Personally I love reading young adult and crossover novels. My very first novel was a sci-fi and it originally started as an adult eerie story but soon the characters got younger, the story changed and before I knew it I had slipped into a story that felt exciting and just right for a younger adult market. I suppose in that way I was ‘chosen’ by it. But, when it came to Poker Face, it was definitely the other way round. I was looking to try and secure my romance with an agent at Writers House in New York (they said no btw) but I noted at that time the particular agent I wanted was looking for a “good legal thriller”. I decided then to write about what I knew (being law). I wanted to make it different so I targeted it at the young adult market with the young, feisty, female character of Ruby Palmer. I chose the genre on purpose because I wanted it to be a ‘first job’ type experience. It means some of the content is a bit heavy but the local team librarian loved it and put it at a 15+.
2) Is there an author, living or dead, who inspired you particularly?
I absolutely loved Roald Dahl, he helped to feed my imagination and I could literally see all of his characters as a child. From the gross ones (The Twits) to the heart warming (Danny Champion of the World) to the brilliantly clever (George’s Marvellous Medicine). His work was funny and naughty in places (think Roald Dahl’s Revolting Rhymes!) and I was in my absolute element. He ticked every single box for me!
3) Please, tell us about your last book and, if you can, about your future projects.
My last book is called Poker Face and it is the first in a series of four legal thrillers, all written and featuring the same main characters. It was launched in November 2011 and I aim to launch the second in November 2012. The book follows 16 year old streetwise Ruby Palmer, as she blags her way into her first job in a law firm and soon finds herself caught up in mafia related business.
As for future projects, as I say, there are another three Poker Face books due for release as well as a romance that deals with teenage relationship abuse (an issue of huge importance and significance to me). There is also my sci-fi and fantasy series. All of these books are written but I also have a few on the go that are still at the early stages of drafting.
4) How was your writing journey? Was it difficult to find an agent and get published?
Traumatic and yes! I’ve chatted over the months and years to a few people who did the whole agent/publisher thing correctly and thoroughly. Basically they made a list of all agents and a list of all publishers and then approached the agents in batches. When they got all the rejections back, rather than sit and cry (like me) they sent them all off again in another batch, until every agent had been approached. Once the list was exhausted they did the same thing with their publishers list. They either found a publisher like that or they went back to the drawing board, reworked their submission and did it all again. I, on the other hand, sent out five, waited the six weeks, got rejections, cried, said I was never doing it again then got back up, sent off two, waited six weeks, got rejections, cried, said I was never doing it again, then sent off one…and so on. There was no real logic or system behind it and I never secured an agent. Most just say, “No, but thanks,” while a couple did say they had to be certain it would sell on a mass commercial basis and they just wasn’t sure that there was a market for mine. I finally decided I would indie publish and ‘create’ or ‘test’ the market. I have set up a webpage, blog and Twitter account and I have taken part in signing events and author interviews. My intention is to approach agents in August with my ‘findings’ and all of my fantastic reviews and say “Aaaaaand, what about now?” You can but try!
5) What’s your opinion about this E-book revolution? Would you consider the indie route?
Absolutely and I have. Poker Face is currently available as a paperback and an e-book and I think the e-book revolution has enabled some fantastic storytelling to come to the surface. Many e-books are much cheaper than paperback and traditionally published material and so the reader has so much more choice nowadays. It’s not a huge loss if you end up with something you aren’t too keen on. I do that all the time in restaurants and no one makes a big deal out of that! You get to trial it too as an e-book and you also get to read reviews and pick out of a much wider range. I like the idea of having choice and not just out of what agents and publishers have picked for me. You might now have to browse a little bit more but there is definitely some fantastic stuff out there just waiting to be picked up and read.
6) Nowadays many publishers expect their authors to use social media a lot to promote their books. Many authors, on the other hand, would prefer to write only, without being distracted by digital trivialities: what are your thoughts?
I have to say, up until about October 2011, I hated the idea of finding a publisher and agent that told me to go away and do the publicising myself. However, having been forced down that route, I am so glad I am where I am today. I have unearthed some fantastic skills I never knew I had and I have learned so much along the way!
I have developed a website and blog page and through those I have generated interest from sixteen different countries. Each time a new opportunity arises for an interview or signing event it feels like such an achievement because I know I’ve done it all by myself.
I feel like a more fully rounded writer now because I’ve discovered how to format for e-book and paperback, how to meet the criteria for producing and registering a book and how to say no to big tempting companies that want to take more of your profit than you can afford to give. I have also built up a pretty large and cool following on Twitter and by doing so I have met some of the most fantastic people and fellow indie writers. As much as I would like an agent and publisher I’d definitely choose to do it the indie, self promoting, all singing all dancing way first. It’s such a cool experience!
To know more, please visit: http://jesssturman.wix.com/jess-sturman-coombs/bio
To buy her latest book, simply click on the cover below: