I was honoured to be part of Indie Bookstore Day at my local bookstore, The Sherwood Park Bookworm on Saturday. With so many books to choose from and three local authors and a couple of artisan’s attending as well, it was a great day.
I was sequestered on one of the lavish armchairs to display my novels and chat to visitors. It is always a pleasure to talk about my stories and the backstory of their creation. I am always open to reader questions and welcome a comment or email at any time.
The Smart One by Jennifer Close A glimpse into a family’s thoughts, their interactions and events that cause friction, reassessment and belonging. Well crafted characters that you will become involved with, finding some similarities within your own family dynamics, others far from your experience
There are several memes that state an author’s browsing history should be ignored and/or immediately deleted. We can find ourselves researching the strangest subjects, all of which are perfectly innocence. (One would hope anyway!) I think the most alarming subject for anyone to find on my history would be wanting to know under what conditions a body can dry out and become mummified. Yep, I researched that! This relates to a novel yet to be finalized, The Giving Thief and I will not be giving any hints as to why.
When I wrote The Rython Kingdom and Rython Legacy, I required medical procedures and medicines from the English medieval period. There were several ‘cures’ I think would have given the poor patient an impossible decision whether to suffer the illness or the cure! Most of the ‘research’ for these novellas was personal experience of medieval castles during visits to such sites in England, and history lessons when I lived there.
Another backburner manuscript is Willow Tree Tears, which resulted in my gaining knowledge of barrel racing. I had never been to a rodeo at the time of initially writing the book, so did some internet research. However, I was fortunate to connect with a couple of barrel racing champions, who were very helpful in their advice. It has made the narrative a lot better.
The Twesome Loop is a reincarnation romance incorporating my interest in that specific subject. My interest began during my nursing days, when a couple of incidents led me down the path to find literature on the topic.
In Life in Slake Patch, I needed to find a natural element that could hinder pregnancy, either temporarily or permanently. Surprisingly, I found one,
When I was writing The Commodore’s Gift, I needed to immerse myself in the steampunk genre, and found a plethora of mechanical devices. I also needed to know the most crucial areas to incapacitate a person with a blade!
As author’s we can get immersed in the research, but it is also a great learning tool that we, in turn pass onto our readers. We need to be careful to know our subject because an expert will pick up on any irregularities or misinformation. As the saying goes, we learn something new every day.
What is the ‘strangest’ thing you have researched?
With a multiple of genres in my repertoire, I have utilized several book cover illustrators to achieve the best cover for each book. All of them have a unique style and process for creating the images. As an author the book cover is a vital tool to attract our readers. It needs to reflect in a quick and simple way the genre of the story and entice our readers to take a look.
Which cover(s) do you like?
Rumble’s First Scare
This cute little monster was the result of a mental image of mine. I asked Matthew McClatchie to bring him to life. This was achieved with my writing down a description of Rumble, as best I could and of the images for each page within the picture book. It took multiple emails back and forth until Rumble emerged. This is the excitement of working with a great illustrator, a mind meld as it were.
Ockleberries to the Rescue
I commissioned J.E. McKnight, a fellow author and artist to help me with this project as I required ‘real’ sketches of animals and Joe’s pencil and ink drawings were perfect for the chapter headers. We used nature photography for the majority of the images, as a basis for the images and a couple were a collaboration of my poor attempts at sketches and Joe’s interpretation of the subject.
Again, most of the images were in my mind’s eye but the protagonist was a ‘real’ girl, so I asked Linda J. Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography to help with the chapter header images. I described what each scene should incorporate and then Linda drew them in pencil and ink. Again, it is the worth of a great illustrator to draw what an author’s mind envisions.
Creature Hunt on Planet Toaria
I had such fun with this project as it was open to my imagination to create an alien world and who better to use than Matthew McClatchie’s unique technique? From my previous experience with Matty, I knew he would interpret my ‘mental images’ and badly constructed collages to make them come to life.
The Rython Kingdom
I found the illustrator for this novella via a Facebook friend. At the time, Winter Bayne utilized an online program for images and models. While working together we created the book cover from several different images I felt were important to the cover. Alas Winter no longer offers her services, so I am glad I got to work with her.
Unable to use Winter Bayne on this sequel, I was at a loss as who to turn to in order to achieve a similar cover. Luckily, through a Facebook contact I was able to connect with Wren Taylor Cover Design, who knew Winter. She utilizes the same sort of program and we collaborated well on the image to tie it to the first book with an orb shape.
