Today I’m delighted to welcome Ingrid Williams to my blog. Ingrid and I met recently when we attended the London Author Fair. She is a native Californian who now lives with her family in Norway (a country I feel a strong affinity with). She has had a successful career as a financial journalist for Dow Jones Newswires and as a copywriter for one of the largest creative agencies in Scandinavia, among other positions in the world of corporate communications. She is also recipient of the Humphrey´s Fellowship in Writing at Columbia University in New York.
Ingrid, we’re going to talk about the launch of your children’s book, Bing and Nero, but perhaps you could begin by telling us how you came to be a writer.
I have been writing for about as long as I have been reading. And making up stories to tell others even before then! So I think it was pretty obvious quite early on that my life was going to be about words. My first success as a writer came much later when I received a cheque for 500 dollars for something I wrote for True Story magazine. It was a piece that took me about a week to write and edit. I did it mostly for fun, and to see if could actually tailor-make a story to a very specific format.
Who gave you your first encouragement as a writer?
My parents listened and encouraged from the beginning. They both loved books and reading, so it was very much a part of our household.
That is so important and I know you’ve fostered a love of reading in your children. In fact, that’s been the main driving force behind your choice to write children’s fiction. And the first of your Bing and Nero series is released today. Tell us more about that.
I have a 5 year-old son who insists that I make up stories for him. I set about creating Bing & Nero as a Christmas present for my son. The idea was simply to have some illustrations done and have it bound to give him a physical copy of a story I had told to him many times.
We’ll go on to talk about the process of how Bing and Nero became a physical book, but since I know you’re a passionate reader, I want to explore your transition from reader to writer. I asked you to choose a quote about reading or writing, and this was yours:
“Read, read, read. Read everything — trash, classics, good and bad, and see how they do it. Just like a carpenter who works as an apprentice and studies the master. Read! You’ll absorb it.
Then write. If it’s good, you’ll find out. If it’s not, throw it out of the window.”
― William Faulkner
When did your own love affair with reading begin?
Fortunately, I was read to by parents, grandmother, great-grandmother and a host of older cousins! I can´t remember not loving being read to and reading. The vivid world of story and character captured my attention from the very beginning.
What do you like to read? Any authors you could recommend?
I read absolutely everything. From children´s books to romance to science fiction and non-fiction. I just love books. On average, I read 3 books a month. And during the two weeks of real summer vacation, I average one book every two or three days. For me, the best place in the world to read is in the comfort of bed, with a nice snack and a completely quiet house (which everyone except myself and the cat has abandoned for the day). But on an average day, I read all over the place – on the bus, on the ferry, in cafes…
Where do you get the majority of your book recommendations from?
Friends are probably the best source. We circulate good books between us. And these days, Goodreads is becoming a more frequent source.
Regardless of genre, what are the elements that you think make a great novel?
A compelling, very alive character in a believable conflict that resonates with the truth of the struggle of human existence.
Are there any books that you find yourself returning to time and time again?
Are you a book shop person or a library person?
I am absolutely both. I can go into a book shop and lose myself for an hour without noticing any time as passed at all. It is a place of discovery and adventure for me – you just never know what book is going to entice and entrap you. And I don´t often manage to go home empty-handed. Libraries are for me what cathedrals are for religious people. Entering one often feels like entering a holy place for me. They are shrines to knowledge and learning, and a testament to civilization. Libraries are one of the few things I wish I could pay a specific tax to provide additional support to. I visit my local library every few weeks, generously encouraged by my son, because the library has a huge open play area in the children´s section.
What were the key factors that influenced your decision to become an indie author?
Once the illustrations for Bing and Nero were under way and the book began to take shape, I began to think about actually publishing it. I had no interest in going through the submission process and agent hunting for months and years. I began to investigate the range of self-publishing options out there and was quite impressed. That sealed it.
And there it is! The Christmas present. What a wonderful advert for self-publishing. But, of course, now you want to take Bing and Nero to a wider audience. With the number of self-published books increasing by 59% last year alone, it is really difficult for authors to make their books stand out. How do you go about this?
I am a complete newbie to the publishing world, so I am doing my homework. I read the blogs of several writers who are marketing successfully and ask lots of questions about anything that occurs to me in the closed Facebook forum for members of The Alliance of Independent Authors. That is a tremendous resource that I can highly recommend.
Which publishing platform/s did you choose and why?
So far, I am on Createspace and Kindle. They both offered a simple publishing solution and wide distribution. I look forward to trying some of the other platforms in the future.
As a self-published author, how are you planning to divide your time between writing and marketing?
Since the book is in its launch phase now, I will be writing very little fiction for the next month or so. My focus is really on trying to get as many eyeballs on my book as possible. I will also spend a lot of time seeking the advice and recommendations of the more experienced.
How does your home and its environment influence your writing?
I live in the countryside, in an area with a lot of wildlife and nature. The place where I sit and write overlooks a small lake. So it is very peaceful and quiet, which is the perfect atmosphere for me.
What is your ‘writing routine’ – if such a thing exists?
My writing routine is to set a target for the week, considering all of the other things that must be accomplished. Then I break it down into bite-size pieces for each day.
Where do you get your inspiration from?
Inspiration is everywhere. But these days my children are definitely the driving force behind my work. Their interests and enthusiasms have a lot of impact. And it is great to be able to test ideas out immediately as bedtime stories.
What are you working on at the moment / next?
The second Bing & Nero book! And a YA book that I am hoping my 16 year-old daughter will like. She is my one-person audience for that book. If I can get it right for her, there´s a good chance other girls her age will like it, too.
What do you do when you’re not writing? Any hobbies or party tricks?
Then I am doing all the things all of us who have a family, a house and a life have to do. And then sneaking off to read.
Where can we find out more about you and your work?
Ingrid, there was a lot of speculation at the London Author Fair about what the future holds for writers, some of it quite depressing, some of it hugely optimistic. What is your view?
I think that writers and content producers of every kind are going to continue to gain more control over their careers and earnings. The distribution game has been changed forever by new platforms and channels. I look forward to witnessing developments on this front not yet imagined.
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