Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Author Interview with Pauline Montagna

Here at Indie Ignites we want to feature not only reviews of indie books, but indie authors as well! Each month we will meet one or two Indie's who have made their chosen path work from all over the globe.

Time to meet Pauline Montagna!

1)      How did you get started on your writing career?
I have always dabbled in writing, and once I got into computing the unfinished projects piled up and up. Then in my mid-thirties I returned to university to get my teaching qualifications and discovered that I was good at getting my assignments in on time and with good results (which hadn't been the case when I went to uni the first time!) Soon after I finished my university studies I discovered a course called Professional Writing and Editing (PWE). With my new found confidence in my abilities, I thought this would be an excellent opportunity to revive and complete some of those unfinished projects sitting idle on my computer.


2)      Why did you choose to self-publish?

One of those projects that the PWE course enabled me to complete was my first novel, The Slave. Hoping to get published I hawked The Slave around to publishers and agents, but found that what we had learnt in PWE was true. It is almost impossible to get published in Australia, and even harder to get an agent. One of the subjects I had taken in PWE was Small Press Publishing, and for my final assignment I had planned how to self-publish my novel. When I got no joy from publishers and agents, I dusted off my assignment and put it into action.


3)      If you had the chance to go the traditional route, would you take it?

Like a shot!


4)      What is the hardest thing you have had to learn from publishing on your own?

Basically, that you are on your own.  


5)      What is the best part of being a self-published author?

Making personal connections with other writers and my readers.


6)      Who makes up your team? (Editors, cover designers, anyone that helps you)

Me, myself and I. The PWE course was a great beginning in teaching me all the basic aspects of the publishing process, including desk-top publishing. Any more skills I've needed, such as website development, I've taught myself. My skills are basic which is why I work on the KISS principle with my book and cover designs. I do this firstly because I can't afford to pay professionals, but mostly because I like to have total control over the process and not have to rely on other people.


7)      Why did you create the blog The Writer/Publisher?

A few years ago I set up a business selling self-published books, which included a website and an online bookshop. One aspect of that website was information for self-publishing authors. At the same time I was also holding self-publishing seminars. When I had to close down my business I decided not to let all that material go to waste and re-packaged it for The Writer/Publisher. My efforts are not entirely altruistic as I have learnt a lot from putting it together and occasionally refer to it myself.


8)      Tell us about your books.

My first novel, The Slave, is an historical romance set in medieval Italy. The heroine is the sheltered daughter of a rich merchant whose life takes a new turn when her father brings home an Asian slave boy. The story started way back in my earliest university days. In my second year I was attending lectures on French literature which were also being attended by a rather handsome Asian boy. Not actually enrolled in the course, he sat in regal isolation at the back of the lecture theatre. I was too shy to approach him, but he played on my imagination.  At the same time my history subject was Medieval and Renaissance Italy. As I indulged my fantasies, the Asian boy found himself stranded in Medieval Italy.

My second book, Suburban Terrors, is a collection of short stories, which also began as assignments for my PWE Short Story class. The best story I wrote, which later became A Hostage Situation, was a ghost story based on an incident described in my local newspaper. That inspired me to collect other interesting true stories and urban myths which formed the basis for the whole collection, though when I started out I had no idea that the lead story of the collection, Jim-from-next-door, would be based on my own neighbour.  

My latest book, Not Wisely but Too Well, is the first of a series about William Shakespeare and Christopher Marlowe. I must admit I had little interest in either until I came across a book called Who Wrote Shakespeare? which opened up a whole new world for me – the Great Authorship Debate. The Stuff of Dreams series has been born out of my own research into the question.

In a few weeks I'll be going to Italy to continue my research into the Etruscans, my Italian ancestors, and get started on a series about the Etruscan founders of Rome.


9)      What inspires you to write?

I have always told myself stories, and writing them down is just an adult version of that.  More recently, though, my writing has been inspired by a need to know more. As I dig deeper into my subject, I discover stories which I just have to tell or bust. The Stuff of Dreams is an example. As you can imagine, taking on two of the greatest writers in the English language can be daunting, and for a while I put the whole project aside, afraid I wasn't up to it. But the story wouldn't let me go and in the end I had to drop everything else and take it up again. My Etruscan ancestors are just as persistent so I will have to juggle both series and somehow find a balance.


10)  Do you have any writing rituals that have to happen for you to get “in the zone”?

I don't have any specific rituals, though I find I do have to be 'in the zone' just to get started.  Any distractions or concerns from my daily life can put me off altogether.  After attending a couple of writing retreats I have discovered that the best method is to get away from my home and daily life altogether for a period and just sit down at my writing every day. 


11)  Do you ever incorporate your real life into your novels?

Only incidentally.


 Readers are invited to my home page, Pauline Montagna, Writer and Publisher, at http://paulinemontagna.net as well as my blogs, The Stuff of Dreams http://stuffofdreamsseries.blogspot.com.au/ , Ms Montagna's Miscellany http://msmontagnasmiscellany.blogspot.com.au/ and The Writer/Publisher http://writerpublisher.blogspot.com.au/ .


Pauline Montagna was born into an Italian family in Melbourne, Australia. After completing a Bachelor of Arts at La Trobe University, Pauline joined the Department of Social Security where it was decided that someone with a major in French would be perfect for the Finance section. Fortunately for them, as the daughter of shopkeepers, Pauline had a good head for figures.
While indulging her artistic interests by becoming involved in Melbourne’s burgeoning amateur theatre scene, Pauline pursued her developing accounting skills through a wide variety of workplaces culminating in the Australian film industry which eventually took her to Perth. There she decided to return to university and qualify as a teacher, graduating from Edith Cowan and Murdoch Universities with Graduate Diplomas in Language Studies and Education.

After returning to Melbourne, Pauline continued teaching English as a Second Language while she completed a Diploma of Professional Writing and Editing.

Pauline has now retired from teaching to concentrate on The Stuff of Dreams, a four volume fictional account of the life of William Shakespeare and the experiences and relationships that made him the writer he became. The first volume, Not Wisely but Too Well, traces his early life until 1593. You can find out more about this project on her blog The Stuff of Dreams at http://stuffofdreamsseries.blogspot.com.au/ 

Pauline has previously published two books, The Slave, an historical romance set in fourteenth century Italy, and Suburban Terrors a short story collection.

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