Freedom's Sword, discusses her book, her journey as a writer, and self-publishing on Kindle.
DAVID WISEHART: What can you tell us about Freedom's Sword?
J.R. TOMLIN: It is set in 1296 in the early days of the English attempt to conquer Scotland. Facing an English invasion, newly-knighted Andrew de Moray follows his father into battle against the invading English army. After a devastating defeat, he is dragged in chains to imprisonment in England. He is determined to continue the fight against English tyranny, but even after his escape, he faces overwhelming odds in raising an army and leading the north of Scotland against the army sent to crush them.
DAVID WISEHART: What historical research did you do for your book?
J.R. TOMLIN: I did extensive research. Of course, I've spent a lot of time in Scotland which helps, but that doesn't mean I didn't have to research. I have an extensive library on Scottish history, especially the work of the preeminent Scottish medievalist G. W. S. Barrow.
DAVID WISEHART: How do you develop and differentiate your characters?
J.R. TOMLIN: I don't exactly have to differentiate my characters because they simply are different. I think that if you really know your characters, if you can hear them in your mind, then differentiating them isn't a problem. Andew de Moray could never sound like anyone else because, for me, he is a very particular person. It is like knowing the voice of a close friend.
DAVID WISEHART: Who do you imagine is your ideal reader?
J.R. TOMLIN: I'm not sure I have an ideal reader. I've seen advice that you should but I don't think I follow it. I have stories I want to tell, and, rather like an old-fashioned storyteller in the town square, I hope that there are people who want to hear them.
DAVID WISEHART: What is your writing process?
J.R. TOMLIN: I write several hours a day. Although, because of the constraints of history, I have some idea of what has to happen, because I never change historical events, beyond that, I let my characters lead me where ever they do.
DAVID WISEHART: What authors most inspire you?
J.R. TOMLIN: I'm an omnivorous reader with very wide tastes. In language, I think I was very influenced by the poet Auden and possibly in philosophy as well. I grew up reading Dumas and learned to love adventure and historical novels from works like The Three Musketeers. And I love the writing of GRR Martin. So I have a very wide range of influences.
DAVID WISEHART: What one book, written by someone else, do you wish you'd written yourself?
J.R. TOMLIN: Oh, I would die happy if I ever wrote anything half as good as Martin's The Game of Thrones.
DAVID WISEHART: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
J.R. TOMLIN: Largely by doing things like this. I have a few ads coming up, but I think that people choose to read writers they've been told about or heard about. That's what I do anyway. And, of course, I depend on reviews as do most indie writers.
DAVID WISEHART: Why publish on Kindle?
J.R. TOMLIN: Complicated subject. I suppose partially because my agent hadn't sold my historical novels. I was convinced there was an audience out there for them. But it's more complicated than that with the huge changes in publishing that have come about with Kindle and ebooks. Now I can let readers decide if I'm a worthy writer and not some "suit" in New York. (No insult to suits in New York.)
DAVID WISEHART: What advice would you give to a first-time author thinking of self-publishing on Kindle?
J.R. TOMLIN: Again, that's complicated. I wasn't a first-time author when I went indie. I had published a couple of novels with small publishers so I knew something about the whole process. It is a complicated and at times daunting business. There's a steep learning curve. I urge anyone who is thinking of doing it, beyond having a very polished manuscript, to read blogs such as those of Joe Konrath and Dean Wesley Smith. Get acquainted with some of the forums such as Kindleboards where you find indie authors. Learn everything you can, because it isn't just a matter of throwing a manuscript into a meat grinder, not if you want sales.
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