Alan Bray (AB) has recently self-published his first novel “The Hour of Parade” A gripping and emotional book (Link to my review here) Bray was kind enough to answer a few questions for me.
1) How long have you been writing? What inspired you to start writing?
AB: I started writing fiction about fifteen years ago. Inspiration—restlessness, love of literature.
2) “The Hour of Parade” looks it was self published. What inspired you to do that in that format? Did you put your own funds upfront to publish a ‘printed’ book?
AB: Yes, self-published through CreateSpace, which is part of Amazon. I had submitted earlier drafts to several agents and publishers; I didn’t receive much interest and felt a lot of frustration with the process (and I’m very familiar with the process from writing and submitting short stories). I think it’s very difficult to persuade traditional publishers to take a chance on a first novel by an unknown writer.
When I’d completed another draft and felt ready, I self-published. More royalties, more control, less aggravation. The downside is that you’re shut out of some channels, and there’s an understandable prejudice.
3) Having a Russian and a French soldier come together in Munich in 1806 is an interesting concept for a novel. What was your inspiration for coming up with that story?
AB: I learned that, after the Austerlitz campaign, the French army went into winter quarters in Munich and stayed through much of the summer of 1806. The soldiers had a lot of time on their hands, I understand. Bringing Alexi there was artifice, yet seemed plausible.
4)You used Goodreads to promote your book. What was that experience like for you? Did you use any other platforms to promote yourself?
AB: I was impressed with the number of people who added the book to read, as well as the response to the giveaway program. Goodreads seems like a very positive thing to me, a gathering of people who like books. I also have a FaceBook page and, of course, my own website, http://thehourofparade.com/
5) The cover to “The Hour of Parade” is an interesting one. Is there a story behind that image? (What made you choose that image for a cover?)
AB: I owe thanks to the CreateSpace designer for that. I’m not sure where she got it; it looks like a Cezanne. I wanted a portrait on the cover, nineteenth-century, but the ones I found were copyright protected.
I like it too. I tried to write Alexi and Anne-Marie very close and intimately, and I think the cover captures the idea of almost painful self-awareness.
6) What has been the reaction to “The Hour of Parade” so far. Will you be doing any speaking engagements for it?
AB: A few very good reviews. I’ve just hired a publicist to try to get the word out more.
7) You have had a wide career starting out with studying anthropology and social work then becoming a musician and a psychotherapist. Did any experience in those areas inspire you with “The Hour of Parade?”
AB: They certainly inspire me to write in general. I think being a musician educated me about the artistic mind set, meaning the necessity to create intensely personal things and then perform them publicly. And the need for disciplined practice and patience. I make a point of writing 2-3 hours a day, even if it’s rubbish.
8) Are you planning any new writing projects at the present time?
AB: Yes, there’s a novella that’s supposed to be published this spring, details are still a little sketchy. I have another novel pretty far along. It’s another Napoleonic Era setting, in Poland at the siege of Danzig (now Gdansk) in 1807. I was in Gdansk several years ago and it really inspired me. Beautiful place.
And I’m always working on several short stories.