Author Interview with H.S. Stone

Today isn’t one of my regularly-scheduled posts. It’s a bonus interview with Indie author H.S. Stone, author of Beyond New Eden (an interesting and creative cross between dystopian and post-apocalyptic – click the link to read the full review). So enjoy learning a little more about life as an Indie author.

First of all, thank you for having me, Jalyn!

George and teh Galactic Games book cover
Image from H.S. Stone; used by permission

Tell us a little bit about yourself. What do you do when you are not writing? Do you have a day job?

In addition to being a writer, I’m a father, husband, and engineer by day. My family and my day job are my highest priorities, but when I have some free time (ha!), I read or write. I wrote my first novel, George and the Galactic Games, with my son in mind as my target reader. I’m fortunate to enjoy being an engineer too, so even if I make it big as an author (double ha!), I don’t know if I’d give up my day job. 🙂

In six words, what is Beyond New Eden about?

Post-war clones learn about their world.

What else have you written?

Beyond New Eden is my third novel. My first novel is George and the Galactic Games, a sci-fi adventure for Middle Grade and younger readers. After that, I published In the Hands of Children, a YA sci-fi apocalyptic tale of a virus that kills everyone past the age of puberty.

Where can we buy/see Beyond New Eden and/or your other works?

All of my books are available at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords in digital format. You can also buy paperback versions via Amazon and Createspace.

Where did you get the idea for Beyond New Eden? How did you come up with the title?

Believe it or not, the idea of Beyond New Eden started out as a crime thriller. I was thinking of how much we rely on distinctive markers like DNA to determine who a criminal is, but what if a crime occurs in a city of clones where everyone has the same DNA? From there, it spun into the eventual story for Beyond New Eden, which is very different from my original idea. I kept the clones, but took out everything else, including the crime. Maybe I’ll go back and write the crime thriller in the future. 🙂

I don’t remember how I came up with the title, but for the longest time, my working title for the book was Adams and Eves. Then Michael Grant published Eve and Adam, and since In the Hands of Children was already being compared to his novel, Gone, I didn’t want to appear to be even more of a Michael Grant copycat!

How long did it take between having the idea and publication?

A little more than a year. I had the idea while I was finishing up In the Hands of Children, so I jotted down my notes. As soon as I published In the Hands of Children, I started working on Beyond New Eden.

How much of the book is based on people you know and/or things you’ve experienced?

Unlike my first two novels, very little of Beyond New Eden was based on my personal experiences, except perhaps the initial idea springing from my love of the original CSI series.

What was the hardest part of writing this book?

As with all of the books I’ve written, the hardest part of writing this book was the editing. By the time a book is published, I will have gone through the manuscript over ten times, and for some sections of the story, more than twenty. I usually get sick of my books after about the fifth revision, but I push through it because I owe it to the readers to produce the best books I can.

Beyond New Eden book cover
Image from H.S. Stone; used by permission

What part or scene was the most fun to write?

The scene in the rain. It was one of the first scenes I imagined when I outlined the book, so I was excited when I finally got to write it.

If you had to do it over again, what (if anything) would you change about this book?

I hope that I’ve already changed everything I wanted to change about the book before publishing it! 🙂

How did you first become interested in writing?

I’ve been interested in writing since before I could read. I’ve always found books to be magical, with their ability to transport you to another world through only the use of words. I “wrote” my first story before I learned to read or write, so it was just a bunch of gibberish!

What is the hardest thing about writing? What is the easiest?

As I mentioned before, the hardest thing about writing any book is editing it. Oh God, how I hate editing!

The easiest part for me is actually coming up with the story ideas. I’ve got a ton of ideas that I add to a notebook. I have way more ideas than time to write them!

How much research do you do?

It depends on the story. For In the Hands of Children, I looked up information about viruses and how they work to make sure my pandemic sounded plausible. I also did research on the locations mentioned in the novel. For Beyond New Eden, very little research was required because it’s pretty much a made up world.

Do you work from an outline or just write and see where the story takes you?

I do a hybrid of both. I write an outline of the story that breaks the plot down into chapters, but I leave the details of each chapter up to where the story takes me when I’m writing it. When the story starts to diverge too much from my outline, I’ll re-outline the remainder of the story so that I still have a skeleton to refer to when I write.

Do you ever get writer’s block? How do you deal with it?

I rarely get writer’s block because, between my family and work, I don’t have much time to write. When I’m not writing, I’m constantly thinking of what I’m going to write next, so by the time I sit down to put pen to paper, what I want to say is already in my head. On the few occasions where I still get writer’s block, my favorite way to deal with it is to take a walk. It hasn’t failed me yet, and I get some exercise too!

