A close friend and fellow indie author, ZC Bolger, is almost ready to publish his first novel, an awesome adventure book that is the first in a series. The title is Danny Calloway and the Puzzle House, and ZC is running a Kickstarter campaign to raise the funds he needs to properly publish and promote it. I have known ZC my whole life, and had the honor of editing the book.
He’s also the person who got me into the whole self-publishing world in the first place, and has the benefit of years of research into the topic. So I tossed him a few interview questions to get his perspective as an author in today’s self-pub world.
1. How long has the Danny Calloway writing and editing process taken? Give us breakdown of the steps you’ve taken and how much time you’ve spent on each.
Honestly, that’s a hard question to answer. It started five years ago when I first had the idea for a boy who could instantly break codes and ciphers. At that time I was mainly writing film scripts as a hobby, and halfway through the script I decided it would be a much better novel. I was teaching at the time, and with each chapter I would write I would read it to my class the next day. There were three particular students, “the musketeers” I would call them, who were the ones who pushed me to continue the story.
Over the next two years I got ten chapters finished (24 if you count that I lost the manuscript twice and had to restart from the beginning – I now backup in five different locations). Then another year went by with no movement. It was around my fourth year that I decided I wanted to pursue writing, so I took a job on a graveyard shift as a security guard, which would allow me time to write. I did that for one year and quickly found out that writing while working was rather difficult, and even more so when extremely tired. It was a year and half ago that I moved to Miami in order to devote time strictly to writing.
I got off to a slow start out here, but had my manuscript for my first book and the story arc for the rest of the series done within eight months. I by no means condone this time span. I look back at it and wish I had spent my time more wisely because I would probably have five novels out by now, but it is what it is.
Once I finished my first draft I did four revisions before I let anyone read it. Each revision took me a week or two depending on what else was happening. After my last revision I had a third-party proofreader to pull out glaring mistakes – which took another couple of weeks. From there I felt it was in pretty good shape. I printed up five copies and gave them to my beta readers, giving them two weeks to read them. I got great feedback and went from there into editing.
I jumped around from editor to editor until you offered to edit my book. You’re the most anal spelling and grammatical genius I know, so I jumped at the opportunity (I guarantee you’ve edited this entire interview to flow better). We worked on the first edit and finished it in a couple months, and we are at the tail end of the final edit now. So, in all, you could say that it has taken me five years to write this book, but if you were to break it down and remove all the crap that got in the way – well I would say no more than six months from concept to finished product.
2. I’ll choose to take “anal” as a compliment. Where did the idea of Danny Calloway come from, and how long have you had it?
I am not exactly sure where the idea for Danny came from. I think it probably resulted from teaching mathematics and daydreaming of a student who didn’t need help. I think I built on the idea of how cool it would be to do math instantly, and I soon had a boy who could break codes and ciphers without even trying.
I do, however, remember exactly how I came up with the puzzle house. I was reading an article in a magazine several years ago, and it was about a designer who had secretly built clues and secret panels into a condo he was remodeling. When he was done he handed the owners a simple clue but said nothing more. That led the family, over the next several months, on an adventure in their own home. I thought it was such a cool concept that the wheels started turning and I ended up with the puzzle house.
3. What’s been your favorite part in writing the book, and what do you see as your favorite part continuing throughout the series?
So far, each new area of writing and publishing has been so much fun to experience. I did recently realize that I miss the creation though. I was working on adding dialog to a certain scene – as suggested by my (anal) editor – and I found myself engrossed in the feel of getting to create on the story again. I have been in the editing stages for long enough to forget just how much I loved writing the story.
I think what I am looking forward to the most is the effect the story will have on the readers. I truly feel that kids and adults will fall in love with this series. I know how I felt reading Harry Potter and feeling like I couldn’t wait for the next book – I hope to bring that about with my story and its characters.
4. You’re running a Kickstarter campaign right now to help you publish the book. What does that entail, and why did you decide to go this route rather than just a straight-to-Kindle self-publishing plan?
I definitely am doing a Kickstarter and I’m super excited about it. It basically entails getting people to pledge whatever amount they can in order for me to reach my funding goal. I have set certain rewards for the pledges so, potentially, my backers could be preordering their books or getting cool merch based on the series.
There are two reasons I decided to do a Kickstarter instead of going straight to Kindle with my book. The first is I want to get my books into schools and libraries for children to read – as well as bookstores. In order to do this I have to not only print my book so that it can be placed on shelves of schools and libraries, but also I have to print my hardcover books with a second company so I can get them into bookstores. None of this would be possible by publishing straight to Kindle. The second reason is because the funds acquired through Kickstarter will not only publish my book but set me up to start an indie book group to help other writers become published authors. I am not interested in making money off of someone else’s art, but I am interested in seeing great stories get the professional kick in the ass they need to stand out in the indie world.
5. What’s next for you as a writer (other than the totally awesome, kick-ass YA series that you and I are going to write together)?
I have so many projects jumping around in my head that I really have my choice of roads. Besides our YA fantasy serial, which I am planning on starting in the next couple of months, I also have two short Danny Calloway stories to write, Danny Calloway Book 2, and a handful of children’s picture books that I enjoy writing on the side. Once I get those done and have some breathing room, I’ll probably jump into the YA Sci-Fi trilogy I have on the back burner and possibly a co-written book with a different spin on King Kong.
Thanks for the interview, ZC!
You can go donate to ZC’s Kickstarter campaign here, and you really should. You can also follow him on Twitter here, and you can like his author page on Facebook here.