Interview – Dean Smith-Richard, author of 3024AD, talks Kickstarter
Self-Publisher’s Showcase: Today we are joined by Dean Smith-Richard: author of 3024AD – a collection of short stories set 1000 years in the future – and creator of a recently launched Kickstarter campaign. Welcome to the Showcase, Dean.
Dean Smith-Richard: Thanks for having me!
SPS: For any of our readers that haven’t come across your work previously, can you take a moment to tell us all a little about yourself?
DSR: As to myself, I was once described as an eternal dichotomy, and that sums me up as well as anything. I tend to see both sides of issues- and thus, be conflicted (which, I suppose, is why I write). I think my writing reflects this- my characters are often at odds with the universe at large.
Personally, in addition to being a thorough geek, I love old movies, cooking and good drink, nice clothes and a variety of sports. Something of an old-fashioned gentleman, with a roguish streak a mile wide.
SPS: What are your perfect writing conditions, and how often do you write?
DSR: My personal favourite is in the café in my local book store (Book Faire and Village Books, respectively). Lately, I have taken to writing mostly by hand, and sitting there looking over Bellingham Bay with a cup of tea and a notebook is pretty perfect.
SPS: Can you put your finger on the moment where you decided that you wanted to publish your work?
DSR: I can, actually. My (professional) background is in construction management, and though I have written most of my life, I never pursued publishing it. I was working on a large project, which should have been the opportunity of a lifetime, but ended up being an unmitigated disaster. It was enormously stressful, which wasn’t terrible in and of itself, but I was handcuffed from actually fixing problems. I realized in the middle of all that that I was happiest writing, and decided to make a career of it. That was April 23, 2012, and 3024AD was first released exactly one year later.
SPS: Why do you think it is that you have decided to work in the genres that you have, and do you see yourself ever writing in other genres?
DSR: I write SciFi because I am huge SciFi geek, and have always loved space. I am currently working on a Steampunk/dystopian project that I’m quite fond of, and would love to tackle mystery one day.
SPS: Can you tell our readers a little more about 3024AD?
DSR: To me, it’s basically a big sandbox. There are so many tales to be told in it, I always return to play in it. This collection really only scratches the surface. It’s gritty, in many ways- it deals with colony worlds, sort of frontier towns rife with violence and corruption. It deals with political and corporate corruption and greed, and the decadence those live in, while the former toil on the frontiers.
SPS: Is there a particular reader you feel the books would appeal to?
DSR: Perhaps the greatest compliment I have received is from a couple of reviews- one from someone who doesn’t usually enjoy short stories, another who doesn’t usually enjoy SciFi. I write SciFi, but really only by virtue of it being set in space. 3024AD will really appeal to anyone who enjoys a well told story.
SPS: It’s a series of short stories, was it always the plan to have an underlying common theme?
DSR: In a way. It was a format I always wanted to use. My original idea was to have every story share a time and place, where all the characters would be in one location. That point is in there, but as I outlined the collection, and Digger’s storyline evolved, it grew beyond that. But I always wanted to explore the ways characters cross paths, and the way their meeting affect the universe.
SPS: How was it to receive the accolade of Best Self-Published Book of 2013 from The Cult Den for the book?
DSR: Crazy, overwhelming and flattering. The Cult Den is actually a blog of followed for quite a while, and one of the places high on my list of targets for a review. That alone was awesome, but being picked for that was nothing short of amazing.
SPS: What are your reasons behind your current Kickstarter campaign?
DSR: The biggest reason is that I have wanted to find a way to support indie brick-and-mortar bookstores. Author-publishers and indie bookstores often find themselves at odds, for a variety of reasons, so for the last several months I have wracked my brains on how to find some middle ground.
It finally came in the form of Village Books, my local bookstore, which I love dearly. Essentially it boils down to this: If, when I link my book online, I link to Amazon, does Amazon have any reason to reciprocate? Of course not, they are Amazon. They don’t need me. However, if the book is for sale through a brick-and-mortar, they have a pretty good reason to support and promote me.
This requires a bit more of an up-front cost, since I’m not just releasing it as an ebook or print-on-demand, so the majority of the campaign money will be used on printing (physical) books and distributing them, starting with Village Books and growing from there.
SPS: Tell us about some of perks on offer?
