An interview with a recently published Alumni.
MARS’ HILL: What made you decide to write a novel, and when did you get started?
TODD FOLEY: I’ve always loved writing. I got a full-time communications job right after graduating and thought I would find total “writing fulfillment” through that. A year later [September 2010], I felt an itch to do something on the side - constantly bouncing back forth between ideas. I read through Bird by Bird by Anne Lamott and decided I was going to start writing a novel. Of course, I had no idea how much work was ahead of me.
MH: What was the hardest part of the writing and/or publishing process?
TF: The biggest struggle was getting to know the characters and getting inside their heads. How do they talk? What sort of vocabulary do they use? How do they respond to circumstances? What worldview do they possess? What happened in their past? This held up the writing process for a while as I studied people around me as well as characters in other books and films.
Ultimately, it let the story flow much more naturally. When I finished the manuscript a year later, I started to explore publishing options and was overwhelmed by how much I didn’t know. Thankfully, I was able to build connections via Twitter with established indie authors thousands of miles away. I can’t count the number of emails I exchanged with another author about the best production processes and the technicalities of operating a one-man publishing company.
MH: What surprised you the most in the process of writing a novel?
TF: This may sound cheesy, but I had to let the story lead me. I spent the majority of my lunch breaks at a nearby park reflecting on the story and getting to know the characters. Sometimes I’d walk away with a dozen ideas; other times it wouldn’t go anywhere. I literally was living in this story for a year, which made it so much more real to me - sort of a conglomeration of themes and lessons I both experienced and witnessed. To convey that, I wrote this preface to the book: “Aiden Lawrence is fictional, but he’s real. Cielo Island doesn’t exist, but it’s true. This story may seem hopeless, but it points to hope. It’s human. That’s what we are, and we all need hope.”
Check out his website at scribbledrevisions.com. Eastbound Sailing is currently available for order on Amazon.