Interview with Derek Kamal
Author of Homes
Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?
I was born in the Orlando area but now reside in the Atlanta region.
If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?
We bopped around a bit when I was kid, including a stint in upstate New York, but I’m mostly from Atlanta and I’m quite happy to be here.
What made you decide to write and publish your first book?
I am a lifelong lover of reading, and fantasy in particular. I’ve written for as long as I could, but at some point I decided to take things a little more seriously, to develop a fantasy world and create a story within it. The inspiration struck after a Tolkien re-read and a brief fascination with a computer game called Dwarf Fortress.
The decision to self-publish was a wary one. I knew going in that it meant a smaller readership, but I also knew it meant I had total control. The inquiring process was getting old and even though I hadn’t exhausted it by any means, I have always appreciate an independent, DIY type attitude. Getting into tabletop role playing gaming, and publishing those books, gave me the desire to just get the book out there. HOMES was chosen and I’m quite pleased with the result.
How would you describe your books to first time readers?
HOMES is humorous fantasy, set in a subterranean dwarven kingdom, with themes of community, identity, and relationships.
Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?
The draw is most obviously for fantasy readers. However within that community HOMES is most likely to connect with people who enjoy whimsy, rather than “serious” fantasy readers. There’s violence, but no one is getting tortured and pillaged; there’s drama, but most everyone makes up by the end. It’s ultimately a sweet tale with some battle throw in the mix.
Besides HOMES, it seems your average 20- or 30-something nerd tends to connect. My forthcoming novel, GOOD HEART, will be an interesting study in demographics as it has elements of myth and fantasy, as well as western and romance. We’ll see who likes it!
What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?
Typesetting and cover dimensions are tricky! I really enjoy the actual process of producing the book, but there are quite a lot of niggling details when it comes to setting the type and other such elements. In this computer age I thought it would have been a bit simpler.
If you could, what advice would you give to past self yourself before embarking on this journey?
Derek, you’ll avoid a lot of pain and heartache if you go in open-fisted. You’re not going to sell and you may not have anything to say, but the work is worth it; every step is one towards being a Good Writer.
How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?
As many as possible! All (most?) authors want to be read in their lifetime. Ultimately I hope to produce a body of work that will allow people (my children come to mind) to get to know me, but the more the merrier. I love talking about books.
What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?
My inability to market well. I’m not skilled in that particular area of the self-publishing process and simply don’t have the luxury of time to get better at it; the little time I do have is spent actually writing. That’s the one disadvantage of self-publishing, the business end falls to you when you really just want to write.
I hope in the future to get better at marketing and find the time to pound the proverbial pavement and hawk my books at conventions and the like.
What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
Foregoing modesty, I think my biggest strength as a writer is grinding it out. I have a knack, when the time is right, for pushing through and getting the story done, even if there are many mistakes and dead bodies along the way. It’s good to have editors and proofers.
Publishing is a similar strength. Whenever the focus comes I don’t stop until the job’s done and I will obsess at least a little until I hold a book in my hand.
What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?
As described above, I have practically no strength in marketing. I find it difficult to keep up a presence on social media and developing that sort of tribe is key to finding an audience.
When do you think you will you write your next book?
I have several in the oven, so to speak, but one that I finished a few years ago is going through final revisions. Expect to see Good Heart on Kickstarter in the next few months!
Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?
I am a self-published author.