Meet Shalini Boland

It’s the first day of school here in these parts, and as I write this short intro to today’s Q&A with featured debut author, Shalini Boland, silence has taken hold of my house. I had forgotten it could be this quiet. Nothing but me and the raindrops. Could I miss them already? :)

Name: Shalini Boland

Name of book: Hidden (Marchwood Vampire Series)

Book genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Horror

Date published: March 15, 2011

Publisher: Me!

What is your day job? Make that day jobs, plural! I look after the house and my two young boys as well as running the admin/accounts side of my husband’s copywriting business. I also have a couple of PR clients, and I write novels.

What is your book about? Hidden starts off in gritty urban reality but soon ramps up into historical adventure, creep-tastic horror and romance across time. Madison Greene is in foster care until she inherits a fortune. But she also inherits something else along with the money, something dangerous that should have stayed hidden…

What would you say is the most challenging part of writing a book? Some days you might be too busy or feel too tired to write, but you have to make yourself sit down and start putting words on paper or your book will never get written. I usually find that once I start writing, I never want to stop.
What motivates you to write? The stories in my head (similar to the voices, but less insane-sounding). If I have a great idea for a story, I can’t write fast enough.

Did you experience writer’s block? Usually talking through the plot/scene with my husband can help overcome a block. Just verbalising the place I’m stuck can get the story going again. Also, listening to a piece of atmospheric music can create a good mood for writing.

How long did it take you to write this book? It took me six months to write the story and another six to complete the editing process. It was a steep learning curve though, and I hope the next book won’t take as long.

Why did you decide to self-publish? I did the whole submissions process, landed a successful agent and thought it would only be a matter of time before I got a publishing deal. Wrong! My agent was too busy for me. I had some interest from a few large publishers but they all had bite marks in their necks from an excess of vampire stories. Eventually I had an offer from a smaller publisher, but decided to go it alone. I’m glad I did – I have total control and 70 percent of the profits instead of the 5 to 10 percent I could expect from a publisher. On the downside, the workload involved is phenomenal, and I realize now that those publishers really do earn their money!

What is the biggest misconception about writing a book? That there’s a magic formula writers follow. In my experience, everyone goes about it differently.

What was your favorite aspect of the writing process for this book? I was consumed by the characters and the story. I lived in their world and didn’t want the story to end, which is partly why I’ve planned out two more in the series.

What tools/methods have you employed to promote your book? What advice would you give to writers regarding promotion? I use everything I can to promote my novel. If people don’t know it exists, they won’t buy it. I use social media to connect with people, but not to force-sell them my book. Blog giveaways/interviews are great to raise awareness, and I also have my own blog. I’ve given away copies to bloggers and reviewers. Hidden has its own Facebook page so people can give me feedback and keep up-to-date with news. I’ve sent out press releases and had a few articles in local newspapers, combining these with a book signing. I could promote 24 hours a day if I had the time, but then my next book wouldn’t get written, so a writing/promoting schedule is important.

How has life changed for you since the publication of your book? Initially I was always checking sales and reviews and they almost dictated my mood. Now, I’m a little more chilled about that side of it. I’ve met some fantastic people – both fellow authors and fans. I feel like a legitimate author now that my books are selling. Before I was published, I was “writing a book.” Now I’m “a writer.”

My favorite last question: Oprah once famously said that there is no such thing as luck, without preparation and a moment of opportunity. Would you agree or disagree with regard to your own success as a writer? To a certain degree. You could also add that luck is a lot about who you know. If you don’t know someone to give you a leg up, then be prepared to work very hard, have a lot of self-belief and learn how to recognize opportunity.

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