5-STAR Fantasy / Sci-Fi

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Indie Author Interview: Richard Sharp

Indie Author Interview with Richard Sharp - Author of the Historical Fiction Crystal Ships.

Richard Sharp earned a BA from Harvard as well as a Masters Degree from Princeton, launching a career as an international development consultant before recently retiring.His work throughout the US and in over four dozen countries provides authentic settings for his fictional work.
He is the author of Jacob’s Cellar, Time is the Oven, The Duke Don’t Dance, and his most recent novel, Crystal Ships.

Interview with Richard Sharp

Author Richard Sharp
Author Richard Sharp
Alan Kealey (Indie Author News): What is your (writing) background?
Richard Sharp: I started writing fiction in high school, then was diverted to a consulting career in which I authored hundreds of non-fictional pieces from short reports to book length. I returned to fiction writing for pleasure in 1990 and began self-publishing on my retirement in 2011.

Who are your favorite writers, your favorite books, and who or what are your writing influences?
Isabel Allende’s writing, up to and including Paula, was the work that inspired me to return to fiction, largely through her treatment of the passage of time and how it changes her protagonists. I like to think that her portraits of women have helped bring my female protagonists to life. Among male writers I love Poe and Wilde, both writers of novels and poetry, who were able to imbue their novels with a poetic sensibility. My last novel, The Duke Don't Dance, was compared to Joseph Heller, Henry James and "Evelyn Waugh with a claw hammer," so I suppose they were other influences.

When did you first know that you wanted to be a writer?
Since high school. Whether in fiction or non-fiction, I am an observer who loves to translate those observations to the printed page.

Tell us about your writing process. Do you have a writing routine?
I prefer doing first drafts early in the morning when I am undisturbed, apart from the family dogs. Later, when there are sporadic interruptions, I turn to editing and research. I typically begin by settling on a critical "tipping point" that sets the tone of the novel, then work backward and forward from that scene. In Crystal Ships, that event is the assassination of Robert Kennedy and its effects on the protagonists.

"A novel is a marathon and you have to pace yourself."

What do you find easiest about writing? What the hardest? 

My novels are historical fiction and I enjoy the research. That is easiest. The hardest is avoiding impatience to finish. A novel is a marathon and you have to pace yourself.

Richard, please tell us a little about your Historical Fiction 'Crystal Ships.’
The title was inspired by The Doors’ song The Crystal Ship and the ancient Irish legend that reportedly inspired it. To the protagonists, a crystal ship represents one’s personal inspiration, an inspiration that may be shattered, leaving you adrift, desperate to find another vessel to take you through life. The metaphor is used to characterized the protagonists’ struggles to find their bearings in one of America’s most difficult eras -- a period that we now call the Sixties, Cold War, or Vietnam War era, but actually extended well into the Seventies.
The novel seeks to provide a balanced impressionistic portrait of a period in recent American history that has mostly been addressed in stereotypes or though narrow focuses on specific dimensions of a very complex period (e.g., the Vietnam War, the drug counter-culture, struggle for racial equality, sexual revolution, feminism, etc., etc.). Crystal Ships places the reader squarely in the midst of this complicated transitional time, following three male and four female protagonists with divergent backgrounds, perspectives and conflicts.

Crystal Ships (Richard Sharp)
Click to Read an Excerpt

What inspired you to write the book?
Well, I lived through the era and hate to see it reduced to stereotypes, especially since it was so rich in culture and so influential in subsequent social change.

Who do you see as your target audience and where can we buy the book?
Mostly college-educated, majority female readers. Those curious about "The Sixties," as much as those who lived through it. The novel is immersed in cultural detail and should be a good read for book clubs. Available through amazon.com and some other internet outlets.

What is unique about your writing style?
The total immersion in the culture in the period of the novel, the strength of the female protagonists, and the balanced portrayal of the characters' good and bad attributes, combined with a generally unrepentant attitude and often wicked humor.

How would you describe the success of your book so far?
The paperback has just been launched and the Kindle may be released by the time this interview is out, so it is too early to tell. My last novel relating to the same period won numerous Indie awards, so I am hopeful for this one.

How long did it take it to write the book?
A bit over a year.

