Today I welcome another author from Black Rose Writing, Michael Hughes. Michael has two published novels with Pumpkin Farmer being his latest.
IDI – Good morning, Michael. Thanks for joining me today.
MH – Thanks for having me.
IDI – Let’s begin with your growth as a writer. How has your writing evolved from when you began as a writer to now?
MH – I started writing in earnest during the summer of 2012. I’ve written six novels to date. Only two have been published; Loafing by La Brea, which I self-published on Kindle, and Pumpkin Farmer, which is published by Black Rose Writing and is available in paperback and digital formats. My first two novels had very little dialogue, and I really didn’t make much effort to put in paragraphs. I just sat down and started writing. Needless to say, those works are pretty rough with respect to editing, but the fact that I could write a 90,000 word draft in three weeks made me feel pretty confident. My later works were a bit shorter, but much more polished. I guess I’ve sort of internalized the novel format of writing, as opposed to just banging away on the keyboard.
IDI – What inspired you to write Pumpkin Farmer?
MH – I attended college at Stanford University, near where my novel is set. That probably isn’t coincidental. I’d often go on driving trips around the San Francisco Peninsula, including some of its more rural parts. I used to drive through La Honda and out to San Gregorio, on the coast. During the fall, there are a lot of pumpkin patches in this area (even more a little bit to the north in Half Moon Bay). I thus got the idea to write about a wayward pumpkin farmer, hence the title of the book. I had already written four novels beforehand, but they were all set in the present. I wanted to write a novel set in an area with which I was familiar, but in a different time period. I’ve always had an interest in history and politics, but I wanted to set the book in an era close enough to the present for people to be able to relate (Pumpkin Farmer is set in 1979).
IDI – I believe we all have an unpublished manuscript or two hidden in a drawer. I call them practice stories.
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?
MH – I think they’ll find at least a bit. It depends on what book, of course, but I’ll admit that at least a few of my characters think somewhat like I do. I don’t know if writers can help it, to be frank. When I write, I have to anticipate how a character will respond to a certain situation. I think it is inevitable that some of my own quirks and reactions will seep into the narrative.
IDI – Who’s your target audience? What aspect of your writing do you feel targets that audience?
MH – Actually, just about anyone who reads fiction. Clearly, there are some people who prefer reading thrillers or horror novels, but I think my writing is a good fit for anyone who wants a good story.
IDI – Let’s talk about your process. What works for you? Give us a rundown of your ‘writing process’ from beginning to finished product.
MH – I usually have an idea for a book in advance, but it isn’t set. Eventually, I sit down to start writing, and I see what
happens. I don’t have an outline, just a general idea of a plot. I see where the writing takes me. The first drafts of my novels have taken between three weeks and five months to write. It just depends. The draft for Pumpkin Farmer, my sole paperback so far, took me five months to write, in part because I was working (I wrote the prior four books while in college or during summer break), and in part because I didn’t know how to end it at first.
IDI – In your opinion, what are the biggest misconceptions new authors have about the publishing industry?
MH – I’d say the biggest misconception is that it will take you longer to write the book than to find a publisher. I’d say that many times, it’s the reverse. You not only have to write the draft, but you have to approach a lot of agents/publishers.
IDI – What advice would you give to new/unpublished authors?
MH – It’s clichéd, but don’t give up. If you want to be published, you can’t worry about rejection. Keep sending queries out regardless of whether or not you think anyone will be interested. Do not be surprised if you send out over a hundred letters or emails and hear nothing back. Keep plugging away.
IDI – Define a great book.
MH – A great book is one where you come away and say, “I got to take some time to think about all of that.” In other words, it’s a book that has characters, themes, and situations that are at least somewhat out of the box.
IDI – We all know how important our online presence is. How much time/effort do you give to social media as a means of self-promotion?
MH – I give it a decent amount of time, actually. I don’t expect it to translate directly into sales, but I do believe it helps to get my name out there. I use Facebook to connect with family and friends with respect to my novels, as they are generally your most enthusiastic supporters. I use Twitter, as well.
IDI – One last question, Michael. Do you have any other works that are available/published?
MH – Yes. As I said, I’ve written six novels, but only two are currently published. The first, Loafing by La Brea, I self-published on Kindle. It tells the story of a young, unemployed college grad living in Los Angeles. As mentioned above, Pumpkin Farmer is available in both digital and paperback formats.
IDI – Michael, thank you so much for being here today. It was a pleasure. Best of luck with your writing endeavors.
For more information on Michael and his work, follow these links: