Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Interview with Dominica Malcolm

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                                         Her latest book--->

Welcome Dominica Malcolm, how are you today?
Excited and nervous. I have no idea what to expect from launching my first novel!

Tell us a little about yourself.
In my creative lifetime, I've dabbled in stand-up comedy, filmmaking, writing, and more. It tends to go in waves with me, and I'll return to interests over time, but I'm usually pretty dedicated to one or another at any given time. For the last few years, it's been writing, with only the occasional dip into filmmaking when I got to shoot a couple of music videos in Hawaii. The one filmed in February last year is still in the editing phase because I've been focusing on Adrift.

I'm a dual Australian/American citizen, but presently live in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. My parents were born in the US, but they moved out to Australia before I was born, so that's where I grew up. I moved to Malaysia in 2008 when my husband was offered a job here. It's been a great base for my other major hobby – travelling. I love visiting and experiencing other countries and cultures. My most recent trip was to Kerala, India last month. Some of my experiences around the world make it into my fiction, but I more commonly blog about my travel.

What is your favorite book/genre to read?
It's probably a toss up between contemporary (with a bit of romance) and speculative fiction. The best books I've read this year were Love Virtually by Daniel Glattauer – a novel told entirely through emails – and Dark Matter by Brett Adams, which I'd classify as a cross between speculative fiction and mystery. I was also a big fan of the Harry Potter books, and though they would fall under fantasy, they would also fit into the broad speculative fiction umbrella I use.

What genre is Adrift?
Speculative fiction. In this case, it's a combination of contemporary and historical fiction with time travel, pirates, and mermaids.

Tell us a little about your novel.
When I meet people in person who ask me this question, I usually start off by saying, “It's about a female pirate from the 17th century who travels through time into our time period.” Though the first chapter starts in the 21st century, I alternate the time periods each chapter, so you can learn about the experiences Jaclyn Rousseau (my protagonist) had prior to her time travel. She's not very forthcoming with that information with the people she meets in 2011, but it does shape many of her decisions. It eventually leads up to an explanation as to how she got from 1661 to 2011. And, if having a lady pirate who travels through time wasn't unique enough, her main lover is a woman.

Where did you get the idea for Adrift?
When it started out, it was just meant to be a short film screenplay I could shoot with a friend of mine. He's an actor, amongst other things, and I wanted a chance to act opposite him. I had the makings of a sexy pirate outfit and he suggested I write a character like that for myself. From there I thought about logistics of what I could film on no budget, which meant filming something in the modern world. Out of that grew the idea of a time travelling lady pirate. I also really wanted to write something I had never heard of anyone writing before. I like being different.

Is this the first book you’ve written?
Yes.

How long did it take you to write it?
If you count from when I started the first screenplay to when I finished editing, then about two years and four months. But the bulk of the writing, which included converting the screenplays and writing until my first completed draft, it was a little over a year.

I know this is not strictly a romance novel but when talking to you it seemed important for you to have a realistic lesbian/bisexual relationship within the story. How do the relationships between your characters differ, to you, from other LGBT fiction?
To be honest I don't pay attention to whether or not I'm reading strictly LGBT fiction. It may not differ much at all. I just, personally, don't think that books that happen to have LGBT characters in leading roles need to be labelled as LGBT fiction, like it's only a niche interest. I know plenty of straight people who are interested in reading non-straight characters.

Can you tell us a little about the process it took to get to the point of publishing Adrift?
Aside from writing it? I'd been researching a lot of things like what was the best way for me to get the book out into the world, and how to promote it and so forth, as I was writing it. This sometimes meant I was procrastinating pretty hard instead of writing, but on the other hand it's made the lead up to launching my campaign on Indiegogo (
http://igg.me/at/adrift) run pretty smoothly, because I knew exactly how I wanted to go about it.

