An Interview with Author T.H. Alexander

TH AlexanderTell us something about your book. What is it about?

The Lord of Salamander is the coming-of-age story of Elijah Pendleton, a boy with no past. For as long as he can remember, he’s lived under the control of his abusive aunts in a small rural town where everything is deeply ordinary, until one day when his short life changes forever.

It’ll be a strange incident involving a cat and mysterious oak tree, that will put Elijah on the path of discovering his true identity, and begin the greatest journey into the heart of the unknown; through a world of legend and mythology that has been shrouded in mystery and suspicion over the many centuries. Through friendships, trials and tribulations, Elijah will have to find a strength he never knew could even exist to finally uncover the truth about himself and his missing parents.

How did you come to self-publish? Did you try to get published traditionally?

Goodness, did I try. From the moment I graduated high school in 2007, I was looking for a literary agent. I had absolutely no intention whatsoever in self-publishing the Lord of Salamander, until some years had went by and realized it probably wasn’t going to be published the way I had originally envisioned it would. I considered self-publishing, however, self-publishing is something I feel you have to go all the way with if you want to really make it. And yet, to go all the way with it, you also need the money to back it up. So, realistically speaking, it just didn’t make any sense to go there. It wasn’t until 2012, when I stumbled upon an article in a magazine (Wired) about newcomer Hugh Howey, and how he’d just found enormous success by independently publishing his book series, Wool, through print-on-demand and Amazon that it finally raised an eyebrow and made me want to further explore my options.

What self-publishing service did you use? Happy with the service?

I actually made it a point to publish my book exactly how Hugh Howey and so many others now published theirs, which was through a relatively new CreateSpace and Amazon Direct Publishing. For the most, I was happy with it, mainly because it was so straight forward. Just upload/done. That’s it. So there’s a bit of effort on my part to make the book look as much like a book as it can possibly be, because it basically falls in my hands to do so. But I think everything just came together with this: the cover, my interior, the design. I got very lucky.

What avenues have you taken to market the book? Have you gotten reviews, interviews, TV, print media coverage?

I just actually began reaching out to the local media here in San Antonio in regards to promoting the book. My press kit materials (which includes a 4 Star review from the Hollywood Book Reviews) was sent to our local News stations, the San Antonio Express Newspaper, and I’m also going to be promoting online through my website (www.thalexanderwebpage.com) as well as my Facebook page (www.facebook.com/thalexanderbooks).

What drove you to write this particular book?

That’s a good question, because I do not like all fantasies. There was a particular type of fantasy, that I’m still not sure what it’s called, but consisted of three books: the Wonderful Wizard of Oz, Peter Pan and the Chronicles of Narnia. And these three books seemed to be in a category all in their own, really and influenced me the most, as well as influenced the type of fantasy I wanted to write.

The Lord of SalamanderIs the book in any one particular genre? Is it a genre that’s familiar to you?

Young adult. Mainly 12 through 17 when it comes to the Lord of Salamander. I just want to make that perfectly clear. Some will simply look at the title and premise and then call it a children’s book. Yes, the characters are a big young, but thirteen isn’t what it used to be, either. The kids I portray in my novels are not sugar-coated, by any means, which I felt was very important. Being in middle school and high school and what those times were like is still fresh to me, and I wanted to take a more realistic approach when it came to the kids and how they behaved and interacted with one another verses with the adults. Something that would be more at level with them.

Who are your greatest writing influences? L. Frank Baum. Hands down. The Wonderful Wizard of Oz was the first fantasy book I ever read, and from the moment I did, had this incredible desire to take people on an adventure, to make them feel the same way I did when I first read that book.

What’s your writing regimen? Any tips for keeping focused?

My writing regimen is very tedious and slow. Honestly, I wish I could pound out a four-hundred page novel in a couple months’ time like a lot of these other authors can, however, it’s just that: a wish. I find myself at my best when I’m writing by myself, without any major distractions or noises, preferably in my bed. I’ve actually never wrote anything at a desk, except when I was in school. I’m always most comfortable writing in bed.

Would you self-publish again?

Well, I’ve already published the follow-up to the Lord of Salamander, a young adult science-fiction/horror called Till Dawn. However, I don’t exactly want to make this a career, either. Like Hugh Howey and Christopher Paolini, I’m hoping my books will fall into the right hands, quite simply, and maybe will be republished by a traditional publishing house, but even if it doesn’t, I’m probably not going to self-publish again after Return to Salamander.

Any final words of advice for those looking to self-publish?

I know it’s going to sound like the pot calling the kettle black, but make sure your book has a really good edit job before making any major moves. I will be the first to tell you that except for a minor proofread, the Lord of Salamander has never been touched professionally. ONLY if you can afford it (not every author can afford a professional edit), then definitely let that be the first thing you do. If you can’t afford it, reach out in your community (local writing groups, community college). Maybe you’ll be lucky enough to not get turned down like I was. Other than that, just go for it. Instead of sitting around waiting at your mailbox or computer for a response from a literary agent, we have been given the opportunity to not just wait around but actually make things happen for ourselves. Take full advantage. Never give up on your work and never give up on yourself. 

Read the SPR Review of The Lord of Salamander Here