It’s my pleasure this month to interview up-and-coming historical fiction author Vince Rockston.
D: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me Vince.
VR: No problem D. It’s great to be here.
D: To kick things off, I’d like to know what motivated you to become an author?
VR: It was late in life that I discovered that fiction can be a powerful medium for exploring personalities and metaphysical issues, as well as being entertaining. I started reading historical novels about the places I visited – The Bridge Over The Drina by Ivo Andriċ, Love & Death in Cyprus by Harry Blackley, among others – and when I didn’t find one to my taste about the Isle of Elba, I got the idea to write my own. In my WIP I try to build a spiritual message into a realistic and, I hope, appealing coming-of-age story.
D: When you’ve written a book, do you let it stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
VR: Yes and no. I do some editing on-the-fly, but I have had several month-long pauses. I was very discouraged when a professional editor rejected my book Aquila – Can Silvanus escape that god? with rather scathing criticism. After some months of indecision, I worked through the text page by page, cut out large segments and streamlined others. I then gave it to others to review and now have a publisher interested
D: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content?
VR: I’m trying to write about simple, rural people in a distant epoch. Not only are most history books and historic novels concerned with the Movers and Shakers of the period, but the so-called Dark Ages are notorious for their dearth of records about everyday life; people were much more concerned with surviving the current war or famine, and the northern tribes, which invaded Italy, were notorious for neither respecting nor contributing much in the way of culture.
So it was not easy to do the background research necessary for my book. I read textbooks on Late Antiquity, some contemporary authors and several novels of the period. But finally I had to visualise the characters and their lives and describe events from their perspective, bearing in mind the constraints of the time and place, such as food, clothing, religious views, financial and educational constraints and the knowledge that was commonly available in those days.
D: Did you make any marketing mistakes or is there anything you would avoid in future?
VR: It’s not a good idea to plug my book or website at every opportunity. That comes over as spamming and interests no one. It’s far better to read and comment on other authors’ sites, review their books and endorse them where praise is due.
But it’s a tight path. How does one raise awareness without having a negative effect? If you never promote yourself or your book, how is anyone going to find you? On the other hand, too many “7 tips to achieve whatever” posts also put readers off and they are likely to unsubscribe.
D: And after all you do in your writing life, how do you relax?
VR: Best of all is to go hiking in the mountains. When that’s not an option, I enjoy beautiful walks or e-bike rides in the woods right from home, where I hardly meet anyone. I also find reading books aloud to my wife very relaxing, as well as online games like Chess, Words with Friends and a daily very hard Sudoku.
Vince enjoys the beautiful countryside around the little Swiss village where he lives, retired, with his Finnish wife, sharing a house with one son, his Brazilian wife and their Chihuahua. When he has a chance, he loves to go hiking in the mountains. He blogs as Greyowl (bilingual) and his historical fiction book is developing at www.aquilaelba.info. AquilaElba is also on Facebook.
In his spare time Vince explores the surrounding woods and pastures on the e-bike he was given when he retired, plays online Chess, Sudoku or Words with Friends and is heavily involved with supporting refugees from Syria and Iraq.