According to Luke, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about According to Luke?
ROSANNE DINGLI: It is my most recent novel, published by BeWrite Books, a romantic thriller with a religious twist. It gives an alternative biblical explanation for something taken for granted by most readers, and for which I surprisingly found a lot of support during my research. It’s quite an enjoyable page-turner, going by reviews it has received so far, and most readers consider the premise to be a very feasible one. It will satisfy those looking for a thrilling read that contains art and other cultural references. According to Luke is character-driven: I devote a lot of time getting my protagonists right. They are like any human being, and have doubts, fears, and strengths and make decisions that are not always consistent. In one word, they are believable. Readers say my characters, most of all, make my fiction entertaining.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
ROSANNE DINGLI: I start by imagining them physically and by giving them a name, and develop them by plaguing them with problems and dilemmas that seem unsurmountable. They have to react using the aspects and traits I give them, so I must create and hint at their backgrounds without wasting too many words on backstory. So they tell bits about themselves as the novel progresses, which makes the reader imagine they know them well, have at least one element they can relate to, and can remember them and their idiosyncrasies long after they put down the book.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
ROSANNE DINGLI: I imagine a thriller-reader who delights in well-researched novels. I use references related to art, music, literature, geography and other general knowledge tidbits that entertain. Most of what I use as props and background can be sought, looked up, and read as background, so I create fiction for readers who desire more than just a good read, with stories that contain facts that will take them further in, through, around, and about a variety of topics.
DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?
ROSANNE DINGLI: Possibly not very different to what makes other writers tick. I started out in 1985, and published poetry and short fiction for a number of years before coming up with my first novel, Death in Malta. I have also freelanced as an editor and journalist, and lectured and taught creative writing and journalism for a number of years. I probably would not have gone as far as I have without the support and critical excellence of my life partner of over twenty years, who has a sharp analytical mind, and with whom I discuss my manuscripts in fine detail.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
ROSANNE DINGLI: I am scattered, disorganized and a dire avoider of first drafts. It takes me ages to get motivated to set down the initial dirty hardcopy. After that, it’s mostly fun. I enjoy the research and editing much more than I do the groundwork of creating, because I am highly suspicious of “ideas”. So I devote extraordinary amounts of time to rewriting, editing and picking pieces up off the cutting room floor. The jigsaw puzzle that is one of my manuscripts is the work I delight in most. To devise something to work on in that way is the hardest thing I know, and I often wonder, when starting a new work, why on earth I put myself through such torture.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
ROSANNE DINGLI: Something exquisite, such as Possession by A S Byatt, or The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova, perhaps. It’s impossible to mention just one. These are books that contain enough mystery to keep a reader going, and also supply a generous amount of culture and recognizable references to surround one with a pleasurable cloud of intellectual appreciation. I do not like clever-clever books that drop scholarly names or references for their own sake or to announce the scholarship of the authors, but I do love works that use philosophical depth and cultural knowledge to decorate an engaging piece of fiction and make it more valid, entertaining and memorable.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
ROSANNE DINGLI: I have already mentioned A S Byatt and Elizabeth Kostova, and I like Robert Goddard, some of Ian McEwan’s work, Carol Goodman, the late Carol Shields and the short stories of Andre Dubus and Raymond Carver.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
ROSANNE DINGLI: I use a number of strategies that will be no news to anyone who understands how the buying and selling of books works, and how the industry is changing right under the noses of those who write for it. Online interaction is very important, so I use the usual networking sites and host my own website and blog. I find that following other authors is rewarding. I also use the old-fashioned but tried and trusted media methods such as releases, phone calls and hardcopy dissemination of bookmarks and other advertising material. Book launches and signings work on a local level; and collaboration with writers and artists increases one’s circle of recognition and reach. What I like best is being featured in hardcopy and online magazines and journals with a good and reliable circulation.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
ROSANNE DINGLI: My publishers, BeWrite Books, have long understood the importance of eBooks and they have been poised for the explosion that started in 2010 for a very long time. My first novel was available in digital form as long ago as 2005. Ebook sales of my writing eclipsed paperbacks last October, and I do not see any signs of a reversal. BeWrite uses Kindle because it works—all their authors see proof of this every time we open our royalty statements. I have also used Kindle for my independently published collections of short stories and poetry. I had a number of collections that ran out of print around 2003, and they lay unloved and unread. So I revised them and gave them all new-look covers, and republished them on Kindle. This means I have a dual experience, which confirms both through a publisher and on my own initiative that it is possible to gain new readers and sustain a bank of loyal fans through Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
ROSANNE DINGLI: I feel it is vital to have a large body of work available for sale. One or two books are never enough. Readers always seek more work by an author they like. It is rather important that a significant part of that body of work is supported and endorsed by a publisher with a valid track record. Publishers are useful! They do their own promotions in order to make their brand visible, which necessarily highlights their authors, without whom they have no reason for existing. Independently publishing titles is also valid for authors who wish to circulate out-of-print volumes, or to experiment with titles that have not gained a contract for one reason or another. The reasons, however, can never be related to the quality or finish of the work. I do not like the word quality, because it is ambiguous and can mean a number of things. I mean the excellence in writing that goes much, much further than grammar, punctuation and syntax. My advice to authors is to obtain confirmation through a number of channels that their work has a unique and valid voice, and that their writing is not only mechanically and technically sound, but that it also speaks loudly of tone, voice and literary value. Ideas are never enough, and great stories are not enough: scintillating writing about an old idea with a plausible story, with a premise that has social, cultural, artistic, or philosophical depth, always works better and ultimately sells.
DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.
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