Describe your book The Affair of the Porcelain Dog in five words or less.
High Adventure in Victorian London.
How did the ideas for your books come to you?
Usually from researching something else that I'm writing. History is so full of weird, amazing facts that just beg to have a story written about them. My current WIP, regarding the adventures of the Last Female Sûreté agent in 1820s Paris, sprouted up from research into the history of Scotland Yard, for example.
What is the hardest part of writing for you? What's the easiest?
The hardest part is working through the first draft. The writing is SO AWFUL, it hurts to read it. It hurts to write it. But if I don't work my way all the way through that first draft from beginning to end, I'll spend twenty years polishing the first page alone.
The easiest part is fiddling and fine-tuning the final draft. All the hard work is done, and it's time to play with words!
What's next for you? Are you currently working on or have plans for future
I have three projects in the hopper right now: the aforementioned Paris police story set in 1827, a noir-ish detective story set in Los Angeles toward the end of WWII, and a second book with the characters from Porcelain Dog. The first two have some supernatural twists. The third is purely historical.
Why did you choose to write for specific genre?
History fascinates me. I love to look at the similarities and differences between my own experience and the experiences of people living in different times and places. It's easy to look at these differences and think that people in the past were somehow inferior, backward or less enlightened than they are now. But if you really immerse yourself in the times, you'll see that people were operating from different ways of looking at the world, and that their beliefs and actions (both just and unjust) logically stemmed from that outlook.
I like to think about difficult positions my characters might find themselves in as a result of aspects of culture that don't exist in my time and place, and make them figure out how to get out of it using only the tools available to people at that time. It's cruel, but it makes a good read.
What's it like hearing that readers are eagerly awaiting your book's release date?
It still surprises me. For the longest time, scribbling my stories has been my eccentric little conceit. I'm still kind of amazed that I actually sold my book, and even more amazed that people are buying it.
What is one question that you've always wanted to be asked in an interview? Howwould you answer that question?
Actually, I've always wanted to be asked about the road to publication. =D
What was your road to publications like?
It was a lot of work! Here are a few stats:
Number of unpublished novels written before The Affair of the Porcelain Dog: 2
•Of these, number actually finished: 1
•How long, from first ink to contract offer: a little over four years
•Number of drafts: 8
•Of these, number that were major rewrites (ie; more than 50% of the MS tossed and replaced with something completely different): 4
•First draft word count: around 35K.
•Word count at highest point: around 100K
•Accepted draft word count: around 77,300K
Have to qualify “ a little over four years” by saying that during the first two years, I had exactly three hours per week to write. The first draft was written in seven months, that is to say, a little less than 200 hours, which sort of boggles my mind to think about it now. The third year, I had six hours per week.
It took eight drafts to get APD right, because I was still trying to figure out what I was doing. That takes a lot of time–a lot of time that could have been saved, by the way, by using an outline. It’ s a lot faster and easier to work the plot kinks out of 20 pages of outline than out of 400 pages of text. Fortunately, a lot of
publishers, including mine, require an outline and synopsis for subsequent books. A good outline takes a lot of work, but ends up saving a lot of work in the end, if that makes sense.
I did a lot of publisher research before submitting to Bold Strokes. I wanted a publisher whose books were carried in the major chain brick and mortar stores, as well as available in e-book format. I wanted an established publisher with a good reputation, a solid marketing department, and wide distribution. I
also wanted a publisher that didn't require an agent for submission. Most of all, I wanted a publisher that published authors alongside whom I would be proud to be listed.
This resulted in a short list, which I ordered from most to least desirable. Bold Strokes Books was first on my list. They are well represented in bookstores, and I already enjoyed quite a few of their authors. They have a good reputation, and don't require an agent for submission. I almost didn't submit to them, because
I thought that there was absolutely no chance that they would be interested in my weird little story. My palms were literally sweating when I took a deep breath and pressed "send."
I'm still amazed that they wanted to publish my book--amazed and grateful. Most novels aren't snapped up the first time out. The fact that mine was, I think was more due to my extensive publisher research than to any other factor. Never underestimate the Power of Research!
Jess Faraday is the author of one novel, three book translations, a handful of short stories, and numerous nonfiction articles.
She is a graduate of the University of Arizona (B.A.) and UCLA (M.A.). Since then, she has earned her daily bread in a number of questionable ways, including translation, lexicography, copyediting, teaching high school Russian, and hawking shoes to the overprivileged offspring of Los Angeles-area B-listers.
She enjoys martial arts, the outdoors, strong coffee and a robust Pinot Noir. She also receives a trickle of income from Faraday Bags, her line of data shielding handbags and clothing. She is also a reviewer at Speak Its Name.
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