I was supposed to post this yesterday, but all sorts of hell got in the way. I’m deeply sorry for this.
Okay, for those of you who might not know him, R.S.Guthrie is an indy author with some talent in his pe- wait, he uses computer, not a pen. He an excellent author is what I’m meaning to say. His novels (a couple I’ve reviewed), are epic page turners. I’m doing this interview to get a bit more info about his forth-coming book called, Honor Land. It’s the latest in his James Pruett saga. Let’s get it, eh?
R.S.Guthrie: I can tell you that I am looking forward to it more than any book I have written so far. I am a “write by the seat of your pants” author (a pantser), which means I usually have a broad-strokes idea of where the story ends up, but I let the writing take me where it will. This particular book has come to my head in much greater detail and I believe it is going to be the best in the series.
It is centered around a war hero who has been sentenced to die in Wyoming’s lethal injection chamber—I mean this guy’s a legend; a foster of the state standing at the Army recruitment office at the minute they opened the door at 8 AM on his 18th birthday. A real hero that did some bad things when he came back from the war.
My recurring protagonist, Sheriff James Pruett has followed the story of this man since he was a child legend growing up in the state. There is a jail break and let’s just say Pruett’s not convinced the dishonored war hero is as guilty people, including the U.S. Marshal Service who are tracking him down.
R.w.F: Where did you get the idea for James Pruett and his legacy?
R.G: I believe more than anything, as a writer or a reader, in the characters. If you’ve not created characters with depth and flaws and honest traits, they don’t ring true, and a read cannot connect with them. The people I grew up with and around in Wyoming are some of the finest people I know to this day, and they are wonderful characters (in every sense of the word).
I always knew I wanted to write a recurring hero with whom the everyday man or woman could relate. Each of us has problems, defects, weaknesses, and hardships, but characters like Pruett let us believe that we can still be the heroes we dream of being, flaws and all.
R.w.F: Who’s your favorite character in this series?
R.G: Easily Ty McIntyre, the anti-hero of the first book, Blood Land. Like I said, I’m a pantser and I had originally had Ty planned for one book. He’s such a great character that I brought him back briefly in book two, “Money Land. Don’t be surprised if I do a lot more with him in the future; he’s just one of those characters who refuses to allow you to shelve him.
R.w.F: What was the hardest part of writing it?
R.G.: Being true to the locals. Of course as fiction writers we have to be magnificent exaggerators, but I believe we still need to respect the truth. The hardest part about writing characters from the area in which you lived is that every book needs some evil antagonists to create the conflict, the story. You don’t want anyone thinking you “picked them” as the foundation for your coal-hearted villain.
R.w.F: If Blood Land were optioned for a movie deal, who would you like to play Pruett?
R.G: For anyone who has not read “Blood Land” the answer to this is actually a huge SPOILER, so skip it. Unless that kind of thing doesn’t bother you.
Answer: Danny Glover. It’s who I have always seen whenever I think of Pruett. There’s no one else for the part. Have you seen “Silverado”? My book’s not a Western but it occurs in the West, where even in the twenty-first century there are still cowboys and cowgirls, Stetson hats, and a landscape that would make you believe in the glory of a time machine. Glover would pull all that together. And then some.
R.w.F: What made you chose indy publishing?
R.G.: Unknown authors can’t afford one book coming out every year or two (or three). They’ll be forgotten. Stephen King can take as much time as he needs, but I need to keep my audience both fulfilled and, more importantly, GROWING. Plus the royalties are much higher when you don’t have to share.
R.w.F: What’s the hardest part of independent publishing?
R.G: The marketing. Finding readers, or rather, reaching them. It’s not just a self-publishing issue, it’s an issue for the unknown author who signs a deal with, say, Penguin or Simon & Schuster. Sure, their moniker ads a little clout to the book, but beyond that, no one knows you from Adam, and the publisher knows that. They aren’t going to sink any money into your marketing until they have some pretty risk-free assurances you’re going to sell and make them money. So guess who still gets to do a lion’s share of the marketing and readership ferreting? Yep. Not them — you.
R.w.F: Did you hire an editor, or do you have a friend who is one?
R.G.: I have a traditionally published author, Russell Rowland, who edits my James Pruett series. He has been on board “Blood Land” since the first word; he was the teacher of the class where I began that book (and from the start he told me it was publish-worthy and we’ve maintained a friendship and professional working relationship ever since. He really gets me — my voice. His advice is irreplaceable.
R.w.F: How do you promote your novels?
R.G.: There’s not enough time to list all the ways. A very good (and highly successful) writer friend told me this: “I look at every book and ask myself ‘what am I doing to promote this?’ and he tries to always have something going on, coming up, etc. I’m a bit behind him to say the least, but I am learning. It’s not easy. I will be taking some big marketing risks in 2013. But to get big, you have to walk the walk and think big.
R.w.F: What’s the best thing about being independent?
You control your own destiny. It makes for a lot of work—you are like nine professionals rolled into one. But when you work hard and succeed, or you affect someone’s life—man, you know you did that, not some gargantuan corporation. I received this quote just today:
“My husband stopped drinking alcohol 10yrs ago and now he is addicted to this character, Sheriff Pruett,, Thank you RS Guthrie for having a real character with the real time flaws of man, it helps keep him,Ted, focused..please keep them coming..”
Can there be any better feeling to know that was something you wrote that touched and helped another living, breathing human being? Then you get to throw on there that you didn’t have to worry about some third party changing your theme or your storyline (where then you might never have reached that person). Your destiny is in your hands. I like that, as much work as it may be.
Look for Honor Land to hit Amazon in April.