The Twesome Loop
This image was again a collaboration with Winter Bayne, where I wanted several images merged. An olive tree, an old stone well and the lovers. She was able to find models dressed in period costume for the original couple in this reincarnation based romance.
Life in Slake Patch
I was vacationing in England when the original book cover was finalized for this novel, so emails were numerous. Linda J Pedley of Wildhorse Creative Arts & Photography managed to create a scene using multiple images I sent. Subsequently the cover was changed to the current one by Wren Taylor Cover Design to align with my other adult novel covers.
The Commodore’s Gift
Knowing the process and our mutual understanding I once again used Wren Taylor Cover Design to create the cover. It is the culmination of numerous images merged into my vision. There are many items within the cover that required closer inspection. Can you find them? A clockwork bird, a clock, a propulsion device, deep sea divers helmet/octopus, and a heart.
My current detective series has covers already designed by Wren Taylor Cover Design, but they will only be revealed once the trilogy is finalized and published. Yes, I know I’m teasing.
As many of you know, I am a multi-genre author, where the story is the motivator not the genre. However, there are some obstacles to this due to the ‘business’ side of writing. Mainly, how to promote myself as opposed to the genre I have written?
I have read many ‘book promotion and marketing’ articles, all of which target specific audiences for genre. You can easily target one genre, such as romance, thriller, and mystery but how do you cross genre lines in promotion?
One answer is to link your name to an organic and dynamic brand that’s based on you and arouses a positive, emotional experience for your targeted readership – regardless of genre. So in essence you will need to develop a strategy to create a hybrid solution of your own.
Another option is to write a book that will appeal to the fans of your new genre and not the fans you already have. The plot, cover, and blurb should all be consistent with the genre you want to write in. This can be accomplished by adding your own flourishes to the genre.
You have the ability to create your own style, and unique voice by combining recurrent themes, character types, settings, and ideas that make up the familiar elements characteristic to your writing. You can tie a common thread between all the genres you choose to write. After delving into this I have found that love in all its forms are represented in my narratives, whether parental, friendship or lover.
It is much less about genre, and more about what readers have come to expect in your books/writing. It’s in the way you do it – as well as how it’s perceived and interpreted by your audience. Let’s take a look at how writing in more than one genre is a benefit: • It requires different strengths and allows you to push your limits and abilities–learn, test, experiment, polish. • It lets you explore your wider interests without limitation. • It allows new writers especially to explore various genres before determining the right “fit” for their style, voice and passions. • It is often not a conscious decision–many writers are compelled to follow the Muse.
So what are the Pros and Cons? Pros: 1. Writing what you want It is wonderfully fulfilling to explore new ideas and create something new that challenges you in unique and exciting ways. 2. Wider audience Writing a new genre may attract new readers, who wouldn’t have found your work otherwise. And hopefully they will check out your previous works thus cultivating a broader, wider readership. 3. Versatility Being versatile will sharpen your skills as a writer and may attract a publisher in that genre or other new opportunities. Your ability to handle a variety of genres is always a plus. 4. Broader community While writing in new genres and categories, you will get to know other writers in that genre and extend your writing community in the process.
Cons: 1. Losing readers This is obviously the biggest con of switching genres. Your current readership may not pick up your new book at all as they consider you a writer in a particular genre and may be more discerning about picking up a title of yours in the future. 2. More juggling Writing in multiple genres requires more juggling with your marketing and promotion as you need to change from one single cohesive marketing plan into two or more. And if you’re working on multiple projects at once, you’ll have to handle multiple publishing deadlines, contracts, etc. 3. Multiple brands The worst case scenario is having to start a completely new brand for the ‘other’ genre. You may need to write under a pen-name and devote time to building that platform. It could be you start from scratch in your branding, or utilize your platform in a broader form. To do this you need to find the common ‘theme’. (Not an easy task I might add!) 4. Writing confusion The other challenge is juggling multiple genres from a writing perspective and requires a lot of hard work and skill to accomplish successfully. Each genre has its own conventions you need to establish and refine using vastly different voices traits and tones, while meeting readers’ expectations.
More recently, many alternative genres have been created, which combine genres into a sub-genres. For example, romance readers would never go to the horror section first, but if the description was something like – romantic suspense – then maybe they would pick up your book. This has enabled authors to promote their books in one or more genres. I have investigated what my ‘brand’ or ‘theme’ is in my writing and after quite some time realized it is a basic theme of love – be it romantic, parental, friendship or some other kind – so in essence I can use that title within the more traditional genre headings. It is a matter of looking at your story and defining the main theme, even if it is an underlining thread throughout the narrative. My novel, Life in Slake Patch is an alternative world order but basically has a young man trying to change the ‘laws’ so he can be with the woman he loves. It can be described as speculative fiction but romantic speculative fiction is better.
