WELCOME BACK TO THE WRITING TRAIN FOLKS
Everybody please welcome
I am a self-published author and an unbridled enthusiast, moonlighting as a middle manager. I started my blog with one purpose – to finish a novel. The good news is, that after almost two years of constant writing, editing, and more editing, I have finished one. It’s a comedy, and it is now available on Amazon. I hope you have as much fun reading it as I did writing.
The sequel to Shizzle Inc, Indiot is now AVAILABLE. Ana also blogs about the book marketing game over at anaspoke.com . Have a look at the “book marketing” tab for lists of resources and my personal experiences testing various marketing gimmicks.
Ana is also the founder of Comedy Book Week. An awesome event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 111 books! It should be even more epic next year! If you’d like to sign up see the link above or contact Ana.
* What part of Australia are from? Were you born and raised there?
I live in Melbourne, Victoria, and it is currently the middle of winter here. I was born in Russia, but I’m technically Ukrainian, and I’ve lived in the US for 14 years. Melbourne is the second largest city in Australia but, arguably, the largest center for culture and arts.
Wow a world traveler! Melbourne sounds like a neat place.
*What’s Australia like?
It’s great, if you don’t mind the kangaroos, which are everywhere. Just kidding! Australia is more laid back than the US, but just like the US, it’s huge and varied in climate and local culture. In the US, I lived in Florida, so I still can’t get used to Melbourne’s crazy weather – it really can have “four seasons in one day.” Yesterday it was freezing and raining with hail (that’s the middle of winter for you), but today the sun is up and it’s warming up quickly. In summer, it’s not that unusual to have temperature drop by 20 degrees Fahrenheit in a space of an hour, when the wind changes direction and starts blowing from the Antarctica. To make me even more miserable, while I’m freezing here, I hear it’s almost 90 degrees in Darwin, Northern Territory.
One of the things I like best about Australia is its multi-cultured mix of people. In Melbourne, about 40% of residents were either born overseas or had at least one parent born outside of Australia. So, being a foreigner is not such a big deal, and I felt accepted from the very first day. Such a mix of people also means you can get any ethnic food you desire, and it would be authentic, too.
Another thing that’s different from the US is that in Australia, most people live in cities, so the rest of the country is barely populated. This means a lot of untouched, wild “bush” nature. It also means crazy property prices in the city, tiny apartments, and tiny backyards, if you are lucky enough to have one. I think most Americans would struggle with the size of an average family home here.
Sounds quite fascinating! It’s good to experience different cultures. Thanks for sharing your experience.
*Where did you go to school? What did you study?
I’ve gone to school on three continents! I’ve studied landscape architecture, microbiology, environmental science, and project management, and have 1.3 Ph.D.s to show for the total of 13 years of full- and part-time study. I’ve never studied literature or writing, but over the last 2 years I’ve put myself through a self-designed and managed Masters of Self-Publishing (sort of). I blame it all on a combination of curiosity, short attention span, and a life-long addiction to the endorphin rush that comes with achieving goals.
That’s quite a blend of academic studies. I do remember when you were agonizing over your debut comedy novel Shizzle Inc. in some blog posts. Now it’s out! Impressive.
* What was your career track before pursuing writing? You mentioned about being a middle manager on your blog.
Still doing that, although I am currently finishing up my five-month long service leave. I work in a government agency, managing a small group of people and putting together management strategies. Maybe that’s why I could not resist starting #ComedyBookWeek – I was missing the rush that comes from organizing something new and nurturing it to grow into something big.
That’s again very impressive. Especially since it’s something fairly new and grew so quickly. You’re hired!
* Do you have any major hobbies you enjoy?
Currently the only one, obsessive, and all-consuming hobby is writing and marketing. I’ve had others– from breeding rare fish to kiteboarding, but they tend to come and go (see the previous comment about short attention span and endorphin rush).
Ana, I have to say, you’re a very interesting individual. I’ve never heard of kiteboarding and organizing anything makes my eyes cross.
*What’s your genre and why? Will you branch out?
My life-long genre is humor. It’s in everything I do, so even if I ever write something different, it will be funny. Perhaps a hilarious erotica series?
I love it. Everybody needs a good laugh right?
*Tell us about your upcoming book, the sequel to Shizzle.
Indiot follows Isa Maxwell to India, where she was supposed to help a mysterious prince win back his fortune. She also hopes to convince the prince to use his wealth to help the orphans, and maybe write a book about it. Needless to say, noting goes as planned. It’s a mad romp that goes from bad to worse, and then, just as she sighs with relief, it plunges her even deeper into trouble.
Sounds wildly entertaining! I’m finishing up Shizzle now and will press on to Indiot very shortly.
(Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2)
*What have you learned in your experience writing Shizzle?
I think the biggest lesson was to trust myself and to believe that somewhere in the world, there are people who would enjoy reading my books. I was so insecure about my ability to tell the story of Shizzle, Inc., that it took forever to finish it, and then even longer to get the balls to self-publish. Along the way, I just wanted someone to say, “Hey, this is not absolute garbage!” Now, thanks to my fans, I have an audience that’s eagerly awaiting Indiot’s release, and already asking about the third installment. It’s an amazing feeling, and a powerful fuel to keep going.
Shizzle, Inc (Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1)
*Can you tell us about your experience in self-publishing and marketing your book?
