Author Interview: Bill Cokas
Please help me welcome to my blog today, author Bill Cokas. He is the author of two humorous suspense books. Thank you, Bill for coming by.
JS: You published a book in March (Battle Axe) and one in April (Ring of Fire). Congratulations! Can you tell us a little about both of them?
BC: I wrote them over a six-year period (and am now working on my third novel). Ring of Fire was agented for a couple years, but never found a home. Since then, publishing has blown wide open, so I figured, why not try it without an agent? Ring of Fire has its roots in my dual career of advertising and teaching college students. Battle Axe was inspired (but in no way reflects) my recent experience of being “found” by my birth mother (yes, I’m adopted). They’re both humorous suspense novels with quirky characters and an offbeat, sarcastic voice.
JS: What are you working on now?
BC: A middle grade adventure novel tentatively titled “Opposite Day,” where an eighth-grader inadvertently stumbles into a parallel—well, perpendicular—universe that lies just beneath the Earth’s surface. Luckily, I’ve got a couple of beta readers in the house. Other (adult) humorous suspense novels are on deck after that.
JS: What made you decide to write a novel?
BC: While I’m lucky enough to do something creative for a living (writing/advertising), I needed an outlet for a longer attention span than a 30-second commercial or a web banner headline. I’m much more comfortable with words, so I opted for novels vs. screenplays.
JS: Where did you get the ideas for your books?
BC: From observation—my own life, those around me, and the locales I see when I travel. I see fiction as a means of “mental” travel, so my goal is to write stories that will literally transport a reader into another time and place—and ideally, mood. Pure escapism.
JS: What made you decide to go with self-publishing?
BC: As I said, I had an agent for Ring of Fire, but the market was getting tougher and tougher, and while he had a few bites, he couldn’t place it. While I was writing Battle Axe, the publishing world went through such an upheaval, by the time the dust had settled, I was ready to take the plunge solo.
JS: Did you send out query letters?
BC: Literally hundreds, and I kept every single one. Wanna see them?
JS: Did you always want to be an author?
BC: Indirectly—I always wanted to be a cartoonist, which involves writing dialogue. Once the dream of syndication fizzled, I was writing advertising professionally on a daily basis, and found I was enjoying the purity of words.
JS: What do you like best about self-publishing? Least?
BC: Most: the utter and complete control over everything. Least: the utter and complete responsibility for everything. I know it’s not a new complaint, but it’s really sad all the writing time I spend marketing and social networking.
JS: How are writing comics different than novels? The same?
BC: Different: instead of sustaining an eight-second attention span, we’re talking about days or weeks. The same: it’s still about solid ideas, story arcs and well-rounded characters. And making sure every word is there for a reason.
JS: What advise would you give to any aspiring authors?
BC: Well, I wrote my first two without much fanfare, but these days, you can let the world know you’re writing a book and literally build up a community (i.e. audience) before it’s every published. So I’d recommend having a website/Facebook page/blog, and putting your stuff out there for feedback/critique/fawning over as you go (that is, if you don't have some solid beta readers or a writers’ group to fall back on). Wattpad, Backspace and Absolute Write are great sources for this. This will get you comfortable with the networking and interaction that will be so critical and inseparable from your life as an indie author.
Chocolate or vanilla? Vanilla….with lots of toppings.
Beach or mountains? Definitely beach, although in North Carolina, I’m lucky to be 2 hours from one and 4 hours from the other.
Coffee or tea? Coffee in the morning. Sweet tea in the afternoon.
Last book read? The Rising, Brian McGilloway (Irish crime author)
Favorite author? Carl Hiaasen
Most played song on your iPod? “Everybody’s Talkin’,” Jimmy Buffett
Favorite movie? Raising Arizona
Favorite food? Pizza
Outliner or panster? Outliner to a fault.
Hard copy or e-reader? Reading my first e-book as we speak.
Hope you enjoyed this interview. Sound like something you want to put on your must read list? Do you know Bill?
Thanks for stopping by. If you are an author who has been published either traditionally or self and would like to be featured on my author interviews, please contact me at JessicaLSalyer(at)gmail.com