Today I welcome Omar Alleyne, author of the interestingly titled, Christopher De Bono. I Hate Christmas and Anderson l, the Acute Case of Anthrax.
IDI – Good morning, Omar. First I have to say your titles are unique. They have a certain ‘remember me’ ring to them.
That being said, let’s get down to it. So how does someone get into writing from doing something different? What was your catalyst?
OA – My catalyst to get back into writing? That would be because of school. When I was in sixth form, which I think is senior year for you guys, I had the opportunity to get into a project which meant I could do anything I wanted. I could have done a film on frogs if I wanted for example or a history report on the American Civil War of 1812 and instead of doing a subject I was studying, something inside me just made me want to do a novel and the rest, they say is history.
IDI – So, Omar, if that was what got you back into writing, when did you have your original Eureka moment? When did know that you were born to be a writer?
OA – I would like to say that I’ve always wanted to be a writer but that’s not true. When I was younger I wanted to be a writer and joined things like writing clubs and wrote stories but I didn’t know you could be a writer professionally. Eventually I came back to writing
but by then, I was seventeen. Only thing is, that even then, I was studying to go to university to become a Fashion Designer! So I think it must have been around July 2012 when I was writing my first book, ‘Anderson I: The Acute Case of Anthrax’ and I was doing 13 hour writing sessions that I realized I never fell out of love with writing and that’s when I got into writing properly.
IDI – Would you care to share with readers what you are working on now? Just a peek?
OA – I just finished writing the forward for an upcoming book called ‘Penny Smart, Pound Foolish’ but currently I am working on another novel. This one will be called ‘Alashed: Dark Pale’ and is a back story to the sequel of my first novel; ‘Anderson I: The Acute Case of Anthrax’. It’s a historically based Science-Fiction title that explores the ideas about the loss of innocence and maturity and how the two don’t actually touch on one another. It should be exciting and I hope that it can touch people in a way perhaps my three previous books haven’t.
“I thought you wanted revenge?” Screamed Yeates to the boy over the sound of the bickering flames. His breath was labored and his eyes almost completely shut as to shade his retinas from the burning light that the flames emitted.
“I only wanted to win!” He pleaded “I didn’t want to kill him!” Alashed cried back, leaning on his staff as to keep him propped up against the wall. He was clearly battered and his feet felt as if they were destined to fail him.
“Don’t let yourself become a victim. If you let him live, he’ll only rise again to smite you!” Yeates begged, limping over to his mentee. Alashed was making a bigger mistake than he could quantify and Yeates knew it, yet neither the boy would learn and neither could Yeates teach him.
“Then if that is a problem I have to face, I’ll deal with if it ever comes up.”
I hope to have Alashed: Dark Pale out sometimes before the end of August.
IDI – Sounds exciting and again, I love your titles!
Define a great book.
OA – A great book, for me is something that sits with you even if you don’t remember it. The other day I read an article about how a road trip saved a man’s marriage and even a few weeks on I still think about it. I might not ever be able to accurately find that article again but it was a fantastic piece of writing that has sat with me. It could be the opposite and really make you think, but it’s sat with you. Anyone can make a bland, forgettable piece of literature but sometimes you need a stroke of genius to make something great. If all else fails, great literature is something you can engage with and hold conversation about because if a writer aimed to reach out to you and now you’re using that as your muse to reach out to other people, I think the writer has done a great job.
IDI – Having written your books now, tell me, is there anything you would have done differently and if so, what?
OA – I would have begun promotion a lot sooner. ‘Anderson I’ was self-published and so I didn’t have the backing of anyone else helping me in promoting the book. Of course, a bonus of this is that you’ll never have to worry about the pressure of getting the book out for a certain date, you do it all yourself. I’d also screen my proof-reader a little better. I got burned with a pretty bad proof-reader who isn’t around anymore but it was an expensive lesson to learn as a 19-year-old kid.
IDI – How much time/effort do you give to social media as a form of self-promotion?
OA – I’m almost completely reliant on social media for promotion. My twitter @DrDolphino is my main platform for self-promotion and it’s by and large the cheapest way to do it. It costs nothing to set up an account and begin tweeting about your book and it’s the same for linkedin, Facebook, Tumblr- whatever. But then again, you have to be. It’s not like a newspaper that they print and it goes out to everyone and that person can read it as many times as they like. With things like twitter, I have to hope that one of my sub 300 followers see it, are convinced to pick up a copy of a book, think it’s good and then the next time I make a tweet about it, they retweet it. Social media is difficult and time-consuming like that. Paying someone to broadcast your book is good too, though they can’t guarantee that promotion elicits sales. Of course, if I had the opportunity to get myself into a newspaper, magazine or even a website, I would take it if I can.
IDI – Speaking of self-promotion, ebooks and the media, what are your thoughts on Amazon’s controversial reviewing process? How much trust do you put into the reviews posted for any given book?
OA – Funnily enough, two of my books are on Amazon, ‘Anderson I: The Acute Case of Anthrax’ and a holiday season book called ‘Christopher De Bono. I hate Christmas’.
