Archive for March 14th, 2013

March 14, 2013

A conversation with author Darrell Pitt

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero

Earlier this week I promised I’d post an interview with Darrell Pitt, author of Diary of a Teenage Superhero. Here it is–and thanks again, Darrell Pitt, for your kindness in sharing your thoughts and experiences!

Do you always write in present tense, as in Diary of a Teenage SuperheroHow would you describe your normal style?

First of all, thanks for your wonderful questions. Diary is the only book I’ve written in present tense, although I think I will be doing more of it in future novels. It’s a great way to build the tension and give a sense of immediacy

I did something different with the later novels – The Doomsday Device and The Battle for Earth. In these, I’ve used past tense, but I switched around with point of view. These books use a combination of first and third person perspective.

Did you intend for your superhero books to become a series? Or did that just happen?

I wrote Diary as the first book in a series, but I also wanted it to stand alone as a single novel as well. The other books have been written in the same fashion.

Along those same lines, do you plot your work before you write, or just let the story develop as you go?

I plot beforehand. Essentially I come up with some broad structural ideas. Then I create a chapter by chapter breakdown. From that I write the book.

Now, having told you about the chapter by chapter breakdown, I sometimes go ‘off trail’ if the characters push me in that direction. I don’t slavishly follow the breakdown. In fact, even the breakdown is fairly vague. I don’t go so far as to subdivide it into scene by scene breakdowns. I like to let a certain amount of flow happen in the writing while still having a general map to follow.

How many drafts do you go through before you have a work ready to publish?

I’m doing less drafts as I write more novels, but that’s probably because I’m becoming a better writer. (My first book was rewritten twelve times and the end result was an unpublishable train wreck! My advice to writers? Write your first book and then move on to the second!)

I write (as Hemingway would say) a shitty first draft. That really just gets the story down on paper. Then I go through and give it a line by line edit. Then I go back again and rework it. By that point I’ve got something fairly finished. If I can, I’ll put it aside to give myself some distance from the piece before I go back and recheck it one more time.

How did you come to be a writer–including how and where you first published?

I’ve wanted to be a writer since I was twelve. I got some positive feedback from a teacher and knew from that point that I wanted to write for a living. Having said that, there’s no guidebook to becoming a writer. It happens differently for everyone. For me, the real turning point was when I developed a ‘magnificent obsession’ about it.

My wife and I had owned a cafe where we worked 70 hours a week, on our feet, for four years. It was an exhausting, disheartening business and we got into it because I thought it would give me more time to write! LMAO!

Finally we sold the business. This is when I was overtaken by my ‘magnificent obsession’ to succeed as a writer. After everything we had been through with our business, I wanted to be a writer more than ever – and I was determined to work at it until I succeeded.

I became a full time, mature aged university student studying a BA of Creative Writing at RMIT university in Melbourne. I’ve also been writing and self publishing my own ebooks at the same time.

BTW – my total earnings for writing was $320 up till the time I started self publishing my books. I earned $8 for a poem and $12 for a short story. They both appeared in small press magazines many years ago. After that, all through the years, I received contributor copies in return for getting published. In addition, I won $300 for first prize in a short story writing competition.

So, did I write for love? You bet!

Where have you had the most success selling your books? What do you suppose makes the difference?

Amazon is the leading retailer for ebooks – and with good reason. They are deadly serious about the business and have been quick to act where other businesses have been slow. I also use Smashwords because they distribute the books to all the other online retailers such as Kobo, Apple etc.

What makes the difference? From a short term marketing perspective – the cover and the price. From a longer term perspective, continuing to write and get books out there. Having one book out there is the hardest place to be. If someone loves your book, what do they then move onto? You need a second book, a third book and more to build up a reading audience. And your books have to be as good as you can possibly make them.

There are too many self published authors who bash out a first draft and publish it online. They give a bad name to all other indie authors – and they’re not doing themselves any favours either.

Please tell us more–as much as you can–about the major publishers now looking at your work. What series are they most interested in? Will you be publishing through a traditional publishing house anytime soon?

The name of the publisher will come out soon. I’m in the process of signing an eight book contract. They’re buying both my Steampunk Detective series and Teen Superhero books. They’re also buying a standalone humorous sci-fi book as well.

The first seven books are due to come out in 2014 with book number eight early the year after. Having said that, I intend to have more books written for 2015 so – watch this space!

What is the best advice you’ve ever received as a writer?

I was fortunate enough to meet Jeffery Deaver at the Sydney Writers Festival a few years ago. I told him about my aspirations to succeed as a writer as he signed a book for me. He wrote in the book, “Don’t ever stop.” He was absolutely right.

What is the best writing advice you’ve ever given?

This is a golden era for writers. There has never been a time like this in history where writers can create and self publish their own work and earn a living doing it. If you want to be traditionally published, that’s fine. But don’t sit around waiting for it to happen. Get your work out there. Get it into the public domain. Put it on fan sites. Self publish it. Sell it. Give it away. Just get it out there!

Prior to this publishing deal coming along, I’d already had a Hollywood producer contact me about the TV/film rights to Diary of a Teenage Superhero. That wouldn’t have happened if I’d sat at home with the book in my drawer. It happened because my work was out there.

If there’s anything else you’d like to say, any experiences or wisdom you’d like to share, please, just share!

Develop a magnificent obsession about your writing or whatever it is you want to achieve. It won’t happen unless you’re absolutely determined to make it happen.

Life is a lot like the Rocky movies. There are many people who will want to knock you down, but you’ve got to get back up again. The internet is a wonderful tool, but there are many haters and trolls out there. Ignore them! They will say horrible things about you, but you have to hold your head up high and keep on writing!

The person who will make it as a writer is the person who keeps on producing work while they continue to hone their skills and improve their craft. It’s the person who gets their work out there in the world and keeps on putting it out there while striving to build up a following. If you truly want to be a writer, develop a magnificent obsession. It’s your life. Live it!

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