Allirea’s Realm: coffee and conversation with Joe Vercillo

 

I was asked to beta Joe’s book without any idea what it was about.  I went into it blind and was quite surprised that it had a picture of a rat on the cover.  I began to read and immediately got sucked into a coming of age of a rat.  Talk about being shocked.  Great job, Joe, it was a fun read.

Joe Vercillo is a professional ice-hockey goalie, singer-songwriter, and actor from Toronto, Canada.  Stumbling upon the love of his life, he journeyed down to Princeton, New Jersey, and found a dead mouse in a garage.  The rest is history.

Out of this entire interview, this will be the most important question.  Are you a coffee drinker?

Not so much.

If yes, what is your favorite, if not, what is your beverage of choice?

I am more of chai latte, hot chocolate, green tea person, though I do enjoy the odd espresso when I’m hanging with Italian relatives and friends!

I have read your coming of age rat book (it was strangely fantastic), WHAT WERE YOU THINKING AND WHY A RAT????

Haha! Glad you enjoyed it. I came across a dead mouse in the garage last summer and made up a back story for why he was lying out in the open like that. My fiancé, who (as you know) is an indie author, encouraged me to turn the story into a book, so I did. I used to have a fear of rats, but I’ve always been strangely fascinated by them, especially seeing them in New York City.

Is this your first book?

Yes

What made you decide that you could write a book?

The encouragement of my indie author fiancé! I would never have done it without her help and support.

What do you do for leisure or entertainment?

Play lots of hockey, make music and perform once in a while, travel lots, and Netflix and HBO in my downtime.

How would your friends describe you, in one word?

Chill

Tell me the ONE character in your book that is the most like you.  You can only pick ONE, no cheating?  (This should be interesting since your book is about a rat)

Princeton is most like me. But maybe more so back in my late 20s. Rodents get a bad rep by the way! haha

What were you like as a child?

Pretty happy and adventurous, I loved playing outdoors with friends, biking around, building forts, the usual.

What were your childhood dreams?

To play in the NHL! Hockey is life 😀

Who is your real-life hero?

My parents

Why?

All of the sacrifices they’ve made to give my brother and I a good life growing up

What would be your best achievement to date?

Living my life the way I want to live it.

Have you ever been banned from a public place? 

No, but I’ve been ejected from places many times due to the antics of my best friend Joey. (Second City, concerts, sporting events, bars, weddings etc)

I need to get an interview with Joey.  Can you set it up?  😀

If you had a warning label, what would yours say?

Handle with care: FRAGILE

Whats the craziest thing you’ve ever done for someone?

Drove almost 40 straight hours in a Uhaul, from southern Ontario to northern Alberta, to help a friend move.

Are you a good dresser?

I like to think so, but who knows. To each their own.

Do you hold grudges?

Never!

What has been your most embarrassing moment?

I was on a first date at the beach and got crapped on by a seagull. Brutal.

When can we expect your next book?

Fall 2017

Get your copy of Joe’s book, Age Six Racer, from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

IndieView with Sahar Ayachi, author of The Orchid

That being said, the one message I would like to convey to all readers through Lola’s story is that people come in various shapes and sizes, yes, but they also come in various mindsets and psychological states. Everyone has their own struggles and their own way of dealing with them.

Sahar Ayachi – 23 May 2017

The Back Flap

“You will bring light to my darkness, you will bring hope to my despair. You will be my knight though you will first be a slave, but I know which spots to hit to make you brave.”
Dreamy, impulsive, but mostly confused—this is Lola. On a journey where she just tries to live, love, and be loved, Lola is being followed by the one thing she thought she escaped from—a presence that will find her wherever she goes… a presence that isn’t happy with her decisions—not happy at all.
Follow Lola through a story where the lines between dreams and reality are blurred, where she will be faced with struggle—emotionally and physically—and where she is trying her best to make sense of the confusing situation she got herself into.
What is this scary unknown that Lola is running away from, and will she eventually be able to face it?

About the book

What is the book about?

The Orchid is a novel that tells the story of a young girl called Lola who travels far away from her home country, escaping a secret she has always had, and that started to become unbearable. That’s how her new adventure begins. She settles in a new place, begins a new life and starts believing she successfully managed to run away.

But, what Lola ignores is that her secret never left her. It will start to manifest itself to her in strange ways she won’t understand at first. She will struggle, physically and mentally; she will be dragged into some kind of a weird “game” that will make her confuse dream and reality… until she will eventually fall face to face with the embodiment of her secret and will have to face it.

