Welcome back, Michael Thompson! In our last interview we discussed your journey of becoming an author and focused on your most recent book World of the Orb. Congratulations on your newest publication, Winslow Hoffner’s Incredible Encounters. For more information about Michael Thompson, please visit his website.
- What is Winslow Hoffner’s Incredible Encounters about?
Thanks Donna, it’s great to be back! Winslow Hoffner’s Incredible Encounters is a folkloric fantasy adventure about epic sea monsters, a gallant fisherman who has a knack for finding himself in the wrong place at the right time, and a pair of journalists who discover their small harbor town isn’t exactly what it seems.
- What is your inspiration for this story?
The field of cryptozoology looks into animals not yet known to science. I had become fascinated a while back with books and articles detailing various “cryptids,” some of which were seen often enough to make headlines in their local papers. In some cases these creatures may have only been seen by a few people before vanishing into legend; but in this book, there’s one man who happens to have seen them all. The stories are presented like classic fisherman’s tales, but recount the titular character’s run-ins with these beasts of legend.
- The cover looks intriguing! How did you decide what to put on the cover? – JAWS
Thank you! The cover and the illustrations inside were painted by me and depict the cryptids from Winslow’s stories. The front cover is a collage of all the sea monsters from the book rising up from the depths beneath Winslow’s fishing vessel, The Seanna. I made a couple fun references to Jaws in the book, so I wanted to pay homage to Spielberg’s classic again for the cover, assembling the sea monsters under the waves and my character’s boat above the waves in a striking two-part image.
- On your website, you say you are a realmhopper. What other realmhoppers’ experiences have you enjoyed?
Yes! “Realmhopper” is a reference to my debut novel, World of the Orb, in which two modern teens find themselves lost in a medieval world of monsters and magic. In that book, the term refers to literally travelling across the multiverse; but in real life, I think it’s a great metaphor for reading — disappearing into other worlds through the written word. For that reason I decided to start addressing my readers as “Realmhoppers.” And, traveling to all these different cities to meet them and sign their books has been amazing!
- You work on series books as well. What is your advice for writing a series?
I would say definitely spend time mapping out the full scope of your story, and get to know your characters as fully-realized people that you and your readers are going to want to root for and keep revisiting. At the same time, it’s important to go with the flow if the story takes an unexpected turn, and to trust those characters you’ve gotten to know so well. It’s all about finding that balance between planning and spontaneity.
- As a speaker, tell us about any conventions or events you have recently attended.
I’ve been doing a lot of school talks lately. I spoke for Read Across America at my old elementary school where I talked to the kids about how a story from my fourth grade writing journal developed into a published book. It’s the most incredible feeling when you get to hear a kid say: when they grow up, they want to be an author.
- How do you find opportunities to have appearances at these events?
I get to meet a lot of cool people at book signings, and sometimes the people I meet turn out to be representatives from other conventions, fairs, or local schools. Conventions are probably one of my favorite places to network because I get to meet awesome bloggers and fellow authors as well — we met at RavenCon for instance! While at RavenCon, I also met a representative for MarsCon, and while at MarsCon I met a representative for ROFCon. Signing at local book stores lets me meet a lot of amazing teachers as well. I’ve learned that everything has the potential to lead to something new. Right now, the biggest event I have on the horizon is AwesomeCon 2019.
- Do you have any advice about self-marketing when it comes to self-publishing?
Be a passionate and enthusiastic ambassador for your own work, and a genuine fan of your own stories. Channel your passion into your pitches, and carry this mindset with you in whatever marketing ventures you explore. And, no matter what event you want to join, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask to be a part of it. Back when World of the Orb first came out I thought it would be cool to do a premier book signing at my local Barnes & Noble. I wasn’t sure if they would host an indie author or not, but I decided to walk in and ask anyway. A couple emails and phone calls later I found out they were actually in the midst of setting up a local author festival called Meet the Authors, and they added me into the schedule to sign at three separate stores over Black Friday weekend. That was an important lesson for me: Just ask. You never know what could happen, and what amazing opportunities may align as a result.