Riley Banks talks to Tegon Maus, author of The Chronicles of Tucker Littlefield.
Firstly, tell us a little bit about you and how you came to be a writer.
My wife and I belonged to a dream interpretation group in the 80s. You know where you tell everyone about flying or showing up naked in an important meeting, stuff like that. My descriptions were so vivid that my wife encouraged me to write them all down.
Is this your first book or have you written others?
I have written six others – Sci-Fi, Fantasy Action/Adventure, Humor, Fiction.
If you have written others, which is your favorite book?
The Wishing Stone. It’s a Sci-Fi about the death of the main character’s sister from cancer and her resurrection as an android by her husband, an unparalleled genius working for the government.
Tell us about your current book and what makes it special.
The Chronicles of Tucker Littlefield is an action/adventure story. It’s funny and quirky with lots of action and its share of drama and romance. It’s not just one story; it’s like life, several stories going on at the same time to make things work out. It’s never just one path to get to where you want to go.
What genre is it and who is the target audience?
Fantasy fiction. I would like to think anyone who reads or understands the ins and outs of a contentious relationship would enjoy this story.
Do you write in one genre or mix it up a bit and write in a few?
I like to mix it up, writing in whatever genre fits the idea I have.
Tell us how you settled on the title.
This story started out as Letters from the King. It was rejected 47 times. (I have been rejected 211 times if you count all my novels). I had begun to think it was me – you know “the ugly baby syndrome.” Because it’s your baby you don’t know its ugly and no one wants to hurt your feelings and so they don’t tell you. I sent it out for a review and the advice I got was to change the title. They suggested this title and here I am.
Describe your favorite scene in the book.
I have two. The first – after a pitched battle for the child, Elizabeth, my villain orders hundreds of her men to throw themselves into a river of acid so she may pass to the other side, walking across their bodies to retrieve her prize and once she left with the child, Eloise gets up, dust herself off and says “What are you waiting for. Go after them.”
The second – Littlefield misunderstands the customs of the Jonda and winds up married to the girl promised to one of his friends after he has made advances to Eloise.
If you had to choose one favorite character, who would it be and why?
That’s a tough one. I’m torn between Bob, a Russian cabbie of sorts in my novel Stardrift. He knows everybody and when a problem comes up he’s solution is “Is okay, I have cousin”. Harriet is a chain smoking 70 something blue hair that is very set in her opinions when it comes to sex in my novel My Grandfather’s Pants.
Where do you draw your inspiration? Is there anything in your book based on real life experiences, or is it all fiction?
I think every story has some level of truth or personal info about it even if you twist it, down deep inside its still about you. I got the idea from the 1961 Jimmy Dean song ‘Big Bad John’
Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Dear God No! It makes for a crappy story. I like a story that’s fun, entertaining and exciting. I think there are too many people telling you what you should do, what you should eat, what you should wear and other PC nonsense like that. I want my readers to find my stories as fun to read as I had writing them. The last thing they need is for me to have an agenda.
Where can people purchase your book?
I’m on Amazon, Barnes and Noble and all the usual places. You can Google me as well. I have lots of short stories you can read for free.
What has been your most successful marketing tactic to date?
I wish I knew. I’ve done everything all the books say to do. No one thing is the magic bullet. I wish there were mind you but as yet I haven’t found it.
What are your thoughts on book trailers, and do you have one for your books?
I’ve seen them but I don’t have one and have mixed feelings about them. On the one hand you get to tell people about your book in 90 seconds. Now if they buy it from that little preview or not is up in the air. My fear is it’s worse than judging a book by its cover.
Who designs the covers of your books?
I use a brilliant young lady named Char at Wicked Cover Designs (www.wix.com/wicked-art/wicked-cover-design). She has done several covers for me.
Are you Indie published or Trade published?
A small traditional press – Belvedere Publishing.
Describe the publishing process you went through? Did you engage an editor, beta reader, formatter, designer, publicist or any other professional to help in the process?
No, none of the above. I tried for years to get published or get an agent and got LOTS AND LOTS of rejections. 211 of them. Harder than writing the story is marketing it – much, much harder. Trying to get people to read your work is like swimming up hill in the snow hard. Even after I tell them I’m really, really good! I asked every family member, friend, strangers anyone that would give me the time of day but after a while people stop talking to you for fear of having to hear about your book for the 100th time. As far as publishing it was concerned it was very exciting… a whirlwind of excitement to finally be validated by a publisher.
Do you have an agent or are you looking to get one in the future?
Like I said, I tried for years. I had a preset notion of how it was supposed to work… write, get an agent, get published… live happily ever after. After so many rejections I heard about a woman that self published and was selling 143,000 copies of her book a month! She got an agent, they went to a traditional publisher and they told her that her story had probably topped out. Everyone that was interested in her story had bought a copy so they had no interest because she was probably on the way down. If she couldn’t make it after all that I stood no chance. I sent every query after that with an “I don’t give a damn” attitude.
If you had fifteen seconds of an agents and/or publishers time, what would you tell them about your book?
It’s good. It’s really funny, it’s really touching but over all it’s like nothing you’ve read before… That’s fifteen seconds right? Personally I need far more time. I’m sure they’ve heard that one once or twice before.
What do you do when you’re not writing?
I like to do wood work. I build cabinets, furniture, dome top trunks, stuff like that.
Do you have a day job, and if so, what is it?
I’m an REO contractor.
Which do you consider more important? Character or plot, and why?
Neither… I think each is like yin and yang, good and evil. Each balances the other out. It would be a very boring story if one over shadows the other too much.
What project are you working on now?
I’m about half finished with Black Moon – book 2 of 3 in the Littlefield series and Department 29; a time travel story.
What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author and what did you learn from that criticism?
One guy, an agent, said that he knew the ending of my story by the end of the second page. What I learned is not everyone wants to help you and you can’t believe everything people say about your work, good or bad. You have to stand by what you’ve created and to hell with what other people think.
What has been the best compliment?
That one is easy! After reading one of my books I was asked what else I had as they wanted to read more.
Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
Write every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s good bad or indifferent just write… practice makes perfect.
Favorite place in the world to be?
Home with my wife with tuna sandwiches.
What is your least favourite thing about being a writer?
I really dislike armchair quarterbacks who tell you how you should have written your book. “It would be better as a detective story set in the forties,” or “how come there are no spaceships?” Gosh, if only I had thought of that!