Today’s interview is with Donald Firesmith, author of The Secrets of Hawthorne House.
1) What is your author name and in what state do you live (or country if not in the US)?
My name is Donald Firesmith and I live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.
2) What is the title of your newest book, and what is the genre?
My newest book is The Secrets of Hawthorne House. It is a young adult modern urban fantasy.
3) What is the book about?
On moving next door to a dilapidated Victorian mansion, 15-year-old Matt meets Old Lady Hawthorne, the town’s infamous recluse who is said to be a witch and a murderess. When her niece arrives with her three children, something extraordinary happens. Matt meets Gerallt, the strange boy destined to become his best friend. And when Gerallt divulges the Hawthornes’ family secret, it changes Matt’s life forever.
This is the story of an unlikely friendship, the clash of two radically different cultures, secret magic, and a search for the lost Hawthorne treasure.
4) Where did you come up with the idea?
I wanted to show how two boys from totally different backgrounds and with opposite beliefs could eventually become friends and learn to accept each other.
5) How long did it take you to write it?
About 15 years. I worked on the book for a couple of years until I was about 90% done, but I could not think of the right ending. I put the manuscript away and wrote five other books. One day, I pulled out the manuscript, re-read it, and realized that I knew how it ends. It took me about another year to complete and go through the rewrite and editing process.
6) Did you learn anything from the project?
I learned that sometimes the best way to complete something difficult is to put it aside and do something else. That not only gives you a new perspective that helps you solve the problem; it also gives you time to practice and hone your craft so that the end result is much better than it would have been otherwise.
7) Do you have an author website and/or blog? How about a book video?
My author website is http:/donaldfiresmith.com, and my blog is part of it. I’m in the process of producing a trailer for my most recent book.
8) Do you have any success tips to pass on to fellow authors? How about any great editors/cover artists?
Keep writing because even if practice doesn’t make perfect, it does make improvements. Each one of my books is better than the previous one. The Secrets of Hawthorne House would not have won the 2019 Readers’ Favorite silver medal in the young adult urban paranormal category had I completed it over a decade ago.
Be an indie author; it is very easy with ebooks and print on demand. It also gives you so much more artistic control and better royalties.
Use editing tools (e.g., I use Grammarly and AutoCrit) in addition to human editors. Also, the more beta readers, the better. No matter how many people edit and read your book, some mistakes will always slip through, which is another reason to be an indie author. Each time someone points out a problem, I go in, fix it, upload the new files, and the new version is available in a matter of hours.
Rudi Parfaite did the cover of The Secrets of Hawthorne House, my most recent book. He is the lead environmental artist for a Paris-based gaming company. He took my architectural drawings of the old mansion and perfectly recreated it. His cover deservedly won a best cover of the month award.
9) What genres do you like to read? Are you open to reading new authors and reviewing their work?
I write the kind of novels I like to read: speculative fiction such as science fiction, traditional and paranormal urban fantasy, steampunk, and horror (with monsters, not psychopaths). I read a lot of authors who have not yet made a name for themselves. Knowing how critical reviews are, especially for indie authors like myself, I always leave a review for each book I read.
10) What is your favorite book of all time and why?
The Tolkien trilogy (yes, I know it’s not one book but three) because I can be read over and over again without it ever getting old. When I spent a year studying in Germany, I wanted to immerse myself in written and spoken German. Tolkien was the only English-language book I allowed myself to take with me.
11) Fun Question: Do you have any pets? If so, what kind?
Our family has two dogs (one quite neurotically needy) and a wonderful cat.
12) Fun Question 2: Do you own an electronic reading device? If so, what kind and how do you like it?
I own a Kindle Fire, and I love it. Not only is it a great way to read; it is surprisingly inexpensive for being such an unexpectedly powerful tablet computer.
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