I had to think about my goals as a writer, and my own personal beliefs. This meant I preferred the idea of self-publishing than trying to seek out a traditional publisher. I did have days of self-doubt that made me wonder if I should try, but ultimately I decided I preferred to have control over the cover design and what I could do at a higher royalty rate. I'll be donating 20% of my net profits to the World Literacy Foundation, which to me feels easier to do when a chunk of the royalties aren't going to a publisher. I contacted the foundation last year to make sure they would be okay with me aligning my book with them this way and if they would be interested in sharing links with their followers if I did.

Now, technically I do have a publisher attached to the book. Solarwyrm Press was named by my writer friend Jax Goss, when she wanted to start her own publishing company. I got on board so we could cross promote and help each other out with the books we want to publish ourselves. She ran a crowdfunding campaign on Indiegogo for Solarwyrm's first book, Fae Fatales: A Fantasy Noir Anthology, and I helped out with that campaign, both in the back end running of it, and promoting it. That experience helped me know what to do when it came time to launching my own.

I procrastinated again during the editing process by working on my cover design. I wanted to make it myself, but I have a friend who is a graphic designer who helped guide me through the process and offer advice for improvements. The photography used is a combination of a photo of the New York skyline, taken by me in 2009, and photos my husband took of me in silhouette as Jaclyn at sunset on a beach in Port Dickson, Malaysia. The cover I eventually went with was not the first one I worked on, though. Getting the right design was a long process. I had other photos of myself as Jaclyn that were much more obviously me, and some people who offered me feedback didn't think it was such a good idea for me to do that.

When most of the design was done, and my friend got too busy to help, I finally went back to editing and finished making changes I felt needed to be made, and that had been commented on my those I had sent the first completed draft to for feedback. It's now in its final stage of editing: being proofread by my editor, Jeremiah Murphy.

For the rest of the process to prepare for publication, I turned to my husband for help. He had bought a bunch of ISBNs when he self-published a book in 2008. So he organised mine, and I'll be using the printer he liked best out of the ones he used for his book.

Is there anything you wish your readers to take away from this novel besides having read a wonderful story?
There are a couple of subtle messages in the story, but I don't need for readers to pick up on them to enjoy it. I'd be interested in seeing what other people think they are rather than pointing them out. But aside from the subtle things, I hope that people can see the importance of having a diverse range of characters in fiction. If my readers are also writers, then I hope it encourages to include more diverse characters in leading roles. There are too many straight white men who take the protagonist role!

Was it difficult to think of things that Jaclyn Rousseau would have no idea about being from 1661 now in modern times, from the large scale (computers/cell phones) to the small things we take for granted everyday?
That was actually one of the most fun things I dealt with while I was writing, and my favourite aspect of research. In the first chapter, I have her learning about lifts/elevators, toothbrushes, indoor plumbing, bikinis, and encountering mobile phones, amongst other things. I suppose the more complex side of this was researching language because there are times people say things to her and they're using words she doesn't know. I had to make sure she herself wasn't using any words that were created after 1661, unless she had first been introduced to them. I was regularly checking words in two different dictionaries to see when they were first used, and sometimes had to do a wider search if that wasn't good enough.

Do you have another project that you are working on now?
I'm focusing more on short stories at the moment. I have places I want to submit them to, and am also planning to put together a collection of mermaid short stories that feature the mermaid from Adrift.

Is there anything you would like to talk to your readers about?
I really enjoyed answering your questions, and thought they were pretty comprehensive! I hope that if people find anything I've said intriguing, they'll go check out more about Adrift on my Indiegogo campaign at
http://igg.me/at/adrift – I'm offering up some perks that won't be available anywhere else afterwards, so hopefully it's worthwhile for people to order it early! Aside from sending some of the profits to the World Literacy Foundation, I'll use some to give my editor as a thank you (since he offered his services to me for free), and the remainder will go towards further marketing and advertising.

Thank you so much for joining us today! How can your readers reach you?
Thanks for hosting me! They can look me up on my web site at
http://dominica.malcolm.id.au (they can contact me through the site or leave comments on my blog), follow me on Twitter, or like me on Facebook