W. H. Mitchell is a science fiction writer who likes to explore the hubris of humanity through a dark and dry wit. He is the author of The Imperium Chronicles, which currently sits at two books: The Arks of Andromeda and The Dragons of Andromeda. Mitchell is working on a third and already has eyes on a fourth. His other works include a humor book based on his tweets and a comic strip about a frog. He sounds like my kind of crazy, so let’s learn more about him.
What is the most important thing about a book in your opinion?
At heart, I’m an entertainer and I think when you read a book, you should come away feeling like it was something enjoyable. For me, it’s about a narrative in the tradition dating back to Homer and Shakespeare. I’m not trying to preach or give a moral lesson. I just want to entertain people and maybe give them a way to escape their everyday lives.
When did it dawn upon you that you wanted to be a writer?
I’ve literally been making stories since before I could actually write. When I was a kid, I made picture stories (primitive graphic novels) and cartoons. I did this throughout elementary school. By high school, I was writing short stories and I continued that even out of college. It was only recently, when I was 48, that I started writing my first novel and now that I’m 50, I’m working on my third book.
Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I tell whatever story/narrative that’s in my head. I can’t say whether this is what anyone actually wants to read, but it’s the only way I can feel motivated to write a novel-length story. If I try writing for someone else, the story no longer feels like it’s coming from me.
Are you a plotter or a pantster?
I’m a hybrid of sorts. Although I have a general idea of what my book will be about, and I have some set story arcs that fall within that planning, I like to keep things open for what I call emergent stories. These are impromptu ideas, characters, etc. that come to me while I’m writing the story. In my second book, The Dragons of Andromeda, the character of Lars Hatcher didn’t exist when I started writing the novel. It was only after my wife suggested telling the story from a “nobody” that the rest of his character came to life and became an extremely important part of the story’s climax.
What has your experience been like as an indie author?
As an indie author, I feel good about being my own boss and answering only to myself. However, the downside is that I’m one of many and I feel lost in the crowd. When I see other authors with hundreds of reviews, it’s very humbling and often demoralizing. It’s important to motivate yourself to keep going.
What is your advice to indie authors on marketing?
I think this is a slow burn more than a big flash. Marketing is about consistently increasing the number of people who know about you and have hopefully read your work. The belief (and hope) is that eventually this number of people will reach a critical mass and things will get easier. I think the most important part of this is simply writing more books. The more books you have out, the more people take you seriously as an author.
Can you tell us about your current projects?
I’m currently working on the third book of the Imperium Chronicles series, called The Robots of Andromeda. It’s an open-ended series and I’ve already taken a few notes on the fourth book (at least a year away) which I’m tentatively calling The Suns of Andromeda.
Are you a full-time or part-time writer? How does that affect your writing?
I’m definitely a part-time writer. Since I don’t make much money yet from my books, I have to pay the bills by other means. That means I don’t have as much time to write. At a bare minimum, however, I have at least an hour each night that I set aside for writing.
What does success mean to you? What is the definition of success?
I think like most writers, I want to make a living by writing my stories. Money is always a source of anxiety so having enough to pay the bills would be one way I would feel successful.
Where can readers purchase your books?
I’m exclusively on Amazon.