The book is a little difficult for me to “categorize”. It falls under “general fiction”, but it has a big love storyline and an even bigger psychological component. We can say that this book is the story of a person suffering from a light case of psychosis, trying to find her way through a specific portion of her life.

When did you start writing the book?

I started writing this book in May-June 2016, but some sections of it have been written for almost 10 years already.

How long did it take you to write it?

All in all, nine months.

Where did you get the idea from?

The idea to write this book came to me early in 2016, when I decided to gather old and new writings of mine. In doing so, I noticed there were several essays that talked about almost the same topic. So, I decided to collect them and build a story around them. That’s what I meant earlier by “some sections of it have been written for almost 10 years already.”

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Yes, there were! I had two major struggles while writing this book:

  • Writing “on demand”: even though I have been writing for almost 15 years now, I never sat down with a pen and a paper and decided “ok, let’s write”. Writing, for me, has been a very personal activity. I wrote to express myself, to deal with various situations, because I was never courageous/capable enough to openly express myself. While writing this book, I had deadlines to respect (that I set to myself), and so, there were many times where I had to actually sit down and start writing. It became a little easier with time, but it still is a major issue until now.
  • Disconnecting the character of Lola from my own person: like I mentioned, writing has always been a personal activity. Most of what I wrote was about myself, even though I didn’t always write in first person. To deal with the author block that came with the “writing on demand” issue, I had to dig in my own past experiences to find the proper emotions. As the book isn’t really a happy story, and as some parts of Lola’s storyline are based on my own life, it was very stressful to bring up older feelings and emotions. What didn’t help was the fact that the book was written in first person, at first; until one day I decided to turn every “I” into a “she”.

What came easily?

Descriptions of feelings. As you might have guessed by now, there is a huge emotional component to The Orchid. Finding the right emotional setting was a struggle, but once I got there, it just streamed like magic. I loved using all kind of figures of speech: comparisons, metaphors, pleonasms, personifications, hyperboles, euphemisms, antiphrasis, oxymora… I wanted to convey the message so clearly, I might have overdone it a little bit with descriptions.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?

All characters are borrowed from real world people I know. Even though the book only focuses on 2 characters, apart from Lola, each one is inspired from several real-world people.

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?

There is one author in particular that has influenced me the most, and that’s Amélie Nothomb. I love her style of writing so much, I keep reading and re-reading her books. Unwillingly, I found myself writing in a style that is, I wouldn’t dare to say similar, but clearly influenced by hers: the important presence of different figures of speech, the use of complex images and figurative ways to describe easier events…

Do you have a target reader?

Not really. I would say maybe an adult or young adult audience, due to the (light) presence of one or two intimate scenes, but no real restrictions. That being said, the one message I would like to convey to all readers through Lola’s story is that people come in various shapes and sizes, yes, but they also come in various mindsets and psychological states. Everyone has their own struggles and their own way of dealing with them. In the book, there’s a lot of talks and conversations that just happen in the main character’s head to explain the reasons behind her reactions and behaviors. It’s targeted to those who would relate to her as well as those who wouldn’t understand people like her.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it?

I usually don’t. I just write whenever I have something to express, so I just sit and do it. That being said, the process for this book in particular was to first gather two or three older essays I wrote before, with a couple other newer ones and think about the full story. Some of these became the first chapters, some went to the end. I had to fill in the blanks in between, aka the core of the story.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences?

Yes, absolutely. The general idea and progress of the story was clear in my mind since the beginning. I knew how I wanted the book to start and how I wanted it to end. I had a clear outline written down with the various chapters and the main idea in each one. Of course, the idea organization and some of the content was modified a few times as the story progressed, but the general outlining stayed the same.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished?

I usually wait until I am finished to edit. I wrote my book as separate chapters first, and not in order, then connected them. First, there was chapter editing, then a general editing once I put all parts together.

Did you hire a professional editor?

For the content, no, I did not hire a professional editor. I still got an editor/writer to read and review my final manuscript. For the layout/internal design editing, it was done by professional from the publisher I worked with.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping?

I don’t. I usually need complete silence to write. It gets too loud in my head already when I write, and sometimes thoughts become faster than my writing speed. I wouldn’t be able to catch up and concentrate in the presence of any other type of noise around.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents?

As a newbie author, I signed a self-publishing contract with Partridge Singapore in June 2016 because the publishing plan they provided sounded interesting for first time writers. I was, and still am, very new to the world of authors and publishers, so I am learning as I go.

