It’s author Jerry Dubs on the blog today. He is the bestselling author of the Imhotep series. You can visit his blog at http://jerrydubs.blogspot.com/
1) Tell us a bit about yourself.
Well, I find that what people we meet find most interesting is that my wife and I are vagabonds.
After working as a journalist for 30+ years, I was able to take an early retirement back in 2009 (when I was 57). With our three children grown and out of the house, my wife and I decided to begin downsizing. Over the next couple of years we sold our house and began moving to increasingly smaller apartments, shedding furniture and other possessions along the way. Finally, in 2012, we sold or gave away everything except our clothing, computers and tennis rackets.Now we move from furnished rental to furnished rental exploring warm areas (we try to play tennis everyday). We have reached the point where we can carry everything we own.
We’ve lived briefly in different spots of the southeast – in North Carolina,South Carolina,Georgia,Florida – and in St.Martin. Right now we’re in Oregon for a few months, then back to North Carolina.
I maintain a sporadic blog about our journeys at: http://jerrydubs.blogspot.com/
2) Tell us about the Imhotep series.
Three modern-day, accidental time-travelers find themselves lost in ancient Egypt during a time of upheaval. Two of the characters are captured by an ambitious priest who is part of a plot to kill the king. The third traveler allies himself with the king’s sister,who is High Priestess of the sun god Re. Complications, romance, violence and assimilation ensue.
I spent a huge amount of time researching ancient Egypt to make sure I was describing the right foods, dress, and which gods were in ascendance at the time. I found translations of some of the prayers. In one of the later books (set in the 18th dynasty) I spent a week or so researching construction of Egyptian chariots.
I also spent a lot of time drawing timelines for the second novel, which included two overlapping time-travel trips. I wanted to play with the bootstrap paradox (and give a salute to the Dr.Who shows).
I had a lot of fun researching and plotting the stories. Reviewers seem to appreciate the historical accuracy and flavor.
3) Why did you choose to set your books in ancient Egypt? Any specific reasons?
Totally accidental. My wife and I went to Egypt on our honeymoon in 1980.While we were there I stumbled and fell into the carved out area for the sarcophagus in the Tomb of Kanakht. (I have a character re-enact that fall in the first book). Afterward, I began to toy with the idea of finding a time portal in one of these forgotten tombs. Once our kids were grown and I had more spare time,I decided to see play with the time-portal idea. At the same time the political landscape in the United States was becoming more and more polarized. So I decided that having modern characters in an ancient world would give me a chance to demonstrate how such opposite views of the same situation could happen.
4) How did you first get started in the publishing world? How long have you been writing?
When I finished Imhotep, I sent the manuscript to a half dozen literary agents. No one was interested. About that time, independent epublishing became possible so I did my homework,formatted the novel and put it on the market. After it started to sell and reviewers started to wonder if there was going to be a sequel, I decided to continue the story.
As far as writing …I was a reporter for decades, so I understood some of the basics of writing, I’m still figuring out the dynamics of plotting.I think there is a struggle between moving the plot with action and with setting the stage. The book I am writing now has a lot of interior action, so I am finding that to be a different challenge.
I look forward to my daily writing time (2 or 3 hours a day). My wife tells me that I get rather cranky if I go a few days without it.
5) Your books have many great reviews on Amazon. How many books have you sold? What do you believe is the reason for your success?
I’ve sold about 67,000 books and given away more than 100,000 in promotions.
When I first started selling Imhotep, I was charging $3.99. Then I read an article about a writer in Raleigh,N.C., who decided to drop the price of her book to 99 cents.Once she did that it started to sell. So I did the same. It worked. I suppose I could increase the price now that it has so many reviews, but I like the idea of offering a well-received book for so little.
6) Which has been your best marketing tactic so far?
I have used BookBub twice, both times with wonderful results. Basically every year I give Imhotep away for five days. (That is the 100,000 give-aways I mentioned earlier). It generates reviews, and readers who enjoy Imhotep buy the other books in the series.
7) Do you ever plan to co-author a book or write in another genre?
Yes to both.
My wife and I are working on a travel book about our recent 3-month stay in St. Martin.
I have written and published two novels not set in ancient Egypt: “Kaleidoscope” and “The Earth Is My Witness.” I have two other books books germinating in the back of my head: one about a guy who throws himself from an airplane and swoops through his life, the other is a non-fictional memoir of my mother’s childhood. I want to incorporate video, audio,photos, maps and text in that one.
8) Who are your favourite authors? Favourite books?
I grew up reading Mark Twain.I really enjoy Hemingway and Faulkner.I was devastated when Douglas Adams died, I can’t re-read his books often enough. Charlie Huston writes great books. I can’t resist Asimov and Bradbury. There’s a Canadian writer name Howard Akler who published a novelette called “The City Man” that is the most beautifully written book I have ever read.Deliverance by James Dickey bordered on poetry. Bob Dylan’s book “Tarantula” is a trippy book that I couldn’t read the first time I tried,and then couldn’t put down the next time I picked it up. The same with “Moby Dick.” My first pass at that I couldn’t read it. next time I loved it. I get hooked on Scandinavian writers, too. “The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo” series is wonderful.
9) What are you currently working on? What do you plan to release next?
I am 92,000 words into an ancient Egyptian novel tentatively called “The Broken Staff.” It begins the day that the last “Imhotep” novel ends. It is totally set in ancient Egypt – no time travel, however it does reference events in the Imhotep series. I am enjoying writing from an ancient point of view without any modern references. I hope to get it done by the fall.
10) What is the toughest thing about writing in your genre?
I have to pay attention to not letting any modern words or events color the story. I measure distance in the time it takes to walk it rather than miles or kilometers, things like that.
11) What would be your advice to new authors?
Be confident. I write in a certain style. Faulkner wrote in his style. Hemingway had his. Everyone has their own voice.
Take advice.I listen to what my early readers (pre-publication) tell me. Criticism helps.
Have fun. Writing can be very difficult -finding the perfect word, developing the best metaphor, tying up a plot without leaving holes. But if you aren’t enjoying it,the reader won’t either.
12) Anything you would like to add?
Don’ be discouraged. My earliest writing was for myself … playing with putting the right words in the proper order to convey what I felt,what I wanted to say. I have certainly enjoyed the good reviews of my books,but the person I want to satisfy the most is myself. I want to believe that my writing is honest and clear.
Thanks for the opportunity to reflect on all this.
A. J. Chaudhury is a young author from India writing mostly in the fantasy genre. His historical low fantasy short “A Song of Blood” releases shortly. Click here to download his fantasy novella “The Drabird” for free.