What is your name, where were you born and where do you live now?
My name is Mike Romeling. I was born in Burlington, Vermont but have resided for the past 35 years in the Taconic Mountain region of eastern New York State which I have used for the setting of my recently released novel—not surprisingly entitled "Tale of the Taconic Mountains."
Did you always want to be a writer? If not what did you want to be?
I first began writing short stories and some poetry in my early teenage years and hoped I might find success eventually. At about that same time I discovered the James Bond books and would have been fine with abandoning writing to instead become a secret agent who would stumble upon outrageously beautiful women during every dangerous assignment and in every exotic location. Oddly that never panned out :>)
When did you first consider yourself as a "writer"?
By my late teenage years I had branched out into pursuing the singer/songwriter path which I still pursue. When some of my songs were published and I had some modest success with my albums, I felt that perhaps I was "legitimate" to an extent. Later on I was able to place some of my regular writing (mostly humor pieces) in some small publications which felt good too.
Do you work another job as well as your writing work?
For many years I worked for the New York State Talking Book and Braille Library. About two years ago I retired from that job and now split my time up between music and writing.
What is the name of your latest book, and if you had to summarise it in less than 20 words what would you say?
My current book is "Tale of the Taconic Mountains" and I will confess straight away that I am cheating a bit on the 20 word limit. I was asked recently for a 25 word synopsis and I just can't seem to pare it down any further. Here it is:
Beneath the brooding mountain, clashing agendas hide a timeless truth— in these ancient hills, something stirs, both lighter than air and darker than starless night.
Who is your publisher? or do you self publish?
I used eBookIt for converting and distributing my novel to most of the major e-book sites. I found them to be very competent and refreshingly low-key. I think the determining factor for me was in the FAQs
where they responded to the question, "Will my book earn back the investment I put into it?" by answering, "Don't count on it." Sometimes honesty carries the day.
Do you have plans for a new book? Is this book part of a series?
While going through the process of finishing up this book and getting it out into the world, ideas for a sequel have been floating around in my head. But I've been able to reach no decision and am on the verge of just flipping a coin. I've always preferred tails and have sometimes wondered if there's anything significant about that.
Do you have a certain routine you have for writing? ie You listen to music, sit in a certain chair?
Except when my music endeavors force me to adopt "musician's hours," I am an early riser and like to work from 4 or 5 in the morning until 8 or 9. Seems to best fit my biological clock and ensures I will get a good chunk of word done before the phone rings or there's a knock on the door and the day goes off in a different direction. I insist on having my coffee cup on the desk at all times but seldom get more than a couple sips before I get distracted by the writing and the coffee goes cold. That's a good reason to get up and stretch and wander off to the kitchen to heat it up in the microwave after which it returns with me to the desk where it soon grows cold again. Just as well. Although I have moved my computer recently, at the time of writing the novel, I was facing a wall. But since my Dad was a watercolour artist, I have one of his best paintings on that wall, the view was fine. Now I am by a window where I can see the trees and flowers and occasionally watch my cat, Boots, saunter by with a rodent in his mouth. That's always a useful reminder that no matter how bad things may seem, they can always get worse.
Would you ever ask a reviewer to change their review if it was not all positive about your book/books?
No I would not. I believe that when a reader enters into the author's world, it becomes a sort of collaboration where the reader and/or reviewer should have as much free rein to react to the experience as the writer had in creating it. And everyone's a little different. I remember when Tolkien was asked for his reaction to some of the mixed reviews that were written when "The Lord of the Rings" was first published. He remarked how some aspects or sections of the book that were censured by some critics were the very same that were particularly praised by others. He concluded by saying this: "The author, of course, finds many faults both large and small, but fortunately being under no obligation to either rewrite or review the book, he will let them pass."
How do you come up with the Title and Cover Designs for your book/books?Who designed the Cover of your books?
Once I had decided the book would be set in the Taconic Mountain region where I live, the title just seemed a natural extension. But recently I've wondered if subconsciously—since I read much Poe in earlier years—I might have been remembering the title of his fine short story, "A Tale of the Ragged Mountains."
Are character names and place names decided after their creation? or do you pick a character/place name and then invent them?
I usually choose "working" names for characters and places right away but then end up changing some as the writing progresses and better choices reveal themselves.
