It's that time again. Time to sit down for another author interview. This time Angella Graff, author of The Judas Curse, answers a few questions. Let's see what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
My name is Angella Graff, I’m 31, a Theology grad from the University of Arizona. I live in Tucson with my husband Joshua and three kids, Christian (12) Isabella (10) and Adia (5). Aside from writing, I also do editing for other authors, and when I’m not doing that, I’m either doing yoga, hiking, or geeking out on the BBC, or playing Mario on our Nintendo system. That’s pretty much all there is to my life, as mundane as it sounds haha.
2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
My latest book is called The Judas Kiss. It’s book two in an urban fantasy series called The Judas Curse. It directly follows the events of The Awakening, where a hard-headed homicide detective, Ben Stanford, has to face the supernatural and come to grips with ancient mythos as a reality.
In this sequel, Mark and Judas are kidnapped by Nike, the angry goddess trying to wield their power, and Ben teams up with some unlikely forces from the Norse pantheon to try and rescue them before she can accomplish her mission.
You get a really decent look at the inner workings of Ben’s mind now that he’s starting to accept a little more of the paranormal side of things, and you get to delve into the history of Mark and Judas, how they came into their immortality and powers two-thousand years ago.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
This is book two of an anticipated twelve book series.
4. How long have you been writing?
Cliché, but I’ve been writing since I could write. I penned my first novel, this 700 page Dragon-y Fantasy epic when I was about sixteen years old. Fortunately for the masses, I never attempted to have that published, but it was then I realized that I could and would be a writer some day.
5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
That’s a tough one, because it depends on what I’m working on. For the series, I’m inspired by my theology studies—not just religion or the bible, or even mythos, but the psychology behind it, and the old legends surrounding the more popular stories. I spend a lot of time reading different books about religious history.
Other times I’m inspired by life’s events, in my own life or the lives of others. I feel like everyone has a story that should be, in some capacity, told.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
Make sure it’s what you really want to do. You have to be willing to accept the entire thing that goes with the world of being a published author. If you want to write, but you don’t want to hear the bad things about what you’ve done, this job is not for you. I remember when I got my first bad review, and I was broken hearted. I thought, how could someone be so mean and so awful. Do they not realize how hard I worked on this?
I came to realize that part of this world of being a published writer is having your work out there for critique. By anyone. They can be someone who has a Ph.D. in classical literature, or they could be the person who never finished 8th grade, but everyone will have their say if they want to, and you have to learn to take something away from every critique, whether it hurts or not.
If you can’t stand to have people say negative things about your work, this is not the career for you.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
Someone who is able to take entertainment out of different ideas on religion. People who are sensitive about their beliefs are not going to like what I write. You need to be fairly open-minded to enjoy it. I’m not saying that you can’t be a Christian, because I’ve had plenty of Christians who are able to see the book for what it is—fiction—but if you’re overly sensitive about the beliefs, I’d say this book is not for you.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
Um, I’m a vague planner. I have a constant flow of ideas going through my mind, and sometimes someone will say something and it’ll spark an entirely new plot-point or scene in my book that I never thought about before. I know my characters intimately, which means I know how they’ll react to any given situation, but I like my writing to flow organically.
9. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?
I hadn’t heard about that before and I just looked it up. I guess I’m still fairly uninformed, but I find that a little depressing considering the rest of us self-pub'ed authors who try and stick to the official rules when having our books reviewed. I would never do that myself, but in all honesty, it’s his shame to carry, not mine. I plan to stick it out, and even if I’m never well known, at least I’ll always be able to hold my head high and say that I never bought my own popularity.
10. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?
I think from time to time, yes, they are. I’m of mixed views on this because while I find it frustrating when my book is refused due to it being self-pub'ed, by the same token I also run a book review blog and understand the frustration that some of these bloggers must feel.
The tough part of self-publishing is, even though amazon tries to adhere to strict rules and even offers readers the option of reporting errors in kindle books, prior to having the errors reported, anyone can have their book published. There is a significant portion of books that are simply terrible. Poor grammar, poor spelling, poor formatting and structure. Undeveloped characters, weak plots, etc. You name it, it’s out there. Asking someone to spend the amount of time it takes to read a book, only to have the book poorly put together can leave a lot of readers jaded against the industry.
