1. Enid, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell me a little about yourself as a writer. I see that this is your second book. How long have you been writing, and when did you get interested in Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth Bennet in particular? You know Pride and Prejudice very well and manage to weave the original plot into your story.
Thanks Vic for having me here. I first knew about Pride and Prejudice when I was 12 years old. I heard the story as a radio drama but the broadcast ended with Elizabeth Bennet revealing the news of Lydia’s elopement to Mr. Darcy in Lambton.
It felt like unfinished to me so I set out to find the book. In the end, I found it in the library and was ecstatic to learn that it had a happy ending. I just fell in love with the story and its characters after that.
I started reading P&P fan fiction and sequels about four years ago. Two years afterwards, after over 1,000 stories, I ran out of stories to read and started to write. From that 200-word modern story of Darcy and Lizzy participating in Dancing with the Stars (a reality dancing show), I have since written over 30 P&P inspired stories.
2. When I looked up your book, I ran across Lulu, your publisher, and was impressed with the site's straightforward manner of telling authors how much book packages cost and what they could expect. How do you find them to work with? Do they help you with sales?
Lulu is in fact one of my printers/distributors. My books were published by my own tiny publishing house Steamy D Publishing. Among the three print-on-demand companies I use, Lulu, Createspace and Lightning Source, I find that Lulu is the easiest to use.
You can in fact publish a book without spending a cent. You just need to make sure your cover design and interior text meet their requirements. Then you can have your own book online for sales within several minutes.
For Createspace (a subsidiary of Amazon.com), you can’t get the book on sales until you buy a proof copy from them. So your cost will be around $10 to $20.
With Lightning Source, the set up is more expensive and you need to buy a proof copy from them as well. You will be looking at spending around $100.In terms of distribution, Lightning Source’s channel is the most extensive.
But all three companies don’t offer free marketing.
3. How does the Internet help you to advertise your book and are your pleased with the results? What are some of the tactics you've taken to sell your book?
I set up the website www.steamydarcy.com December last year when I decided to publish my first book. I also post my wip (work in progress) stories there. I’m amazed with the number of readers visiting the site. They do urge me on with my books and writing.4. Do you feel you have more freedom in writing as a result of taking the self-publishing route? Or are you looking for a publishing book deal with a traditional publishing house in the long run?
With my first book In Quest of Theta Magic, which was originally written as a Pride and Prejudice fantasy, featuring a shape-shifting Mr. Darcy, I marked the book by requesting book reviews from bloggers. But it was quite difficult because I was a debut author and the book was self-published.
Then I heard about Blog Book Tour and joined a yahoo group to learn about how to organise it. It taught me:
I’m really very happy with the marketing of my second book. So far it is selling quite well and it received two excellent reviews.
- how to build a better web presence (using twitter, Facebook, blogging)
- network with blogging friends, plan a book tour
- using Goodreads, LibraryThing, Shelfari etc
- research for suitable blogs with high traffic; and
- suggest relevant topics to book hosts (for example I wrote about famous people named Wilson for a blog hosted by a guy with the same surname as I and I had another guest post about ancient recipe of the food I mentioned in Bargain with the Devil).
My sister’s sudden illness early last year was the major reason I wanted to publish my stories. Life is short and full of surprises. I submitted proposals to traditional publishers and agents at first but many of them said they would need up to six months to consider if they were interested. I thought the process was too time-consuming.
As I am not expecting to earn a living with my books, I’m happy to go down the self-publishing route. I can set the book price, I have 100% say on the book cover design and I see when the sales come in.
In fact, I’m amazed that people want to buy my books. Besides American, British and Canadian readers, I even got rating of my books from readers in Indonesia, Iran, Japan and other countries. I’ve been happy with how things go and haven’t been looking for traditional publishing house since.
5. Now, tell us a bit about your book, Bargain With the Devil. How did you come up with the idea? Did you brainstorm the plot with others, or do you work in isolation? Who does your proofing and editing, for your book is very "clean." I found no errors.
I normally work in isolation. But when I’m stuck with ideas, I usually ask readers in forums or go onto chat room. With Bargain with the Devil, the what-if scenario was in fact based on Lavender Girl’s A Shade of His Character. She has yet to finish that story. I love the what-if scenario she came up with but I took it to a lighter and funnier direction with Bargain with the Devil.6. I did not know what to expect when I started reading Bargain With the Devil, but I must admit I enjoyed myself. I will say, however, that I would not have taken Jane Austen's characters in this direction, but that is a personal choice. Readers who love some steam in their romance will find this story quite satisfying. I won't give away the big shocker, but there is one in the book. Weren't you worried that some people might be offended with the liberties you took?
Thank you for the kind words about the quality of the book. Theresa Jean was my first editor. She’s a Jane Austen lover so she helped me a lot with the Regency and plot issues. The final version was edited by Judy. She’s a professional editor and published author herself. Both of them make the story and the language so much better. English is in fact not my first language.
Yes, I’m worried that some people may be offended. But throughout the past two years when I posted my stories online, I know I have many faithful readers who love a steamier Mr. Darcy or a Pride and Prejudice with a twist. For me, writing P&P what-if, sequels or inspired stories is about extending my love of the story and its characters.7. Now, tell me about Sydney, your home city. I have never been there and am dying to see it. What are some MUST-SEE areas one must visit besides the Opera House?
For example I have written a modern short story with Lizzy offering to have Darcy’s baby because she’s ill and her chance of conceiving was running out soon. A reader emailed me after reading it, saying she has similar problem. And when she finally got pregnant, she kept me posted about it and the birth of the baby.
I’m thrill that my stories touch some people’s heart. I think by extending Pride and Prejudice to more modern or even science fiction genres, I’m converting non-JA readers to read Jane Austen’s books and help maintain their love for JA.
Sydney is a really beautiful city. People are friendly, me included when I’m not driving and in road rage. Most tourists will visit Opera House and Bondi Beach. But if you like history, you can spend some time at the Rocks, where the first settlers arrived. If you love the sea, you can take the cliff-walk from Bronte to Bondi. And you can have a taste of Italy in Leichhardt and a taste of Aboriginal culture at La Perouse. But I love Blue Mountains the most. It has history, legends, sadness, nature and character. If you do come to Sydney, let me know and I am happy to show you around.