Thursday, October 10, 2013

Straight From the Mouth of 'Dark Lullaby' Mayra Calvani

Mayra Calvani writes fiction and nonfiction for children and adults and has authored over a dozen books, some of which have won awards. Her stories, reviews, interviews and articles have appeared on numerous publications such as The Writer, Writer’s Journal, Multicultural Review, and Bloomsbury Review, among many others. When she’s not writing, reading, editing or reviewing, she enjoys walking her dog, traveling, and spending time with her family. She’s currently touring the blogosphere with Pump Up to promote her supernatural thriller, Dark Lullaby.

Thanks for letting us interrogate interview you!  Can you give us a go-for-the-gut answer as to why you wanted to be an author?

I can’t see myself doing anything else. Writing is my vocation. I was cursed—or blessed, however you want to look at it—by the writing faerie at an early age. I didn’t have a choice. Once you’re cursed, you’re cursed.

Tell us (we won’t tell promise!) is it all it’s cracked up to be?  I mean what are the perks and what are the demands?

I used the word ‘cursed’ multiple times, didn’t I? Draw your own conclusion.

But let me indulge you.

The perks? Being able to go to work looking like I escaped from the nut house; not having a boss threatening to fire me if I don’t show up every morning; getting away with schizophrenia. And, of course, egotistical creature that I am, swooning every time a reader tells me he or she loved my book.

The demands?

How about having an enemy inside my head—I sometimes call her Helga, a stocky German grandma with saggy pantyhose—telling me that my words suck. How about becoming an antisocial recluse? How about having to sacrifice precious time with my family and friends? How about agonizing over nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs—yes, I use adverbs…sue me!

Which route did you take – traditional or self-published – and can you give us the nitty gritty low down on what’s that like?

I’ve done the small press route and the self-published route—and I’m hoping to add the big NY pub route sometime between now and the day I keel over.

Dark Lullaby was originally published by Whiskey Creek Press, but after two years I decided to get my rights back and self publish it on Kindle and Smashwords. Finding the right people to format the manuscript and design a cover was a hassle. Not hard, just a hassle, like dealing with an annoying gnat. I’d rather have the publisher do the work. But it has been a learning experience and I don’t regret it.

Whether you go the traditional way or self publish, though, you have to be out there promoting your book all the time.

What’s the snarkiest thing you can say about the publishing industry?

You need to have a tough hide to protect your sanity and self-confidence. There are so many odds against you: your inner critic, long waiting times, negative criticism, and, of course, rejection.

Tell us for real what your family feels about you spending so much time getting your book written, polished, edited, formatted, published, what have you?

Let’s just say that some members of my family think that to spend two years—the time it usually takes me to complete a manuscript—working on a book on spec, without any assurance that it’ll ever be published, is total madness and addiction.

What was the craziest or insane thing that happened to you in the book publishing process?

The craziest thing? Hmm…I can’t think of anything. But I read somewhere that last year there were over one million books published in the US. Now, to have your book compete with 1,000,000+ others is pretty insane.

How about the social networks?  Which ones do you believe help and which ones do you wish you could avoid?

The only social networks I use are Facebook and Twitter, though I’m not sure to what extent they help sell books and I wish I could avoid both. Honestly, the time spend on social networks should be spend producing that next book.

Book sales.  Don’t you just love them (or lack of?)?  How are you making the sales happen for you?

Promoting a horror book is a challenge. In general, unless you’re Stephen King, Richard Laymon or Clive Barker, your book isn’t going to sell easily. Many bloggers and reviewers are wary of horror because they instantly think blood and gore. This isn’t always the case. There are so many sub categories.

At the moment, I’m taking advantage of October. Many readers enjoy a good scary tale around Halloween and are willing to take a chance that they normally would take at other times of the year. So I’ve been doing various promotional stuff, like going on virtual book tours, requesting reviews, and putting an ad on So far, sales and my Amazon rank indicate that all this is helping. But will I earn back all the money I spent on promotion? I guess I’ll know after Halloween.

What is one thing you’d like to jump on the rooftop and scream about?

I F$%#@&$ did it! I got the half million advance!!!!!!

Okay, too much sugar for you today!  Here’s a nice cup of Chamomile tea and come on over and sit under the cabana and watch the waves roll in.  Now…can you tell us what you love about being a published author and how all those things above doesn’t matter because it’s all part of the whole scheme of things and you wouldn’t have it any other way?

I love everything about being an author, with all the good and the bad that go with it. Creating something out of nothing is something that transcends writing. It’s a spiritual experience.

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