Kindle Author Interview: Stephen Black

Stephen Black, author of Furikake, discusses his book, his journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Furikake?

STEPHEN BLACK: Furikake is a collection of short stories, each somehow linked to furikake. Furikake is the Japanese word for those seasonings which are sprinkled over rice. The stories are light-hearted, cynical, romantic; even comical. Food is often described or used as a story element.

I designed the cover myself. I tried to make it so seriously bad and clumsy that it is comical.

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

STEPHEN BLACK: My characters are based on research and personal experiences. Trial and error is another part of the  process of character development. It's very difficult to describe how a character ends up being the way he or she is. Age, nationality and physical appearance are easy starting points, but it's difficult to analyze the origins of the subtleties, mannerisms and complexities that make a character come alive.

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

STEPHEN BLACK: I am thankful for any kind of reader. Some may enjoy my wordplay, some may appreciate the story itself and I hope some get lost in my descriptions of Asia. When I write, I try to create a unique, believable alternate reality where anyone is welcome.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

STEPHEN BLACK: My father is a semi-retired book salesman. I grew up literally surrounded by books and I read, read, read. Throughout my life I've written for magazines, but only in 2007 did I get serious about presenting a book to the public. That book was Obama Search Words.

Technically, however, my first book was Bus Stopping, but that is a book of photographs.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

STEPHEN BLACK: As much as possible, I get up at 6 or 7am and write until about 10am. Then I write again in the afternoon for at least a couple of hours. In the evenings I try to at least review the day's work. I usually have several writing projects going on at the same time.

I also work as an artist, a photographer and a videomaker. It's nice when these other activities help shape the writing process.

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

STEPHEN BLACK: Paul Theroux, Henry Miller, Paul Aster, Roald Dahl, Jerzy Kosinski. Mishima, Hemingway, Capote and countless others.

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

STEPHEN BLACK: The Scarlet Gang of Asakusa by Yasunari Kawabata.

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

STEPHEN BLACK: My strategy was to write three or four books before I started to market and do publicity. It is only now that I am beginning to publicize my books. I will soon revamp my website and start serious promotion.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

STEPHEN BLACK: Convenience and the thrill of being involved with something from the start.

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

STEPHEN BLACK: Writing a book is only the beginning. Editing, layout, conversions, publicity and marketing are all on the path to a readership and sales. None of this is easy, but you can do it.

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


Author, artist, videomaker and photograoher, Stephen Black has lived in Asia for most of his life. He is currently working on 3how, a project combining text, theatre and music.  His Home Away From Home videowork is on now display at the Singapore Discovery Center. Also, his text and research contributions to Michael Lee's Office Orchitect project can be seen at The Singapore Biennale.

Black has worked with the following companies and individuals: CNN, Cartoon Network, Fuji TV, Playboy, Hanatsubaki, Annie Leibovitz and Kazuo Ono.. He has exhibited his work in galleries around the world. He is the founder of Book Merah, an emerging ebook company. Book Merah can be found on Facebook and Twitter.

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