It’s my pleasure to interview fellow Alabamian John Wayne Cargile,as the featured website. John is promoting his new book.
“The Cry of the Cuckoos,” released today no less April 1, 2009, no it isn’t an April fools joke, seriously, you can read excerpt on his website The Cry of the Cuckoos an intriguing mystery novel of suspense and murder set in Midfield, Alabama.
John has taken the bull by the horn,and built a website to help promote his book. His book will be online in a couple of days at Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million so keep checking with your online distributors, or pick it up locally.
So as a fellow Alabamian, I asked John some rather pointed questions. Read his response.
1)You’ve spent 40 years working for others, when did the idea for the book surface?
I have known since I was a university student that when I retired I would write novels. That has been my goal most of my life. I began as a journalist in the 60's and 70's, then opened a publishing company in the 1980's in Birmingham, Alabama. I was a printer for companies needing printing, but I also produced two slick magazines. I became a managing editor for a publishing company in Tuscaloosa, Alabama in the late 80's before creating my own company, Creative Services, in 1990. The company was designed for my work. I was publisher for a number of magazines, edited freelance work sent for publication, and sold advertising. I calculated my career in writing and publishing beginning in the 60's. The book, The Cry of the Cuckoos, surfaced only three years ago.
2)How long did it take you to write the book?
I've had the book in my mind for a long time. My biological mother who lived in Texas was divorced from my father in 1946. She was forced to give up custody when I was 1 1/2. Before she died, we spent hours on Instant Messenger talking about her life and mine. I have over 200 pages of conversations between the two of us. I began writing the book in 2007, but it was an historical romance novel with the setting in Texas between a soldier and a female civilian who meet at a dance hall in west Texas. But, after my mother's death, everything changed. I decided I wanted to write something contemporary and upbeat. I didn't know at the beginning it would be a mystery novel. When I began the story it just unfolded like I didn't have control of it. I completed this version of the book within six months, but the foundation was laid long before. I talk about being in the zone below.
3)How many revisions did you go through? Are there any ideas you would like to share to those aspiring authors about the process of revision?
Revise, Revise. Revise. This is very important. I believe I cut out nearly 8,000 words before I felt the story had been told. A professional editor is essential, and I hired one to set me on the right tracks. She didn't have much to edit, but it gave me a sense of my unique voice in writing. I cannot tell you how long I spent reading and re-reading the story. In fact, now, I don't want to read it again, but I probably will. I am writing its sequel.
4) Share with others your thoughts on social networking, Twittering, Facebook, Blogging, building a website to promote your novel.
I didn't know much about using social networking until I got into the marketing stage of the book. Now I am all over the Internet. I've joined so many writer's groups, I forget sometimes what group is what. I'm on Facebook, MySpace, Twitter, and Gather.com. I was only last week named as an administrator at Red River Writers on Facebook. I built my own website, which is not eloquent, but it gets the job done. I created a book trailer, which I thought was impossible. It is adequate, but I didn't have to pay a professional to create it. I created a blog for the novel, and offered readers an opportunity to read the first chapter to get some reaction. I learned long ago as a journalist that if you don't capture your audience within the first three paragraphs, you most likely will lose them right there. They will put the book down. I received a great review before the book was published, and it is on one of the first pages after the dedication page, which was to my late mother and step-mother who actually raised me. Both of them are characters in the book, but with distorted and flawed characters that neither had.
5) Do you belong to a writers group? If not what are thoughts on belonging to a writers group?
Writer's groups are great, however, you take what advice they give you some times with a grain of salt. Everyone has a sense of how a book should read, and readers have odd tastes. I belonged to a critique group and became very frustrated. I learned from my publisher that you can have 10 editors sitting and reading your script and you will have 13 interpretations. It got to be too much, so I left the critique group.
6) Any general thoughts you have on the subject of writing?
There is writing, then there is writing. I've seen a lot of people blogging and to them that is writing. Journaling is writing. But not the type of writing a publisher is looking for. I could write a lot of deep, thought provoking pieces on the subject of metaphysics. Would it sell? Probably not. I decided to become a commercial writer. If it is worth writing, I wanted to make money for my efforts. One of the best books for commercial writers is "Techniques of the Selling Writer," by Dwight Swain, published by the University of Oklahoma Press. I hold a doctorate degree in metaphysics, and some of the thoughts and conversations in most of my writings deal with metaphysics in some facet.
7) What you would like to share about your novel, the process of writing?
Getting into the zone. People have heard that athletes get into the zone and are able to do things they didn't think was possible. I hardly ever get writer's block because I have trained my brain through the art of meditation to toss away things you don't need. You place them in the recycle bin. Use only what is necessary. My novel has been reviewed and the reviewer, I thought, said it best. He said my writing was crisp, direct and engaging. You won't find flowery words flowing constantly off the pages of my book, You'll find engaging conversation between characters. Actually, the dialogue between characters tell the story for you. You let your characters dictate what will happen next. You won't be far off if you let the characters take over your story.
As an Alabamian, and a southerner, I find our state has very few resources for the aspiring author; do you have any thoughts on the subject?
You mentioned the state of Alabama doesn't have resources for writers. I don't understand. We have the same resources as any writer on the globe. The South has produced some great writers, including Alabama. It doesn't matter where you live to become a writer. You can aspire to write, but a writer needs to write. He is an eccentric in most cases, and a loner. He wants his place on Earth to be marked when he passes on to the other side. Here stands old Joe, who was an author. God Bless His Soul. He has left someone, somewhere a legacy in his own words. He might not be famous or on the New York Times Bestseller list, but he had to write his stories. He didn't aspire to write. He had to write from a psychological and philosophical point of view. These type writers write from the soul.
I’d like to thank John for taking the time out of his busy writing schedule for this interview and to say too everyone out there reading this, go buy his book.