I had the unexpected pleasure of meeting another paranormal author who lives in my general neck of the woods, though I’m not sure the woods have a neck. Anyway, S. M. Dotson was one of the readers at the SpoFest Open Mic event I presented at over the weekend. I’ll read his book very soon, and for now, I wanted to share him with you.
What is your book about? The paranormal thriller Along the Graveyard Lane is an exorcist’s journey to discover the truth of the afterlife. A twist added to conventional superstition and religion.
What happens in Along the Graveyard Lane? Exorcist Martin Salzburg discovers that demon possession is not what people say it is when he begins speaking to the possessed children he visits, breaking the code which forbids conversation with the demon. The exorcist finds that the invasive entities are not demons at all, but wandering ghosts, caught in a host, largely in a panic and unaware of their circumstances. The exorcist discovers the frontier of the afterlife by doing so, makes friends and even finds a lover, all buried long ago. In a race against time, the exorcist discovers a way to stay alive despite the impending tuberculosis, but a centuries old zealot has the relic he needs to perform the ritual. The protagonist soon learns he is only a pawn, a mere toy, to Seymour Downcross’ schemes.
Explain one of the paranormal concepts in your book. One of the fundamental questions is: what is a ghost? In Along the Graveyard Lane the ghost and the soul are the same. Which opens many more questions that beg for answers, such as why in the world is the soul lingering on earth? Does it remember everything from its previous life? In the progress of the story, I must address those questions in some way, and that is a very enjoyable process – to take a myth or philosophy and let it play out in fiction, which compels the author to take these concepts down roads that would not have been explored otherwise.
What if people want to learn more about the principles behind the story? I have a series of articles on my blog that explore the paranormal concepts in my book on a deeper level, known as “The Nine Tenets of Exorcism & Possession.” The articles expound on the nature of ghosts. smdotson.home.blog
What sources did you use to help you form some of the paranormal ideas? In this novel, the first in the series, the setting takes place in a Christian culture, so I drew on verses from the bible to describe the paranormal phenomena. In future novels, that perspective opens wider and we’ll see the soul from the view of other cultures, and in the second trilogy, science will become involved in the mysteries of the afterlife.
You mean science will eventually discover the soul in your series? Exactly. That’s where many of the ideas started: what if science discovered the soul? I thought about it and concluded that the scientific discovery of the soul would empower people to validate their own religious beliefs, but would eventually result in scientific and corporate interest in exploiting the benefits of soul matter for such things as life extension, but that will all be explored in turn.
What made you decide to start publishing paranormal fiction? I’ve had these stories in mind for a long time, some of them are older than a decade, but then I began learning about new opportunities in the self-publishing game. Self-publishing has changed a lot. I ignored self-publishing at first, because there was no way to distribute a novel without a publisher, but now because of the internet and Amazon, the author can create his or her own advertising and build a readership. Some authors are holding off on getting an agent or submitting to a publisher until they’ve completed their third novel. By this time, the author has a readership and therefore more leverage to attract agents and publishers. Never know, I may never leave the self-publishing game, might not need to, that’s what is so different these days.
Why not traditional publish? I think I would have submitted a manuscript at this point, but once I learned about the self-publishing game, I caught a vision of freedom. I get to create a product that I own and market myself. Which is interesting because traditional publishers often have their authors buy their own ads these days. I wouldn’t want to sell the rights to a publisher if most book sales are coming from Amazon and I must buy my own ads. Sure, if a publisher was really excited about me as an established author and want to do some marketing for me and other perks, then yes, it would be worth it, but for the first-time author, without funding, why not self-publish and retain the rights to the book for the rest of your life, while you are working on that next novel? That’s what I must ask myself. I could spend a year or more submitting my work to publishers or I could spend that time polishing the work, self-publish and get my promotions simmering in the marketplace. I think of it as an alchemist in a lab, experimenting until the right effect is produced.
What advice do you have for beginning self-publishing authors? Beyond writing advice, I would say learn how authors self-publish and how they market themselves on Amazon.com mainly. You won’t learn how to market your book specifically until you get it on Amazon and learn how to target keywords that appeal to your appropriate audience, those who will click on the image of your book and buy it. Get in the mindset that publishing your first book is only step one in a longer process.
What is your writing process like? I do most of my writing in the morning with a cup of coffee and my laptop. My outlines evolve as the draft is written, although I start with a basic storyline in mind and a list of things that need to happen. I set a deadline for the first draft then I do the math and figure out how many minimum words a day I need to write to reach my goal. If you write daily, you can crank out a rough draft in less than a year with a mere 300 words a day. On some days, if the creativity is flowing, I’ll write much more than the daily quota, and on some days if I’m not feeling it, I just crank out the minimum and dedicate my time to some other project. That’s the great thing about doing the math, you can have a main goal broken down into a manageable daily workload, and when something else strikes your fancy you can pursue the momentary without losing your long-term vision. With a minimum word count I can shift my creative focus to playing guitar or making stone exteriors and I don’t feel that tug of guilt, should I be working on my book right now?
Is there anything you can tell us about the second novel in the series? Sure, book two Behind the Sacred Veil takes place in the U.S., mainly St. Louis and part of it happens in the town I grew up in, Sedalia, Missouri, once bustling with cattle trade, railroads, and termed ‘the Sodom and Gomorrah of the New World’ by the St. Louis Post Dispatch. That will come out in 2021.
Where can one find your book? You can find it on Amazon in paperback or eBook. It’s free for Kindle Unlimited (KU) users.
If you’d like to hear him and other authors present our works, come to SpoFest Open Mic night. Go to the SpoFest Facebook page for details.
Thanks for reading!
Cheers to your #BLISSfulLife!!
Ronda Del Boccio
Award-winning author, photographer, and artist
About Ronda Del Boccio
Ronda Del Boccio is an award-winning and best-selling author of both fiction and nonfiction. She has been mostly blind since birth, but she never lets that stop her from doing what she wants to do. She tells transformational tales and helps visionary authors turn their dreams and imaginings into published books. See and order Ronda’s books on Amazon at Amazon..com/author/rondadelboccio.
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