Today I got to spend a little time with best selling author Margarita Felices and ask about her new book Ordinary wins and the trials and tribulations of being an independent author.
Q. Thank you again for taking the time to speak with me today Margarita, do you mind me asking what initially drew you to write a book?
A. I have always liked to write. At school, I was always the one who would fill notebooks in English classes. After I left I began to write short stories for magazines and that paid my way through college. I took a break for a while and then started again because I had this story to tell and felt I had no choice in the matter!
Q. How long did it take you to write this book?
A. I write part-time because I work. I try to use any time that I have in work to just write a little and then I write before I go to bed in the evening for about 3 hours. So far my vampire trilogy has taken 5 years to write. It sounds like a long time but I took on a job that lasts 8 months and in that time I had no time to write at all. Plus I have written other stories to add to my portfolio. The book is featured today though is called Ordinary Wins and that one I thought about and wrote in less than two months. It took longer to complete the edits and work out the cover!
Q. What do you use to write your books?
A. Scraps of paper, I text myself or send myself emails. Depends where I am. I do use a Dictaphone when I am out and about doing any research and I need to write down descriptions of areas I am setting my stories in.
Q. Do you encounter any problems when writing?
A. We all suffer from Writers’ Block at some stage. I walk away from whatever it is I’m writing, I just leave it. Sooner or later something will come to me and I’ll be on a roll again. Music helps a lot, depending on what genre I’m writing depends on the music.
Q. How do you think you’ve evolved as a writer since you’ve started?
A. Definitely evolved. I read some of my older work and think of ways I can re-write them. I will do that someday. Also in the way I write, I’m a bit more descriptive these days and more patient. I don’t give myself any timetable, it will be ready when it’s ready.
Q. Is there anything you wished you’d known when you started writing?
A. I wish I’d known how tough promoting your work was going to be. It all looks so easy but it’s hard work and when you can’t do it full-time you have to try and grab whatever time you can to purge websites and blogs and all of social media. And the cost? I feel I’m working so that I can just hand it over to advertising agencies, I know it will work out one day, right now it’s very frustrating.
Q. Do you structure your plots or just go with the flow?
A. I am very structured. I have to be. Each page will have what is going to happen at that point. They are only sentences, sometimes it’s more descriptive but that helps. I’m not a go with the flow person.. before I’ve even put a word on paper, I know the start, the middle and the ending… sometimes just the ending! The rest of it is a journey that I go on with my friends.
Q. Do you work on a set amount of words per day or does it change?
A. No, you can’t do that it will drive you crazy! Writing should flow through you and that way your characters get the best lines from you. If you regulate yourself to a certain number you will only write to complete that task, and then most of it will be cut by your editor for having no feeling.
Q. Do you do a lot of research when writing a book?
A. Yes most definitely. Judgement of Souls is my vampire trilogy. The one I started first was the last in the story which was based in a Gothic/Rock club. I happen to attend one so I just based it on the people at the club, I’m sure some of them recognise themselves in it. For the second book it was taken back in time, a 300 year run of human history. Some of it was based on the French Revolution so I had to get dates, names, events right. Plus the story has two storylines, one from the vampire side who never age and the second from the mortal hunters who did age. So I had to get timelines for the generations.
I also based some of it in Malta and Rome, so I took myself to both of those destinations to get everything I was describing right. And the last of the trilogy takes place in the time of the Crusades so again, research is important. You have to have events, dates, names, everything right or why bother at all. For Ordinary Wins – well let’s just say I never reveal my sources.
Q. How would you describe your writing process?
A. Impulsive, chaotic, exhilarating, frightening and rewarding.
Q. What time of the day do you find is best to write?
A. If I can get time to write during the day I will. But mostly I write at night. I can spend around three hours writing on a work night (I start work at 10.30am) so as long as I’m in bed by 1am I can cope. On the nights when I’m not working the next day, I’ll write until I can’t keep my eyes open.
Q. Where do you draw your inspiration from?
A. I love my characters and they deserve to live. My mind is forever thinking about stories, if I don’t write them down and get them out of my head I’m not fit for normal life.
Q. What draws you to this genre?
A. I have always loved paranormal stories. I’m a vampire fan. It could be the Goth in me that likes the darkness or that I find them interesting and beautiful.
Q. Have you ever tried to write other genres?
A. Ye,s I’ve tried to write a story in many different genres, I quite like Ordinary Wins, it’s sexy, dirty and fulfills a lot of secret dreams and wishes.
Q. Which author would compare yours too?
A. One of my very first interviews was with Night Owl and they described me as a mix between Anne Rice and early Stephen King. How can I complain about that!?
Q. Can you relate to any of your own stories?
A. Ordinary Wins is extremely personal. There is a lot of me in that book, you just have to read it to see what I mean. There’s probably a lot of you in it too.
