A rare native Floridian, he recently retired from a career as a full-time firefighter and part-time law enforcement officer. His twenty-six years of experience on the streets have given him a vast array of experiences; some good, some bad. His recent retirement allows him much more freedom to dedicate to his newfound obsession with the written word. His first book, “Letter From Hell,” is a complex horror novel with a little something for everyone.
1. What got you into writing / what made you sit down and actually start something? I am what I call an accidental author. One night as I lay in bed in the fire station, I was in that twilight stage between sleep and awake, when the idea suddenly came to me. I actually remember thinking, “Wow, this would be a really good book, or even a movie.” With that, I came home and told my beautiful wife Yvonne. She agreed, thought it was an interesting concept, and also thought it would be a good book or movie, if it was done right.
I recall asking Yvonne, an avid reader herself, if she knew of any authors that might want to take the idea and develop it. I just wanted to see the idea come to life. To my horror, she actually suggested that I write the story. I actually balked at the idea and said, “Are you crazy? I’m no writer.”
To my surprise, after reading the first chapter she told me, “This is really good.”
Of course, my response was, “Well, you have to say that. You’re my wife.”
But after much reassurance and encouragement, she convinced me that she really did like it and that she wanted me to continue writing. So, with Yvonne looking over my shoulder and allowing me to bounce every twisted idea off of her, before I knew it, within about two months I had written a 103,000-word novel. The rest is, as they say, history.
2. What is a usual writing day like for you, how is it structured? There is no typical writing day for me. I only write as I’m inspired. In no way can I just sit down and write, unless I’m inspired. When the inspiration comes, it comes in waves, and I can sit and write for fourteen hours. When it isn’t there, I walk away until it returns. I will never bloviate or force it.
3. Do you get writers block? If so, how do you overcome it? As I mentioned earlier, I’ll just walk away from it. Distract myself with another activity until such time as the “inspiration” returns.
4. Are you a plotter or pantser when it comes to writing a story? Without a doubt a pantser. I plan nothing. Thus, the inspiration must be there. I believe, especially for fiction, that being a pantser is more natural, at least for me.
5. Are you traditionally or self-published? Actually, a little of both. I’m with a hybrid publisher, Booktrope. Hybrid publishers actually combine elements of both publishing platforms.
6. What was the publishing process like for you? Any advice to aspiring authors? For me, it has been wonderful. The publishing part was easy and my publisher held my hand through the process. My advice is be patient and never give up. Easier said than done, I know. But I promise, if you’re a new author, the publishing part will seem like a walk in the park compared to marketing yourself and your work. By far, this has been the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do.
7. What has been your highlight since becoming a published author? Reading my first Amazon review from an independent reviewer. To know that someone read my penned words, liked them and gave a 5-star review was definitely the most exciting thing to me.
8. Can you share a little of your most recent book with us, including genre and targeted audience? My most recent, or as I like to call it, my first book, is a complex horror story. I refer to it as a creepy tale with something for everyone. You will probably experience every emotion possible. My target audience is anyone who likes mysteries, horror, and supernatural suspense.
9. What tip would you give to new authors when trying to build a fan-base / get followers and market their books? (What to do and what not to do.) As soon as I know, I’ll be glad to share. So far, my plan has been to just get the word out. Get people to read it, and if they like it, tell others. Word of mouth is what I’m going on now.
10. How long on average does it take you to write a book? I can only gauge by my first book, “Letter From Hell.” I was in the “zone” the whole time. It only took me two months to complete. I’ve been working on the book I’m writing now for several months. I have had several life changing events, like early retirement, keeping me busy.
11. Tell us about the book cover/s, how the designing came about, whether you had much input etc. I truly love the cover. My artist, Yosbe, really hit this one out of the park.
I wanted the cover to reflect a man in true anguish, in a desperate situation that seems hopeless.
Yosbe is a very busy graphic artist in Venezuela, and expressed that she did not have the time to read the entire book. I asked her to read the prologue and the last chapter. This would give her the feel for the book. After that, and bouncing a few ideas off each other, within two days she had a concept which ultimately became the cover you see today. Her design really captures all that I wanted it to convey without giving anything away. She is truly amazing and talented and far exceeded my expectations by creating a cover that really grabs your attention.
12. Apart from writing, what do you do in your spare time? I enjoy target shooting, traveling, fishing and spending time with my number one fan, my wife Yvonne. Without her encouragement, I would have never written my book.
My blog can be found on my website, mleemendelson.com. The site is full of interactive things for people to enjoy, and I plan to keep it fresh and interesting. So check it out, and check back often to see what’s new. There is also a link to send me an e-mail message. I would love to hear from my readers. My Facebook Author page can be found a @MLeeMendelson.
I’ve received a stunning copy of this book for review, so keep posted to hear what I thought! 🙂