Interview with Donald Firesmith

Author of The Secrets of Hawthorne House

The Secrets of Hawthorne House


Where are you from originally and where do you reside now?

I was conceived in Portland, Oregon. I was born in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. I currently live in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.

If you currently reside somewhere besides where you were born, what’s the story that lead from there to here?

I have lived in 18 cities in three countries (US, Germany, and Switzerland). I have moved for school (Oregon, Germany, and Arizona). I have also moved many times due to working for different companies and different subsidiaries of the same company.

What made you decide to write and publish your first book?

My first book was a software engineering book, in which I documented a lot of the lessons learned on a major software development program. My first fiction book was a “textbook” on magic wands such as one might see at Hogwarts. I wanted JK Rowling to write such books, and when it became clear that she was only going to do the small booklets for charity, I finally decided to write a book like one I wanted to read.

How would you describe your books to first time readers?

I write speculative fiction: fantasy, alien invasion science fiction, and young adult urban paranormal fantasy. I work very hard to get the normal (e.g., hard science, military hardware, life experiences) realistic because I feel it makes the fantastic more believable.

Who do you feel is most likely to connect with the topics you write about?

Anyone who enjoys any type of speculative fiction should like my novels. Even though my most recent novel, The Secrets of Hawthorne House, was written primarily for young adults, quite a few adult reviewers have explicitly written that the book is enjoyable to adults.

What unexpected or surprising thing did you learn during the process of writing and publishing?

First, how easy and inexpensive it is to be an indie author now in the days of ebooks and print on demand. The only significant unavoidable costs are buying a good professional book cover and paying for a good professional editor.

If you could, what advice would you give to past self yourself before embarking on this journey?

Become an indie author so that you don’t have to waste ton of time and effort trying to get a literary agent prior to getting your first book published. Instead, spend your time writing and marketing your books.

How many people would you ideally like to reach with your books?

Ideally, everyone who likes science fiction, fantasy/paranormal, and horror. Somewhat more realistically, enough readers so that I can “retire” and write books full time. Even more realistically, enough readers and reviewers to get my books to reach the point where their sales take off.

What has been the biggest challenge and frustration during the process to date?

Trying to find enough time to write and market my books when I have a full-time job and multiple chronic illnesses.

What’s your biggest strengths when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?

Although I have learned how to publish as an indie author and have learned a great deal about marketing my books, neither matter if the books aren’t good. Each book I’ve written is better than the previous one, so clearly practice and experience are important strengths.

What’s your biggest weakness when it comes to book a) writing, b) publishing and c) marketing?

The hardest nut I have yet to crack is getting my paperbacks into large bookstores.

When do you think you will you write your next book?

I am currently finishing Hell Holes 3: To Hell and Back, the third book in my Hell Holes series. I am also blocking out the plot and characters for The Secrets of Sanctuary Cove, the second book in my Secrets series. I have also started writing my first steampunk novel.

Are you self published or did you use a hybrid publisher, or a traditional publisher?

My first seven books were all non-fiction engineering books published by traditional publishers. I have switched over to being an indie author for my novels. I greatly appreciate the artistic freedom and control it gives me as well as how ebooks and print on demand has given me the ability to make improvements and fixes whenever I want.


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