I am excited to introduce to you a new feature here on my blog. You know my passion is to expose kids (and occasionally adults) to wonderful books. I firmly believe that both the skill and the love of reading is necessary to create successful, lifelong readers. I primarily focus on reviewing quality picture books that you can share with your kids. However, I do not want to leave you (the adult) out. When kids see adults reading, and being excited about reading what they are reading, kids catch the "reading bug." It is a wonderful, contagious disease that you welcome your child to come in contract with and be infected by. I am happy to announce to you today that once a month I will be featuring a guest author profile along with his/her published masterpiece for you to enjoy. What is my connection to this marvellous dimension that I am about to launch? Well let me tell you...
The La Jolla Writer's Conference is truly amazing. It is a conference where everyone from the New York Times bestselling authors and keynote speakers, to the agents and publishers, to the staff and creative faculty, donate their time and expertise for a weekend. It is a very inspirational and a one-of-a-kind experience.
The idea is simple: the LJWC has wonderful relationships with tons of authors ranging from perennial bestsellers to first time novelists. Because of their unique access to these authors they are releasing a monthly LJWC Author Profile. These will include information about the author's book(s) but, more uniquely, will provide readers with a behind-the-scene view of the author as well.
This month's author Profile features world-renowned literary agent and Club of Budapest member, William Gladstone.
My plan is to every so often have a giveaway of the author's book. I will be sure to let you know when this is about to happen and you can send me your name and email address which will be entered into a draw. I will notify the winner when the draw is conducted and send the book out to that lucky person.
This month's guest author profile:
LJWC Author Profile:
Q & A with Renowned Literary Agent, Author, and Club of Budapest trustee,
As literary agent to luminaries such as Eckhart Tolle, Deepak Chopra, Barbara DeAngelis, Jean Houston, and countless others, William Gladstone has sold more than 5000 client properties into publication. A Yale and Harvard trained cultural anthropologist who traveled the world In Search of Ancient Mysteries for Rod Serling’s shows of the same name, Gladstone is also considered an expert on indigenous cultures and particularly on the meaning of 12-21-2012 and the reverberations of the change in cycle that the date marked. A proponent of the rise of full feminine power with this next 26,000 year cycle, Gladstone reflects this theme in his latest novel, The Power of Twelve, a book which is as fascinating as its author’s background. Recently Bill took some time to provide insight into his writing process as well as his views on the agent/author relationship.
- Publisher, author, agent – you have been involved in the publishing industry for more than three decades. Yet you did not make your first foray into fiction until recently. What drew you to writing fiction at this point in your life?
I actually wrote my first novel in the late 1970s. It was titled Suicide Plus, and major editors in New York felt it was excellently written, reminding them of the Portrait of an Artist by James Joyce. However, they also commented that I was an unknown and that it thus would be hard to sell many copies of such a literary work. Instead, they encouraged me to write genre fiction. I was busy with other projects and decided I would just wait until I became better known and would then return to writing fiction. Then in 1979 I met a woman who had had a near-death experience similar to one I had had as a fifteen year old in 1965, and that incident sparked me to write a screen treatment for a film entitled The Twelve which would be based on her life story. With the passage of time I lost contact with this woman, did not land the financing for the film, put the project aside. A client with whom I had shared my story insisted that I should write the book and worry about the film later. I eventually followed that advice, and in 2008 I wrote the first draft of my highly autobiographical novel, The Twelve. To date this book has sold over 300,000 copies worldwide and my German publisher requested a sequel which took shape in The Power of Twelve, released October 1, 2013.
- What are the primary differences between writing fiction and non-fiction?
Fiction is more fun to write, but it is also more difficult. With non-fiction, you can create and outline and follow it. With fiction the creative process is always in play and the characters can take over and alter the direction of the work altogether.
- You are a very successful agent. Did you agent your books, or did you have someone do it for you? Why?
