If you love writing, or any other craft, keep on doing it. In the end, money does not matter. Don’t write to feed public tastes. Write for your own benefit.
Shirley Rinfeli – 2 November 2017
The Back Flap
An illustrated collection of whimsical poems about love, heartache, femininity, and finding your religion, crafted to tell a story about the turbulent journey of first loves and heartbreaks.
About the book
What is the book about?
It’s a boy meets girl story told in the form of poetry, with all that emotional angst which we so commonly find in teen fiction (which I personally love). It deals with trauma, heartache, loss, the tough stuff.
When did you start writing the book?
I had written a few poems scattered here and there, with no intention of getting it published, but when I showed them to a good friend, she encouraged me to search for a publisher. I started writing these poems in 2014.
How long did it take you to write it?
Since I wrote for the pleasure of it, I wasn’t very productive. It was just a hobby that I cultivated in my spare time, and one in which I have tried (somewhat successfully, I hope!) to improve. The poems in this collection materialized during my college days over some three years.
Where did you get the idea from?
When my friend read through the poems, she found that they sort of developed thematically, from pain to healing and liberation. And a wonderful teacher who read them pointed out that they had certain common symbols. So I figured I could somehow knit them together into a narrative, so that the poems, when read in sequence, tell a story. My mother was tremendously helpful, reading my manuscript from start to end, and giving many useful tips which I have tried to incorporate into the final product.
Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?
Making a coherent story out of the individual poems was a bit of a challenge. I had to delete some parts and write new ones that would fit into the story, but I liked doing something that was a bit innovative. It was a fun project.
What came easily?
I don’t know if I sound narcissistic when I say this, and forgive me if I do, but poetry comes easily to me. Maybe it’s because I write in free verse, where I don’t have to follow any strict rules. I agree, sonnets and haikus would be much harder. But the words somehow form in my head, sort of like automatic writing, but not exactly. Weaving words together is easy, but plotting is a lot harder.
Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?
The characters and events are fictitious.
We all know how important it is for writers to read. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you?
I read snippets from here and there, so a little postmodernism, a bit of Young Adult literature, Indian Writing, Children’s literature. John Green, E. Lockhart, Virginia Woolf, JD Salinger, TS Eliot, Robert Frost, Sylvia Plath and Arundhati Roy are some of my favourites. I don’t know if they have influenced me, and if they have, to what extent.
Do you have a target reader?
The book is aimed at younger readers. Since I am still quite young myself, I cannot pretend to understand the older generation, so I write from a young person’s point of view.
Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?
I don’t have any process that I follow religiously, since I’m terrible at sticking to schedules.
Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?
I wait for some time before I edit. I seldom like what I write, especially right after I have written it, so I save the cringing for later.
Did you hire a professional editor?
No, I didn’t.
Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?
I do sometimes. My playlist is quite diverse. There’s Hillsong and other contemporary Christian music, M83, The 1975, Bon Hiver, EDM. It depends on my mood.
Did you submit your work to Agents?
No, poetry is not usually represented.
What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Was it a particular event or a gradual process?
I was discouraged by the long publishing process and decided that self-publishing would be faster. Plus the royalty rates aren’t that great in traditional publishing.
Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?
I didn’t hire a professional, but did the cover myself by watching lots of tutorials. There was a lot of trial and error involved. Professional cover designs might have been a better option. It might have saved me a lot of time.
Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?
I don’t have a marketing plan as such.
Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?
Although I’m not really in a position to give advice, I would say one thing. If you love writing, or any other craft, keep on doing it. In the end, money does not matter. Don’t write to feed public tastes. Write for your own benefit. If you’re lucky, maybe someone will like it. But don’t compromise on your values as an artist.
What are you working on now?
I don’t have anything planned right now. There is something I am working on, but it is in the primary stages. Nothing concrete as of now.
End of Interview:
For more from Shirley, visit her website.