Friday, September 05, 2008

Writer Amanda Mahan on Twitter & Comedic Murder Mystery - UNCLAD

I first learned about you and UNCLAD on Twitter, and I was fascinated by how you used this Microblogging tool to disseminate your work. Tell us a bit about why you decided to offer your book to the public - 140 characters or less at a time.
I got the idea to release my book on Twitter from Charles Dickens, actually. He used to serialize his novels, releasing chapters at a time in the local newspapers. He even responded to his reader's feedback - if people didn't like what a character was doing he would change things along the way. Twitter is just a modern day version of that - although my book is complete so I probably won't make any major changes!

Let's step back for a moment. In 140 characters or less, pitch us your comedic murder mystery, UNCLAD.
Tricky! Here goes: When a former PI starts over as a masseuse in a fancy spa, she learns that sometimes the dirtiest things happen in the cleanest places.

What was the spark to which UNCLAD came to be.
There were two parts to the spark. First, when I lived in Los Angeles, I had a very close friend who was a masseuse and used to tell me the craziest stories about what went on in the VERY exclusive and expensive spa where she worked. I thought, someone should write about this. And then I thought, wait a minute, that someone is me.

Secondly, I have a close friend who is a private investigator. I am obsessed with hearing about his cases, and also fascinated by how he reconciles helping defend some pretty vile people - and the damage it must do to his psyche on a deep level.

And then maybe a third part to the spark is that I have often wondered what it would be like to ditch everything in your past and start over - can you ever really do that or does everything just come with you?

Have you submitted UNCLAD to publishers and/or agents? If so, what has been the response?
I have just started the process and have had a few bites. Hopefully I'll have something good to report back soon!

Have you received any attention from agents or houses directly related to your online initiatives?
The response I've gotten from agents has been through my queries and not from my online initiates - yet! I think it's less that someone would discover me through my website or Twitter and more that someone I approach might be pleased that I've already starting thinking of ways to promote myself on the web. Though lots of publishing people are on Twitter apparently, so you never know!

Is UNCLAD your first completed novel? If not, talk to us about some of your previous work and their current progress.
Unclad is my first novel. Because of my job (copywriter and creative director) I strive to be as succinct as possible in my work writing. This bled into my personal writing, which led to lots of short stories. But I always wondered if I would have enough to say to fill a book. I was shocked to find that when I let myself keep going, I did.

At the end of the day, what's the goal behind having UNCLAD on Twitter, behind sharing your novel with the public?
When I first started tweeting, I didn't think anyone would actually read it. I was just hoping to create some buzz and maybe find an agent or publisher. But I've been amazed at the number of people who've written me to say they're following along or went to my website to watch the book trailer and download chapter 1. So I guess my goal was to just put the work out there - which is always scary - and see what happens. So far, it's been great.

What are some of your most positive responses from the public?
Here's what people are saying about chapter 1:

"This is great! It's fast paced and intriguing. Fun. Is there more?"

"I just read the first chapter of your book and I'm in love! It's great! I can't wait for it to come out! I'm a forensic science and anthropology major in college so I read A LOT of crime novels and this one by far has gotten my attention! It's so entertaining! I wanted to keep reading! Excellent chapter! I can't wait for the rest!"

"It was awesome and I can't wait to read the rest."

"You have a talent for comedic writing. I want to go on to chapter 2."

""Ass" in the first sentence = love it!"

"My husband doesn't read but I gave him the last two pages – he was hooked and went back and read it from the beginning."

"I read the first chapter of your book and LOVED it! Very well written and funny. Thanks for the good read!"

"SOOOO good. When can I get more, dammit?"

How are you able to be so diligent in your postings on Twitter?
I manage to post once an hour. Even if I took a leave of absence from my job and became addicted to meth and Red Bull so I could stay up 24 hours a day frenetically Tweeting, I still couldn't take a leave from my 11-month old daughter, my husband, or the laundry. Believe me, I've tried.

Enter Dmitri. A highly sought-after Drupal expert and developer who gives lectures at places like Google. Oh, did I mention he's 12? And my boss's son? Yes, I hired the child prodigy to make me a posting mechanism. To create in his free time between Bar Mitzvah lessons, piano practice and homework. Of course, on my first day the thing went haywire, posting random sentences from the middle of the book. Nothing made sense; people started wondering whether I'd had a stroke. Meanwhile I couldn't talk to Dmitri until he got out of homeroom.

Eventually he fixed it – the kid is a crackerjack! – and I haven't had a problem since. Which is good because I think Dmitri got grounded and his computer was taken away.

Learn more about Amanda & UNCLAD @ Twitter and @ her website!

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