Name: Zane Owen Yates
Hometown: Sydney, Australia
Current Residence: Gold Coast, Australia
Favorite Read: I have been a big Clive Cussler fan since reading Raise the Titanic. I turned to short snappy eBooks about 3 years ago. Kindle on my iPad mini has nearly 300 books in my library, probably two-thirds are between 200 and 300 pages and split between Scifi, paranormal, adventure and mysteries.
Pet Peeves: Bullies, selfish people, lack of morals today.
If You Weren’t a Writer You’d Be… a software developer, designing and writing custom software. Oh wait, that’s my other job anyway.
How early in your life did you figure out your writing talent?
I had always been the joke and story teller among my friends from around sixteen years old, but I was a terrible writer, my grammar and spelling were disgusting and I didn’t really start putting words down until my forties. My constant day dreamer in my late teens and twenties, from an overactive imagination was the creator of many stories and situations in my head. I wrote some of them down, but never took them any further. The story for Guidance came from one of these day dreams in my late twenties and stayed with me as an idea for nearly twenty years before making it to paper. Even then I hid my writing for several years and even my wife was surprised when I told her I was writing a book. She read my first draft, and said the story was interesting but my grammar sucked. She was always brutally honest. I came out at 45 years old and told everyone I was a writer. So you can see it was a long time coming, but better late than never.
At which point of your life did you figure out that you were named for another writer?
I had always been told how my father—Owen Yates—had been a keen reader of the Zane Grey adventure stories and had chosen my name.
Now about your detective Roy Findley…did he find you or did you find him?
Roy and the Miami Series was meant to be a writing exercise that grew. A couple of years ago after letting a number of friends and colleagues read the draft of Guidance, I began attending local writing groups and workshops, while buying and studying books on plot Structure, character creation and other somewhat important parts of writing.
While discussing Guidance with some fellow writers, and explained I was suffering from a bit of writers block, or as I like to call it, out of fresh ideas. It was suggested I throw Guidance in a draw out of sight and write something else, even if it were a thousand words of dribble. Roy Findley is actually a very minor character that appears in Guidance as a smart mouthed P.I. recommended by Detective Kate Jackson (Kate is a significant player in Guidance.) to help out with some information. So I sat down to write 1000 words, and kept on writing. No preparation, no research, just let the words hit the screen as the story progressed, 33,000 words later MIAMI P.I. was born.
Did you decide from the beginning that you wanted to write a series?
No, MIAMI P.I. was going to be a one off, but I became good friends with Roy and want to see what he gets up to in the future. It is very hard to get a hit with readers when you have one book; I have some experienced writers in the US of A, and they live by the concept of series. They suggest that people are reluctant to buy a one off book from an unknown writer. But, the second and then third book cement you as a reliable author, and people who read one, read them all. As long as it’s a good read. Guidance was planned as five separate novels. I am toying with the idea of splitting each novel in to three smaller books, making the completes works 15 books in total.
You’ve actually started a new series, the Guidance series. Was it to give yourself a break from Findley?
It was the other way round. I started the Miami Series to take a break from Guidance. Guidance was my first book, and my favorite. I want the first two, if not three Miami’s out before returning to Guidance, as it requires my full attention.
Will you be going back and forth between the two series, or do you have plans to start a third?
Miami and Guidance are my main focus at this moment, but I have penciled a third series involving time hopping and three stand alone novels, a horror, a two scifi. The stories keep coming. I read many detective and adventure stories until my teenage years. I had too much fun as a teenager and didn’t read anything till at around 21; I picked up Clive Cusslers, Raise the Titanic, and have never stopped reading since.
When you’re plotting your books, is it usually easy to come up with a premise?
Depends on the book. Miami P.I. was done with no real preparation. I had the character of Roy and a vague idea of the ending. I just started writing, and the plot grew along side Roy. Guidance on the other hand was years in the planning, with details bio’s on each character and locations, and it’s not finished. The ideas come easy, making it a great story is a little harder.
What advice would you give to new authors about book marketing?
Start now! Brand yourself now, build a profile for you as an author separate from your personal life. Setup a Facebook, Twitter, email, Website as “you the author”. Don’t worry if your book is a year away, if you are writing and plan to publish, you need to start gathering followers. You like so many others will say, “I have only written a synopsis and one chapter, why would people want to know me?” Don’t share what you had for breakfast on any of your author sites, but do talk about the difficulties of writing, share a couple of paragraphs as you go, ask people’s opinions. Do befriend other authors, talk to them, share their book launches on your sites and they will respond in kind when it’s your turn. When you press that publish button, you want as many people following you as possible, fellow authors and readers.