In Case You Missed It
Interview With Business Author Dennis AuBuchon
1. What type of books do you write? I write what I grew up reading – romantic suspense and romantic comedies. I’m one of those annoying people who believes that love really does make the world go ‘round! As a reader, I always gravitated toward those stories that combined a compelling mystery with a larger-than-life romance between two appealing, relatable characters—which is what I was going for with my first novel, JUST OUT OF REACH. I’m also a sucker for a great sense of humor (it’s one of my husband’s best qualities), so I really enjoy (reading and writing) stories that make me smile, even laugh out loud. Life is just too short not to find and appreciate all the humor there is in it! Bottom line, my ultimate goal as a writer is to give my readers not only an entertaining, adrenalin-filled ride, but the proverbial happy ending as well. (And what’s so wrong with a happy ending, anyway?)
2. What is your latest or upcoming book about? Funny you should ask! My second novel is a romantic comedy tentatively titled “Fate, Flatulence, and Fortune Cookies” (see what I mean?), and I'm just about finished with the first draft of the manuscript. It’s the story of Grace, a slightly uptight journalist who unexpectedly loses her job and is forced to take a temporary job writing fortunes for a fortune cookie company just to pay the rent. As if that weren’t bad enough, she meets Ben, the attorney for the fortune cookie company, under less than rosy circumstances, shall we say, and because of his amused, less than gentlemanly response to her accidental—and extremely embarrassing!—social transgression (hence, the title), she decides to give him a much-needed lesson in etiquette! Let the antics ensue! Meanwhile, Grace also starts receiving anonymous “clues” in the form of fortunes while she is working at the fortune cookie company, and realizes that someone at the company is trying to tell her something—but what? It’s a fun (and hopefully funny) love story with a bit of a mystery thrown in for readers to try and solve!
3. What inspired you to write it? I wanted to do something that has never been done before in the romance genre: take a rarely talked about (let alone written about) natural biological function (gulp!)—and one which normally makes most women highly uncomfortable—and turn it into something funny and endearing. In other words, I want my readers to appreciate how love always sees beyond the gawky, clumsy, inelegant part of ourselves and finds our unique charms. This novel basically reaffirms that something wonderful can come from even the most excruciatingly awkward encounter—from even the most disastrous of circumstances.
4. What did you do before you became an author? I was a business attorney for twenty years (up until last summer), but I never truly enjoyed my work. I picked the career originally because I thought it was an “acceptable” profession (that’s my dad talking) and that it would “fit” the image I was trying to (and thought I had to) portray: that of being an intelligent, I’ve-got-it-all-together-and-can-handle-anything woman. It took me twenty years to finally figure out that who I was on the outside wasn’t the person I really was on the inside, which was why I could never shake that underlying sense of unhappiness. I finally realized nothing would change unless I changed it, so I pounded out my first book in six months while still working full-time, then quit my “regular” job, self-published my novel, and finally became my true, authentic self. What freedom! I’ve always wanted to write but didn’t pursue it initially due to the lack of a steady income (my dad talking again), and because the particular genre I love (romance) was always getting a bad rap from the rest of the literary world (how could an intelligent woman like me even think of writing romance novels?!). But it’s the best-selling genre in the publishing industry, hands down, which should tell us all something: that love does matter, and that women—including me—can be smart and sexy at the same time!
5. How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? I'm self-published author, so I’m not sure that qualifies as being “published” in the traditional sense! But I mention this distinction only to show other struggling writers that being “published” doesn’t mean the same thing that it used to. No longer do we have to send out query after query after query just waiting for someone to decide our work is somehow worthy of a second look. Now writers have a multitude of options before them, and they can get their work published without having to get the “approval” of an agent or editor or publisher. And a lot of quality work is being self-published and sold now (and selling very well, I might add), which just goes to show that the opinion of these agents, editors, and publishers is not the final measure of a work’s merit or marketability/salability.
When I received my author’s copy of JUST OUT OF REACH and held my book in my hands for the very first time (my words, my story, in print—incredible!), I realized it was definitely worth all the years of waiting, all the years of wishing. It confirmed to me that anything is possible if you truly believe. Further validation of this is the fact that JUST OUT OF REACH received two awards from my publisher (their Editor’s Choice and Rising Star awards) and was also a quarter-finalist in the 2012 Amazon Breakthrough Novel Award contest. So my advice to struggling writers is twofold: (1) never stop writing (and never let the business of writing interfere with the pleasure of writing); and (2) never stop believing in yourself and your dream, no matter what anyone says.
6. Where do you see book publishing heading? I believe the traditional book publishing industry is going to continue to decline (because of the rise of electronic media, and because the traditional industry is no longer willing to take on any new, untried authors), while the self-publishing market is very likely going to continue to rise (I suspect exponentially so in the coming years), much like social media has done. I foresee electronic books (especially self-published eBooks) becoming a significant part of the publishing picture in the near future. Writers are just tired of waiting around for someone else to make their dreams come true, and being the resourceful lot that we are, self-publishing has now become a viable alternative, and it no longer holds quite the stigma that it used to. So go forth, writers, and publish!
- What type of books do you write? I write historical women's fiction, or what some would refer to as WWII love stories, each of them inspired by true stories.
