Welcome to another of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, biographers, agents, publishers and more. Today’s is with non-fiction author Fiona Gold Kroll. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate further.
Morgen: Hello, Fiona. Please tell us something about yourself, where you’re based, and how you came to be a writer.
Fiona: Hello Morgen. Thank you so much for having me! My name is Fiona Gold Kroll and I live in Toronto, Canada. I’m a married mother of two adult children and a grandmother. Before retiring five years ago, I was a corporate researcher. Writing came naturally to me even as a child and I frequently added pictures my stories. Though my work entailed writing reports, I didn’t begin writing for myself until five years ago. An editor friend suggested that I write a memoir about my search for my great-uncle Benjamin. People were fascinated with the story. So, I sat down and wrote. The novice in me said “get an editor” before submitting the manuscript to agents and publishers and it was a very smart move. I chose the perfect editor. She is not only a consummate professional, she understood the story. Her contacts in the publishing industry were instrumental in finding a publisher interested in my book. The manuscript was also in good shape when they read it.
Morgen: A very wise novice. Having an editor is the most costly part of self-publishing (eBooks are uploaded word processed documents and covers are fairly easy – and free – to create – I have a guide here) but it’s certainly the most important aspect. Sure, a cover, title and blurb entice the reader but have an average or below-average book and your reader will not only make it to the end of your book and certainly be unlikely to read any more but these days, authors rely on positive word of mouth (it’s how ‘Fifty Shades’ got so big). To-date, 95% of my editing clients have been self-published as it’s very encouraging that they are so willing to make their product the best it can be before sharing it with the wider world. I do know of someone who finished writing their novel on a Friday and published it online the following weekend. I’ve never read it but even the best writers need editors. Even though I’m an editor, I still hire one for my writing because she spots things I haven’t (because I wrote it and knew what I meant by something) and comes up with great suggestions.
Fiona: I also took a creative writing course, when I had almost finished writing A Stone for Benjamin. I loved it and began writing short stories including The Butterfly Effect. Encouraged by my instructor to submit the story for publication I was surprised when it was accepted by our national newspaper The Globe & Mail. I was told that I had a voice and I realized that I loved writing. I write every day, it helps distract me from winter. Then I get distracted walking our dog through the forest and beside the river during the summer months! Joking aside, ideas are constantly drifting through my mind and I can’t wait to write each day.
Morgen: That’s lovely. I started with short stories and they’ll always be my first love. With your non-fiction, how do you decide what to write about?
Fiona: This was an easy decision for me. I spent several years searching for my great-uncle who disappeared from Paris in 1941. I travelled to Paris and Poland in an effort to find the truth about his disappearance. Once I had all the answers, I knew I had to write about Benjamin and the effect the research had on me.
Morgen: It does sound like a great story. What have you had published to-date? Do you write under a pseudonym?
Fiona: Stone for Benjamin was published by Iguana Books in November, 2013. I contributed to Un train parmi tant d’autres a French memoir and wrote The Butterfly Effect, a short story published in 2013. No, I don’t use a pseudonym.
Morgen: I mentioned self-publishing a moment ago. Is it a route you’ve ever considered?