Do you decide on character traits (ie shy, quiet, tomboy girl) before writing the whole book or as you go along?
Without wanting to sound too metaphysical here, I am frequently (and pleasantly) surprised how some characters simply take matters into their own hands and take me where they will. It happened a couple of times in this novel, particularly in the case of Amber Steele
Do you basic plot/plan for your book, before you actually begin writing it out? Or do you let the writing flow and see where it takes the story?
I sketch out basic plot ideas, but because characters should drive the plot, and because characters often evolve in unexpected ways during writing, I think it best not to bind yourself too tightly to preconceived plot elements.
What do you do to unwind and relax?Do you have a hobby?
Exercise works for me for relaxation and recharging the batteries. I play some tennis, ski, swim, and bike. But I must hasten to add I could be more consistent with doing these things.
What is your favourite book and Why? Have you read it more than once?
I found a discarded copy of "Lord of the Rings" when I was in high school and fell in love with it. I read it numerous times as the years went by; it became a favourite "summer" read for me. Later, when the movie came out, I was quite prepared to dislike it. Instead, despite whatever nit-picking might be done, I found it captured the spirit of the book quite wonderfully. And so of late years when I get the urge to detour into Middle-earth, I have been content to let the movie take me there.
What are you currently reading? Are you enjoying it? What format is it?(ebook, hardback or paperback)
I have just recently finished "The Night Circus" by Erin Morgenstern. Definitely a unique book and I thought it very good.
Do you think ebooks will ever totally replace printed books?
Because of my musical endeavors, I had a ring-side seat watching and participating in the music "digital revolution" that has preceded the emergence of the e-book in the writing world. The two stories are so similar that I already know the outcome. In both industries, there has been the initial denials, price-fixings and dire warnings by the traditional music companies and book publishers/sellers. Just recently the handful of remaining major book publishers were caught with their pants down conspiring to keep the e-books by their own authors priced artificially high. The "warnings" are the same we saw earlier from the music companies too—there would be so much "bad stuff" out there that no one would be able to filter through it all to find the good stuff. Or how could anything be any good if it hadn't passed through the traditional gatekeepers of agents, editors, publishers, etc.? But while there will always be physical books and physical music products, I believe the speaker at a recent gathering of publishers, editors, etc. was right on target when he said, "The e-book revolution isn't happening; it's already happened."
Is there a book you know you will never read? Or one you tried to read but just couldn't finish?
I've always felt a little guilty—because the book in question is considered such a literary landmark—but after a couple of attempts I have come to terms with the reality that I will never plow all the way through "Ulysses" by James Joyce.
What do you think about book trailers?
Speaking strictly for myself, I have never found trailers for movies, TV shows, and now more recently, books, to be very helpful for me in determining whether I might like the item in question. So one might think I would leave the whole "video" thing alone, right? But no, instead I created a much longer video for my novel—a sort of multi-media reading of excerpts with accompanying photographs of the Taconic Mountain region and background music, etc. My idea was (and still is) that I could use it for presentations at area libraries and other venues. I posted it on the internet a few weeks ago and—oddly and surprisingly—it's had over a couple hundred views the last time I looked. Of course, as with trailers, the question is whether that will translate into some book sales. Time will tell—and make us all older too. Should any readers of this blog like to view it, it can be found here. http://www.dailymotion.com/video/xq0uam_tale-of-taconic-mountains-medium Make some popcorn.
If you could invite three favourite writers to dinner, who would you invite and enjoy chatting with?
My choices would first have to be reanimated—shouldn't be too hard—then I would choose Mark Twain and Kurt Vonnegut (for their great sense of humor), and George Sand (more for her truly remarkable life than for her books). The menu would consist of eggs and soup—the only things I can cook. And of course a little wine to loosen them all up. Maybe a Pinot???
And any other information you wish to supply?
It's been a pleasure to share some thoughts with you all concerning the wonderful world of books. I am in the process of battling away trying to create a specific FB page for my writing and music—and of course they would have to radically change their "look" while I'm in the middle of the process. But meanwhile, from time to time, I post updates on these matters on my regular FB site at: http://www.facebook.com/mromeling?ref=tn_tnmn
Thanks for taking the time to take part in this Interview Mike!