BRIAN: Chris Savio and I last year at New York’s Algonkian Pitch Conference. As we
nervously waited outside the rooms where we would pitch our novels to some of the biggest editors in the business we struck up several interesting conversations. I was struck by Chris’s strong belief in himself and his novel. We kept in touch since then and I’m pleased to welcome him into the Underground just as his debut novel hits the market. Chris, tell us a little about The Beckoning.
CHRIS: Brian, thank you for your kind words and for having me here. On the surface, The Beckoning is a story of a young girl who is forced to move from New Jersey to a remote plantation house in Virginia. Isolated from her friends, and ultimately her parents, Marissa (my protagonist) and her dog Max are left to fend for themselves in a world dominated by a demon bent on killing her family. In addition to the demon, Marissa must deal with a paranormal town her family frequents that is populated by ghosts. Eventually, Marissa discovers these ghosts are trying to reach out to her for help, for reasons she doesn’t yet understand. On the brink of insanity, Marissa finds the journal of the young man that lived in her room over a century before. In his journal, the young man left vital information about the history of the house and how to survive it. Lonely and scared, Marissa begins to fall in love with the young man spiritually before he does the seemingly impossible. He materializes to save her from the demon and show her the special powers she possesses. The love Marissa feels for him immediately grows ten fold. While their relationship blossoms, Marissa comes to realize that Zachary has not come to save her. Rather he has come to show her how to save the ghosts who are imprisoned in Mills Run, her family, and possibly the world.
Along with the romance, The Beckoning is packed with action, horror and the story of a young person finding out who she really is. Above all, The Beckoning is a story of a young person gaining confidence in herself and standing strong in the face of overwhelming odds.
BRIAN: Describe the moment you decided to self-publish. What are your impressions of the traditional publishing process?
CHRIS: First of all I want to say that I have nothing but respect for traditional authors and their efforts. I know exactly how hard their journey is, but feel that indie authors are the wave of the future. The moment I decided to go indie was an exhilarating feeling of writer’s freedom. I have my manuscript with several agents presently and even though they know Penguin has requested it, they still have taken over four months to get back to me. I have also had big name agents tell me to my face that books with ghosts or the devil are not in demand and to write something different. The very next day after hearing that, some of the biggest publishing houses in the world told me they are looking for my kind of work and showed extreme interest in my projects. After I fully processed this disconnect, I went indie. Letting my imagination guide my writing career and letting the reading public judge it, to me makes more sense.
BRIAN: How did you approach editing your manuscript in preparation for publication? Specifically, did you go to a professional service or do it yourself?
CHRIS: I took several approaches to editing The Beckoning. My wife and I went through it at least four times. Realizing editing was not our forte, I decided to call in a professional. Doing a little research, I found Neil Hock an editor who has done work on
numerous best sellers. I now consider him my personal editor and will venture no
further. He did a great job.
BRIAN: In a related question, how did you come up with the cover?
CHRIS: I had a vision in my head about blending Briar Creek, the house in The
Beckoning, with the paranormal town of Mills Run that my protagonist is forced to visit in the book, but had no idea how to do it. So once again I had to do some research and find a professional to get it done. After a few days of searching I came across Char Adlesperger at Wicked Cover Designs. A few back and forths with her and we were able to get a cover that has given me numerous positive comments.
BRIAN: I’ve heard lots of self-published authors lament the trials and tribulations of
marketing. Do you have a marketing strategy for The Beckoning and beyond?
CHRIS: I have come up with a few different strategies. Some on my own and some from reading the books those who have done well have put out on the market. I have started my own website and have a twitter account that have given me some exposure. Outside of that, I’ve hired Bewitching Book Tours and will be going on a one-month twenty-blog tour and will be doing some radio ads in the process. I have also decided to contact several local newspapers and have some stories done about a local
citizen publishing some books. They always seem to be looking for stories on the local interest level. I also know that it can take years to be an overnight success.
I have a great work ethic and more patience than most. I will keep working and promoting, confident that it will happen for me. The key is to keep learning and keep working. Success never happened for the writer who gave up.
BRIAN: I ask this of all the authors I interview with day jobs and families because I
know it’s a challenge for me: How do you find (or make) time to write?
CHRIS: That’s a great question and one that many of my friends ask me when I tell them that not only do I have The Beckoning completed, but also a number of other stories getting close to publication. It’s easy when you don’t sleep too much. My daily schedule usually includes me getting up early before my family and writing, later in the day I write during my lunch hour, after work, and then after everyone goes to bed. It is a rarity for me to be in bed before the late, late shows are over. Many times I only get about 4 hours sleep a night.
BRIAN: When can we expect the sequel to The Beckoning?
CHRIS: Right now I am writing a steampunk vampire book with Billy the Kid as the protagonist. That should be done within the next two months and then I will continue
to work on the sequel to The Beckoning. I would expect that to be done sometime before February 2013. I write about 1500 words a day and can’t seem to function without writing. So it will be soon.
BRIAN: Chris, thanks for joining us in the Underground. For our readers, if you want to see a sample of The Beckoning right here on UBR next week, let us know by subscribing to our newsletter, liking us on Facebook, and commenting on this interview. If you want to follow Chris's writing career, visit his website and on Twitter.