Shells Chats with author Pembroke Sinclair
What's your background with writing?
I started writing back in high school. I had an English teacher who really enjoyed my writing style and encouraged me to pursue the art. My fiction writing started as a competition between me and some others on the swim team. We never actually had our writing judged by anyone. I was also a writer (under my real name) for Western Farmer-Stockman for 3 years, and I have some articles in Serial Killer Magazine (again, under my real name). I’ve also had several short stories published in various places.
Who are your inspirations/influences?
I draw a lot of inspiration from Piers Anthony and Kurt Vonnegut Jr. I also really enjoy Christopher Pike, both his adult and YA novels, and Max Brooks. I’m a member of a book club that meets once a month, and I find myself reading a lot of books and genres that I wouldn’t typically read. I find that some of those books inspire/influence my writing. In particular, one book I hated (which I won’t name by name, but was about vampires) had a huge influence on how I portray teenage characters in my latest novel. I am also influenced by TV and movies, which you can see in my first novel, which was influenced by Star Wars and Blade Runner.
As authors, we tend to put our emotions into our writings, do you ever feel at times drained from writing one of your stories because of the emotional impact it may have?
To be honest, no. Even though emotion does play a huge role in my writing, I tend to focus on science fiction or fantasy or horror, so there is a perceived distance between what I write and how I feel. I do find that I sometimes leave out details or emotions in characters because they might hit a little too close to home, but I usually try to fix the omission when I revise. Most of the time, I try to portray my characters as humans, and since I don’t always have the right or noble reaction to a situation, I try to give that same reaction to my character. It can be difficult, but, again, I try to distance myself through genre and it doesn’t leave me drained.
What do you feel is your biggest accomplishment as a writer?
Oh, gosh. That’s a hard one. Really, I just think that getting anything I’ve written published is a big accomplishment.
You're a freelance editor for Sonar4 Publications, how does that different from writing stories for you and which one do you find harder?
I definitely find writing harder than editing. The nice thing about editing is that the rules have already been created, so I just have to apply them to the piece I’m working on. I don’t have to flex my creative muscle quite as much. Plus, I really enjoy reading and fixing other people’s work.
There was a time when all I wanted to do was edit. It was a dark time when I believed that the only thing I could create was crap, but I still wanted to be involved in writing in some form. I figured the best way to do that was to use my grammar skills and help other writers. I’m a nerd. I’m one of those people who gets excited when the new version of the Chicago Manual of Style comes out.
I have found that writing and editing compliment each other. While it’s possible to be very successful at either, I think that combining the two gives me a unique perspective when editing works. Not only can I fix the grammatical/mechanical part of the story, I can offer suggestions to make the story better, assuming it needs it. I also feel privileged and honored to be able to see the works before the rest of the world. Makes me feel special!
You wrote some non-fiction, how do you compare that to fiction writing?
I’m not sure that you can compare nonfiction to fiction. The work I do requires interviews and research or working with movies. You can do the same in fiction, but there’s not as much pressure to make sure you get your facts right. The big thing with nonfiction is that people want to know you’re an expert. They want to know that you’ve researched every angle and know exactly what you’re talking about. In fiction, you don’t have to be that good. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve done research for fiction before, but I don’t have to showcase that research as much as I do in nonfiction. I actually really enjoy writing both, and I think both genres help my writing skills.
You also are doing audio segments of your fiction work. What is the fiction you are reading and where can people listen to this?
The fiction I am podcasting is my new Young Adult zombie novel, “Life After the Undead.” You can listen to the chapters on my blog at http://pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com/p/audio.html.
Can you tell us a little bit about "Coming from Nowhere?"
“Coming From Nowhere” is my first novel. I started working on it when I was in high school. It has gone through several different rewrites before it got to its final stage. It is the story of JD, who wakes from a coma to find herself on Mars. She remembers nothing of her past, and her only desire is to figure out who she is. Through the course of the novel, she finds herself as a pawn between a rebel group and the government they are trying to overthrow. The story is an action/adventure sci fi story. Like I mentioned before, it’s Star Wars and Blade Runner combined, as they were the inspiration for the story.
What was it like working with the publisher you have and where can we find out more information on them?
It was actually very interesting working with my current publisher. When I first submitted to eTreasures, it had a different owner, but she had to sell the company due to health problems. I tell you, it was a wild, weird ride. A few weeks after submitting my story, I received a rejection. Nothing new, so I moved on with my life. Then, a few weeks later, I received another email that they wanted to publish the story. As you can imagine, it was a little confusing. I sent an email, asking what was going on, and she told me that the first email I received was from a new reader who wasn’t supposed to say anything without a second read. Apparently, it had gone through a second read and they liked it. The only stipulation of publication was that I had to remove the passive writing.
I sent the book off to an editor, who removed my passive writing, then sent it back to the publisher. I waited another few weeks, then received an email that said the reader thought the story read like a newspaper article and needed to be rewritten. The publisher told me that she would like to see the new version. I flipped. By this point in time, I had received close to 100 rejections, and I had already signed a contract, which specifically stated that I only had to fix the passive writing. I sent an email, not-so-delicately explaining my position, and the publisher sent a not-so-delicate reply saying she’d look into the matter. Needless to say, the book still came out. However, I’m pretty sure the old publisher thought I was one of those hard to work with and demanding authors, which I’m not. I think I’m actually pretty easy going and flexible.
The new publisher has been better to work with. Currently, we are discussing my YA zombie novel, but things seem to be on hold for the moment because of the holiday season, which is completely understandable given how busy everyone is. I will keep you updated on any developments.
You can find information about eTreasures Publishing at http://store-67a3d.mybigcommerce.com/
Who was responsible for the cover/book design of your book?
I don’t really know who was responsible for the book cover. The old publisher sent me an email one day with 3 choices and I picked one.
Do you have any stories from book signings/radio interviews/etc.?
Not really. I did one book signing that was pretty much a flop, and one radio interview that was just a blast. You can listen to it here: http://www.blogtalkradio.com/sonar4magtalkshow/2010/06/06/the-other-world-of-pembrooke-sinclair.
I was actually really, really nervous before the interview. I had been scheduled to do one months before, but due to technical issues, no one could call in. I had rescheduled and was supposed to be on the show in 3 months, but things got messed up again, so I had to wait until June, which was 5 months after the first scheduled interview. By this time, I thought for sure the stars were aligning against me and I wasn’t supposed to do the interview. That was only compounded when I called into the show and couldn’t hear the host on the other end. It was awful. My heart jumped into my throat and I was about to burst into tears, but things worked out. It turned out to be a ton of fun.
What projects do you have planned for the future?
As I mentioned, I’m talking to the publisher about my YA novel, and I am currently working on a nonfiction book about slasher films. My goal is to have it done by March, but at the rate I’m going, I don’t know if I’ll be able to reach that deadline!
Any advice you would like to give to new writers who may not know how to approach the publishing world?
Make sure you research each and every publisher you plan on submitting to. There are a lot of shysters out there, and they will take advantage if they can. Also, persistence, persistence, persistence. You will receive rejections; it’s part of the game, but don’t let them get you down. It only takes one yes.
Where can people know more about you?
You can read my blog at pembrokesinclair.blogspot.com and I have a Facebook page.
Posted by Shells W