Author interview with Richard Due
Richard Due is mystified by the suggestion that he bears more than passing resemblance to Ebb Autumn. Additionally, he wishes to put to rest the rumors about his necklace he has been wearing of late, the one with the coin that spins in the brooch. It is not THE moon coin. It is a Moonbeam Children’s Book Award. Just google it if you don’t believe him! The author would also like to take this time to dispel the absurd notion that the three long-furred cats who live with him and his family are pocket Rinn, or that they can speak as well as you or I. Lastly, he would like me to assure you that these silly rumors an stories are nothing more than tales. (The taller the Better.)
Stephanie: Now to our delightful interview. Hello Richard! Thank you for chatting with me today and congrats on winning the B.R.A.G. Medallion. First off, tell me how you discovered indieBRAG and how you feel about the self-publishing industry.
Richard: I discovered indieBRAG while attending the 2012 Self-publishing Book Expo in Manhattan. And as to the self-publishing industry, I have mixed feeling. On the one hand, I’m thrilled about the digital color presses available today. I’d never have been able to create books with full-color illustrations without them. And I’m happy that Amazon is there for the ebooks. Amazon understands books in a way that the other e-sellers don’t. And Amazon is only getting better. When I started selling ebooks, in 2011, Amazon sold close to ninety percent of my ebooks. Now they’re responsible for about ninety-eight percent. That’s really been a surprise to me. On the other hand, marketing an ebook has been a challenge for me. Sure, I reach more readers every year. Yes, fans ask to be put on my mailing list every week. But when you’re trying to reach an audience, and you’re starting with a base of zero, that means beginning with very small numbers. And even if you double a very small number, you still have a very small number. Still, the future looks bright.
Stephanie: I noticed your book, The Moon Coin is part of a series. How many books are in this series and will there be more?
Richard: There are currently two books in the Moon Realm series, The Moon Coin, and The Dragondain, which I see as two halves of a larger book. It’s the same for the next two books, The Murk, and the Ninth Embasea. I tend to write these books two at a time. After those four books, there are more planned. I can’t wait to get to them.
Stephanie: Please give me a description of your story.
Richard: I don’t like giving too much away. That said, it starts in present day Pennsylvania, on an old tree nursery. Lily and Jasper Winter grow up listening to their uncle’s fantastic bedtime tales, about a place called the Moon Realm. When the tale starts, Lily are 13 and 14, and their Uncle Ebb has recently disappeared. While searching Uncle Ebb’s unusual house, they stumble on a coin embedded in a pendant that Uncle Ebb always wore at the end of a necklace. That night, Lily is unwittingly transported to the Moon Realm, but not the one from the bedtime tales. The Moon Realm she finds herself in is a dystopian version of the bedtime tales she and her brother grew up on. Here, all of the heroes from the tales are myths, and civilizations they encounter are shattered and broken. Even the magic that was such an important part of the tales is weakened or non-existent. And on one of the moons is a terrible villain, named Wrengfoul, who didn’t appear in any of Uncle Ebbs tales. So Lily’s first task becomes trying to get back home, which is going to be difficult, because she doesn’t know who to trust, nor does she understand exactly how she got to the Moon Realm in the first place.
Stephanie: You have an impressive cast of characters. Which one is your favorite and do you have a least favorite?
Richard: I like to read books with lots of characters, so it’s not surprising that I like to write books with lots of characters. One of my favorite characters to write is a malignant spirit that lives in a cursed sword, whose name is—fittingly—Curse. Curse makes my skin crawl. I don’t want to say much more, but Curse is very old, and has a very specific agenda that’s rarely beneficial to those unlucky enough to pick him up. But I think I’m going to have to say Nimlinn Goldenclif, of the clan Broadpaw. She’s the Queen of the Valley Rinn. The Rinn are cat-like, only on a much larger scale (think draft horses). Her mix of royal bearing (she’s so darn proud) and spunk always makes for an exciting dynamic—she plays by her own rules.
Stephanie: What are some of the relationships like between your characters?
Richard: Lily and Jasper are brother and sister, born one year apart. They live with their mother and father on the family farm, which in this case is an old tree nursery named Treling. Their uncle Ebb lives on the farm, too.
In the beginning, Lily and Jasper are quite close to their parents. But very quickly, they begin to wonder if maybe their parents have been holding back important information. They would love to confide in their uncle, in order to try and learn a little more about what’s going on, but he’s missing. They know they can’t go to their parents for answers, and so that complicates matters. For Lily, who has a lying problem but is trying to reform, dealing with the idea that her parents are lying to her is something she can handle. For Jasper, though, it’s going to be much more difficult. The idea that his parents might have been lying to him for his whole life, kind of pulls the rug out from under him. Who can you trust if you can’t trust your parents?
Stephanie: Your main character Lily and her brother, Jasper grew up believing they’re ordinary kids. How are they different from other children’s childhood and what are some of the challenges they face?
Richard: Like my own children, Lily and Jasper grew up on a farm. When farm kids are growing up, that distance to the nearest subdivision may be just a few miles, but it may as well be a hundred. As a result, Lily and Jasper are highly independent thinkers. They also understand chores, hard work, and that if they want something they may have to go out and do it themselves.
