Virtual Book Tour Guest: Interview with M.K. Theodoratus, author of 'The Ghostcrow'

Hooked by comic books at an early age, M. K. Theodoratus’ fascination with fantasy solidified when she discovered the Oz books by L. Frank Baum with his strong female characters. She has traveled through many fantasy worlds since then. When she's not reading about other writer's worlds, she's creating her own.

Most of her stories are set in the Far Isles where she explores the political effects of genetic drift on a mixed elf human population. Lately, Theodoratus has been setting her stories in an alternate world of Andor where demons stalk humankind.

A sixth grade English assignment started her writing. The teacher assigned a short story. Theodoratus gave her an incomplete, 25-page Nancy Drew pastiche which turned into a full novel by the next summer. She’s been writing happily ever after ever since…for four or five writing careers. Most recently she’s been concentrating of her Andor stories, set in an alternate world where demons and magic plague humans.

Her latest book is the supernatural fantasy novelette, The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor.

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About the Book:

Title: The Ghostcrow: A Tale of Andor
Author: M.K. Theodoratus
Publisher: Smashwords
Pages: 55
Genre: Supernatural Fantasy
Format: Kindle/Nook
Seeing ghosts has plagued Dumdie Swartz since early childhood.

Afraid that ghost guts might stick to her if she stepped through them, thirteen-year-old Dumdie Swartz still cringes when she encounters them.
Her strange attempts to avoid spirits create a lonely life.

Her sisters constantly mock her strange behavior, her parents are clueless, and her social life is zero. Dumdie finds solace working in a shared garden with her elderly neighbor, Mr. Carson. When teens from her high school steal pumpkins from his garden, Mr. Carson is hurt during the theft, and later, dies.
Dumdie’s life takes a dark turn.

She learns there are stranger things than ghosts, when she senses something evil living in Kyle, one of the boys who had raided the pumpkin patch. Kyle bullies Dumdie to scare her into silence. The more Kyle threatens her, the clearer she perceives the evil thing possessing him. Dumdie finds support in an unlikely group of girls who befriend her when she helps them with their costumes for the Pumpkin festival. During the festival, Dumdie’s fears explode when the thing possessing Kyle decides it wants to possess her.

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Q: Welcome to The Writer's Life!  Now that your book has been published, we’d love to find out more about the process.  Can we begin by having you take us at the beginning?  Where did you come up with the idea to write your book?

Actually, The Ghostcrow is a novelette. While I have novel length manuscripts in my computer, I prefer to explore different aspects of my characters’ lives. So, I write short stuff, which is good. It takes me as long to write a novelette as it takes some people write novels. But it’s okay. I write mainly to amuse myself…but I’m willing to share.

Most of my work begins with me wondering about something while I’m relaxing, and my mind is drifting. Dumdie Swartz popped into my brain when I was wondering how seeing ghosts would affect a life.

I thought it might be interesting to contact another dimension.

Dumdie said, in effect, “Hogwash.”

My story, The Ghost in the Closet, resulted after I turned some vignettes into a coherent story. But, after the story was written and later self-published, Dumdie wouldn’t leave my mind. I kept wondering what it would be like to grow up seeing ghosts…and living in a totally misunderstanding family.

Q: How hard was it to write a book like this and do you have any tips that you could pass on which would make the journey easier for other writers?

Hard? Yeah, I guess writing is hard if you don’t have the craft skills to weave plot, characters, and settings into a coherent story line. From what I’ve read on various forums over the years, I think too many people who want to write give up before they’ve master the craft skills needed.

Ideas also create problems for writers. I seem to have avoided that by concentrating on a character and his/her problems first. When I add a threat, the story begins to flow. I think I write like one of those painters who dabs globs of paint on a canvas. I keep adding layers, aka problems, until my character learns something. Of course, I have a wonderful critique group who keeps me on the straight and narrow.

While there are many ways of creating a story—or anything, I think practice and revision are the keys to completing and polishing a work. Writers learn to write by writing…and finding preliminary readers who can tell them if the story is working or not.

A novel gives the writer a bigger canvas than a short story, but the process remains the same. One of the biggest problems I’ve seen is that writers think their first draft is perfect and inviolate.

Q: Who is your publisher and how did you find them or did you self-publish?

I’ve sold on occasion to various publications, but I’m an inconsistent marketer. In fact, I rather detest the process. But an indie publisher contracted a YA fantasy novel manuscript, There Be Demons that grew out of a short story, Night for the Gargoyles.

While in the editing process, I started revising some short stories in my computer and setting them in my alternative world of Andor. I also wrote a couple stories from scratch. I self-published them to create a writer’s platform for There Be Demons, hoping the book would sell better when finished. Only the publisher folded before it finished the editorial process.

A common tale but… I now have all this self-published stuff out there. Plus, I was in the middle of The Ghostcrow. I decided to finish the novelette.

Q: Is there anything that surprised you about getting your first book published?

Yeah, even though it wasn’t published. The rush of working with the publisher’s editorial board. The publisher was trying some experiments, one of which included a bunch of teen writers in the editing process. While I’m thinking it was like herding cats for the chief editor; for me as a writer, it was a heady experience discussing my story with interested readers who had all sorts of ideas – some I agreed with and a bunch I didn’t. Still, I loved the late-night-solve-the-ills-of-the-world-discussion atmosphere of the process.

Q: What other books (if any) are you working on and when will they be published?

I’ve been a dilettante writer, like forever. I’m currently working on a new novelette set in Andor, On the Run. Once I get the problems fixed with my website host I’ll be posting snippets of the new version of the draft. I got off on the wrong foot when I tried to make it a sequel to another Andor story, Noticing Jamilla.

My critique group liked the plotline but it wasn’t working…until I gave it to another main character.

At the moment, I’m trying to decide what I’m going to do with my writing. As I said, I write mainly to amuse myself. I may continue to write short stuff and self-publish when I get something done. Or, I may work on the novel-length manuscripts in my computer, and go the traditional publishing route. Or, I may just start submitting short stories again. Who knows?

Q: What’s your favorite place to hang out online?

I do the social marketing stuff on Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, Google+, LinkedIn, and Pinterest. I also have an author website where readers can find extended samples of my stories and a blog where I discuss books and writing. But, for enjoyment and learning, The Absolute Write Water Cooler is where I spend time. I don’t comment there as often as used to, but I still learn a lot when I lurk.

Q: Finally, what message (if any) are you trying to get across with your book?

Message. I’m sorry, but I don’t clue into themes, either great or small. I just seem to turn some incidents in some phantom life into a coherent story.
Q: Thank you again for this interview!  Do you have any final words?

At one level, writing is simple. You write. Then, you have to decide what you want to do with what you write. If you want to be published or be a successful self-published author, you have to write a story that someone else wants to read. It’s the process that’s complicated. Most people don’t want to invest the time and sweat necessary.

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