For my novel, The Twelve, I thought about working with one of the major literary agents I know. She liked the manuscript but did not love it and did not think she could get a major advance. I had a personal relationship with the editor who had edited Tom Clancy and many other major bestselling authors. I valued his expertise and that of his team and did not care if the advance was large or small, so I simply negotiated the contract myself. For The Power of Twelve I wanted to work with a publisher who would have the same sales reps as those who had done so well for me with The Twelve, but my original publisher had retired. Fortunately, I have a wonderful relationship as an agent with the founder and owner of BenBella, an independent book publisher based in Dallas who happens to distribute his books with the same sales reps used by my previous publisher. A happy outcome for all of us.
- Aspiring authors dream of getting an agent. What should an author look for in an agent?
It is increasingly difficult for an aspiring author to find an agent willing to take on an unknown or unproven talent. It has always been difficult, but it is even more so today. Nevertheless, authors should know what to look for in an agent and only sign with an agent who meets those criteria.
The track record of the agent or agency is important; you want someone who has proven success and access to top editors and publishers. Yet, for a new author, sometimes a young agent or agency, one which can afford to take a chance on a new author – and for whom that new author is important – might be the right choice.
In the end, the agent should be wildly enthusiastic about representing an author’s work. Enthusiasm and commitment are key.
- What do agents look for in authors?
A track record of success, preferably as a NY Times bestselling author is always a plus. Having done media outreach through radio and TV and social media is also good. For new authors, energy, enthusiasm, and a unique voice or message, with charisma that emanates from the author and manuscript is important, along with an understanding of and willingness to build a platform.
- Authors talk about outlines; they talk about story boards. What is your writing process like, and is there any process that is better than others?
Every author is unique. While sometimes I outline a character or setting, I don’t use outlines or storyboards. My short cut in the past has been to base characters on real people – with their permission – and to put them in settings where I have been; as I move away from this I will be outlining more. To date, my plots have directed themselves. With the exception of The Twelve, I have not known how my novels would end until they took me to their desired resolution.
- Your new book, The Power of Twelve, has some sci-fi components, yet it is steeped in reality and is functionally a thriller. Why did you include the sci-fi components?
We are entering a time in which the distinction between science fiction and reality is harder and harder to ascertain. I am a student of modern physics, metaphysics, and psychic phenomena. Some of the incidents in the book that seem to be fantasy may in fact be based on a different level of reality and not be fictional at all.
In what way did they enhance the novel?
For the Power of Twelve, the ability to introduce the council of twelve and the elements of the thirteen apostles as residents of planet Naranjada enabled me to write about actual events on planet Earth without pushing readers to believe or not believe any of the specific conclusions others have reached regarding the existence of the Illuminati, the role of mega corporations, GMO and other developments on our planet at this time. I intentionally want my readers to suspend judgment until the end of the novel, and by presenting it with elements that most people would consider science fiction, I believe I have successfully created greater interest and enjoyment – precursors to acceptance and thought.
- As entertaining as it is, there is a powerful subtext to The Power of Twelve. You have successfully authored non-fiction before. What made you put such a powerful theme into a work of fiction?
Fiction has and will continue to have more impact on human society than non-fiction. We remember characters and plots from great novels such as Crime and Punishment, War and Peace, and Gone with the Wind far longer than we remember text books about those eras. Books are or can be magical ways to make people aware of the larger issues in their lives. I do write to entertain, but my goal is to get people to think and, in the end, act in ways that improve their lives and those of others.
- What is the best advice you ever received as an author.
Write every day and do not wait for inspiration. Be disciplined and treat your writing as a professional commitment if you want to be a professional writer.
- As an agent and an author, what is your best advice to aspiring authors?
Enjoy the process. There can be no guarantee of financial success. Rarely has there ever been. The real reason to write is because you have something important to share with the world, even if your audience is ultimately only an audience of one – yourself.
Read an excerpt from the Power of Twelve at www.williamgladstone.org.
Learn more about the La Jolla Writer’s Conference at www.lajollawritersconference.com
Read on and read always! Feedback about this new feature greatly appreciated! Have a great day.