My novel, The Twesome Loop is also romance but has an added reincarnation element as well as set in England and Italy, so is it romance alone or do I possibly create a sub-genre: suspense romance? As I am writing, I realized another sub-genre would fit my fantasy, The Rython Kingdom, which is set in medieval England, has a romance and a master plot by a vengeful witch so maybe it is fantasy or historical romance?
Do you write multiple genres?
How do you promote them? Separately or within a broader brand under your name?
Mandy Eve-Barnett is a multi-genre author writing children’s, YA, and adult books full of adventure and surprising twists in plot and genre. Her passion for writing emerged later in life and she is making up for lost time. With nine books published since 2011, she indulges her muse in creative fiction as well as freelance writing, which you can learn more about at https://tailoredthemedtosuit.wordpress.com/
Mandy regularly blogs at www.mandyevebarnett.com and is a writing community advocate. As secretary of her local writers’ group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County, and past secretary of the Alberta Authors Cooperative, as well as past-president of the Arts & Culture Council, she lives her creative life to the fullest. She hosts the WFSC monthly writing meetings and also creates writing prompts for their website. She has presented on various writing topics at conferences and seminars. Originally from England, Mandy now resides in Alberta, Canada. You can find Mandy across social media and her books through all the online purchasing sites and her publisher, Dream Write Publishing.
What genres do you write in?
I write multiple genres, as I follow the story rather than a genre when I write. As the characters and story develop it becomes clear which audience and genre the narrative fits into. This is a personal approach, as I have to feel my way through a story rather than conform to a structure.
Tell us a little about your work for adults
I use my life experience and interests to give my writing authenticity even though it may not seem evident within the story itself. For example, my novella series, The Rython Kindom and Rython Legacy are set in medieval England. I regularly visited historical sites when I lived in England so can draw from those experiences and learnt history. Another novel, Life
in Slake Patch, is a speculative fiction story set in an alternative future with a matriarchal society. The seed of the novel idea came from a heated discussion on the perceived place of a woman in our patriarchal society. I feel these themes not only draw in but allow my readers to relate to the story’s basic theme even if they are not consciously aware of them.
What about your books for children?
I have always been fascinated with the magical and mysterious – fairies, dragons, fantastic creatures, as well as the natural world. These two themes are the foundation of my children’s and young adults’ stories. I want my younger readers to love the world they live in, to cherish the flora and fauna within it and to experience a sense of magic. No matter the setting of the story, or the characters within it, there is always companionship, and the message to be true to yourself and those around you.
What are your sources of inspiration?
Goodness, as I have said earlier, everything and anything. It might be a conversation, a photo, something I read or interests I want to explore within a narrative. Dreams also give me ideas or topics, or even a scene I can use within a story. I keep my mind open to influences around me.
Are you involved with your local writing community?
Very much so, physically (when we could!) and virtually. I am the current secretary of my local writers’ group, the Writers Foundation of Strathcona County. We host three monthly (currently virtual) meetings – writing circle, kids creative writing workshop and Poets in the Park. I host the circle meetings, create the Saturday Writing Prompts on the website, and assist with the planning and organization of our two main annual events. Our Spring Writers Conference and our Fall Words in the Park – author and artisan sale and promotion, in conjunction with Alberta Cultural Days. Within this group I found my people, so to speak. I am also a writing community advocate on social media supporting and encouraging other writers. I am happy to share my experiences and knowledge to help others.
What are you currently working on?
I am in the midst of a detective trilogy, The Delphic Murders. I have book one in third draft and am writing book two. Most of my writing is free flow but with this current project I learnt to become a plotter planning separate and multiple arcs, which has been an enlightening exercise. The trilogy spans three Canadian cities and a elusive killer.
You also offer a variety of writing services, don’t you? Can you tell us a little about those?
I am versatile freelance writer drawing from a wide-ranging life experience from twenty-six years as a business owner, working within the medical field, parenting and relationships, extensive travel, and beginning a new life on another continent. I am able to communicate ideas, notions and information on a wide and unlimited range of subjects to ensure I deliver clear, creative, and compelling communications for my clients. It has been a pleasure to create projects for my clients from a magazine article to ghost writing a hybrid marketing book.
So where can people find out more about you and your books?
My blog is the best place to find everything about me and my writing: www.mandyevebarnett.com. I am also across multiple social media sites so I’m easy to find.