- What is your latest or upcoming book about? Bridge of Scarlet Leaves, set in Los Angeles in 1941, features a violinist named Maddie Kern. In spite of her Julliard ambitions, she secretly elopes with her Japanese American boyfriend—the night before Pearl Harbor is bombed. When her husband, Lane, is interned, she dares to voluntarily live in the relocation camp, where she doesn't belong in either world. As Maddie strives for the hard-won acceptance of her new family, Lane risks everything he holds dear to prove his allegiance to America.
- What inspired you to write it? Years ago, an old family friend shared with me that he had fought for America while his brother served for Japan. I was captivated by the idea. But it wasn't until a decade later, when I'd found my calling as a writer, that I recalled his story and realized what a compelling premise it would make for a novel. Combined with my undying love for the U.S. miniseries "North and the South," I set out to write my book. But in the midst of research, I happened across an obscure mention of roughly two hundred non-Japanese spouses who had chosen to live in the U.S. internment camps by choice. I called my agent that very day and said, "This is it. I have my story!"
- What did you do before you became an author? Until a handful of years ago, when my grandparents' WWII courtship letters inspired me to pen my first novel, Letters from Home, I was the owner of a wedding/event-planning company and a PR Director of a dozen years. I was also a weekly TV host for the WB (I'd been hosting weekly programs since age nine—yes, it was a strange childhood!), so I really never envisioned myself as an author. Thankfully, I didn't know was I was in for, because I might have run screaming the other way and would have missed out on an amazing experience.
- How does it feel to be a published author? You mean the glamorous author life of having a personal assistant, chef, chauffeur, maid, and….oh, wait. That's just in my fantasies! Honestly, I won't deny how wonderful it is to hold a "real" version of my book in my hands and to see it on the B&N or Costco book tables. Also, the friendships I've made with other authors have been equally meaningful. But at the end of the day, it's a job—and not that much different than before I was published, writing and pitching and promoting away, but now with scary deadlines.
- Any advice for struggling writers? I would say, when it comes to literary critiques, treat feedback like a cafeteria line: pick and choose what works for you. At the end of the day, the writing should represent your voice. Don't let anyone edit out what is uniquely yours.
- Where do you see book publishing heading? Well, the last time I checked my crystal ball, it replied with: "Who the heck knows?" This is certainly the question just about everyone in the industry is wondering. As soon as we think we have a vague idea, the landscape shifts. I do believe (not that this is a profound thought) that e-books and the venues to reach readers will continue to rise steadily. Opportunities for authors will also increase, which is always a great thing. Where this will ultimately leave traditional players in the publishing field will be interesting to watch, as will seeing how they choose to evolve, which, of course, everyone—writers included—will have to do in order to thrive in the business, if not at least survive.
- What type of books do you write? I have published four novels for adults, all flirting with the Gothic genre: The Herculine Trilogy, comprised of THE BOOK OF SHADOWS, THE BOOK OF SPIRITS, and THE WITCHERY, and THE DRACULA DOSSIER. THE BOOK OF SHADOWS was a New York Times bestseller, and together the novels have been published in twelve languages to date. Recently, I published my first Young Adult novel, THE STRANGE CASE OF DOCTOR JEKYLL AND MADEMOISELLE ODILE, riffing on the Stevenson classic. Another YA is due to follow next year in the Shadow Sisters series. Meanwhile, I am plotting (literally) a return to adult fiction as well.
- What is your latest or upcoming book about? THE STRANGE CASE is something of a prequel to the Stevenson story. In the novel, a young Henry Jekyll acquires the transformative “salts” from a French peasant girl while both are trapped in the Paris of the Commune in 1871.
- What inspired you to write it? I was rereading the Stevenson novella at the same time that I decided to research the Commune and, voila, the great “What if…?” presented itself: What if a young Henry Jekyll, laughed out of London owing to his research into the “transcendental,” ran into a girl descended from the Cagot, a French clan purported to have witchly powers. And what if the girl did have powers, and Doctor Jekyll co-opted them to achieve his own ends? And what if… So it goes, till finally there’s a novel on the page. It’s always great fun, watching all the research and speculation transform itself into a story.
- How does it feel to be a published author? Any advice for struggling writers? Seeing a beautiful new book with your name across the front cover never gets old; and shame on me if it ever does. It’s an extraordinary thing to cull a completed work from one’s imagination, and I feel both fortunate and lucky to make a living doing so. I can only encourage struggling writers – and all writers struggle, all the time – to persevere. To read, to write and then to edit ruthlessly before rewriting. Set your work aside before revising it, too. For a month or more, if you can. It’s a great favor you’ll be doing both yourself and the work. Then, yes, persevere. And remember, you don’t have to achieve consensus about your work; rather, all you need is one agent and one editor to sign on, and then you’re off on the road towards a readership. That said, until you type “The End,” you’ve got nothing to work with. So, with a nod to Nike, Just do it!
- Where do you see book publishing heading? I don’t get worked up over the ever-moribund (or so they say) state of publishing. I follow developments, of course; but I choose instead to focus on content. I write, in other words, and let the business people worry about the business. Overall, though, it seems to me that publishing is going through a metamorphosis similar to that which the music business endured over the past few decades. Hopefully, we’ve learned from music’s Napsterish lessons and are better off for it. Time will tell. What we know for sure, though, is that capital-s Story will endure, and so the writer best serves the larger community – within and beyond publishing – by writing, period.