Monday, June 6, 2016

PUYB Virtual Book Club Chats with 'Floor 21' Jason Luthor

Jason Luthor has spent a long life writing for sports outlets, media companies and universities. His earliest writing years came during his coverage of the San Antonio Spurs as an affiliate with the Spurs Report and its media partner, WOAI Radio. He would later enjoy a moderate relationship with Blizzard Entertainment, writing lore and stories for potential use in future games. At the academic level he has spent several years pursuing a PhD in American History at the University of Houston, with a special emphasis on Native American history.

His inspirations include some of the obvious; The Lord of the Rings and Chronciles of Narnia are some of the most cited fantasy series in history. However, his favorite reads include the Earthsea Cycle, the Chronicles of Prydain, as well as science fiction hits such as Starship Troopers and Do Androids dream of Electric Sheep?
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About the Book:

The last of humanity is trapped at the top of an isolated apartment tower with no memory of how they got there or why. All travel beneath Floor 21 is forbidden, and nobody can ever recall seeing the ground floor. Beneath Floor 21, a sickness known as the Creep infests that halls of the Tower. A biological mass that grows stronger in reaction to people’s fear and anger, the Creep prey’s on people by causing them to hallucinate until they’re in a state of panicking, before finally growing strong
enough to lash out and consume them. Only a small team known as Scavengers are allowed to go beneath Floor 21 to pillage the lower levels in search of food and supplies.

Jackie is a brilliant young girl that lives far above the infection and who rarely has to worry about facing any harm. However, her intense curiosity drives her to investigate the bottom floors and the Creep. To deal with her own anxiety and insecurities, she documents her experiences on a personal recorder as she explores the secrets of the Tower. During the course of her investigation, Jackie will find herself at odds with Tower Authority, which safeguards what remains of humanity, as she attempts to determine what created the Creep, how humanity became trapped at the top of the Tower, and whether anyone knows if escape is even possible.

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  • Floor 21 is available at Amazon.
  • Discuss this book at PUYB Virtual Book Club at Goodreads.
Before you started writing your book, what kind of research did you do to prepare yourself?

None, really. I saw a few seconds of visual on television, and that inspired the entire book. I wrote it in a week, and spent more time editing it than anything else. In terms of related material that fueled the writing, there’s a video game called OFF made by an independent French development team. Very surreal with mind boggling imagery. I think I just soaked myself in their music and visual imagery as a means of preparing myself.

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

I queried agents, but most told me they didn’t think the material was easily accessible. It is a little bit weird. Fortunately, Amazon offered me a contract through their Scout imprint. I experimented with self-pub before, as a trial, and I’m just not cut out for it.

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

They offered me a contract! It’s really hard to establish connections with agents, and because of my last indie effort, I have the good fortune to have close contact with one. But the publishing process is hard, especially for material that’s a little off the beaten path. I was glad to be offered the advance.

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

I’m more than happy with the price they chose. It’s fairly standard.

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

I did not have any control over the release date. My publisher did a month of pre-sales leading up to the book’s release in order to give advanced readers a chance to give their reviews before the book went up for sale.

How did you choose your cover?

I have some limited work doing photoshop and photo manipulation and had a limited time to enter the Scout competition, so I tried to convey something fearful and ominous without being gruesome. In the end, the red-on-greyscale tone of the art helped convey the sort of appropriate fear the story conveys without becoming too grim. The central image of the Tower was the most important part, since it is so central to the story.

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

I wrote the book in a week and revised it over the next month. I consider that a really fast turnaround and don’t advise it for most writers, but I think it was just one of those moments of inspiration.

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? 

No swag yet! But we have posters and shirts coming soon now that we have official artwork coming out.

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

No book trailer. I played around with making a few, but nothing serious. I’m not sold on their effectiveness, but then again, I’ve never made one so what do I know?

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

I have heard some success stories, but I think it really only works if you have a series. But by that point, shouldn’t you have built up the kind of following that gets word of your book out? Once again, I’m not completely sold.

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

1.      Really believe in your scenes. Make sure all of them are important and tell something new and fresh. Always write the scenes that inspired your book in the first place, the ones that occur to you while you’re taking a shower, when you can see every action and hear every word perfectly.
2.      Get your work critiqued and combine critiques with reading of current literature in your genre. Come up with your style as a combination of all these factors.
3.      Edit vigorously. Your first ten drafts may be terrible, but it’s okay. Perfect the voices of your characters and get rid of scenes that drag down the pace of your story. Don’t be afraid to leave stuff on the cutting room floor.

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

1.      Follow up with the people following you. Reach out to people, be open, and communicate with your readers. This is the internet era, they want to hear from you if they love your work.
2.      Sell shamelessly. Never be afraid to promote your book. Nobody else will do it for you. Don’t be endlessly talking it up, but don’t be afraid to talk about it, either. The right amount of aggressive can pay off.
3.      Listen to what your readers are saying. What did they like? What didn’t they? Don’t write to meet readers expectations, because that’s an endless downward spiral and you can never meet everyone’s expectations. But try and understand what themes and emotions they’re responding to. You can find a surprising amount of inspiration if you pay attention, because readers will find powerful elements of your story they identify with that you might overlook or think of as a minor element.

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

I was really active in my writing groups and getting support from people who really actively became supportive and enthusiastic of the material. Word of mouth counted for a lot, considering this was my first release. I didn’t find tweeting to be too effective, but a lot of person-to-person communication really helped build support. After that, the one-month pre-sale helped build up some hype toward the release.

Do you have a long term plan with your book?

I am under a five-year contract and will be receiving regular advertisement support. During that time, I will be releasing new books in the series. Book 2 was just released, and Book 3 will be out sometime next year. I feel a book per year is a good pace, but would slow down if I felt I needed to focus on the work. There’s nothing more important to me than creating a series my fans are proud of.

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

Thanks to everyone that’s been a fan since before the book’s release, who pushed me to write it based on a -very- short sample I wrote on a whim over a year ago, when I had never written in first person before. Somehow it caught your imagination, and that’s really fueled the ongoing sales and strong response to the material. To everyone that’s a newer reader, welcome! I try to keep in contact through my author page on a regular basis. Finally, I’d like to say I’m working hard to piece together the mysteries of the FLOOR 21 series and make the payoff rewarding. There is a plan. The mysteries will be solved. I’m going to keep working every day to make each book even more amazing than the last, so stick around.

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