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 just decided to go indie because first, I am still very new to the field, but also because the self-published contract I found had no strict deadlines. When I signed it, I was still doing my masters of science in a very demanding field, so I didn’t want more strict deadlines in my life.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself?

My book cover was designed by a designer friend of mine. I would like to call it “professionally” done, because she has put so much effort and professionalism into it. But maybe just like my “indie” content editor, my cover was also done by an “indie” designer.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it?

I am just winging it honestly. As my publisher is in Singapore, and as I am currently back to my home country (Tunisia), I am trying to get as much online marketing as possible. It’s not easy, but it’s a very interesting experience. I am learning so much as I go, and I love it!

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors?

It’s not going to be an easy task! You will find yourself doing most of the work alone, whether it’s editing, designing and especially marketing, publicity and reviews. But it’s an amazing experience with all its challenges and its frustrations. Every small step will feel like an immense win, you will have more opportunities to feel accomplished and happy about your own achievements. Such moments are what make the indie experience worth it.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I grew up in Tunisia, North Africa. Born and raised there, and even though I traveled abroad a lot, I only really left in 2011, when I moved to Seoul, South Korea for undergraduate studies.

Where do you live now?

Right now, I am back in Tunisia for some time.

What would you like readers to know about you?

I would like my readers to know that I am just a girl trying to find her way through life. I do so with a huge interest in scientific fields (in which I majored for my bachelor and my master studies), and an even bigger interest in writing. The Orchid is my very first published work, but I also write song lyrics. I am currently working on musical projects, and potentially another book, so you’ll probably see me again. In the meanwhile, I keep myself busy with reading and reviewing, dancing, traveling and learning all the languages my brain can fit.

What are you working on now?

Right now, I am working on song lyrics for some musical projects. I am taking a break from book writing for a while, but my brain is always active. I am considering a continuity to Lola’s story, but also couple other unrelated ideas, which will be developed later.

End of Interview:

For more from Sahar, follow her on Twitter.

Get your copy of The Orchid from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

IndieView with Max E. Stone, author of One Minute There

I’m a reader who likes a little of everything in the books I read so I wrote for the reader that likes that, too. This one is a mystery/thriller with a couple drops of romance. 

Max E. Stone – 20 May 2017 Continue reading

Reviewer IndieView with Marie Blanchet of Marie Does Book Reviews

I think that people love reading because people love stories. Whether they come in the form of a book, a movie, a video game, or gossip around the water fountain, stories are an integral part of ours lives as humans, and storytelling is an art as old as our specie. It’s not going away any time soon. 

Marie Blanchet – 18 May 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Khaled Talib, author of Incognito

I’m realistic to know the publishing world has change. Nobody knows for sure where it’s going and how it will end. At least not now. So I’ll take what’s the best situation for me. 

Khaled Talib – 16 May 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with A.K. Smith, author of A Deep Thing

I’m influenced by fantastic stories. Books that take me away, teach me something new and keep me turning the pages, are books that I would love to mimic.

A.K. Smith – 13 May 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Jason Pomerance, author of Women Like Us

I do some outlining but mostly I like to let the characters take over and take me where they want to go. I like to be surprised by my characters, and what they decide to do with themselves. It is important, though, I think to have a general idea of a beginning, a middle and an end. Even if it’s just a rough idea.  

Jason Pomerance – 11 May 2017

The Back Flap

Susan Jones, a brash and ballsy chef who hopscotches from one demanding restaurant job to the next, was barely in her twenties when she married and had a son, Henry. But after her marriage to Andrew fell apart, she ceded most of the raising of the baby to her mother-in-law, the very opinionated Edith Vale, a woman as formidable and steely as her stiff blond bouffant, the veritable helmet that helps her soldier through life. Now, after letting Henry drift away, Susan is determined to make things right. But just as mother and son seem to make headway after embarking on a cross-country road trip, things take a dark turn. When the family reconvenes in California, everybody must fight to find courage and humor in the face of a situation that threatens to change them all forever.

About the book

What is the book about?

Women Like Us tells the story of an extended family and how it copes when one member of the family faces a daunting struggle. It’s also about second chances, and redemption plays a role too.

When did you start writing the book? 

I began writing the book several years ago, but I didn’t write it from beginning to end in one sitting. I would work on it, put it aside, then go back to it.

How long did it take you to write it? 

It took quite a while to get the book in shape.  But like I mentioned, I didn’t write it one sitting, so it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how long.  It was a few years, on and off.

Where did you get the idea from? 

The book actually began its life as a screenplay.  I had been wanting to write a mother/son road movie, but as I kept outlining and developing the characters, it started to feel more like a novel.  So I just kept writing.

