The Mysterious Bakery on Rue de Paris by Evie Gaughan. No Advance Reader Copy (ARC) included. No affiliate links used You can read my full disclosure policy here.
One of the many reasons I love social media is that it introduces me to people I wouldn’t otherwise meet. Evie Gaughan is one of those people. I don’t know when Evie first crossed my Twitter radar, but I remember devouring her blog and rushing off to download her books shortly afterwards.
Thank you to Evie Gaughan for taking the time to answer my questions.
When did you know you wanted to become a writer?
I’m not sure there was one definitive moment in time that I can pinpoint. Like a lot of writers, I always loved writing and reading as a child, but did I really think I was going to become a writer? Never in my wildest dreams. When, as an adult, I decided to try and start writing seriously, there were a lot of stops and starts. Hopeful beginnings, frustrating middles and disenchanted endings. And that’s how it still is, because I think you have to reaffirm your decision to be a writer every day. This business doesn’t work the way you think it will. You imagine that once you’ve written your masterpiece, the rest will follow, but writing asks the question over and over again, do you really want to do this? It’s never something you can take for granted or be 100% sure of, there are always doubts and rejections, but if you keep coming back to the page, despite all of that, then you know that writing is choosing you.
You recently wrote about your experience of self-publishing for The Irish Times. Is there a piece of advice you wish you had when you were starting out?
All of the advice! The good thing about self-publishing is that there is tons of information out there (unlike trad publishing which tends to be cloaked in secrecy) and the community is very supportive and helpful. However, it can also be a bit overwhelming and there is only so much you can take in, so I actually have two pieces of advice. Firstly, it takes time. When you start out building your author platform, you see what everyone else has achieved, how much knowledge they have of the industry, the connections they’ve made, the marketing tricks they use and it can be intimidating. No matter how hard I tried, I always felt like I was playing catch up and getting things wrong. But over time and with the publication of my second novel, momentum began to build; I gained followers on my blog and increased exposure through writing articles. It takes time to build an author platform and learn the ropes. So my first piece of advice would be, don’t stress yourself out by trying to become an overnight success.
Secondly, something that would seem obvious but took me a while to get my head around was that self-publishing means you are now a publisher as well as an author. It’s so important to make this distinction as it gives you the objectivity you need to make editorial and production decisions, just like a regular publisher would. This is what makes self-publishing so challenging, because you have to wear two different hats and be able to switch them as needed.
Writing is a solitary process. Do you have a routine so that you don’t get completely lost in the world(s) you’re creating?
Nope! No routine here 😉 I do what all of the ‘how to’s’ advise against and I write with my gut. I write when I feel like writing, which thankfully, is often enough that I’ve just finished my third novel and begun my fourth. On two occasions I have taken part in NaNoWriMo to give my manuscripts a kickstart. Writing 50,000 words in a month is insane, but it works! Getting that first draft down is a messy process, so getting it done quickly is a great help and means you can spend more time rewriting (which is, as they say, writing). Left to my own devices, I could pootle around with a story for months on end, so NaNo is the only time I approach anything resembling a routine. I think you’ve got to do what works for you. I can be quite self-disciplined and to be honest, I get separation anxiety if I’m away from my writing for too long! But I’ve never been able to commit to a set routine.
Building an online presence seems to be as much part of an author’s job as the actual writing. Do you find it difficult to balance the two?
In the beginning I did find it difficult, mostly because I wasn’t really sure what I was supposed to be doing. When you start out, it can feel very much like an echo-chamber for one! But over the years I’ve had more and more people following my blog and my network of readers/writers/friends has grown organically. There’s never really any way of measuring how much impact your online presence has on book sales, so really it’s up to each individual how much time they want to spend on social media etc. But for me, I’ve met so many wonderful and interesting people who are always opening my eyes to new things, that I actually really enjoy it. As you mentioned, writing is a solitary process, so it’s good to connect with like-minded people online.
As for balance, well, the only way to get any writing done is to disconnect from the Internet (she says, while her phone beeps in the background). It’s tricky because, there’s always something you have to look up online for research and before you know it, you’re having a discussion on Facebook about literary tattoos! I’ve recently come across an app that lets you browse for research while blocking social media sites, so that is something I will definitely be downloading.
I love hearing what people are passionate about reading, even if they can’t narrow it down to a favourite. Which book do you wish you could thrust into the arms of strangers and demand they read it immediately?
Good question! But how to answer?! I’m a sucker for anything with a touch of magical realism or the supernatural. I’ll make it easy on myself and choose the last book I read, which is a five star read. The Devil I Know by Claire Kilroy.
It’s got everything I love in a novel – dark humour, gothic undercurrents, and Irish wit! For some reason, this novel didn’t really get the attention it deserved, so if I’m going to accost a stranger with a book, I think it should be one they mightn’t have heard of.