Thursday, 17 May 2012

Robert Collins

Author of: Lisa's Way

Book blurb:

Teenager Lisa Herbert lives in the small town of Mountain View on the planet Fairfield. The “Savage Rain” decades earlier shut down the hyperspace gate and isolated her world. A casual remark from her sister gets Lisa to ask a simple question: “If life was better before the ‘Savage Rain,’ why couldn’t it be better again?”

That question starts Lisa on a journey. She reactivates Fairfield’s H-gate and travels to three worlds. Each planet offers her a chance to improve life by hard work, by trade, or by making friends. She relies on her brains, her compassion, and a little sneakiness to solve the problems she faces.

As an introduction, could you tell us a little bit about yourself?

I write science fiction and fantasy. I also write about Kansas history.

What is your book about?

It's about the effort of a young woman to rebuild society. Her idea is that encouraging trade and cooperation, life will get better.

When and why did you begin writing?

I was hooked into SF/F by Star Wars and Star Trek. One of the books I read as a result was Asimov on SF. I was always imaginative, and showed that I could channel that into writing.

What genre do you prefer to write in?

Science fiction and fantasy.

What is your biggest writing achievement to date?

One of my nonfiction biographies was runner-up for bio of the year, as chosen by the Society of Midland Authors.

What inspired you to write this book?

The idea began in high school when a friend and I wanted to write a post-apocalyptic story with us and our other friends as characters. After high school I fictionalized the characters. One, Lisa Herbert, eventually stood out from the rest. She was the one who would try to rebuild society. The question was, how to go about it?

In the early 90's I published a series of travel booklets. As part of my research I learned about the Santa Fe Trail. It wasn't a trail for emigrants, but a commerce route. That's when it hit me. Trade would be the method that Lisa could use to travel and rebuild society. The first book finally came together when I set the story on colony planets instead of on Earth.

Who is your favourite author, and what is it about their work that strikes a chord with you?

I'm really not an author person so much as I am a story person. I'm willing to read anyone and anything, so long as I like the story.

What book are you reading now?

Nothing at the moment.

What are your current projects?

I've started working on the follow-up to my first novel, "Expert Assistance." I'm also working on another Lisa Herbert book.

Where and when do you do most of your writing?

At a room at my house that serves as my office. I write in the mornings; my goal is to write 4 pages a day.

What would you say was the hardest part of writing your book?

The time it took to get it into its current form. It took 15 years to write, several more to sell to a publisher, then a few more to get the book back and do the new version with a better cover.

Who designed your book cover – and was the cover something you deemed important?

Matt Orsman did the illustration. He did it because he'd won a copy of the previous edition. He liked it, his daughter liked it, and he offered to do covers for me.

A good cover is important, but keep in mind that it will often be seen in sizes smaller than a print book. Don't make it too complicated. A simple concept that gets your story across is better than a pretty cover that doesn't fit.

Did you try to go down the route of traditional publishing first – or did you feel that self-publishing was right for you from the beginning?

I've done both. I've sold three novels and several nonfiction books to small presses. I've warmed to self-publishing. After I had sold "Lisa's Way" to a small press, the owner became gravely ill. The book was very much up in the air at that point. It came out, but I don't want to be in a position like that again.

On the whole, how have you found self-publishing?

It's hard work. So far I haven't sold many copies, but at least now I don't have so much out of my control. If they don't sell then I have to write better and work harder.

Where can we buy the book?




Do you have a website or blog where we can keep tabs on you?

One Kansas Author:

The LW Facebook Page:

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Keep writing. Learn from your mistakes. If you work at it, you will improve and your work should sell.

And, finally, do you have anything else that you’d like to say to everyone?

Buy my books! :)