODBURY: My writing heroine is Ellis Peters, author of the Brother Cadfael mysteries set in the 12th century. She never got a college degree, but she was a scholar of the best kind, while at the same time, a beautiful writer.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
SARAH WOODBURY: In keeping with the prior question, Peters' Brother Cadfael's Penance. It is the perfect ending to her 20 book series, and she died shortly after it was published.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
SARAH WOODBURY: Maybe a bit like my writing, I'm winging it at this point. I have a blog, that I started a year and a half ago, in which I talk about Dark Age and Medieval Wales three days a week. I'm on Twitter and Facebook, and several message boards. That's really how it starts, but I've found in the 2 1/2 months I've been doing this, that word spreads and my sales have skyrocketed in recent weeks. So I must be doing something right :)
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
SARAH WOODBURY: Indie publishing has set me free. I spent 5 years writing by myself in my little cone of silence, and now I get to share my work with anyone who would like to read my books. I think it's good that ebooks weren't an option 4 years ago, because, quite frankly, my books weren't yet 'good enough', but now . . . I'm having so much fun.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
SARAH WOODBURY: I would suggest to anyone who has written only one book to write another one before you self-publish the first one. The process of writing that second book will tell you a lot about how to make your first book better. My first book will never see the light of day, but Footsteps in Time was my second, and though it took me 4 years to make it right, by writing other books, I was able to go back to it and finally create something of which I'm really proud. The difference between indie publishing and traditional publishing, for the author, is that you don't have someone looking over your shoulder and telling you hard truths. So you have to tell those truths to yourself.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
She makes her home in Oregon.
Her home on the web: www.sarahwoodbury.com
Her books at Amazon: http://tinyurl.com/3fdsepw at Barnes and Noble: http://tinyurl.com/6zdmdaa
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