Armand Rosamilia. In celebration, this Sunday's interview features Armand, as well as Jay Wilburn, Jack Wallen, and Brent Abell. They have a new book entitled Hollywood Hellmouth. Let's find out more about them, and their work!
Is writing your full-time career?
Jay Wilburn: Yes, I left teaching and have been writing full-time for a couple years.
Jack Wallen: Yes it is. I wake up every day, do NOT get out of my pajamas, and lay fingers to keys for the majority of the day.
Armand Rosamilia: Yes. I’ve been writing full-time for over four years now and loving every minute of it. Living the dream as the young kids say. I know somebody says it.
Brent Abell: It is a dream for it to be a full time career and I hope over the next few years, I can reach that point. I might have to flip burgers in a fast-food joint to pay the bills between royalty checks though. Choices...
Do you see writing as a hobby or career?
Jay: Writing can be whatever you decide it is, but it is career for me. I've had opportunities to cut loose and go back to something respectable. I keep going out deeper and cutting my lines. I've passed a certain point that I have resolved myself to keep going until I drown and then continue past that.
In this discussion, I kind of equate writing with murder. No matter how much or how little you do it, whether you are expert at it or sloppy, once they start finding bodies in your yard, other people define you by it and judge your work.
Jack: This is definitely a career -- one I plan on taking me to my grave.
Brent: Right now since I write on the side, I have to view it as a hobby. When I started out, it was just a hobby, but now it has grown into a monster and it demands I make it a career. We'll see which way it goes in the end.
What made you decide to become a self-published author?
Jay: I love working with small presses and do so as often as I can. Sometimes you look at a project and think, this is mine. I'm going to put this out according to my terms and own the results.
Jack: Control. I don't want a publisher (large or small) trying to tell me where my stories should be going, what my covers should look like, or what to write next. Besides, no matter whether you go it alone or with a publisher, you wind up having to promote yourself anyway -- so why not benefit from the added royalties of being an indie author?
Do you feel that your material is different than traditionally published authors?
Jack: I do. I have bent and twisted genres in ways traditionally published authors couldn't dare attempt. That's another element of being on my own that I love -- I can create my own genres and write material that I truly enjoy and want to write. Take, for instance, Hollywood Hellmouth. This book is a unique piece of horror comedy that no publisher would think twice about -- and it would be their loss. This book defies categorization and is all the better for it.
Armand: Definitely, and I think we proved it with Hollywood Hellmouth. I just like to write a good story I want to read, and it doesn’t always fit into a nice, neat box or genre. Heck, even some of the subgenres are a bit iffy on a few of my stories. I’m not sure most of my work would be acceptable to traditionally published houses.
Do you deal with issues that traditional publishers don’t normally touch?
Brent: Anybody who reads the Hollywood Hellmouth book will see we deal with some pretty heavy issues that the four of us could only do by self-publishing the book. Publishers wouldn't know what to do with it.
Jack: I do. The last book I published was a part of my Fringe Killer series. That series has a gay secondary protagonist who is a detective and that book, Control, deals with domestic abuse in a way traditional publishers wouldn't dare touch. Plus, my thrillers tend to be on the brutal side.
What are you willing to spend money on as a writer? What aren’t you?
Armand: You need to spend money on a professional editor. Not an expensive one, a great one. Also cover art is key. I’m not very big on paying for advertising. I haven’t seen it work for me, but everyone is different. I will never pay for a review service or for someone to do a blog tour for me, since I’ve put them together for free myself a number of times.
Jay: Self-publishing, I save up money to use a professional editor and I'll pay for quality art. These add value to the writing. I have one project that has a soundtrack attached and we're investing in the recording.
Brent: Beer and rum. Oh, and the occasional book. I'm not really sure I understand the last part of the question, I'll spend money on anything...
Do you go to writing conventions?
Jay: I sell books. I'll rep a table for a small press that wants a presence and get into a convention that way. I've been a guest a few times recently. I have found that the networking has gotten me paying work with almost every one that I've attended.
Armand: I do because they are vital to authors. I’ve had so many great leaps forward in my career thanks to one on one meetings with publishers and networking with other authors, who remember you when a new project comes up. I go to Imaginarium in Kentucky and Mid South in Memphis as well as wherever World Horror Convention is. Spooky Empire in Orlando is another great one. I try for 4-5 each year if possible.
Jack: I do a couple. My favorite is Imaginarium here in Louisville, KY. It's a great event with a lot of wonderful people. I will also be doing Mid South Con. These events are crucial to networking with your fellow authors.
Brent: Last year I attended one and this year I will attend two. Before then, it had been since 2011 that I'd been at a con. I like them as a place to connect with readers and to network with other authors. In fact, Imaginarium, in 2014, is where the genesis for Hollywood Hellmouthcame about. Armand Rosamilia, Jack Wallen, Jay Wilburn, and myself met up and decided to become a gang for other cons. After some discussion, the idea of a round-robin style book for MidSouthCon 33 came about and it was quickly forgotten about until late last year when the idea was brought up and we took the plunge.
Do you write to music?
Brent: I write to metal of every variety. I'll fire up hair, death, or heavy metal every time I sit at the keyboard. The last few bands I've had playing in the background have been Ghost, Iron Maiden, King Diamond, and Judas Priest.
Armand: On occasion. I usually need some background noise but it can’t be anything I really like or it takes me out of my zone. Sometimes I’ll find a weird ambient thing on youtube and put it on really low.
Do you have any certain ideas or ideals that you try to instill in your work?
Jay: I try to include the complexity of humanity. I try to do a good job of showing opposing ideas between two characters and have both come out making sense from a character point of view even if I don't hold the idea myself. I try to do a good job of representing LGBT characters in my writing and characters of faith. I try to capture the darkness and light of small towns and the American South. These are recurring themes in my writing
Jack: Acceptance and truth are big themes throughout my entire body of work.
Do you blog?
Armand: Of course. I think every writer needs a blog and not just a static website, which most people these days ignore. Adding content is the key to keeping readers coming back, and I promote other authors whenever possible. http://armandrosamilia.com
Brent: Why yes, I do. One may find my blog at http://brentabell.wordpress.com. I think it is an important link to the internet word where you can connect with readers to keep them up-to-date on releases, project progress, and to just talk.
Jack: I do. http://www.jackwallen.com. I've been mostly doing video blogs lately. This is a way to speak to your audience in ways you can't do through fiction.
Jay: I blog to promote. I blog to articulate my own thoughts. I have been rereading Stephen King's novels in order and blogging my thoughts on those before and after I read each one. That has been to help me think more about my long fiction writing. http:// http://jaywilburn.com
What one person inspires you in life and in your work?
Jay, Jack and Brent: Armand Rosamilia. Without a doubt.
Armand: This might not be a real question and answer…