Tuesday, May 3, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with Jess Steven Hughes, author of 'The Wolf of Britannia'

Jess Steven Hughes is a retired police detective sergeant with twenty-five years experience in criminal investigation and a former U.S. Marine. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration and a minor in Ancient Mediterranean Civilizations from the University of Southern California. He has traveled and studied extensively in the areas forming the background of this novel, which brings vivid authenticity to the unique settings for his historical novels, The Wolf of Britannia, Part I, The Wolf of Britannia, Part II, and The Sign of the Eagle. He currently lives with his wife, Liz, and their three horses in Eastern Washington. He is currently working on another historical novel from the First Century A.D.

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About the Book:

First Century AD Britain is a fragmented land of warring Celtic tribes, ripe for invasion by the juggernaut of imperial Rome. Knowing this, a young warrior, soon-to-be-legendary, Prince Caratacus, must unite the southern tribes if they are to survive. This is an enemy more cunning and powerful then either he or Britain has ever faced.

Standing by him is his wife, Rhian, a warrior princess who takes no prisoners. She is the first woman he has truly loved. With her support and that of other allies, Caratacus must outsmart a traitorous brother who is determined to take the throne, aided by a conniving Roman diplomat and a tribal king in the pockets of the Romans.
Caratacus must save his country not only from the pending Roman onslaught but from his own peoples treachery.

Or else die trying.

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Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

Since The Wolf of Britannia, Part I,  is a work of historical fiction set in Celtic Britain from 27 - 40 A.D, which was under threat of invasion from Imperial Rome, I conducted extensive research on Celtic history, customs, and the geography of Britain from that period. The major character is Caratacus the legendary Celtic prince, soon to be king, who is lost in the mist of history, myth and time. Most of what know about him comes from the Roman historians Tacitus and Dio Cassius. One of the major secondary characters in the novel is a Roman named Porcius, who is Caratacus's nemesis, so I also did research on Imperial Rome. I used more than one hundred books. I have also visited England and the Mediterranean world, getting a real feel for my work.

Did you pursue publishers or did you opt to self-pub?

I pursued literary agents and publishers. This is not self-published.

If published by a publisher, what was your deciding factor in going with them?

I went with Sunbury Press (www.sunburypress.com), a traditional small press, located in Mechanicsburg, PA. They specialized in history and historical fiction (they have since expanded to many other genres). They accepted my first historical novel, The Sign of the Eagle (part of the trilogy that includes The Wolf of Britannia, Part I and The Wolf of Britannia, Part II) and the chance to prove that it was a marketable product. It was and has been a success sales wise. It was only logical that I submitted The Wolf of Britannia, Part I (and later Part II) as well. The "Wolf" novels are prequels to The Sign of the Eagle.

If published by a publisher, are you happy with the price they chose?

Yes, I am. I have spoken with several book store managers and they say it is in the price range expected this book. It is published as a trade paperback.

Did you purposefully choose a distinct month to release your book?  Why?

No, I did not, the publisher decided that.

How did you choose your cover?

I contacted an artist, Tal Dibner, who specializes in pictures from military history to do the work. I had seen several of his paintings (all done in oil) and was impressed with his work. He also did the cover for Part II. Normally, Sunbury Press does not accept outside artistic work, but the publisher, Lawrence Knorr, liked his work.

Did you write your book, then revise or revise as you went?

Yes, I did. I belong to the Spokane Novelist Group, Spokane, Washington, which has been around more than fifty years. The majority of the group are established authors. We meet twice a month and when I finished writing a chapter, I would have the group review it before I continue on. They are a tough group who kept me honest.

Did you come up with special swag for your book and how are you using it to help get the word out about your book?

I use book marks, have conducted many successful book signings (I am like the Wal-mart greeter), have a portrait of my book cover on display, get the word out many Facebook related author pages, Twitter, my website/blog, Goodreads and Amazon author pages, etc.

Did you consider making or hiring someone to make a book trailer for your book?  If so, what’s the link?

I already have a book trailer for this novel. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-8w8aTpqR68&feature=youtu.be

What’s your opinion on giving your book away to sell other copies of your book?

I do so, sparingly, and usually to people who will read and give me an honest review (I make that very clear before I give them a copy).

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do before their book is released?

1. Although I worked with an editor who reviewed it three times and made appropriate corrections and rewrites, I still retained the right to make the final decision on the end product. There were compromises made by both sides, but in the end I had the final say.

2. Not only should the novel be properly edited for typos, etc. but the novel needs to be proofread. Even editors miss typos, etc. Make sure you have a clean book.

3. Be sure to make any last minute changes before the book is released. My novel is POD. I found a minor error to the back cover and had it changed just before the novel was released.

What are three of the most important things you believe an author should do after their book is released?

Promotion is everything. I promoted to the media, independent and chain bookstores; promoted online to various social links and blogs. Press releases were sent out by the publisher, etc.

What kind of pre-promotion did you do before the book came out? 

See the above question, plug blog sites, website, FB pages, etc.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

This is part of a trilogy (The Sign of the Eagle, The Wolf of Britannia, Part I and Part II) about the legendary Celtic British king, Caratacus, and the Roman invasion of Britain in 43 A.D. Not only does he and family survive to tell about it, but is daughter, Macha (The Sign of the Eagle) grew up to marry a Roman officer and had almost handed save his life when he was accused of treason. I am currently doing research for another novel, a sequel in which he returns to Britannia. In the meantime, I will have two more historical novels that tentatively will be released sometime in 2017 which parallels the above stories but seen from the Roman perspective.

What would you like to say to your readers and fans about your book?

If you like authentic, fast-paced historical novels set in the ancient world, about real courageous men and women, who must save their country from the tyranny of Rome or die trying, then you will reading The Wolf of Britannia, Part I .

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