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Published in Author Interview

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Published in Author Interview

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Writing takes Time to Nurture Ideas to A Marketable State

Discussion about patience in writing and many other things. However, It takes time for aspirant authors to nurture ideas to compete to others. O’Farrell also talked about what it takes to publish an award-winning book, “Simone LaFray” which took only one night to write. Read what inspired him and what is his strategy for developing characters. S.P. O'Farrell is the ...

Discussion about patience in writing and many other things. However, It takes time for aspirant authors to nurture ideas to compete to others.

O’Farrell also talked about what it takes to publish an award-winning book, “Simone LaFray” which took only one night to write. Read what inspired him and what is his strategy for developing characters.

S.P. O'Farrell is the award-winning author of Simone LaFray Mysteries. Simone LaFray and the Chocolatiers' Ball began as a short story and quickly turned into an award-winning novel: Moonbeam Awards, New York City Big Book Award, Queer Indie Award, LitPick Award, (sm) art festivals award and a finalist for Book Pipeline and National Indie Excellence Award.

At what age you wrote first short story and share with us that beautiful memorable moment which had made your day. 

I was forty-five when I wrote the first Simone LaFray short story. It contained about 3,000 words, and I wrote it in one night. I could not let the initial inspiration go, which was the name and that she was a spy in Paris. For about three weeks, I kept thinking about the character and creating stories in my head that might be plausible. I finally sat down and wrote it. It was great. Although the story was far from being published, the thought of completing a unique story with balance was incredibly gratifying. That feeling still carries on today.

When you published “Simone Lafray” how this idea had evolved?

The initial concept was written in the Early Chapter Book genre. It felt good to craft and complete a story, but I soon realized that there was a lot more to explore. After some professional encouragement, I then plotted out a massive storyline in the Middle-Grade genre, which felt right for the initial themes and characters. Upon review of this, it occurred to me that what I had conceptualized was actually a series of six to seven books. I then spent about eighteen months writing the first book and going through the submission process. While the story and presentation have evolved immensely, the core concept has remained intact.

Was it an accidental encounters with a day, or you saw a real life characters?

The inspiration for the story came out of nowhere, which, I believe, is the best kind. We were on a family vacation and out to dinner. The kids in the house, of which there were many, had been spying on each other and playing a lot of hide-and-seek that Summer. Some even had spy names. My niece, who was into everything Parisian at the time, leaned over and asked me to give her a spy name. About five seconds later, the name Simone LaFray came out – a spy in Paris. Everyone laughed and that was supposed to be the end of it. 

How do you take in characters for your novel? Do you pick up them from day to day life in people you meet, or only it is a skill of observation?

I’m now writing the third novel, so I already have several built-in characters, but they all came from somewhere. I started of course with Simone, but the other characters were conceived to play some certain role or serve some purpose. I often do not name them in the summary or outlines, as I want them to take shape through the action. During the late outlining and early drafting, I start to associate the characters with real people that have similar traits or tendencies. I think this is natural, and some characters become an amalgam of several people, but at some point, the character starts breathing on their own. That said, some of my character names are those of real family and friends.

How hard your initial days of before you were published author. And, what learnings you got from book publishing industry?

Being in the query trenches is an arduous and humbling process. I did all of my homework, focused the effort, and selected a total of twelve for the first round of submissions. Within twenty-four hours, three had auto-responses that said they were closed to submissions, and I did not hear a word from the others for about two months. During that time, I sent out another ten or so, but the response was the same. Then I started to receive requests for the entire book or more chapters, which was encouraging, but time marched on, and no commitments. In all, I sent out over seventy packages. I always just thought that somebody would read it and immediately want to option or sign it, but that is not how it works. I was fortunate in that some of the people I sent submissions to were providing feedback or referring the material to others. I did not realize how valuable this was. After about a year of this, I collected everything I had amassed, revised the story one last time, and re-submitted it. I think I had eight offers within a month. I learned that it takes time to nurture an idea to a marketable state, be open to all feedback, and keep moving forward.

To publish a book, what suggestion you would like to give to fellow writers. And, preparation one must do before having any ideas of self-publishing vs traditional one. 

The central suggestion is to get started, start today. Start crafting a well-balanced, one-page summary of your book, and then expand it to two pages. Know your genre, read in your genre, and don’t try to please everyone. Be satisfied with the work and find your voice. 

Self-publishing was not for me, as I only wanted to be a writer. I wanted to keep my role simple as cover design, formatting, mass marketing, press writing, etc., all take expertise that I do not have. I can see the expediency and freedom of self-publishing, but I felt like I needed structure and a seasoned publisher the champion the cause.

Tell us more about your book “Simone Lafray” and the motivation behind writing it.

The Simone LaFray Mystery Series is planned for six or maybe seven books.  The first two books, which are out now, are classic Middle-Grade in terms of composition and structure, although the next two books will serve as transitional books. The final two or three will fall firmly in the Young Adult genre. As for the motivation, I always felt like there was a story somewhere inside me, and it took some time to find it. Now that I have written a few books, the motivation is to always improve my writing, but also to take good care of these characters. Now that the series is gaining traction and the books are being read all over the world, there is a sense of stewardship and delivering on the next book.

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