Monday, 18 July 2016

Interview With Ana Spoke

It's #ComedyBookWeek and today I have the pleasure of interviewing Ana Spoke, author of the Isa Maxwell Escapades and the brains behind Comedy Book Week.

Haven't heard of #ComedyBookWeek? Then read this!

And now over to Ana:

Indiot is the sequel to Shizzle Inc. Did you know there would be a sequel while Shizzle Inc was in the early stages?
Oh no, I wasn’t even sure I was going to finish the book leave alone write a sequel to it! It all started as a joke for my sister and it was sort of an email soap opera, until I had enough material to think “hey, I may have something here!” I decided to continue the series towards the end of writing Shizzle, Inc—I had so much fun with it, I almost did not want to finish writing the book. I am now thinking of writing a “trilogy in seven tomes”— basically, I will keep writing Isa Maxwell series until it is no longer fun for me.
What are the pros and cons of writing a book series?
The pros of writing a book series are well known—you get a chance to hook your readers on the first instalment and then they will hopefully get hooked on the story and continue buying the future instalments. The con may be that you might inadvertently be locked into continuing to write the series to please your leaders, rather than expanding your writing skills by trying different genres or different plot lines. This often happens to Hollywood actors who become pigeonholed into playing certain roles.
On deciding to write a series, did you plan each book meticulously or did you just decide to see how the ideas came?
I have not planned the whole book series, however I do plan each individual book. I am a combination of a “pantser” and meticulous planner, but I allow my characters to dictate where they want to go with the story.
How hard is it to keep a main character fresh for more than one book?
I have made a conscious decision to allow my protagonist to grow up a little bit in each book. I have also had some trouble with her trying to repeat the same kind of jokes or thoughts she had in the first book, so I had to mercilessly edit them out after the first draft. I am currently writing the third instalment, but it’s actually easier than the second on—partially because I too have grown, as a writer.
If a new writer asked for your all time top marketing tip, what would it be?
Advertise! Social media is great for getting positive reviews, but you can’t expect it to provide you with the sales after the initial peak, unless you already have a huge presence. I would advise new authors to save their money for a marketing campaign, no matter whether they decide to go a self-published or traditional route. In either case, you will be expected to do most of the marketing, and you will need to have a budget for your project.
Writer's block is a nightmare, how do you maintain enthusiasm when writing a sequel?
This is where my blog has been a tremendous help. Every time I have had a writer’s block, I have sat down and wrote a blog post instead. Then I would sit back and read people’s comments, and they would give me the motivation I needed to continue going.
It also helps to have an outline for your novel. I can’t imagine writing without an outline. For my third novel, I am using Scrivner, and I have found it to be very useful, especially for being able to jump back and forth between different scenes, so if I have writer’s block, I just drop the dead-end scene and start on a new and fresh scene instead.
What happens after Indiot? A third in the series, a stand alone novel or what?
A third instalment is in the works, and I plan to reveal the final cover and title during #ComedyBookWeek.
What would convince you to write a third book in the Isa Maxwell Escapades?
I have to thank my fans for this. Every time I have a moment of doubt, I go back and read the reviews which specifically ask for future installments of the series. I will continue working on Isa Maxwell’s escapades for as long as both my fans and I have fun with it.
When you started writing your first book, did you set out to write a comedy?
It seems that comedy is the only writing that comes to me naturally. When I started writing Shizzle, Inc, I was actually trying to write a dystopia. Unfortunately, comedic moments kept creeping into the story and let’s just say that dystopia will never see the light of day.
What problems do you face when trying to make people laugh in print?
Comedy is notoriously difficult to write. People have different senses of humor, and so the same kind of joke can insult some, make some laugh, and leave some people indifferent. Fortunately for me, I have found an audience online that “gets” me, so I write for them and expect that if I am laughing at what I have written, they will too.
What comedy book would you tout as your favourite ever and why?
Being Russian born, my favorite all-time comedy book is “12 Chairs”. I’m not sure if anyone may have heard of it, and even if they did, I think you have had to live in the Soviet Union to fully appreciate that story. Of the English-speaking authors, I have loved O’Henry’s short stories (translated) since I was a little kid.
How hard is it to come up with the laughs and do you ever test your humour out on anyone?
For me it’s actually very easy—I spaz out most of the time. I’ve had a lifetime of practice horsing around, and I love to keep my friends and family laughing. I keep my fiancĂ© in stitches every day.
When they make the film of Shizzle Inc (and notice I say 'when'), who would play the lead and why?
Aww, thank you! I would love for Amy Schumer to play the lead, but unfortunately she might be a little too old by then. I think there is probably a young up-and-coming actress somewhere that we don’t know yet, that will fit the bill perfectly.
If you had a soundtrack to either or both books, what sort of songs would we hope to hear?
Just like me, Isa loves old-school rap and any music with rhythm and attitude. I can imagine the trailer to the film set to DMX’s X Gon’ Give It To Ya, with Isa driving in her beat-up Beetle, slung behind the wheel like a gangsta, one hand at a defiant 12-o’clock.
Have you ever had to cope with a bad review because someone didn't find you funny?
Several times. I’ve had ugly, abusive reviews, from people who not only did not find the book funny, they’ve accused other reviewers of being unintelligent for liking it. Whenever I’ve read one of those, I just had to shake my head and put it out of my mind. I even wrote a blog post about it, where I have researched the number of negative reviews for some of the world’s most famous books. It turns out that some of the beloved classics have had tens of thousands of one-star reviews, so I’m looking forward to the day when I have so many reviews that I simply want to be able to read them all.
Sometimes the person you least suspect to be funny can have you rolling in the aisles with a cute one liner. If someone met you for the first time would they be met with an out and out comedian or are you shy in real life?
I can be painfully shy if I have a feeling that I’m not welcome in a group. However, if you laugh at my jokes, expect an all-out performance! I love nothing more than to keep people laughing, and this is a huge motivator for me to continue writing, no matter how difficult and time-consuming the process can be.

Thank you Ana!

Stay in touch with Ana:


And grab your copy of Ana's books here:
Shizzle, Inc and Indiot.


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