Today, I’m interviewing April Erwin, an exciting new indie author who, like many authors today, had the guts to self-publish her novel Missing Pieces.
April, tell us briefly what your novel is about.
Hi Suzanne, thanks so much for inviting me to visit today.
Missing Pieces is about, Elaine, a young woman just graduating college and facing the question, “Who am I and where do I go from here?” She knows she was adopted and she loves her life and family in Boston, MA; but a recurring dream from her childhood has returned to haunt her and she’s driven to search for the old man in her dream. Is he family? Does he hold the answer to the secrets of her past?
On the eve of her 21st birthday she finds the first clues in her search. Her grandfather lives in Independence, MO and she decides to go meet him, even though her adopted mother doesn't want her to. What she finds in Independence is more than she bargained for. Alone for the first time in her life she’s facing choices she wouldn’t have imagined. Family is only the beginning. Love, faith and the start of a whole new life are hanging in the balance.
What was the inspiration of your novel?
A daydream, at least that’s what I called it at the time. I was sitting in class my senior year of High school and scene unfolded in my mind of a young woman in an attic finding an old trunk and opening it to find family treasures inside. That got my mind spinning and before I knew it I was asking myself, “Who is this girl?” Her story started to unfold and I started writing the ideas down. I knew I wanted to write. I wanted to share my faith and beliefs in a compelling and interesting way that would be fun for readers and yet still touch their hearts. But that was just the germ of the story. As I fleshed it out, I kept hearing the mantra, “Write what you know.” I took that with a grain of salt and ran with it. I'm not adopted, but I have an adopted brother and sister and my parents were foster parents to more than 26 children over the years. I’m familiar with a lot of their stories and questions about their origins. I wanted to include that.
What are the challenges of self-publishing?
I started writing the novel in High school, but it took several years before I felt confident enough to publish it. With self-publishing, you wear all the hats. You are the writer, editor, agent, promoter and more. I took several writing classes and went through several rounds of critiques with people I trusted, and then when I was confident that it was ready, I researched the many self-publishing houses available.
Writing and editing are important because you want readers to come back for more; but finding the right publisher for your project is just as important. At the time I published, e-books were not that popular. I couldn’t afford a large up-front investment to purchase a large stock of printed books nor did I have a place to store them. I needed some way to sell it on line in a large market and be acceptable in brick and mortar bookstores as well as online. For me, Trafford was the best option. Print on Demand fit my needs to a ‘T’ and there are several reputable companies that offer this. I wanted control of my project, with Trafford, I designed the cover. I even took some of the cover photography. My sister helped me with the formatting and voila, there was my dream come true. My next projects will have a slightly different focus so I may use different publishing means, but what’s important is to research your options. There’s not really a right or wrong way, so long as it fits your needs.
I understand you are also a singer and have even released CDs.
I am. I love to sing, although lately my schedule hasn’t allowed it as often. It started with my mom, sister and I singing for church as a trio when I was 12. Mom plays the piano, but it was difficult for her to play and sing with us at the same time. It seemed we could never find a pianist that could practice with us and our busy schedule, so we sang acappella. It went over well and soon we were singing regularly for congregations all over town. People kept asking us if we had a CD. Finally we decided, why not? We recorded The Erwins Acappella around the same time that my sister Angel and I also began to write music together. We’ve released two singles. The first, Free to Fly, was a love song I wrote for my adopted brother and his Fiancé. He’s Native American and we really enjoyed working with Duane Walking Turtle who did the native chant in the beginning of the song. The second is called Rain on Me, a song I wrote on the challenge of my sister. She often gives me a line and says, “There’s a song in that.” Before I know it, I have a song written out and she’s right. We've written a LOT of songs together, but I'm not a musician, so finding other musicians to create with is part of the fun. It's also more challenging and time consuming. :)
Our music is available on our website for preview or downloads at http://www.theerwins.com/erwinmusic.htm for any who are interested.
I’ve read one of your manuscripts entitled Dysfunction Junction and just loved it. It was a very powerful story resounding with elements of truth. Would you like to tell us a bit about it?
Dysfunction Junction is what I like to think of as real-life fiction. It has so much of my real life experiences in it, that at times it’s more true-story than anything else. But fiction is my favorite vehicle so all those crazy, emotional things I experience (or those around me…) can all be shared and then tied up with just the right ending.
The main character, Kianna, is 26 and never been kissed. She’s overweight and struggles with self-image. She’s a klutz and is scared to open heart to anyone because all the relationships she sees around her seem to be nothing but dysfunctional. She's not sure real love like her parents and grandparents have is still possible.
Kianna's also a song writer. Her best friend challenges her to pursue her dreams by recording her songs. In the process, Kianna falls for her music partner, meets an old crush that's asking her out, the guy she grew up with and thought was just a close friend... well, he's kind of acting jealous. Suddenly it's raining men and Kianna has to step out of her comfort zone and decide if she's going to follow her heart and find true love.
A good portion of that is based on me: Single, never been kissed, plus sized, etc. The scene where she puts her bra on over her head and it gets stuck nearly strangling her…. Yep. That one is true too.
I specifically never name Kianna's size or weight in the book, because I want readers to identify with her. I know that as a plus size reader, if I pick up a book and the heroine is supposed to be plus sized, but she's only 20-40 pounds overweight, I'm thinking, "Eh, what do you know? You aren't in MY shoes." I want Kianna to be whatever "size" the reader can identify with. And I want it to be part of the story, not the focus.
Maybe it’s because as an overweight person you learn to be the one to laugh first so no one is laughing at you, or maybe it’s because my family is strong and we all depend on humor and faith to live our lives - probably some of both; but Dysfunction Junction is a view through my eyes. How it feels like true love is hard to find or hang on to. That everything in this world seems to revolve around dysfunction more than anything else. How do you find stability and happiness in all this mess?
I’m hoping you’ll release it soon whether by self-publishing or even traditional publisher. Honestly, I can’t imagine that this novel wouldn’t be accepted quite soon.
I am hoping to publish soon; I'm working on some final edits and doing my publishing research now. This time around, I'd like to make sure it's available as an e-book as well. Times change, we learn to change with them.
You also have another manuscript called Burning Justice. Will you be self-publishing this exciting story too?
Yes, that's the plan. I don't have any firm dates yet, but when they are published, I'll be releasing that information on my website, blog, Facebook and Twitter sites. I'm very excited to see them come to life.
Where can we find your book, Missing Pieces?
It's available for purchase at Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle format. http://www.amazon.com/Missing-Pieces-April-Erwin/dp/1412007143/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1365431717&sr=8-1&keywords=missing+pieces+by+april+erwin
I’m really looking forward to the release of all your books. I think you’re a thrilling new voice that simply must be read. Thanks for the interview. Readers, please leave a comment below to win a free copy of Missing Pieces.
Thanks so much for having me, Suzanne. I have to say, I really enjoyed your release, The Shadow of the Unicorn: The Legacy. It was so much fun to be part of the initial critique process and then to see it come to life as a published book. Great read for all ages and I'm looking forward to the next book in the series.