Please, tell us where you self-published the book.

"CreateSpace is professional and has improved [...] "

How smooth went the self-publishing process? Any issues?
CreateSpace is professional and has improved its customer responsiveness, so I was quite pleased. It was important to me to publish on 22 November, the 50th anniversary of the JFK assassination, a major event in the novel. CreateSpace made that happen under very tight deadlines.

What are things to look for when self-publishing a book?
The main thing is to avoid the illusion that you will be treated as Stephen King or another best-selling author. Self-publishing is a high volume business and you are a customer of publishing services, not a high-value property.

"[...] you should always have at least two professional edits."

Did you hire an editor and/or Cover Designer for your book?
I used CreateSpace editorial and design services and retained an outside editor as well. I think you should always have at least two professional edits.

"Remember Hemingway's advice: 'The first draft is always crap (slightly paraphrased)' "

Can you give some tips for other Indie Authors regarding the writing and self-publishing process?
Remember Hemingway's advice: "The first draft is always crap (slightly paraphrased)"

Are you working on another book project? Can you tell us a little about it?
I'm considering three options, all historical novels --a novel with some of the same protagonists that extends into the 1980s, a different take on The Sixties or a follow-on to my last 19th century novels, set in the early twentieth century. I'll decide in early 2014

Are you planning to move forward as an Indie author or are you looking forward to have one of your next books to be traditionally published?
Crystal Ships was released as a Limited Edition on 22 November to honor the 50th remembrance of the JFK assassination. I will retire the limited Indie editions (paperback and Kindle)by the end of the first quarter of 2014 either to be replaced with a final Indie edition or to respond to literary agent/traditional publisher interest.

Where do you see the book market in 5 or 10 years? Will there be only eBooks and will book stores disappear like record stores disappeared?
I think there will be both hard copies and ebooks and that there will be more consolidation of book store. Book stores will survive as the multi-media outletsthe are already becoming. Smaller Indie book stores will probably also need to diversify.

Do you write full-time or do you have a day job?
Neither. I always wanted to be a hobo and retirement has allowed me to become one with a bit of a cushion.

How can readers connect with you?

- My website
- Goodreads
- Twitter: @Richard_G_Sharp

Thank you very much for the Interview, Richard.

About the Book Crystal Ships

Crystal Ships (Richard Sharp)
Click to Read an Excerpt
A sweeping saga of American idealism and disillusionment, Richard Sharp’s exquisite Crystal Ships traces the lives of seven friends through two decades of violence, hope, and cultural change. Sharp spins an epic tale that starts back in the heady days of the Kennedy administration, when Camelot appeared as a shining beacon of hope for all Americans. The assassination of President John F. Kennedy shatters that optimism.

As the years tick on, riots, more assassinations, drugs, gender conflicts, and the Vietnam War escalations come crashing into the country’s consciousness.The killings of Martin Luther King Jr. and Robert Kennedy in 1968, accompanied by personal tragedies, become a pivotal point in the protagonists lives.

Seven very different individuals live out their lives against the backdrop of these monumental events, unwittingly encapsulating the spirit of the time. The cast of male and female characters includes three men—a youthful striver from Boston’s Irish working class inspired by JFK, a Harvard-educated would-be poet of the drug culture, and a dedicated Vietnam War volunteer. Their four female counterparts are a rebellious and defiant dancer seeking to overcome sexual abuse, her repressed friend bound to pre-feminist conventions, a conflicted housewife-career woman, and a South African exchange student seeking the American dream. Their fallibility is sometimes humorous sometimes tragic. Each individual carries the burden of the times. Each seeks reconciliation with the traumas of that difficult era and new aspirations to carry them forward.

Crystal Ships may be seen as companion piece to Sharp’s prize-winning novel, The Duke Don’t Dance (See Book Feature on Indie Author News). That was an impressionistic portrait of the generation that lived through the Cold War period, told in a style one reviewer described as "Evelyn Waugh with a claw hammer." Crystal Ships is a dissection of the time period itself, ultimately standing as a novel for an era that is breathtaking in scope.

Links to the Book

Link to the Paperback Crystal Ships with Excerpt on Amazon

Link to the eBook Crystal Ships with Excerpt on Amazon

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