What made you decide to go the Indie route in publishing?

I’ve tried submitting manuscripts to traditional publishers in the past, and I either never heard back from them or got generic rejection letters. Then, in late 2010, when I heard about some of the indie success stories, like Amanda Hocking and Joe Konrath, I decided to take the plunge myself.

What are some of the challenges of Indie publishing?

The fact that you’re responsible for everything yourself. For example, with indie publishing, the author is responsible for marketing his or her own book. Readers aren’t going to buy your books just because you published them. That’s a tough reality that I’m sure many indie authors in addition to me have learned. I’m also a naturally introverted person, so marketing is extra difficult for me.

What do you think are the advantages and disadvantages of Indie vs. traditional publishing?

Ironically, what attracted me to indie publishing and has led me to continue doing it include some of its drawbacks as well. As an indie author, you control everything. You control how long it takes to publish your book, what the cover looks like, what the book’s blurb will be, etc. On the other hand, it also means you’re the only one responsible for it, whereas with traditional publishing, the publisher takes care of the non-writing aspects for you, at least in theory.

Who designed your cover, and how was it created?

The folks at Digital Book Launch did the cover for Beyond New Eden. I have no idea how they created it. It just showed up in my Inbox one day. 🙂

How do you market your books? How much time do you devote to marketing?

I don’t spend much time on marketing. With my family and day job, and trying to write or read in between, I barely have time as it is to keep up with my blog, Twitter, and Facebook accounts. That’s one area where I wish I could do a better job.

In the Hands of Children book cover
Image from HS Stone; used by permission

Do you think that giving books away free works and why?

I haven’t had much success with this strategy, but as a reader, I know that I’ve bought later books in a series when I got the first one for free and enjoyed it. It probably hasn’t worked for me because the novels I’ve written so far have been standalone books. I’ve been thinking about writing a companion short story to one of my novels to give away for free in order to see how much it boosts sales of the novel.

Who is your favorite author and why?

I don’t have a single favorite author, but some of my favorites in recent years include Suzanne Collins, Katie French, Gail Carson Levine, Jonathan Maberry, and Marissa Meyer.

What is your favorite book and why?

The Hunger Games. It’s my favorite book in my favorite genre. It’s as close to a perfect book as I can remember ever reading. Not only was it wonderfully written, but I found the plot to be very engaging and I bonded with the characters in a way that I usually don’t.

Is there any particular book or author who made an impact on your life?

Again, I’ll have to give The Hunger Games the nod here. In addition to its awesomeness, it’s the first book written in the first person POV that I really enjoyed. As an author, it changed my view of the use of first person narration, and I wound up using it in Beyond New Eden.

Do you prefer ebooks or hard copies?

Although nearly half of the books I read these days are ebooks, I still prefer paperbacks to ebooks, but I prefer ebooks over hardcovers. Paperbacks are still easier to carry around and read for me. I also do a lot of my reading in bed before I sleep, and having a paperback fall on my face when I doze off hurts lets than a Kindle!

What book(s) are you reading right now?

This year, I decided to take on a reading challenge that I call Authors A to Z, where I read at least one book by an author whose last name starts A, one whose last name starts with B, and so on. I’m on M, which is Gretchen McNeil’s Ten.

What are you currently writing?

I’m currently working on my fourth novel, a YA sci-fi alien invasion story. I’ve always wanted to write a novel about an alien invasion.

Can you tell us about it, and do you know when it will be released?

Without giving away too much, I will reveal that it’s a YA alien invasion story about a girl whose family is abducted by alien invaders and her journey to rescue them. My plan is to release it in the beginning of 2014.

What advice would you give to your younger self?

Have fun and live the life you’ve been given instead of worrying so much. The stuff that I thought was important when I was younger, like popularity, is actually fleeting and unimportant.

What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Pursue writing because you love to write, not because you hope to become rich and famous. The odds are long that writing will become a lucrative career, but if you love to write, you’re less likely to give up.

Is there anything else you want to say to your readers?

Thanks for reading my answers, and thank you, Jalyn, for being a gracious host!

Thanks, HS, for being willing to reveal the secrets of life as an Indie author!

You can find HS Stone on his blog, HS Writing, and on twitter @hswriting.

You can buy HS Stone’s books on Amazon:

Beyond New Eden

In the Hands of Children

George and the Galactic Games


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