DIY Interview – Todd Maternowski

              Name: Todd Maternowski

Email Address: tmaterno@yahoo.com

What is  your blog URL?
http://towersofdawn.com/

What is your website URL?
http://towersofdawn.com/

What is the contact information you are willing to share in the interview?
Email – tmaterno@yahoo.com
Twitter – @ToddMaternowski

When and where were you born?
Madison, Wisconsin in 1975

What schools did you attend?  What was your course of study?
Attended high school at Cistercian in Irving, TX. Dropped out of the Religion program at University of Chicago twice for lack of funds.

When and how did you discover you wanted to be a writer/author?
In Dec. 2010, I finally got around to reading GRRM’s Game of Thrones, and it opened my eyes to the possibility of writing fiction. I’d been writing satire and journalistic non-fiction for five years before that.

Are you a published author?
Yes

Please list your published material, with dates?
About 800 articles with Pegasus News, covering everything from hockey to music to film to ghost hunting. Also, I recently published my first novel EXMORTUS, a dark fantasy, on Aug. 1st, 2011.

If these materials are books, are they still available, and from where?
You can find EXMORTUS on Amazon here:
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005G4QEX2

Please tell about your first publication – what was it, when, how you felt when it happened, problems you may have had, etc.
When I wrote, re-wrote and re-re-re-re-wrote EXMORTUS, of course I was starting back from square one. I can write news copy with both hands tied around my back; but fiction is a whole new ballgame. My beta readers loved it, of course, so I was confident that agents would too. I was wrong about that. 44 queries sent, nothing but form letters back. Two months of prime self-pub time wasted, waiting by the proverbial phone for someone to call. Later on, I found that next to no first-time fantasy authors are ever published straight away, but at that point it was rough emotionally. You start to doubt the quality of your work. So I self-pubbed it in August, and immediately started writing the sequel. As I write it, I realize the rookie mistakes I made in the storytelling, but the novel still stands strong every time I re-read it. Now it’s just a matter of completing the trilogy, which is my one true passion creatively, and promoting it, which is my one biggest weakness. It’d be much easier if someone else wrote it. But that’s the price we ebook authors pay.

Please tell about the most memorable moment(s) in your writing career.
In college, I wrote avant-garde satire for a conservative opinion journal called the Chicago Criterion. I was constantly pushing the boundaries of written humor (as I understood it, anyways), but never knew if anyone was actually reading my stuff. Then, for a Chekhov class that was meeting in a student’s dorm room, we got to eating pizza and drinking cheap beer, and the rest of the students all told me they loved my stuff. I was thoroughly embarrassed and flattered at the same time.  Then, this frat-type guy asked me how much drugs I take when I write my stuff. I said, truthfully, that I’d never taken drugs of any kind in my life. They laughed! As if cutting-edge creativity was impossible without drugs! I left soon afterwards, and swore that I would never take drugs as long as I lived. I’m not sharing the credit!

Have you won any awards? If yes, which award(s) and when?
For essay writing, poetry and dance, yes. Fiction? Still brand-new to the game.

What problems have you encountered in your career and how did you deal with them?
There are over a million authors in the country, and some of them churn out crap like a factory every month. It’s a huge, huge barrier to overcome when you tell people you’re self-published, as the amount of “noise” out there in social media/internet is overwhelming. I’m dealing with it now by trying to find every (intelligent!) SF/F reviewer I can find and submitting my stuff to them, as well as different (inexpensive) forms of advertising. It’s a time drain, but ultimately worth it. On the plus side, my books are on the shelf as long as there’s an internet and the servers are still running… a huge improvement over the 6-8 weeks boom-or-bust cycle of traditional publishing.

What genre do you most often write?
Fantasy

Who are the authors who most influenced your writing and your career?
GRRM got me started, and got me writing in the third person. Patrick Rothfuss was inspirational in terms of beautiful storytelling. Gene Wolfe was, and is, the most influential writer in my life for his mind-bogglingly creative ideas and exotic worldviews. And Cormac McCarthy, while not fantasy, has been a tonal and verbal inspiration.

What would you tell an aspiring writer who asks you for assistance?
Depends on what they would ask! I spent a long time as a teacher, and every question is different. I’m more than willing to help out anyone who wants it, but I’m a total rookie myself, too.

What advice would you give to all up-and-coming writers? 
Almost all of the articles out there dealing with self-publishing are about sales. This is horsecrap. They should be about the craft of writing. Don’t write to get rich, write to make the world a better place.

What is the name of your current project?
EXMORTUS II

What is the expected release date?
Spring 2012

What is the genre?
Dark fantasy

Is this work a stand-alone or part of a series?
Series

Do you have any project(s) planned for the future?
Yes

Please provide some details of the project(s).
After finishing the Exmortus trilogy, I plan on writing a sci-fi novel about a scientist who travels back through time to spread philanthropic ideas, only to turn heel and use his knowledge to become a master criminal. A redemption story, of sorts. Then, a military-lit story about a folk singer who gets his hand blown off by a mortar shell, goes insane and becomes a ruthless partisan general. But the trilogy comes first.

My thanks to Todd for participating in the DIY Interviews!

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Happy Writing!

Julie

PS:  Please take a few minutes to read the Wedding Chapter from my soon-to-be-published book (2012) ‘Janelle’s Time.’  You’ll meet Richard and Janelle Grayson, the newlyweds, AND, meet Duke Logan Conor (he crashes the wedding) from my upcoming book, ‘Logan’s Time.’

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Posted on November 10, 2011, in DIY Interviews, Janelle, Janelle's Time, Logan, Logan's Time, NaNoWriMo, Richard, Wedding Chapter, writing and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.

  1. Hi Todd,

    Good luck to you with completing the Exmortus Trilogy! Your sci-fi idea about the scientist traveling back in time and turning to the dark side sounds great. I admire that you are taking control of your career and not just sitting around waiting to be discovered. The term “author” really is a misnomer, isn’t it, since so much time is now spent on PR and sales. I guess that makes us that much more well-rounded.

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