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Please welcome Inge H. Borg.
“You lead such an interesting life, you should write a book.” How many people have been told this and never done so. I, too, laughed this off as a well-meaning albeit thoughtless cliché, assuming they hoped for juicy details of me being young and single. When the person waxed on about their visit to Egypt, I went to the library and read Budge. Then Petrie. (Don’t groan, it was the early 1990s and I didn’t have Internet access nor did I know any better.) Even though much of the writings of those early Egyptologists have been superseded, I was hooked. Then I read about a solo-sailor battling the dreaded Khamsin (or Arabic khamseen) along the Horn of Africa. Bingo! I had my title: KHAMSIN, The Devil Wind of the Nile.
250,000 words later, I started to peddle my manuscript (anyone remember the continuous holed printer paper you had to tear apart manually?). Besides the mailing costs, I accumulated a mountain of ‘pink slips,’ with barely a molehill of well-meaning advice thrown in, mostly: ‘Too darn long.’ Not even giving the book a befitting royal burial, I stashed it unceremoniously into a drawer where it languished for over twenty years, while I got on with my life, grew older, retired and moved to a (still somewhat painful) laid-back pace of a Southern state.
Fast-forward to 2011. What was that article about Amazon and a Breakthrough Award? Maximum 150,000 words; oh, bother. Did I even still have those old floppies? I did, and tenaciously set out to slash and burn half of my ‘darlings,’ submitting KHAMSIN. When I didn’t make the first cut, I self-published this historical saga about Ancient Egypt (including a paperback version through CreateSpace). Have I re-edited and revised it since? Yes – and I won’t tell you how many times!
Then came SIROCCO, Storm over Land and Sea, a thriller. Was I pandering to a different audience? Perhaps. However, since a strong theme of a “reawakened soul” runs through KHAMSIN, it was only natural to concoct this “poor sinner not yet having found peace on earth.” SIROCCO (the fierce North African wind frothing the Med, and which fathers the KHAMSIN) was a natural—I plunged this archaeological thriller-sequel smack into the Arab Spring.
Looking for another storm, I started “Southern Trades,” but found the title too nebulous for non-sailors, and opted for After The Cataclysm. Having Yellowstone blow its long-overdue top was as good a reason as any for a dystopian thread running through Book 3 (much the same protagonists – as well as antagonists – as in SIROCCO).
By the way, I hope to publish a fourth and fifth book in the series. “Crystal Caves” will be an immediate follow-on to Cataclysm, while “Khepri,” (Egyptian name for the winged scarab) the last book, is planned to reach back to 6500 BC –finally to let us know where these enigmatic Egyptians came from (I can already hear the roar of protest from learned souls). As it will be Historical Fantasy rather than Historical Fiction, I shouldn’t be too crucified for my dreamed-up assertions.
Well, having let the cat out of the bag, I had better get to it then. But those books are still a ways off.
If you had a writing motto, what would it be?
I know I live in “Walmart country,” but I still struggle with the (irrefutably successful) motto: Give the customer what he wants. Perusing the “bestseller lists,” it seems nobody wants to learn anything, be transported into a higher milieu, or enrich their vocabulary. Fast and furious seems to be the order of the day. I wrote a blogpost about “pandering to the masses” with suggestive covers and simple language – that got me into a world of hot water (or the realm of one-star houndings) on Goodreads. So, let’s just say, of course, I want to please my readers. But with intelligent , enjoyable and worthwhile books.
They are out there. I just read (and reviewed) some absolutely wonderful and sophisticated self-published novels that give me hope that all has not been lost to first-person, present-tense YA angst. (I recommend the best I have read on my devilwinds blog.)
Have you learned anything from the self-publishing process? Would you do anything differently next time?
I am astounded how much I have learned about formatting (at first the hard way), uploading (I started out with a painful telephone Internet connection, when you had to convert to your own mobi-file before uploading). KHAMSIN took me three days due to its size and being disconnected all the time. As my phone was of course constantly busy, someone sent a police officer to the house to check on me (small town, concerned people).
As to the question of “doing it differently the next time,” NO. I thank Toth (the Egyptian god of writing) for this wonderful opportunity to fill my days with something I am passionate about. (It sure beats playing Bridge with the girls, sipping sherry and listening to their latest doctor’s visit). The only thing now is to beat the search engines and book ratings in a sea of crill where you aspire to be the giant shark whale.
Ms. Borg now lives in a diversified lake community in Arkansas, where she continues to write historical and contemporary fiction.
She also published a non-fiction book about Pasha, her cat and his former shelter buddies. Her poetry has been published in over twenty anthologies and was chosen for professionally recorded readings. Her hobbies include world literature, opera, sailing and, of course, devising other plots for future novels.
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