I was just interviewed by Liana Burnside for a research project at Brigham Young University. The questions were interesting...
1. What first prompted you to distribute some of your material for free online?
In March 2008 I read an article in the NY Times about podcasting novels, and I instantly loved the idea. All literature has its roots in oral storytelling. Somehow we have come to believe that only printed works are true literature, but they are merely an imitation - and sometimes a poor substitute - for oral storytelling. My own writing has always been geared toward the sound of words, especially the extensive dialog. I'd been writing podcast-ready novels for 40 years and hadn't known it.
Or is the question about doing it for free? Well, initially I thought a free podcast of the novel might entice listeners to buy the printed book. I was wrong. Most of them are happy just to listen. But the podcasting process turns out to be exactly what I like about literature, so I'll continue even without making any money from it, although - ahem - I appreciate the occasional donation from the occasional grateful listener.
2. When writing your novel Clear Heart, did you know you were going to turn it into a podiobook? If so, how did that affect the writing process?
I had completed Clear Heart just before I discovered podcasting, so the writing was intended for print. Reading aloud, of course, is a great editing tool, so the writing became better as I prepared the podcast.
Currently I'm producing a podcast novel that is strongly influenced by my podcasting experience. It affects the story in several ways - most obviously in my use of music which I incorporate into the plot.
3. How have you promoted your work? In addition, what sort of online networking have you participated in?
I suck at promotion. It doesn't fit with my personality. I have a blog and a website. Sometimes I comment on other people's blogs. I do a few internet radio interviews. That's about it. Eventually, the podcast itself is my best promotion. Without any publicity, my downloads increase every month. People find me through word-of-mouth recommendations.
4. You offer a few of your books in both audio and print versions. Do you feel like the different versions offer different experiences? Is one superior to the other?
I want both versions to be good, and I try hard to make it so. And yes, of course the experiences are different. Listening to a podcast is an incredibly intimate experience. My voice is literally inside the listener's head - inserted through ear buds. People won't allow that kind of intimacy for long unless they really like you - so I have to be as good as I can be.
5. What is your primary motivation for writing?
Creating characters and bringing them to life. Creating my version of the world. A kind of birth.
Thank you again for assisting me with my research.
Interesting questions, Liana. A pleasure.