Q. How many books have you written?
A. Full length – two published and one is a work in progress. Short stories – five.
Q. Have you ever written in collaboration with another author?
A. Actually, I’m doing that now too. It’s a funny comedy/drama story set in the South of France. It’s hilarious and dirty. Probably have a first draft of it in a few months. Once my final vampire story goes for its first edit, I’ll get back into that story.
Q. Who designed your front cover?
A. All the covers are a collaboration between my publisher and me. For Ordinary Wins, I picked the picture I liked and their graphics team did the rest, I also added the tattoo on the model’s shoulder. I love this cover.
Q. Who was the first person you showed your novel too?
A. My sister read all the drafts, but once the book was in paperback I showed my Mum and sister.
Q. Have you ever dedicated a book to someone?
A. All my books have dedication. I dedicate them to the people who mean the most to me, mostly family, but Ordinary Wins was dedicated to my friends who inspired me enough to even write it.
Q. How do you market your books?
A. Mostly I promote on Facebook groups and Twitter. I post in blogs and on websites. I have even had a company in my hometown put up posters for me. The local libraries have my books and they hand out book markers advertising my books. It’s a hard business because people prefer to watch the films rather than read the books.
Q. How do you deal with bad reviews?
A. You can’t do anything about them really. I’ve read articles about authors contacting the reviewer and asking them to take down the review or even arguing with them. That can’t happen if you’re an author, you have to take the good and the bad. I had a review right at the start saying that there was a spelling mistake on every page! I was horrified because my editor is excellent and would have picked up any mistakes.
Then a day later the reviewer retracted the review because he’d realised that I was a British author and had spelt worlds the British way and not the American way. He did like the book which was good… another I’ve had asked if they had gotten the abridged version as it was short – it was listed as a short story so not sure what to say about that!
Q. Do you spend much time marketing your books?
A. I try to put at least one evening away every other week to promote on social media, sort out tweets. I hire a company to tweet my books and I place adverts on websites and blogs. It all takes several hours to do… but while I’m promoting I’m not writing which is why I try to do it on a schedule and why I pay for someone else to do it when I can’t.
Q. How do you get your book reviews/reviewed?
A. Bartering sometimes. Review swaps. Sending them out free to reviewers, I’ve hired a company to send it to a list of reviewers they have. I don’t buy the reviews, I know authors that do that and to be honest, you will be found out in the end and Amazon do remove them so what’s the point?
Q. Do you ever run free book promotions? Have these worked for you?
A. Yes but my agent has run it for me. But they have an agreement with Amazon to do this three times a year. It works pretty well. I’ve been in the Top 3 twice and my vampire books have been #1 in the vampire category for 7 months after the first release.
Q. Do you do all your own proof reading and editing?
A. I do read my work a few times before I send it off to my agent but they have editors and they check over my work and send it back to me so I can amend things. You need a good editor if you want to publish a good book. It’s the only thing if I was going to go down the self publishing route that I would spend on. A good editor can make the world of difference to a novel.
Q. How and where are you publishing this book?
A. I am published by Books To Go Now
Q. What are you reading at the moment? Which book do you have by your bed?
A. I’m not reading anything right now because I am writing. The problem with reading someone else’s books while you are writing your own is that you may – subconsciously – copy something from what you’re reading. So I stay away from anything until my work is finished. Right now the only books I have next to me are research books. Vampire Terminology / The Crusades / English Grammar For Dummies.
Q. Who is your best loved author?
A. I am a Anne Rice fan and love her Vampire Chronicle books.
Q. What is your favourite book to film adaptation?
A. Interview With The Vampire / Bram Stoker Dracula
Q. Where are your best places to read?
A. Anywhere quiet. But I love to read at home in my living room surrounded by my dogs.
Q. When you read do you prefer a book or a kindle/tablet?
A. I’m not that bothered which format to be honest, but I find my Kindle invaluable. I can carry around 100 books and not break my back on holiday. But is there anything like the smell and feel of an actual book? I think not.
Q. Do you have any advice for aspiring authors?
A. Don’t give up. If you have a story to tell, then tell it. You don’t have to write much, you can write 100 words a day and by the end of the week it’s 700, 2800 a month! Carry a notebook, those ideas come out of nowhere and at the most inconvenient times. It’s guaranteed you will have forgotten it by the time you get home. Don’t give up if you receive rejection letters, J K Rowling was knocked back for 10 years! And look what happened to her! Keep going, let your characters live.
Q. Wonderful! So what can we expect next?
A. I’m finishing off the trilogy and putting together a ten episode TV drama based on them because they have been optioned for a movie and I want to offer the studios 3 movies plus the TV series so busy busy busy. I’m also in the middle of writing another story with a friend of mine and we’re only in the first stage of drawing up ideas, notes and chapters.