When they first came out, I begged my family not to give me a five-star review. At the end of the day, it’s my first two books and I’m not Charles Dickens. If they think it was good, give me a 4 star rating but even so, I wouldn’t believe them. Anyway, I gave it a few days and I started to feel bad because I feel it’s a fake review and I ask them to take it down. Then in February, I check my analytics once again and I see two reviews. One is from a lady named Miss Temple and she’s got a faceless profile, but gives me a 5 star review. I don’t know anyone named miss Temple, last name or otherwise and there is another review from someone in Iowa. I don’t know anyone from Iowa! Wait! They’re both 5 stars! At this point I’m pretty excited, ringing up my mum and telling her “people actually like my book! It’s okay to put up 5 star reviews quick, put up a review of my book, but make it honest!”
Anyway, none of my family put their reviews back up and one of the reviews is still there. From that day onward, I believe in the Amazon review system. It’s not the best or my favorite, but I trust it a lot more.
On the other hand, I’ve seen really good books with people straight out trolling the work which is sad. Someone has tried very hard to make something good for people to enjoy and there are people who read it and enjoy the work. Then someone who has a personal vendetta against the book, or even worse, the person takes time out of their day to essentially, begin to destroy their career. Of course, some books are terribly written but are still enjoyed and those sorts of critics have every right to critique the piece because there is some basis relevant to the book that they dislike.
Personally, I think some form of screening process should be applied on the Amazon review section because the damage someone can cause before a comment is taken down is far more serious than a simple joke. It could be the end of someone’s livelihood.
IDI – I have my own opinion of the Amazon ranking system, but I will agree with you that there should be some sort of screening process, although I fail to see how it would help.
There is a lot of commotion about the effect eBooks are having on brick and mortar booksellers. Do you think eBooks have reached their climax or do you believe they still have room to expand in the market?
OA – I’m of the opinion that unless something has complete, 100% dominance over something, it has room to grow. It’s a lot like monopoly in that sense and why a single game can take so long. If you have two determined players at it, one desperately trying to clear the board and another who keeps passing go and just about holding on the game will never end. As a writer, it’s my dream to have my e-books in paper print and sold in a book store and I think that if there are enough writers who still have that dream, brick and mortar booksellers will be fine because there will always be people who want a hard cover more than an electronic one that can get accidentally deleted.
IDI – We all draw from within and I believe there is an element of ‘us’ in everything we write. How much of you will a reader find in any given book?
OA – If they look hard enough, they might notice me in the background of a book. A lot of the time I will give my main character or the protagonist at least one scene with me in the background doing something that they notice or that the narrator can comment on. For me and anyone who knows me personally who may read the book, it’s like finding an Easter egg in a film or a video game so I like to have a little fun with that.
I also talk with my hands and actions and sounds more than any adult should so a lot of my work can seem a little longer than usual because it’s very imaginative and can be a sensory overload, so for the people who don’t know me, I’d like to think that they can get to know me through my writing with a little use of the imagination.
IDI – Online cafés or writers groups (aside from social networking). Do you belong to any and if so, help or harm?
OA – Writers groups are a complicated subject. From experience I’d have to say that it’s a 50/50 risk because it completely depends on the people you’re involved with. I created my own ‘writers guild’ it was designed to be open, honest and supportive which is tough because in the past I’ve tried to get involved and found writers groups to be stifling, snobbery environments that can be toxic for your writing confidence. I know of people in an old group who straight out stole someone else’s work and ideas which I needed say, is a terrible thing to do. Of course, this all depends on where you go and who you meet, so exercise caution. It’s a lot easier to get involved with a friend, though you can do it alone. At the moment I’m trying to set up my own, so if you have any work or none, but you are interested, feel free to mention me on twitter (@DrDolphino) or write a little ask/comment on my website, it would be great to form a network of fellow writers who can help each other.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
OA – The biggest misconception about new authors is the thought that they are rubbish. The other week we had Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao for example. Mayweather has never lost a fight which means that even when he was new, he wasn’t bad. Of course he has grown better over time, but then so does everybody with the right people around them. If we give sportsmen and women, people in the entertainment sector or even that new trainee that you see at your local coffee shop the same treatment we give writers, nobody would have a job! The second problem is that we assume writers getting book deals with certain publishers are good writers. But are they really? It’s like your NFL draft. Someone might get picked for one of the best teams in the country, but then they get released in two years because they haven’t met expectations. I feel that we should give everyone a fair chance to make it and writers can only ever help themselves by having a good portfolio to back them up if they make a few mistakes or if it’s not working out at the publishing level. This could be a blog or a collection of articles, but just something to remind the world that you CAN write well.
IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?
OA – I would tell them that it’s okay to want to give up. It’s okay to be working on a project for two years and realize at the end of it that you hated every line. You’re allowed to rework things and get rid of whole sections. As long as you want to make your book better, do it. This is your dream so be the best that you can be at it.
IDI – Everyone has visions of where they see themselves in the future, be it a year or five. Where do you see yourself in five years? Where did you see yourself five years ago? Did you make it there?
OA – Five years ago I struggled to even comprehend that I could do anything different from getting a degree and getting myself a mundane job. Now that I’ve given both of those up, I don’t see myself not ‘making it’. So in the next five years I would like to start to think about retirement. Not because I’ve failed or grown tired of writing, but more like a ‘what if’ scenario. Meanwhile, I would be very happy having my own publisher or publishing house and writer training program whilst continue to write myself, all the while spending as much time as I can with my family.
IDI – Interesting. That is the first time anyone has ever answered that question with retirement, but what a goal! Omar, thank you very much for appearing on Ink Drop Interviews and I wish you all the best of your future endeavors.
Would you like to learn more about Omar and his work? You can contact him here:
His books can be found here:
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