Good morning, everyone! I hope you're enjoying your Friday, and looking forward to a relaxing weekend. My children started school this week, and we've been super busy. So, we too, are looking forward to resting this weekend. However, since it is Friday, it's time for another author interview! I've so enjoyed meeting all of these authors and asking the questions that pick their brains a little. LOL. How else will we get to know them?
Today's author spotlight is shining on Marcelle Cooper, an Indie author I met back in May. Unlike me, he started writing at a very young age. Oh, how I wish I had been able to do that! Check out the interview and find out what he has to say.
AJ: Good morning, Marcelle! I'm so thrilled that you agreed to do this interview with me. Let's just jump right in. First of all, can you tell us a little about yourself and your background that led you to become a writer?
MC: I grew up in Detroit, MI, and had a pretty normal childhood. I've always been creative, but I don't think I realized it until I was in my early teens, though I started writing when I was roughly eight years-old. My first passion was actually drawing comic books. Growing up on the anime and video games typical of a kid raised in the late 90's/early 2000's, I wanted to make my own superheroes with their own stories. It was my introduction to storytelling, and I hand-made several comic books with a couple of different superheroes. The issues even had overarching plots that I now realize were pretty darn complex for a kid my age. Alas, as I got a bit older, my artistic skills took a back seat to my storytelling skills. One day, I'd had enough my own bad drawing and decided to just write my stories instead. I completed my first book, a 30,000-word novel titled X Fighter, when I was thirteen years-old. I still count it as one of my greatest achievements. I've been a writer ever since, although I still doodle all over my notebooks.
AJ: I usually ask about your inspiration for your first novel, but since you've already answered that one, how about giving us the low-down on your second one.
MC: My first serious novel was "Slayer's Heart." I was only fourteen when I started writing it, so my motivations were pretty simplistic. I was really into Rurouni Kenshin at the time (still my favorite anime/manga) as well as The Legend of Zelda video game franchise. I created the character, Sufoh, as sort of a mishmash of both and set him out on an adventure with no real plot, purpose, or direction. Basically, I just wanted to write something cool. Ten years and five rewrites later, I think I achieved that.
AJ: Tell us a little about your writing process. Do you work from an outline, or do you prefer to see where the story leads you?
MC: I do a bit of both. I never outline the whole story, just the first few chapters. Even then, I'd hardly call it an outline. More like a list of events. For example: 1.) Dude goes to a grocery store and it's getting robbed. 2.) Dude stops robbery. 3.) Robber turns out to be his brother. That type of thing. Once I start writing, the characters sort of start to do their own thing and veer way off from the outline. After that, the story pretty much writes itself, and I might do another miniature outline if I get stuck.
AJ: Have you had much success in marketing and selling your books? If so, what tips could you give fellow writers who haven't been as blessed?
MC: I'd say I've had a fair amount of success. Since The Ending isn't out yet, I've only marketed/sold one book so far. So it's had the honor of going through all the trial and error. Lots of errors, but still some success once I got the hang of it. For my fellow writers, I've give them two P's: Persistence and Professionalism. Persistence in marketing is the most important thing. When I was constantly posting on social media and telling everyone and their mom about my book, I was literally selling books every day. When it comes to professionalism, shell out the cash to get your book professionally edited and formatted AT LEAST. Credibility is important at this stage, and typos are an immersion killer.
AJ: Do you have any interesting writing quirks? If so, how does it help your writing?
MC: I don't know if it's interesting, but music plays a big role in my writing process. I have playlists to set the tone for whatever scene I'm writing, and all of my characters have their own theme songs. It helps to place me directly in the scene or in the mind of the character. I actually have a playlist of my favorite writing songs on Spotify.
AJ: Do you see writing as a career? Or, is this just a hobby?
MC: Definitely a career. I consider my day job an extended fundraising effort for my writing business.
AJ: What’s your favorite book by your favorite author? And, why?
MC: Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. It literally changed the way I see the world, and it taught me that being both a Christian and an intellectual doesn't require cognitive dissonance. That was a really big deal for me, especially at the time I read it. I was 19 and struggling with my faith.
AJ: Who, or what, inspires your writing?
MC: Nowadays, my writing is inspired by questions. For example, I asked myself "If I could have a conversation with God, what would I say to Him? More importantly, how would He reply?" My novel The Ending is my way of working through that question. Writing is basically how I think about complex problems, and filtering my thoughts through the mouths and minds of characters helps me see multiple different perspectives without bias.
AJ: What has been the toughest criticism you’ve received as an author? And the best compliment?
MC: My toughest criticism has been that my writing doesn't appeal to a wide enough audience because of the genre. Not especially harsh, but no other criticism has really stuck with me the way that one has, especially since there aren't a lot of Black fantasy authors out there. My best compliment is easily when a complete stranger messaged me on Facebook to tell me he'd read my book and I was his new favorite author. You hear stuff like that all the time from friends and family, but that meant a ton coming from someone I'd never met.
AJ: What social media outlets have you used to reach your readers? And, which ones have you found to be the most successful?
MC: Facebook, Instagram, and Goodreads I find are the best place to reach readers and promote work. It's good to find groups of people who are likely to read your genre and just stay very active on all platforms. Goodreads and Facebook grounds geared toward writers are better for networking than actual marketing. More than anything, talking to people in real life will take you further than social media. Carry business cards and keep copies of your book wherever you go. You'd be surprised how many people will buy a copy right then and there if you have one on the ready (and your elevator pitch is on point).
AJ: How can readers discover more about you?
If you would like to find or follow Marcelle on any of his social sites, click any of the above links or pictures. Don't forget to stop by again next Friday for another author spotlight.