An Interview with M. N. SNow, author of The Helper
Everyone has a ‘first novel’, even if many of them are a rough draft relegated to the bottom and back of your desk drawer (or your external harddrive!). Have you been able to reshape yours, or have you abandoned it for good?
The Helper is my first novel and it was shelved for some time. I originally wrote the first draft, if memory serves, in 2004 or 2005. I then rewrote it a variety of times over the next four or five years. I’d pick it up for awhile and then stick it back in the drawer. After giving up on finding a publisher, say in the year 2010 or 2011, I put it way for good, or so I thought. Then in 2015 I was motivated to comb through it once more, update it and finally publish it in time for Christmas 2016!
Some authors are able to pump out a novel a year and still be filled with inspiration. Is this the case for you, or do you like to let an idea percolate for a couple of years in order to get a beautiful novel?
Writing does not come easy for me. I usually let an idea percolate, but that’s more due to writing laziness, than lack of ideas. My trouble is getting started and staying started. I do have two new novels that I have started and stopped. On one of them I am completely stumped as to how to continue. The second novel is one I will pick back up writing soon, I hope. I also have ideas for another three of four novels floating around in the background.
I have heard of writers that could only write in one place – then that cafe closed down and they could no longer write! Where do you find yourself writing most often, and on what medium (pen/paper or digital)?
I write on my PC, and only on my PC. So wherever it is, is where I write. The majority of my novel The Helper was written in a small motel where I was staying after relocating from south Florida back to Superior, WI. I stayed there during the winter while I was looking for an apartment.
However, if an idea comes to me, I’ll grab any writing utensil at hand and scribble it down before I lose it! Unfortunately that happened the other night. I woke up out of a dead sleep at about 3am and had a great idea for a novel. I lay in bed, half-asleep, thinking of it for a few minutes, and even after some thought it seemed like a good premise for a book. I fell back asleep and cannot remember the idea at all!!! So, once again, I put a pen and paper next to my bed so I can write what comes to me when I wake up.
Before going on to hire an editor, most authors use beta-readers. How do you recruit your beta-readers, and choose an editor? Are you lucky enough to have loving family members who can read and comment on your novel?
I’ll try to hook up with any beta-readers I can!!! Usually they are friends and acquaintances. If I trust their instincts, and respect their views I’ll ask them to be one of my “readers.” As to an editor, I’ve used people on the website Fiverr, as well as a friend who is a writer and teacher.
I walk past bookshops and am drawn in by the smell of the books – ebooks simply don’t have the same attraction for me. Does this happen to you, and do you have a favourite bookshop? Or perhaps you are an e-reader fan… where do you source most of your material from?
I am not an e-reader fan. I’d rather read a physical book. And I’m a public library geek!!! I enjoy independent bookstores, but I love public libraries. And the vast majority of books I read come from the library.
I used to find myself buying books in only one genre (fantasy) before I started writing this blog. What is your favourite genre, and do you have a favourite author who sticks in your mind?
I read in a variety of genres, but Magical Realism/Speculative Fiction would be my favorite, along with certain SciFi and Fantasy books.
As a child I read a lot of biographies—some sports, some general.
By adolescence I was starting to head toward sci-fi and horror. Stephen Kind was always a favorite of mine. I probably read The Stand seven times before I was 25. But also Catcher in the Rye was a biggie for me and The Drifters by James Michener. Voyage by Stirling Hayden really impacted me. Another book that really stayed with me was Valhalla by Jere Peacock—about peace-time Marines after the Korean war. The sections on “red-line brigs” alone was brutal but overwhelming.
Social media is a big thing, much to my disgust! I never have enough time myself to do what I feel is a good job. What do you do?
I don’t have anyone manage my work for me. What managing that gets done, I do. I don’t blog or tweet. I do have a Facebook page for my book, and of course, I love to have my book reviewed and mentioned in others people’s blogs, websites, etc.
Answering interview questions can often take a long time! Tell me, are you ever tempted to recycle your answers from one to the next?
I haven’t done all that many interviews, so I’m good so far! And the live ones I’ve done, for newspapers, etc, have all had a variety of questions so I haven’t had to repeat myself to much yet. I’ll gladly do it, however, as long as people are interested in asking me questions about my work!