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Kindle Author Interview: Conchie Fernández

Conchie Fernández, author of Undrawn, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.

DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Undrawn?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: Undrawn is a work of fiction. It tells the story of a painter, Kyle Reed, and his journey 'back home' (and inside himself) to face his past, his relationship with his family and past and present loves, and the events in his life that caused him to become self-exiled. It's a story about artistic pursuit, the complexities of human relationships and owning up to the decisions we make. Most of all, it's about forgiveness and moving on.

DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: I don't think there's a lot of deliberate manipulation on my part when it comes to who my characters are. They tend to come up to me and introduce themselves, and tell me their stories: who they are, where they were born, who makes up their support systems and what's happening in their lives. I take it from there. I have a mental picture of who they are, and their quirks come up along the way. Kyle, the main character in Undrawn, is a smoker. I always pictured him sitting in front of an easel, painting, cigarette dangling from his lips. That's just who he was—and this comes from a non-smoker. I have no idea why he smokes! There's a lot of the unconscious at play when I begin to see and hear my characters. The only conscious tweaking I do is when I'm editing dialogue. I ask myself, "Is this something he/she would say?" I need to stay true to the characters' voices and make sure the things they say make sense coming from who they are. As far as telling their stories, I try to play God and move the plot along, but sometimes the story takes over and tells itself in a way that I hadn't planned on.

DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: Undrawn resonates with everyone. It's everyone's story—we all stumble and fall, and sometimes we're too hard on ourselves and sever ties with ourselves and our loved ones unnecessarily. My readers are men and women alike, from 18-99. And if centenarians want to read it too, I'm thrilled.

DAVID WISEHART: What was your journey as a writer?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: I've always been a writer, before I could write. I used to draw pictures and show them to people and tell them a story based on the drawing. Once I learned how to write, I added bubbles with dialogue to the drawings. From then on, I read as much as I could, and wrote endless 'novels' throughout my teens. I wrote two unpublished novels, including an earlier incarnation of Undrawn, in my 20s. In my early 30s I got a scholarship to take a Creative Writing certification at New School, in New York, and then took a couple more workshops at that wonderful institution. Formal writing education helped to fine-tune a few gaps in my writing, mostly a bad habit to write in the passive voice, which I get from being a native Spanish speaker. I'll always be grateful that I had a chance to work with a great teacher. Ultimately, I found a fantastic editor, D. Michael Whelan, to work on the final draft of Undrawn before I published it, and it made all the difference in the world to hire a professional editor. I'll keep working with him on other projects.

DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: To me, writing takes more time in my head than on the computer screen. I can spend weeks imagining the characters and taking notes. Once I meet the characters, I concentrate on the end of the story. What's the destination? Where are the characters going? What are they trying to resolve? It's sort of like the ancient writing conundrum: is this about man versus man? Man versus himself? Man versus the gods? Sometimes I only know what the characters' conflicts are, and don't really know how they'll be resolved until I write. I always have an idea of what the end of the book will be, however. I'm working on a novel now, and I know exactly how it's going to end. I started out thinking it was going to be a humorous novel, but the way it's going, I might get a few laughs in, but these characters mean business!

DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: I'm compelled to love writers who create unforgettable characters, whether I like the characters or not. I can't say it enough - for me two masters of eternal characters are John Irving and my fellow Dominican author, Junot Diaz.

DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: A Prayer for Owen Meany. It's the most heartbreaking and inspiring take on spirituality, love, war, politics and religion (among a few dozen other issues) I've ever read. I wish I could have written the first line of that book and will always be in awe of John Irving for that novel.

DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: I'm working on creating a following on Facebook and Twitter and noticed that when I tweet a quote from my book, I quickly get at least 3 new followers. I've also done a couple of blog interviews and my website gets a lot of hits. I'm hiring a company to rep my book on US trade/book shows and promote it through their customer base, which is made up of libraries and booksellers. I'm also contacting local (Florida) independent booksellers and offering to do readings and signings. I signed up for book giveaways on Goodreads and got hundreds of people to read the synopsis and sign up for the contest. 50 of the contestants added the book to their reading queue, and I hope to get some sales from them. I have a reading/signing/launch at a local university sometime during the summer, and they got to me because of the news I constantly added to my Facebook Fan Page. I entered into several writing competitions and I'm also advertising on a couple of sites. It's a little daunting to realize how much I need to do on my own, since I lack the backing of a publishing house, but I love the control I have over book prices and royalties.

DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: I come from the IT sales/marketing/business development industry and I know that eventually, most everyone will migrate to e-readers. It's very convenient and less expensive for customers to buy ebooks and carry them on a mobile device. Some customers won't invest on e-readers and others will take longer to convert or add a device as a reading platform, and that's what my paperback version is for. I can't miss out on the increasingly important reader segment that prefers an ebook.

DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?

CONCHIE FERNANDEZ: Go for it! Make sure you write a fantastic book, get it edited professionally if you can afford it and then make sure your book format is ideal for Kindle. I've seen a couple of books with formatting issues and that's a huge turnoff. Unless you can do it yourself, take advantage of the Kindle Conversion service that Amazon offers (that was my choice) or hire a professional e-pub conversion service. Don't miss out on the huge opportunity to offer your work to e-reader consumers worldwide, for a tiny investment.

Undrawn is available on Amazon Kindle for $3.99. Clarion ForeWord Reviews just rated it with 4 out of 5 stars. A link to the review is on my website: http://www.conchiefernandez.com/Press.html

DAVID WISEHART: Thanks, and best of luck with your books.




ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Conchie Fernández was born in the Dominican Republic. She was an editor for Touring, a tourism newspaper printed in English and Spanish, for several years. She later translated and edited the panels for the Altos de Chavón Museum of Archaeology and taught Creative Writing at Casa Chavón, an affiliate of the Altos de Chavón School of Design and the Parsons School of Design. She moved to the United States in 2006 and lives in Florida. Undrawn is her first published novel.

Visit her website, and follow her on twitter.

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