Guest Author - A.L.Mengel
When Ashes was first published worldwide in 2013, A.L. Mengel arrived on the scene and broke new ground in supernatural storytelling. His novels have been called “complex”, with protagonists frequently found on a journey of transformation or an attempt to understand something. His latest release The Blood Decanter, was under Jury consideration for a Bram Stoker Award nomination, and called a “brilliant tour-de-force” by reviewers on Amazon and Barnes and Noble. In 2015, he introduced the #Writestorm concept to the world and published a book of the same name. Authors around the globe have adopted the writing methodology, with some authors stating that #Writestorm changed the way that they approach writing. He’s now on the cusp of releasing his first Science Fiction novel, The Wandering Star. He enjoys connecting with his readers in The Writing Studio on his Facebook page, as well as on Twitter, Instagram and Goodreads.
1) Your work includes short stories, full novels and non-fiction. Which is your favourite?
You start out the interview with a tough question! What a difficult choice to make. Each book was a labor of love. Countless hours of work. Each one is like a child. How can a parent love any child less than the other? Each work was painstakingly crafted as the words flowed from my thoughts to the page. If pressed to make a choice, though, I would have to say that The Blood Decanter is one of my favorites. Even the Horror Writer’s Association Jury for the Bram Stoker Awards took interest in it. It’s been my most daring novel to date. I think the premise of the plot is pretty unique, and the “villain” (The Hooded Man, pictured on the cover) is quite recognizable and will always be associated with the story just by a quick glance. My use of religious undertones and exotic locales, blended with the supernatural elements, is a somewhat different take on horror fiction. I don’t write the typical slasher stuff. My novels are deep, thoughtful reads, which require a much more sophisticated reader. Also, Ashes will always hold a special place in my heart, because it was my first novel. It was my first baby to send out to the world.
2) Which genre(s) will you be exploring in future?
Science Fiction seems to be a draw for me. My debut novel, The Wandering Star is already available on pre-order on Amazon for Kindle, and releases worldwide on March 29, 2016. It’s Science Fiction “A.L. Mengel style” which is a different way of telling a story. I would call it somewhat “non-traditional” when it comes to Sci-Fi, so it will be interesting to see how it does, specifically with hardcore Sci-Fi readers. Also, my voice is rather unique. I generally present a plot in a non-linear fashion, and readers get a better understanding of the characters and the story gradually as they turn the pages. The plots are like peeling an onion – as layers are stripped away, more is revealed. One reviewer compared reading Ashes to ribbons on a maypole – the plotlines would gradually would come together. The Wandering Star is presented in somewhat more of a chronological fashion, but there is still the A.L. Mengel style of storytelling, where some scenes will be presented “out of order”. I’m really loving this genre though. I’m already working on a sequel, and thinking I will keep with this series for some time.
Link to The Wandering Star - http://www.amazon.com/Wandering-Star-Vega-Chronicles-Book-ebook/dp/B01AYM5STQ/
3) What inspired you to write?
When I took my first Creative Writing class, I had one of those three subject spiral notebooks. I would always tear out the pages and then pick at the “ears” on the side of the page. Those little fleeting pieces of paper. Most flew to the floor. But it was in those little fleeting pieces of paper that my dream was born. I took a different direction for a while, but I knew, deep inside my soul, that I had a story inside me to tell. It took ten years to see Ashes in print. I dabbled with it for years, and then, finally, was convinced to buckle down and finish the book. And then I did, and after I finished it, the manuscript sat for another couple of years. I think I needed to do some decision making and some soul searching at that time. I had to decide if I truly wanted to be a writer – a serious, published author. And when I finally made that decision, I got the manuscript back out, and started to edit it. It spent close to a year in rewrites. And when it finally was published, I was so proud of it. Ashes is really where it all started. It birthed my writing career.
4) What do your family and friends think of your being a published author?
My family is quite proud of me, I can tell. My friends have been impressed. Everyone has been impressed at the professionalism of the presentation. I got my Bachelor’s Degree in Philadelphia, and it has really helped me understand the whole idea of branding. A.L. Mengel is a brand. The Writing Studio (a nickname for my Facebook page) is a brand. And so when I work with my designer, I see that, while my covers are each unique in and of themselves, they all exhibit the same brand identity. I always go with professionally designed covers, even for my shorts. That, to me, is a no-brainer. When we are still getting our name out there as authors, our reputation as an Indie Author is critically important. And I didn’t want to get the reputation for home-made covers. There’s a difference. A cover is critical. Editing too. My books are sent out for several rounds of editing. Many Indie Authors feel the need to save money in some of these processes, but, usually down the road, change their minds, once they see the importance of the assistance of others in the creation of a book. You can’t go it alone. You’ll get far better results, and readers will take you more seriously, if you incorporate others into your creative process. It takes a creative team to write, design and market a successful novel. Take The Quest for Immortality, for example. I could never have designed that astounding cover. That cover is a masterpiece. It took someone who specializes in art to design that. Professionalism is key, and readers appreciate that. My books will be my legacy. Years from now, long after we are all gone, the books will still be around, and someone, somewhere, may be reading them.
