7 Questions With Author Mario Kiefer
Mario Kiefer has a keen interest in people and likes to write about the things that make people tick – those hidden motivations they often do not see themselves. Although born in Austin, Texas, he has lived in many parts of the country and is fascinated by the differing cultural viewpoints he has encountered always asking himself “why”?
In today’s interview Mario shares some insight on life in the writer’s shoes and speaks about approaching good and bad reviews as an author. If you too are a writer, don’t forget to check out all the tips From Writing To Publishing Your Novel, and sign up to my Newsletter for the latest & greatest.
Esther Rabbit: What’s your own definition of an author / indie author?
I know that there are those out there who say that a writer isn’t really a writer unless he has written some great work or been submitted for this award or that, but for me, I believe that each and every one of us is a writer.
Whether we are penning a letter to a friend or sending an email; writing a note to file at work or even a grocery list, we are telling a story. And I believe that writing is all about telling a story. It is creative – wanting to say whatever it is that we are trying to say “just so” in order to get our point across.
So, I guess that an author is just someone who has penned a written work – no more and no less. Some are published, some are not. An indie author is someone who has taken a different path to publishing his words.
Esther Rabbit: What are some of the myths around self-publishing / traditional publishing?
When I first starting writing, I knew absolutely nothing about the process. I simply sat down and started putting together my thoughts, ideas, and words. I had a lot to learn (and still do!) I didn’t really know about any of the “myths” because, honestly, I never thought about them.
I joined a few groups to find out how to go about doing what it was that I wanted to do. I received advice – both good and bad – from those who had done it before me, but given that I had no experience and no pre-conceived notions, I didn’t know what myths there were.
Esther Rabbit: Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
When I began writing my first book, “The Ordinary Life”, I didn’t consider in any meaningful way the business end of publication. I thought that I would simply write my book, submit it to some agents who would either accept or reject it, and then it would be published either traditionally or on my own.
Looking back, it would have been worthwhile to have a better understanding of that business aspect. But, I guess that most writers are more interested in writing the work and probably, like me, have a more difficult time with the business end. But, it is an important part of the process.
Esther Rabbit: How do you manage to juggle life and writing?
For a good portion of my life, I was raised by a single mother who worked two (and sometimes three) jobs at a time to support her family. Despite that, she rose each morning and made breakfast for us before school; she cooked homemade dinners for us each evening.
In her spare time, she knitted, crocheted, cleaned, baked, raised chickens and pigs, and myriad other things. Basically, she never stopped moving from the time that she rose in the morning until her head hit the pillow at night. From her, I learned a pretty strong work ethic. She always said, “There is time enough to do what needs doing. It’s all a matter of how you choose to spend the time.”
It can be difficult to juggle a full-time job and/or all of the other activities of basic living along with a second “writing” career. But whenever I think that I don’t have the time, I recall my mother’s words.
Of course, I enjoy the process, and, because I do, I find the time when I can and when I think that I don’t have the time, I make it. Does life get in the way? Sure. But isn’t that true for anything worthwhile? I believe that if we really want to do something, we can and will make the time to do it.
Esther Rabbit: Have you profiled your readers? Let’s have a look at how you imagine your target audience.
I have not profiled my audience. I know that they say that should be done, but honestly, I am not writing for a target audience. I write the stories that I want to tell and hope that there are people out there who may be interested in reading them. I like character-driven stories that make a point.
My first book was an attempt to say that, we all believe our lives to be ordinary, but to others our life may be anything but. The struggles that we have may be different from another, they may be harder or easier, but each and every one of us has our personal struggles.
Because I am interested in what motivates people, I tried to explore events and the reactions to those events from different perspectives. How we react to something is informed by the events of our past – often in hidden ways that we do not understand.
In my second book, “The Ordinary Doll”, I tried to explore the idea of perception being reality. How our minds control what we think, see, and believe.
In my next book coming out soon, “The Ordinary Monster”, I explore what might turn a man into a monster. What motivates an otherwise decent human being to do evil?
For me, it’s all about the characters and how their experiences drive a point. I guess, one could say that my target audience are those who are interested in those concepts.
Esther Rabbit: We all know this industry is full of surprises. Can you share an unexpected experience?
Sometimes, I feel so old that I think Methuselah was my child. Because of that, there isn’t much that surprises me anymore about anything. But, I think the most surprising thing is how much of industry it really is and how, despite it being a large industry, how truly insular it can be. But. I think that what surprises me most about this industry and life in general, is how people react to things.
My books deal with some heavy topics at times and there have been those who have reacted negatively. At the same time, there are many who find the stories both sad yet uplifting (depending on the story and the theme.)
Having been raised in a very open environment where no topic of discussion was ever off the table, I am surprised by how some react to certain stories. This aspect of human behavior fascinates me.
Esther Rabbit: How do you deal with negative feedback or negative reviews?
There is a difference between critique and criticism. Critique is meant to improve the work – to build it up while criticism is meant to tear something down. Pay attention to those who critique, but ignore the critics.
It depends on the source. If the feedback is coming from an editor or beta reader, I take it under consideration and might rework using their suggestions. (Then again, I may not – it depends on whether or not I believe that the feedback helps the story.)
For me, the bottom line is whether the feedback contains suggestions that improve the overall story – if it does, I make the changes. If it does not, I do not. Either way, I don’t really let it bother me. My day job is in a field where multiple people review and make suggestions to draft writing. I expect and welcome critique that improves the overall work.
As to reviews:
We all love the rush of seeing that new review come out. Will it be good? Will it be bad? What will they say? It’s exciting and a little scary until you click that link and read what the reviewer has written.
But the truth is, while I love getting positive reviews, I don’t much mind a negative one. Not every work can appeal to all. For example, I absolutely hated the movie “The Shape of Water” yet, many people I know were wowed by it. So, I understand that there will always be someone who doesn’t like the work and I let their opinion roll off of my back. To each his own.
You can’t please everyone. I have reviewers gush over this or that in one of my books and others who do not like the very same thing – even the exact same passage or phrase. If there is a common thread in the reviews, i.e., many people saying the same thing, I try to look into what it is they are saying (good or bad) to determine what areas of improvement for the next work may exist.
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And if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance, check out Lost in Amber:
“A new Interplanetary Alliance ambassador on an earthbound mission.
A handful of genetically altered humans to be rescued.
Meeting her changed everything.“