Were there any parts of the book where you struggled?

Oh, yes!  Often there were periods of struggle, especially in early sections — getting the tone, and the plotting right.

What came easily? 

The character Edith Vale, for some reason, sprang to life almost fully formed it seemed. It was always a pleasure to write the chapters with Edith in them. In fact, I’d miss her if she was absent for too long.

Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know?  

Oh, I would say I’ve definitely borrowed from the real world. I think all novelists do, in one way or another.

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 worship at the altar of Anne Tyler.  I think she’s just brilliant in the way she takes real world, everyday characters and makes them so much larger than life.  I’ve read almost every Tyler book, some more than once or even more than twice.

Do you have a target reader? 

Women seem to like this book the most.  But I wouldn’t want to categorize the book as Women’s Fiction — I’ve had lots of men tell me they liked it and relate to it too.

About Writing

Do you have a writing process? If so can you please describe it? 

I am pretty disciplined when it comes to writing. I like to write early in the morning, when things are quiet, and then revise and edit later in the day.

Do you outline? If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? 

I do some outlining but mostly I like to let the characters take over and take me where they want to go. I like to be surprised by my characters, and what they decide to do with themselves.  It is important, though, I think to have a general idea of a beginning, a middle and an end. Even if it’s just a rough idea.  Because certainly things might change as you go along.

Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? 

I edit as I go, and then again when done.  I’ve often found that earlier parts of a piece of work may have changed based on what happens as the plot unfolds so it’s important to go back and make edits.

Did you hire a professional editor?

I did not.  I know a lot of people in and around publishing who were willing to read and give notes.  Then the book got a very thorough and exhaustive copy edit from Inkshares.

Do you listen to music while you write? If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? 

Not while writing, but sometimes during rewrites and edits.  The Beatles always works for me, especially Hey Jude.

About Publishing

Did you submit your work to Agents? 

Yes. The book was actually repped by an agent at one point. We had a parting of a ways, though.

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 stumbled onto crowd-fund publisher Inkshares sort of by a fluke.  I spotted an article in Deadline Hollywood about how they had signed a deal with talent agency UTA to rep screen rights of Inkshares projects.  I had never done any kind of crowd-funding but I decided to take a leap and give it a try. Best decision I ever made because now I can hold the book in my hands, and there’s nothing like that.  But crowd-funding is also very hard work, almost harder than the actual writing, I sometimes think.

Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? 

The cover was done by a professional.  Although I had a lot of input into decisions about it.

Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? 

As part of the Quill Imprint of Inkshares you get a small bit of help with marketing, but not a lot. I learned much about marketing as I went along.  I’m still learning.

Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? 

It’s all about marketing!  Be prepared to do anything and everything to get your book into reader’s hands.

About You

Where did you grow up?

I was born in New York City and grew up on the east coast.

Where do you live now? 

Los Angeles.

What would you like readers to know about you? 

I love to surf, but I’m really bad at it!  It’s one of my goals in life to be the surfer that I am in my head!

What are you working on now? 

A second novel called Celia At 39, which is about to be shopped to agents.

End of Interview:

For more from Jason, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, or like his Facebook page.

Get your copy of Women Like Us from Amazon US or Amazon UK.

Reviewer IndieView with Dawn West of Up ‘Til Dawn Book Blog

Pick any traditionally published book off the shelf and I can find an error inside it, too. I’ve seen commas used where periods should have been, the wrong their/there/they’re (those are pretty common), and lots of missing quotations. I’m pretty forgiving for typos in self-published books. I am less lenient about bigger blunders like using the wrong name or plot inaccuracies, holes, and knots.

Dawn West – 9 May 2017 Continue reading

BookView with Jarod Powell, author of She Burned Me Alive

Sometimes I feel like I’m putting my ignorance on display by incorporating sociological elements into my fiction. In a way, I’m doing here what I said I would never do: get political. But I’ve learned firsthand that the political is always personal, and there’s no avoiding it – ever.

Jaron Powell – 6 May 2017 Continue reading

IndieView with Emily Page, author of Fractured Memories

My dad was my best friend. He embraced the ridiculous, looked for the good in people, and mentored and helped people whenever he could. Following his diagnosis, when people asked how he was doing, he’d answer, ‘Not bad for a demented guy.’ He looked for the light hiding amidst the pain. He chose to be very open about what he was going through in the hopes that it would help other people cope with their own diagnosis or a loved one’s diagnosis. Writing this book seemed a fitting way to honor that legacy.

Emily Page – 4 May 2017 Continue reading