Link to The Quest for Immortality - http://www.amazon.com/Quest-Immortality-Tales-Tartarus-ebook/dp/B00O95YERM/
5) As an Indie author, what has been your most valuable tool?
Most certainly my peers. I have learned so much from other Indie Authors in the various groups that has helped me. I found my designer that way. We have a great relationship, and she designs all of my artwork. But the everyday posting and comments and such, that is where the best information lies. I find the connections with other authors to be invaluable.
6) What is the most important thing you have learnt since publishing?
The most important things I have learned is the significance of image and reputation, as well as the importance of healthy, working relationships with other Indie Authors. We are all hard working writers, and we all should respect each other and their craft. At times, I have seen comments get “out of control” in various groups over creative differences, where an argument ensues. There’s plenty of room for all of us. And we all can learn from one another. Sometimes the author who comes in with big sales for a single book may just have been in the right place at the right time, or gotten lucky. And another author who is putting out book after book to very modest sales may be doing everything right, they just haven’t blossomed yet. But maybe the big-sales author is a brilliant marketer and wrote a great book with mass appeal. But suffering from writer’s block, and can’t seem to start a second book. And maybe the more prolific, modest selling author seeks help with promotion. So we can all help each other. Everyone has something to bring to the table.
7) What has been your favourite feedback/review?
I received a review for The Blood Decanter on Amazon that was sublime. The reviewer dissected the story and really pulled it apart. But the reviewer managed to accomplish this without any spoilers. And I thought it was astounding. My mouth literally dropped open when I read it. Needless to say, it was a positive review!
Link to The Blood Decanter -- http://www.amazon.com/Blood-Decanter-Tales-Tartarus-ebook/dp/B010W1ZYUM/
8) And your least favourite?
Two stand out in my mind. One for my short Curtains and Fan Blades, where the reviewer said that I just had a “random thought” and put it on paper. Another was for The Transformation, where I clearly failed to connect with this reader. I need to backpedal for a moment. When I first released Ashes, I opted to break the story into four parts and release each as an individual Kindle read in the style of a serial novel. At the time, I used the same cover, with a different color tint for each part. It worked well, and I had four titles out in a relatively short amount of time. What didn’t work well was that some readers didn’t care for The Transformation as it was written in a non-linear style (think back to the onion and the maypole), and
because of it being a partial, there was no resolution. It just ended. And the reader had to purchase the next partial to continue the story. The particular reader didn’t care for this offering, calling it scattered. Sometimes, we fail to connect. I changed the listing on Amazon to make it more clear that it was a partial. I still believe these partials are a great marketing tool. I offer them free from time to time.
Link to The Transformation - http://www.amazon.com/Transformation-Part-Ashes-Tales-Tartarus-ebook/dp/B00CJIAD3K
9) How does is feel to know that the #Writestorm has been embraced by the Awethors and other writing groups?
It’s a fantastic feeling! DM Cain’s video review was like a dream. One can just Google #Writestorm now to many helpful results. I love the fact that the #Awethors hold #Writestorm sessions without my involvement. I think it’s a great thing. When I developed the #Writestorm concept, it was not to sell books (even though I wrote the book of the same name). It was to help my fellow Indie Authors. The methodology helped me tremendously – and writer’s block, for me, is now a thing of the past. When I sit down, I always have something to write. I strongly urge any Indie Writer who is suffering from writer’s block to read #Writestorm and adopt the process. I’d love to see the book in Creative Writing classes around the world. But right now, I’m happy that other authors are seeing the process as effective in their own writing.
Link to #Writestorm - http://www.amazon.com/Writestorm-Create-Novel-Conception-Publication-ebook/dp/B0139V15T6
Link to DM Cain’s video review - https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mHG_Tz3YcR8&feature=youtu.be
10) What is the worst/best birthday present you've had?
All my birthday presents have been fantastic!
OTHER LINKS ---
A.L. Mengel’s Amazon Page - http://www.amazon.com/A.L.-Mengel/e/B00DF9ZLMA/
A.L. Mengel’s Facebook Page (The Writing Studio) - https://www.facebook.com/authoralmengel
Join his Twitter Discussion - @AuthorALMengel
NEW! Follow on Instagram.
Website – www.almengel.com