I’m strange in the sense that I now love the experience of self-publishing, and even more so –marketing. I had a lot to learn – the launch of Shizzle, Inc. was basically me saying “Thank God, it’s finished” and pressing “publish.” It took me another three months to publish a paper copy and to figure out some of the basics of book marketing. This time around, I am better prepared. The ebook and paperback are available at the same time, I have some early reviews thanks to fans willing to review ARCs, there’s paid marketing, Goodreads and Amazon giveaways, and of course, #ComedyBookWeek. Fingers crossed, all that effort will pay off. More importantly, I am learning so much, I have no doubt that the third book will be even better.
*You’re a writer; so what’s your story? What inspired you to take this journey?
I think I was meant to be a comedian – books are just one of the outlets for my never-ending clowning around. I literally can’t put a lid on it, and keep my colleagues laughing at work, and my family at home. At one point, I was even a comedy actor but, unfortunately, you have to wait for someone else to give you a role and write your material. With books and my blog, I can channel my gags straight at the audience – no middle man necessary.
I wanted to be comedian when I was a kid. I can totally relate to you on this level.
*Now that you’re published what’s your GOAL (S)? What’s the next step?
One of them is to continue writing the Isa Maxwell escapades series – I’m not finished yet or, rather, Isa is not finished. I trust she will tell me when she’s had enough. I also want to write a new book, and have a multitude of ideas noted down – it will be a matter of choosing one. It will definitely be funny, although it will have a different “flavor.”
I’m all too intrigued to see what you come up with next. You got me on my toes.
*What 3 things have hindered you from completing your projects? (CONFLICT)
Lack of self-belief had to be the most significant one. I consider myself to be a confident person, but even so, it’s pretty scary to say to yourself, “Hey, I think I can write a whole novel, and make it worth someone’s time.” The second obstacle is time – my “regular” job is demanding, and it’s hard to be creative after a full day. And finally, lack of knowledge – with the first one, I had to study plotting, character development, and editing alongside of writing the actual novel. If anyone is writing their first book, I would highly recommend undertaking a self-designed Masters of Writing. There are so many books on writing to choose from, plus you may find local courses or online resources. And if you want Cliff Notes on self-publishing and marketing, then read my blog!
A lack of self-belief is a big one across the board for majority of writers. I can relate to the lack of time! Especially after work and kids. Writing is such an subjective process it can be overwhelming for new authors. Then the objective side of learning the monstrosity of putting together a complete novel is a large undertaking to say the least.
*What keeps you motivated in achieving your dream? (DESIRE)
A vision of myself as a full-time writer, plus the positive reviews on my books. I have read and re-read the reviews many times over, and each time I vividly imagine that person, laughing out loud on a train or “snorting tea everywhere.” That’s what keeps me going, especially after I get an occasional bad review. There are people out there, on the other side of the planet that have never met me, but have loved reading a story that I made up and published. It’s an amazing “head trip” for me.
YES. I’m so happy for you AND very jealous. I’m also one of those far away peeps cracking up when everyone else is asleep.
*What’s your main ANTAGONIST? What’s in the way of you accomplishing your goals?
Some unpublished writers think getting published is the only hurdle. Currently, I’m the boss of my antagonists and demons, and ploughing away every day. Again, this is thanks to the small successes along the way – positive reviews, supporters of my blog, and sales of my books. There have been times when I’ve questioned my investment of time and money, but I got up in the morning and kept going, and the Antagonist got weaker and weaker. I don’t think I will ever be completely free of self-doubt, but I’ve learned to manage it. Marketing your book is a much bigger hurdle than publishing. I hope writers understand and embrace it – and hey, it can even be fun! I would say that unpublished writers should have reasonable expectations of sales of their first book, and then continue working every day on improving their craft, as well as packaging, marketing, positioning, platform, and all that jazz. It’s a snowball, and it takes a long time of pushing it around before you start seeing it grow.
This is great info and inside scoop for us newbies looking to get out feet wet. Thanks Ana! I’m glad you keep going despite the hurdles you had to overcome. You must be good at track I suppose?
*Why do writers give up, quit or abandon their dream?
I have not studied this enough, but I would say self-doubt coupled with negative feedback could kill any dream. I would recommend striving for smaller, intermediate goals on your way to “success,” whatever that may mean to you. That way, there are bursts of positive energy all along the way that will keep you going.
Good practical advice here. That way we don’t set up ourselves for failure.
*What would you say to a struggling writer who’s given up?
It’s a very personal issue, and this industry is not for the faint of heart, so I would ask them what it is they really want. It may not be writing – in my case, for example, it’s the desire to make people laugh. There are other outlets for it, such as acting or stand-up. If, however, the person truly wants to be a writer, I would tell them to stop acting like a victim, get it together, make a plan, and try again. What can I say, my Russian is showing.
This is good stuff here. I like your Russian.
*What else is coming down the pike for you?
Well, #ComedyBookWeek is shaping up to be quite a celebration. It’s hard to think it was just a vague idea six weeks ago, and now it’s an event with an official website, over 60 participating authors and 90 books. Based on the level of interest I’ve been getting over the last few weeks, the next year will be huge. Another sharp learning curve for me, and another blast of endorphins. Bring it on!
BRING ON THE LAUGHS!!!!
Stay connected with Ana!
Shizzle, Inc: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 1
Indiot: Isa Maxwell Escapades Book 2
I thought about a few famous quotes, but decided to live the interview with a fresh one. My nephew-in- law has written a musical called “Einstein, Master of the Universe.” One quote from the play truly resonated with me:
“Pursue a problem, and it soon becomes a prize.” It worked for Einstein, and it would work for any of us.
5 thoughts on “Author Interview: Discussing Comedy with Ana Spoke”
Love the comment about learning curves being a great charge. Inspiring!
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Sherrie, I sent you an email…
Thanks! Emailed you back.
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