Stephanie: What are Lily’s weaknesses and strengths?
Richard: Lily has a lying problem. A problem that, for a very long time, she’s embraced. Only now she’s trying to stop. But it’s easy for her to slip back into it without even thinking about it because it works so well for her and she’s good at it. She’s understood, from early on, that people lie. That insight is good and bad. It allows her to sniff out deception more easily, and get at the truth. But that insight can also be detrimental when she gets her signals get mixed up. Lily is also a big picture person. Big picture people tend to think longer on complicated problems before acting. But when they do, they act decisively. Jasper, on the other hand, thinks tactically, and in the moment. This is great for solving immediate problems, or even medium-range problems, but he’s not a big picture person. Also, Jasper is unscrupulously honest. You would think that living with a sister like Lily that he’d have figured out a little more about liars. But Lily has been far too good a liar to give him any real practice.
Stephanie: What is it that you like best about this tale?
Richard: I like that the Moon Realm is this big, sprawling place, and that the characters who live in it are more connected than they realize. Like a lot of people who are struggling, they have everything they need but hope.
Stephanie: Please give me an example of what readers might come away with this story.
Richard: Hopefully, they’ll understand that one of the best ways to get things done is to get organized and work with others. When I read books where the main character saves the day single-handedly, it makes me cringe
Stephanie: Why did you decide to write children stories and what is most rewarding about it?
Richard: I have no decision in the matter. I write because I can’t not write. I wrote this series because the tale landed in my head, unbidden, and screaming to be told. And I am not motivated by rewards. Which is not to say there aren’t any. To date, my most rewarding moment came one day when I sat on our porch glider, with my wife and kids, as we paged through the bluelines for The Moon Coin. Bluelines, for those who don’t know, are what a printer sends you before the book goes to press. They’re generally printed on a slightly yellow stock, with the text in light blue (hence bluelines). Each page is loose, but exactly the same size as it’ll be when printed. It was also the first time I got to see a full-color paper mockup of the cover (I’d done black and white ones, of course), and the first time I got to see the illustrations printed in full color. Every time I would turn to one of Carolyn Arcabascio’s amazing illustrations, we would all make that sound people do when they see a really impressive fireworks go off. It was a magic hour. The other big rewards I get come in the form of the astonishing emails written to me by fans of the series. Not a week goes by without someone completely flooring me.
Stephanie: How long have you been working on this series?
Richard: I began in February of 2005.
Stephanie: Who designs your book covers?
Stephanie: Tell me a little about your writing process and what advice would you give someone who wants to write in the genre.
Richard: If you want to write in this genre, you have to read in this genre. As for my process, I start with a sentence or two for each chapter. During that time, ideas for whole chapters appear and disappear rapidly. When I’m really happy with what I have, I bring each chapter up to the length of a paragraph or two. The outline is still very malleable at this stage. It’s very easy for me to see what works and what doesn’t. I don’t move past this stage until I’ve created an idea I’m ecstatic with. I then relax my structure, writing two-page treatments for each chapter. But if a given chapter treatment wants to be longer, I let it go longer. If whole bits of scenes, descriptions, and/or dialog flow, I let it go and get it all down. At this point, I’m ready to make a draft. I open Scrivener (a popular novel-writing software) and create all the chapter files, putting my treatments in bold text at the bottom. I then get to the work of drafting. I look at that first sentence and write it out above. Sometimes a sentence can translate into whole pages of material. Other times, it’s just copies verbatim. After translating a sentence from the outline, I then delete it and go on to the next. As the outline disappears, the chapter forms above. When I delete the last sentence of the outline, the chapter is now complete. From there I move on to the next chapter.
After finishing a draft. I set it aside for as long as I can. Which isn’t hard to do. My first drafts are horrible things to look at, so I’m ready for a break. When I start editing, I make four or five passes in the computer. Then I print out onto paper (or a tablet), and make several more passes. Then it goes off to my first editor. We make another three to five passes, all on a tablet, and then it goes off to a second editor. When that comes back. I sit down with my first editor and we go over every single edit suggestion by the second editor. I have two really great editors.
Stephanie: Is there a message you would like to give to your readers?
Richard: Thanks for picking up my books and giving them a read. I hope you enjoyed your trip to the Moon Realm.
Stephanie: Where can readers buy your book?
Richard: You can order the paperbacks from your local Barnes & Noble or independent bookstore. Amazon and Second Looks Books have them too. The ebooks can be found on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and iTunes (although sometimes, when The Moon Coin is part of an Amazon promo, The Moon Coin will be temporarily unavailable on B&N and iTunes).
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A message from BRAG:
We are delighted that Stephanie has chosen to interview Richard Due, who is the author of, The Moon Coin, one of our medallion honorees at www.bragmedallion.com . To be awarded a B.R.A.G. Medallion TM, a book must receive unanimous approval by a group of our readers. It is a daunting hurdle and it serves to reaffirm that a book such as, The Moon Coin, merits the investment of a reader’s time and money.