The Jeff Ovall Interview
YELLOW30 SCI-FI”S INTERVIEW WITH JEFF OVALL AUTHOR OF THE END-TIMES THRILLER CHRONICLES OF THE HEDGE. A man who turned rejection into a dream and gives new meaning to why some authors self-publish.
1. THIS IS OBVIOUSLY YOUR FIRST NOVEL.
2. HOW LONG DID IT TAKE YOU TO COMPLETE YOUR MANUSCRIPT?
3. EDITING PROCESSES YOU INCORPORATE.
For my first book, the process was to write at home and to edit on the bus to and from work every day. I found that morning-reading was fresher and often saw things that tired eyes at the end for a day would miss. This process repeated itself for weeks with each chapter, until I felt the quality was high enough to show others for their input. Fortunately, a friend who I met at the bus stop every day and who was also a writer offered a hand in editing my work. I can’t over-emphasize the contributions that Tim made to my writing, and how grateful I will always be to him for helping a wannabe writer get his feet wet.
For my second novel, The Man Who Saved Christmas, the story came to me so quickly that within a weekend it was finished. I enlisted the eyes of a co-worker, who also aspired to be a fiction writer, to help edit my work. As with my first novel, the editing assistance was invaluable.
4. DID YOU CIRCULATE YOUR MANUSCRIPT TO MAIN STREAM
As with any author, I have the usual stack of rejection letters tucked away in my closet. The worst part is that most of these are form letters with no indication that the publisher actually read my proposal, much less my manuscript. That’s the nature of the business: with every success there could be pages written of disappointments; it makes the successes all the more enjoyable.
5. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE TO SELF PUBLISH?
For several reasons; some personal and some professional.
A major personal reason was that “as noted above”capturing the interest of traditional publishers was not having any success, and time was running out. You see, my father had been diagnosed with cancer and the prognosis didn’t look well. I wanted to publish my novel and dedicate it to him and my mother before it was too late. Going the traditional publishing route could take years –time I didn’t have. To be honest, I had never heard of self-publishing until a friend told me of a print-on-demand publisher, Xulon Press. I checked out their website, contacted the company and the rest is history. I dedicated my first novel to my father and mother. In fact, I was able to publish my second novel, The Man Who Saved Christmas, prior to my father’s passing. For that reason alone, self publishing was more than worth the time and effort, it was a gift!
6. WAS YOUR BOOK REVIEWED BY ANY TRADE PUBLICATIONS?
7. YOUR THOUGHTS / COMMENTS ABOUT THE WHOLE PUBLISHING
I used to think writing was the hardest part of any book. I have since revised my thoughts to more accurately reflect reality: Writing is the easy part; getting published is where the real battles lie.
Every short story, every article, every book, even every comic book I read as a kid, had an influence on me and encouraged that little spark inside to eventually get me to sit at a keyboard and write.
9. FAVORITE BOOKS – AUTHORS.
So many I don’t know where to begin:
Frank Perretti: Piercing the Darkness, The Visitation, The Oath
John Grisham: All his books!
Tom Clancey: All his books!
Robert Lublum: All his books!
Isaac Asimov: The Foundation Trilogy
J.R.R. Tolkien: Lord of the Rings
Terry Brooks: Shanarra Trilogy
Josh McDowell: Evidence that Demands a Verdict
Douglas Preston: Brimstone, Still Life with Crows, The Book of the Dead
Lincoln Childs: Brimstone, Still Life with Crows, The Book of the Dead
10. FUTURE PLANS – PROJECTS.
Continue to press out novels as life would allow between family moments and my day job.
11. ADVICE TO NEW WRITERS.
Throughout the two years of writing my first novel, I’ll never forget the sad story of Bill. Bill was a guy I met at work several years ago who, upon learning that I was writing a novel, confided in me that he too had written a novel, and that the manuscript was over 400 pages in length. When I asked to read it, he bashfully declined, saying he was afraid to let others read it because he didn’t want to deal with the criticism. After pestering him unsuccessfully for a couple weeks, I gave up. To this day I don’t think anyone has read Bill’s novel; it sits somewhere collecting dust on a shelf of lost dreams. The moral of this story, and the most important piece of advice I can give, is don’t be afraid to let others read your work. And when they do, be ready, in fact, be hopeful for criticism–it’s a key part of learning to write. Vulnerability is necessary to getting honest opinions; the more brutal, the better. And don’t take the criticism personally; it’s normally not intended that way, so learn from it and be thankful someone took the time to read your work to give you an opinion.
The second piece of advice is to repeat the words of O. Henry, a prolific American Short Story writer in the late nineteenth century, who said Write what you like; there is no other rule. In other words, the greater your interest and affection for the subject matter of your story, the more real and more enjoyable the story will be to others. Besides, let’s face it; relatively few writers are able to quit their day jobs and write for a living. So you might as well enjoy what you’re writing.