SDP Publishing Solutions helps authors in all genres -children’s books, fiction, non-fiction, business, and more – to independently publish their books. We love to keep our readers updated on what’s going on here at SDP, including recently published titles and about the authors we work with. In this post, we’re joined by F.G. Capitanio, who answers questions about his novel Mariner’s Hollow, where he finds inspiration, how he works through writer’s block, and the process of publishing his novel.
Capitanio is the author of several published poems, essays, and short stories. Mariner’s Hollow is his first published novel. He has spent several years in various departments of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration within the Northeast Fisheries Science Center, located in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. He lives year round on Cape Cod, while continuing to work on his second Justice Worth mystery and a number of other projects.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer? When did you start?
I started writing when I was in 3rd grade. I remember trying to write two novels: Jaws 3 (before I knew there had already been a Jaws 3) and Jurassic Park 2 (before I knew there was going to be a Jurassic Park 2). I had seen the movies and wanted to write sequels for them. I only got about two chapters in! But I was always looking for new stories to make up, and I had a really large imagination.
Where do you get your inspiration for your books?
I have several projects I’d like to put out there, but Mariner’s Hollow, my first novel, was inspired by an old whaling log I read for a job I had working in historical research pertaining to the American whaling industry. I read a log where a captain was worrying about his son, Justice, who he had left behind to go whaling. It made me wonder what makes a father name his son Justice, what the boy was like, and whether he had been named as a reminder of something in the Captain’s life that had required some justice. Originally I was going to write about the boy as he was in the 19th century, but he ended up being a modern day character.
Which writers inspire you?
P.D. James inspired me directly for this book as far as style; I love her writing and she has a way of making murder mysteries more than just about the facts but about the psychological depth of each character. Its more fantastical and paranormal elements were definitely inspired by J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter, among a few other YA supernatural novels, and its mystery driven plot was inspired by Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s Sherlock Holmes. I wanted to create a novel that combined this-worldly mystery with other-worldly elements and all these writers contributed to parts of that.
Give us an insight into your main character in Mariner’s Hollow. What does he/she do that is so special?
Justice is internally special. What I mean by that is, on the inside, he’s much more philosophically oriented than most other teens, and he’s more apt to engage his mind artistically, philosophically, and emotionally. This comes from growing up as a single child who was given to a lot of reading and contemplation. He’s also incredibly smart. On the outside, however, he’s a lot like other kids, especially before the horrors that he comes across in the book. He can have a surly attitude, he’s often self-centered, worries about fitting in, and all he wants to do, now that he’s a bit older and actually has more friends, is hang out with them. It takes the trials he goes through to mature him and allow his interior life to surface.
Quickly, give us the title and genre of your book and a 30-word or less tagline:
Mariner’s Hollow is a Young Adult supernatural thriller.
A mysterious and desolate island. A devastating turn of events. A secret that will reveal the true meaning of Justice.
Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
The intended audience is teens to college-age readers, but the audience shouldn’t be limited to just young adults. The book is purposely written with a style that combines the sentiments and language of a teenage life with more literary and rich imagery that allows adults to both enjoy the writing and enter into Justice’s story. The main thrust of the story, what pushes his struggle forward, is the inability of the adults around Justice to understand his world and to believe his experiences, along with his own inability to trust the adults around him. Consequently, a lot of people get hurt. My goal in Mariner’s Hollow is to provide a place where both teens and adults can meet and learn from the themes and experiences described in the book and hopefully attempt to better understand each others’ worlds.
What are you working on right now? What’s it about?
I have an outline for the second Justice Worth mystery, and I’d like to have that completed by spring or summer of 2015, but I haven’t started the actual writing yet. Right now I’m working on an adult horror/thriller entitled, Caleb Meyer. It’s my attempt at a literary vampire novel, which will hopefully take back the sanitized image of the vampire from the Twilight groupies and bring it back into Stoker’s realm. I have a life goal of redeeming the vampire as a meaningful and philosophical literary element.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
My confidence as a writer increased dramatically. I started Mariner’s Hollow six years ago, almost as an experiment to see if I can do it. Now that I’ve gone through the process of writing, editing, and publishing, I feel confident in my ability to create a story much faster than the time it took me to finish this book. I also learned what I like and what I don’t like, so I don’t have to waste my time repeating the same mistakes I did while first writing Mariner’s Hollow. This is why I edited it so extensively; a lot of unnecessary parts that detracted from the story’s core.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
I know this varies writer to writer. For me, due to my personality, the hardest thing about writing is finishing. I have a creative (and I think explosively creative would best describe it – not necessarily a good thing) mind. This means I can produce a lot of interesting ideas and plot-lines that I want to explore with little effort. If I start writing down one idea, I’ll have five others by the time I’m done outlining the first one. I have two other unfinished novels, which I’m trying to get back to. This is the problem. Often, what takes a creative mind to start something also requires a disciplined mind to finish when the excitement dies down and your initial idea has already been replaced by 10 other “better” ideas. You have to get through it and finish the book and write even when you don’t feel like it. This is very difficult for me.
What is the easiest thing about writing?
