I’m honored to have an interview with Peter Adam Salomon on my blog today. His debut novel, Henry Franks, published by Flux in 2012, was named one of the ten ‘Books All Young Georgians Should Read’ by The Georgia Center For The Book in 2014. His second novel, All Those Broken Angels, was published in 2014 by Flux and was nominated for the Bram Stoker Award in the Young Adult Novel category.
I still have poems dating back to when I was 7. They are not very good. But after over 40 years of writing, mostly poetry, but also short stories and novels, I like to think I’ve improved. A little, at least.
Throughout the years, the same themes have always been evident in my writing: memory, identity, isolation, abandonment, religion, and others. I’m not really sure where those theme came from but they’ve been pretty consistent over the decades of poetry.
However, those first poems, especially in my teen years, had a heavy dose of teenage angstian (yes, I know, it’s not a word…but it should be and I plan to keep on using it until it is one) drama. Thankfully, I got through that phase relatively unscathed, though as I like to say now that I write Young Adult Horror: nothing is more terrifying than high school.
When did you first decide to pursue writing as a career?
After I graduated college, I took time off to finish my first novel. While it didn’t sell, I learned a great deal from the experience. As for wanting to be a writer, that was an ‘always’ sort of thing. Making a career of it, obviously, didn’t become a reality until my first novel sold.
You published your first novel, Henry Franks, in 2012. Please tell me about the events that birthed that work.
I’d written a number of ‘adult’ novels (in the thriller/suspense genre) that hadn’t sold and my wife suggested I write something our children could someday read. In trying to come up with an idea, I stumbled upon Frankenstein and started thinking about how to place that story, of a crazed scientist trying to defeat death, into a modern setting. In combining that idea with the concept of a child raised isolated from the world, knowing only what they are taught by someone who may, or may not, be telling them the truth, I ended up with the story that became Henry Franks.
You have been lauded many times as an author. What are some of the awards that mean the most to you, and why?
Without question, the Bram Stoker nomination for my second novel, All Those Broken Angels, means the most. I am a proud member of the Horror Writers Association and that nomination from the HWA thrills me to this day. Especially since that was such a personal, difficult to write novel that I knew would have a lot of detractors. The ‘voice’ of the novel is so unique and extremely poetic, which makes sense because I basically threw out all the typical, standard ‘rules’ of fiction writing (no run on sentences, no sentence fragments, no repeated words) and replaced them with the ‘rules’ of poetry. It made it very intense to write, and I knew people would either ‘get’ the style I was using, or they’d hate it. I’m ok with that. So, the honors for that book are incredibly gratifying.
Your latest book is PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners. Please tell me about the events that birthed that work.
With my first poetry collection (Prophets, though when it’s re-released it’ll be re-titled PseudoPsalms: Prophets), I had a more general ‘biblical’ overtone, relating back to those themes in my writing of memory, identity, religion, etc. So when it came time to put together my second collection, PseudoPsalms: Saints v. Sinners, I wanted to focus in a little more, not only on the negative/dark/horror elements of those themes (‘Sinners’) but on the lighter side as well (‘Saints’) so the collection contains both dark poems and light.
With my third collection, (PseudoPsalms: Sodom, due in 2017 from Bizarro Pulp Press), I’ve taken these themes even further into the darkness and, at the same time, this collection contains something different than anything I’ve ever written before in the entirety of the second half of the collection, which you’ll have to wait to find out about.
What projects will you be pursuing next?
In addition to the new poetry collection, my agent currently has two novels and one picture book out on submission with a third novel hopefully to be going out shortly. The novels are YA horror/sci-fi and, yes, they all deal, to some extent, with those same themes.
Hopefully, in early 2017 I’ll start writing something new…just not quite sure what that will be yet.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
In addition to ‘read, a lot’ which is pretty popular advice, I like to talk to aspiring authors about ‘attitude’ because I feel as though that’s something that gets left out a lot.
Attitude is vital in this business, as it is in any. Specifically, it is very important to never lose sight of the fact that publishing is a business. And not just any business. It’s a creative business. And it is VERY slow.
Patience is a virtue. And it’s vital. There’s a lot of waiting, which gives the author time to write more. And to keep writing more. So that the waiting doesn’t drive you up the proverbial wall.
But attitude goes far beyond that in this business. Because, and this was hard for me to learn, not every first draft is brilliant and publishable. I kid. NO first drafts are brilliant and publishable.
What that means is simple: Learn to LOVE the editing/revision process. Love it and embrace it and then love it some more.
Because you will be editing/revising for FAR MORE TIME than you’ll be writing. Yes, you should celebrate finishing a first draft. But then, get to work.
You’ll be editing and revising that first draft until you’ve lost track of which draft number you’re on. Then, and only then, you’ll need to send that polished manuscript off to beta readers. Who will give you vital feedback and critiques. And, again, your attitude is priceless. Those beta readers are taking time out of their lives, from their writing, to help you make your work better.
Appreciate them. Treasure them. That doesn’t mean you have to take every suggestion they make, it’s still your work. But you need to accept their help with a great attitude so that they’ll want to work with you again.
And then, guess what? You’ll have more editing/revising to do with all that precious feedback you’ve received. Then, and only then, will it finally be time to think about querying an agent. And then, you land an agent. Celebrate again.
And then, that agent will send you their feedback and critique on your ‘polished manuscript.’ And, yes, you guessed it…more editing/revising. With a GREAT attitude. Always.
And then, after you’ve spent even more time editing/revising, your agent might decide it’s ready to go out on submission. Time for more celebration. Even more celebration after it sells. At which point, the editor at the publishing house that just bought your novel will send you an editorial letter. Yes, that’s right. Still MORE editing/revising.
So, I’m telling you now: LOVE the process. Love every bit of it. Love the people helping you to make your book the best it can be. Thank them, sincerely and genuinely for their help. Attitude is that important. Or the editor won’t want to work with you again. And might talk about you to other editors, who won’t want to work with you. Why risk it, when loving the process is simple.
That’s what I tell aspiring authors.
And always keep reading. Keep writing. Keep dreaming. Dreams, after all, come true. I know.