This is the first entry of a new series: Author Stories. I got the idea to interview more experienced authors as a way of showing my affection for their books and to learn from their insights. These authors will all be picked based on merit, and no favors or payment were exchanged. I thought new authors might be encouraged to persevere if they could see the exact steps it took for established authors to get where they are.
When I was editing The Almshouse, I decided to check out the market for ghost stories and haunted house stories.
It was originally for market analysis purposes, but I got distracted by a pretty book: The Haunting of Gillespie House.
I bought the book after reading the first two pages. It seemed different from the other books on the list, probably because the cover glowed blue. Most of the other covers (including my own) used colors with low saturation, resulting in a gloomy atmosphere rather than the feeling that something nefarious was happening in the back yard.
After reading the story, I ran into the author, Darcy Coates, in an online forum. She had written so many books, many of which are in the Top 20 of Amazon Bestsellers lists.
Last week, I asked Darcy if she could share her experience with new authors:
1. When did you start writing and when did you publish your first book? What inspired you to tell that story?
I’ve been writing since I was a young teenager. I started a lot of stories, but didn’t finish many! About two years ago I wrote my first ‘proper’ book, a novella called Ghost Camera. In Ghost Camera, two friends find a strange Polaroid camera that can capture spirits on film. I really enjoyed creating the story – it asks some questions that I’d find challenging to answer. If you had the ability to see what spirits live in your home, including the malevolent or angry ones, would you?
2. Why supernatural suspense/ thrillers?
I’ve always loved horror, especially ghosts and haunted houses. While my friends went to watch chick flicks at the theatre, I’d be buying tickets to Blair Witch Project or The Conjuring. I can’t explain why – it’s just a fundamental part of me, like the need to eat.
3. How did you get your first book off the ground? What was your first week like as an author?
I didn’t, and terrible!
It’s very, very difficult to find success with just one book out. Some supportive friends bought Ghost Camera during launch week, and I had a handful of organic sales which gave me the motivation to keep writing.
Following Ghost Camera, I published a series of short stories. But it wasn’t until I released my second novella, The Haunting of Gillespie House, that I began to earn an income from writing. Now that I have more novels and novellas available, Ghost Camera’s sales have also picked up.
(Blanche’s note: Up until this point, I had assumed Gillespie House was her first book. Silly me.)
4. What’s your favorite book so far that you’ve written?
Oooh, that’s tough! It’s like asking me to name my favourite child!
I had great fun with my latest release, The Haunting of Blackwood House. While it’s (as the name implies) a haunted house story, it also has a strong romance subplot and some humour.
5. How do you deal with criticism/low reviews/trolls?
Like death and taxes, one-star reviews are inevitable. The world holds a lot of people who won’t like your story, and eventually some of them will read it and leave a review.
It’s tough (especially the first ones), but the single best thing you can do is see if they hold any valid criticism, absorb the parts that are helpful and discard the rest, then get on and write the next story.
6. What other genres have you considered writing for?
I really enjoy writing other genres, even though the stories all contain horror elements. I’ll be publishing a series soon called Cymic Parasite Breach. It’s a sci-fi survival story that shows an alien invasion from the perspective of five unrelated women. I’ve also written gothic romance with the House of Shadows series, and a supernatural thriller with Dead Lake. That’s one of the things I love about horror – it blends with other genres amazingly well!
7. Any words of advice for new or aspiring authors out there?
I’m going to parrot advice you’ve probably heard a thousand times: read a lot and write a lot! Just like exercise will make you physically stronger, using your writing muscles will do more for you than a hundred How To Write guides.
And there you have it, ladies and gents: stories from Darcy Coates. Feel free to let me know if you have an author to recommend.