As stated above, it’s definitely coming up with new ideas, at least for me.
Do you ever get writer’s block? What do you do to get around it?
As you might imagine by now, I get writer’s block when I’m in the middle of a book (hence the unfinished novels on my desk). I never get writer’s block the first quarter of a book. I get discouraged and I start second-guessing the “greatness” of whatever idea I’m working on and by the middle of the book, I’m trudging slowly through mud. Every step feels heavy, deliberate, and forced, and I feel like I’m never going to get to the end. I run out of ideas on how to move the plot forward. The only thing I’ve done to get around it is simply keep writing, usually stream of consciousness, and hope that what comes out helps the story. I can always go back, after I’m done, to edit.
In what formats is your book available?
Mariner’s Hollow is available in paperback through Barnes & Noble, on their online store, and through Amazon.com. It’s also available as an ebook that’s compatible with Kindle, Nook, and other ereaders.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
You need to have a healthy dose of realism mixed in with your idealism. Everyone wants to be the next great American novelist. The chances of this happening are slim. Competition is terribly difficult, and the payback may be very little, if anything at all. Therefore, if you write only because you want success, then you’ll most likely find at the end of the journey that it was a big waste of time. If you write because you love to write, however, then no matter what happens to the end product, you’ll have used your time well. Do it because you love it, do what you know to do to succeed, and if you do end up succeeding, well, that’s just icing on the literary cake.
What can we expect from you in the future?
You can expect more Justice Worth mysteries (I’m initially planning a series of three), which will really expand the themes and plot elements of the first book into a larger, more epic story. I’m also planning to write more adult genres, such as the vampire novel, Caleb Meyer, and another novel I have partially completed, a comedy of errors, Very Bad Things.
What can readers who enjoy your book do to help make it successful?
Word of mouth is key. You can have a great product but if no one hears of it, it’ll do no one any good! Spread the word about Justice. If you read the novel and enjoy it, tell any book-lovers you know. Reach out to teens in your life who might like to read it, and tell them to tell their friends. Another helpful response is Amazon reviews. You can review the book even though you may not have purchased it through Amazon. This helps the book gain more attention from Amazon’s search engines.
Can you give us a snippet from your book that is meant to intrigue and tantalize us?
The book cover says it best with its plot summary:
Fifteen-year-old Justice Worth is summoned to the house of Eleanor Burby, an unknown aunt living on Mariner’s Hollow Island, miles off the turbulent Maine coast. Events transpire that are much worse than spending winter break apart from his friends back home, and turn his visit into a nightmare. A blizzard slams the island in all its fury, and in its midst, his aunt dies of an apparent suicide. Trapped in her island home, stalked by ghosts within and a murderer outside, Justice begins to unravel not only the truth behind his aunt’s death, but the family secrets threatening to destroy his perception of those he loves most.
Little about Aunt Eleanor’s death makes sense, but as Justice probes the lives of those closest to her, suspects multiply and new dangers arise. Through it all, island spirits continue to haunt him, pushing him towards the family’s dark secrets, before the only living person who knows them all silences him forever, burying the truth in the one place where it may never be found: Mariner’s Hollow.
Can you talk a little bit about the process of working with SDP Publishing and going through an independent press?
It’s been an amazing experience. Working with an indie press helps me have the hands-on creative control over much of my book, in a similar way to self-publishing, but at the same time I get to work with a publishing staff that gives me advice, answers my questions, and actually does the work of production for me, something that self-publishing can’t get you. The large traditional publishers will also own the copyright to your work but an indie press allows the novelist to retain the copyright to his or her own work. This is a huge deal, especially when it comes to sales and creative development. Working with SDP has helped me to go through the publishing process step by step with a great design staff and an editorial staff that helped me rework the book until it was presentable and professional. If you go the self-publishing way, you’re on your own. With an indie press like SDP you have a team working with you to bring your book to a wider audience in a more effective manner.
Do you have any suggestions to help other writers who are thinking about going through an independent publisher or self-publishing? If so, what are they?
Don’t spend the money self-publishing and producing a book that has had no feedback from editors, a publishing staff, or anyone in the industry. Going independent is a good choice, and will help you learn the ins and outs of publication, all the while walking down the sometimes scary road with a great team. Put in the effort to excel artistically with what you put out; if you put out a great product, you’ll have more of a chance of attracting not only readers but agents and traditional publishers, if you still are looking for that big publishing contract to come your way. Listen to the advice given to you by the publishing company you work with; they know what works and while, with an indie press, the final choice as to what you’d like to see happen is up to you, don’t squander the opportunity to heed the suggestions of people who know the industry.
SDP Publishing Solutions, LLC (formerly Sweet Dreams Publishing of Massachusetts) is a leading provider of independent publishing in Massachusetts. We offer optimal self publishing and independent publishing solutions for our authors. Located south of Boston, from literary agency representation to worldwide marketing – including international rights – we provide the best solutions for authors worldwide. Our services include developmental editing and copy editing, custom cover design and layout, book marketing, query letter and book proposals, literary agency representation, print and e-book development. We provide the best exposure for your book!