Tuan graced me with honor of an interview. Like me, Tuan writes a lot of short stories. So, here's the interview, enjoy:
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My name is Tuan (pronounced as too-one, but in one syllable, like Juan) and I live in Australia -- the land of the deadly spiders, sharks, and crocodiles. There's also another animal that seems friendly, but when your back is turned and your mind is distracted, it will strike you in the heart and blame it on another creature. What's this creature I speak of? Is it a kangaroo? An emu? A pterodactyl? No. It's an animal that plagues almost every landmass on this planet and is sometimes referred to as the liar, scoundrel or dictator, but is more commonly known as a politician. Oh, you wanted me to talk a bit about myself? I'm just another regular guy living on this planet. A few years ago, I reached a point in my life where I had no idea what I wanted to do with my life. I didn't want to be an astronaut (The primitive NASA rocket-propelled spacecraft are lame. Where's the anti-gravity ones? Release 'em already!) and my 13-year-old self's fantasy of being an adult film star was unrealistic because the professional adult film industry was in a state of decline due to piracy. My other dream of being a street magician would also never flourish because I couldn't shuffle a deck without it flying in someone's face. So what was left? One day, I thought: "Hey, I like watching movies, I should try and write one." And that when I wanted to spend the rest of my life writing.
When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
I only realized I wanted to be a writer only 2 years ago. Before that, I spent time dabbling in film making and anything movie related. I created my first short animation when I was about 16 or 17 years old (animation can be found here) and at around the same time during high school, I wrote a couple of short stories that made me realize, "Holy Sh*t! Writing is actually fun!" The joy of completing a short story and getting great feedback on it was far better than anything else I felt during my studies in high school. There were other momentary highs that almost equaled the joy of my writing and that was archery class, a full day kayak adventure, or the time my computer routing teacher referenced Star Trek to help me understand basic computer networking routing. When I finished high school I began a business IT analyst course at university and after 6 months, dropped out because it was mind-numbingly, soul-suckingly boring. I then spent the next enrolled in a screen writing class taught by a Famous Australian television celebrity, and it was one of the best moments of my life. Not only did it help me release my creative juices, it paved the wa into my current writing career. After I finished my screen writing course, I began a professional writing and editing course and finally realized after all these years what I wanted to do with my life -- and it was to be a better writer.
What inspired you to write your first book?
The first ever piece of creative writing I completed was a heartbreaking fictional suicide letter I wrote back in high school when I was 16 years old. But 2 years later, I came up with this story about a man that creates the first destructive weapon and the impact it has on the world. The story stayed in my head for another 2 years before I even began writing it. It was when I was tasked with creating an animation for one of my university classes that I decided to bring this story to life. I animated the whole story from beginning to end without any written script or anything. It was all done on the fly, and I'm still quite proud of the finished product even though I was under tight time constraints. The animation can be viewed HERE. When I enrolled in my Professional Writing course, the first short story I wrote was called, The First & Last (available on Amazon), and it was based on this animation. In some ways, I still think it's the best short story I've ever written.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
I'm a much better writer than I am a swimmer because I almost drowned in high school when I was 13 years old.
Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
As an indie author, the most surprising thing I learned was that it's not as hard to self-publish as it seems. If someone has the imagination and the energy to put their fingers down and write, then there's nothing stopping them from getting it published, unless they had a serious video game addiction or an alien invasion occurred.
How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
Social media is the best way to do it. I post the occasional self-promo tweet on Twitter, but I try not to spam people's Twitter feed with it because it becomes tiresome after a while, both for myself and my followers. Facebook groups are also a great way to market your work, especially the big ones like Amazon Kindle's official Facebook page, which has 3 million likes. I see posts from authors promoting their work all the time as well as comments from readers, so it's a great avenue for authors and it has actually resulted in sales, which is wonderful! But marketing your work is merely 50% of the work, what follows is 'connecting' with readers. How do I connect my stories to readers out there? The only effective way is to actually communicate with them. Thank them for reading it, and if they write a written review, thank them again, even if it's a negative review. I don't want to sound all new-age-ey or anything, but feeling 'grateful' for anything will always bring success. It's worked for me and will continue to work unless some cosmic prankster decides to re-write the laws of the universe.
Who designed the covers?
I designed the covers for all my books that you can currently see on Amazon. I'm not professionally trained in graphic design, but like most people with a set of functioning eyes. I know what looks good and what doesn't. If I think my book cover looks crap and cheap-looking, I'll continue spending hours on it until it's better. So far, I'm happy with all of them except for one, which I plan to completely re-design sometime soon. If I had the disposable income of a banker, I would immediately hire an amazing designer as there are some really fantastic freelance book cover designers out there!
Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
The novel I'm currently writing is based on a short story of mine called Give Me My Refund, Dickhead. You can find the short story in my NOIF book on Amazon. I had to turn this short story into a novel because it's one of those stories that would benefit from being greatly expanded. It's about a guy who buys a camera and the camera ends up being a dud. He decides to return the camera to get a refund, but things don't turn out as he imagined. This quest for a refund takes him to Hollywood and eventually right to the edge of the universe. I aim to finish the novel before July this year.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
I'm still new to the indie self-publishing world myself so I haven't had time to read as much as I would like to from fellow authors. But I am currently reading some old sci-fi classics. The last book I read was The Sirens of Titan by Kurt Vonnegut and that blew me away. It's an incredible work of the imagination, but more importantly, it contains ideas that will stay with me for a lifetime and will no doubt influence the way I write, but more importantly -- why I write. But I'm definitely open to reading and reviewing newly published books. If anyone's got an original story and it's not too depressing, get in touch with me and I'll be more than happy to check it out.
Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?
Don't be afraid to dream. Don't be afraid to write. If you're playing video games all day or watching Barbara Walters all day, then stop it. Just go pick up a pen or a keyboard and write or type. Just do it. Get it done. You will feel so much better. My last advice would be to challenge yourself to create something unique that will stand out from the rest, even if it ends up being utterly crap.
Do you have anything specific to say to your readers?
Thank you for reading my stories. It's greatly appreciated and I look forward to you buying my upcoming novel so I can earn more money to buy myself a jet pack. I'm going to use the jet pack to fly around and hopefully encounter some aliens who will abduct me and take me back to their home planet. I will then return back to Earth and write a book about my fun adventures living with some aliens and hope my readers will buy that book so I can graciously spend my earnings on some real estate on the moon. Thank you, kind readers. I love you all.