However are they missing out? Yes, they can be, very much. I’ve read some real and true literary gems that are not only self-published, but far surpass the quality of some of the most popular traditionally published authors. That’s why, no matter how often I have to turn a book away, I won’t stop accepting indie authors, because more often than not, my time is rewarded.
11. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how do we collectively raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?
Indie authored books can be of lesser quality because indie authors often don’t have the resources available to them to pay professionals for quality work. Often times indie authors rely on their MS word program and a quick read-through as their editors. I’ve seen authors use MS paint and Photoshop with a copy pasted SIMS character for a book cover. Believe me, I’ve seen the “lesser quality” work out there.
Honestly, if there were editors and book cover artists more willing to offer services that were affordable to indie authors, I think we’d see an influx of better quality writing and covers hitting the indie market.
Not to market myself because that’s not the point of this, but I actually do that. The affordable editing bit, anyway. When I started researching editors for my first book, I was repeatedly quoted prices of hundreds or even thousands of dollars for an editing job. I thought to myself, yes it’s work, but should it really cost so much? Most indie authors couldn’t hope to cover that cost alone in books sales, so to ask someone to come up with that kind of money up front just seems unreasonable.
I’m lucky to live with someone with a heavy creative writing and English background who, despite my horrible nagging attitude during “editing time” is happy to edit for me. I also found an amazing cover artist who does hand-drawn cover art for my books for an amazing price. I thought, the least I could do for the community of indie writers is give back—and so I went back to my old editing for thesis papers state of mind from University and have been able to help quite a few authors out. And that feels really good!
I realize I’ve just been long-winded, but I wanted to make a point that if indie authors had affordable services, I think it would make a huge difference in the quality we see coming into the market.
12. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post (http://robonwriting.com/2013/02/05/i-...) on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?
I hadn’t read this article before this interview and it actually caused me to stop filling out the answers and take some time to process what he said. Truthfully, I think every single author can relate to this. Every single one. Sure there are authors out there who surround themselves with a network of people who will only leave positive reviews, but for those who throw themselves to the reading wolves, we’ve all experienced that. I’ve had reviews insulting me as a person because I didn’t write what the reviewer wanted to read. I’ve had people take swings at me and my family because they didn’t share my same points of view. There have been reviewers who simply wanted to be mean, and Guthrie is right. Those reviewers are simply stupid.
The moment we get an honest review, it cuts. It bleeds. It burns. It’s like having someone point out every single thing you’re insecure about in your own life and writing, and having it on display for the rest of the world to see. It isn’t fun. However, it means the world to me because someone took time out of their lives to tell me where I could improve.
I remember one reviewer in particular took some heavy swings at me, but there was meat to the review. There was honest criticism. I took the comments privately, and I responded with a simple thank you, and a request that, if he would like to, to give the rest of my series a try. The response I got? He said based on my response to him, he was already a fan of mine, even if he didn’t like my writing.
I think writers need to take more time drawing as much from the negative reviews as we can. It’s the only way to grow and improve. Even if the reviewer is trying to be mean, no other reasons but to be deliberately cruel, I try and take something away from it that I can use. And yes, I think it will always hurt like a son-of-a-bitch, but that’s the good kind of pain in my opinion. The kind that I can grow and learn from.
13. Where can readers find your work?
They can find my book purchase links on my Facebook page on the Read My Book App
And of course there’s my Amazon author page which has all of my publish works listed there.
14. Where can readers find out more about you?
All of my info is available at my website .
Angella Graff was born and raised in the desert city of Tucson, Arizona. She married and became a mother very young, and after getting started with her family, began her University studies where she found her passion for creative writing, history and theology.
She now resides in Tucson with her husband Joshua, three children, Christian, Isabella and Adia, and their three cats, Archive (Ivy), Lasciel and Fix. She prefers to spend her days writing, gardening, and reading non-fiction theology theory books. Angella is also an avid, if not fanatic fan of Doctor Who and BBC Sherlock, which tend to dominate her dry, sarcastic humor, a lot of which is apparent in her writing.