DSR: There are lots of goodies- there are stickers, zipper pulls (which I like way more than I should, and buttons. Of course, there is the book itself ($5+ and you get the ebook, $10 for the physical). All backers will receive an exclusive short story that is only for Kickstarter backers.
The reward I am probably the most excited for is a buy one/give one bundle. It is two copies of the physical book for $15 (you can have two copies plus all the swag for $25). I can’t wait to see who people give the second copy to. Of course, they come signed.
There are postcards of the cover art, as well as a full-sized poster. These are signed as well.
Finally, there are three ‘character’ rewards- you can have a minor character in Series 2 named for you, or a main character- or even a custom character designed completely around you, so you can be the hero (or villain).
SPS: When can people expect to receive their goodies, once they’ve clambered aboard the campaign?
DSR: Most goodies should be available within the next couple months- I am hoping to have books, art and the small stuff out by June. Series 2 should be completed within the next six months, so if you have a character named for you, it will be in that.
SPS: When are you hoping to have 3024AD in a bricks and mortar bookstore by?
DSR: As soon as all backers have been sent theirs, so my target is early July.
SPS: What can we expect from the follow up to 3024 AD?
DSR: A much greater look at the universe. Series 1 introduces a lot, but the next two series dive to new depths. The political powder keg that is mentioned in the blurb explodes- incidentally, it already has by the end of this collection, but off camera, you might say. As a few of the titles allude to, this is just the preface to what comes next.
SPS: Will characters from the first collection return at all?
DSR: Absolutely! Digger is a fan favourite, and I love writing him. He’ll disappear into the shadows for a while, though, for most of Series 2. Ema and Sabrina both feature prominently as well, and a few of the other characters pop up- which is what makes this universe so fun; seeing how characters affect each other, why they are where they are and take the actions they do.
SPS: We do like to take a look at covers and the stories behind them. Can you tell us about how your original cover for 3024 AD came about, and what the plans are for the new one?
DSR: The cover- both of them, now- was a happy accident. This is actually the second Kickstarter, the first was to fund cover art and editing, and well, it failed. I pressed on anyway, found an editor, but was still without cover art. I then found a cover artist, but days before my book was to launch, he informed me he couldn’t deliver it. In the middle of that Kickstarter, though, Johnny from League Entertainment had donated the amazing piece of art you can see at the top of the Kickstarter page. Finding myself without a cover, I asked if we could re-work it a bit to use for a cover and he graciously agreed.
A couple months ago, he emailed me again, saying that piece was not intended to be used as a cover. Great, I thought, reading that, he’s going to tell me to take it down. So, he said, I re-did it to fit better as a cover (you can see that on the Kickstarter page too). I was totally blown away (plug: You can see his work at Atomic Covers, and if you’re an author, I highly recommend him).
I felt like that piece captured a lot of what 3024AD is about- not just death, but just brutal and, well, unforgiving. I ended up writing a story, which now introduces the collection, around that piece. It’s not pretty, but it’s the spirit of 3024AD.
SPS: What can we expect after the sequel to 3024AD from the pen/keyboard of Dean Smith-Richard?
DSR: I am plugging away at a couple projects, but likely a steampunk/dystopian series called The Broken Land. I’m calling it cleanpunk, because it uses clean energy instead of steam or some such. It’s not as preachy as I made it sound just now, and it’s been a fun change of pace to write.
SPS: Was the Self-Published/Indie-Published route always your preferred route for your work?
DSR: Yes and no. Like most people who have been writing since before the Kindle came out, I dreamed of doing it the only way there was for the last forever. But as I approached the point of publishing, the numbers seemed to favour self-publishing. I decided I’d rather pull the trigger on it and do it myself, rather than get rejected a bunch first.
SPS: Has the experience so far been all that you thought it would be?
DSR: In most ways, yes. It’s a lot of work, a lot of expectations not quite happening and some awesome highs. There are many unexpected things, of course, but in project management we call those ‘known unknowns’; it’s going to happen, you just don’t know exactly what or when.
SPS: If you could give one piece of advice for someone looking to get into writing, what would it be?
DSR: Keep your head down. Publishing is in a state of flux. People will plant the flag of indie vs traditional. Don’t waste your time with that noise; write what you write, and do what is best for you. Stay informed, of course, but keep your head down and work on your work.
SPS: Before we bring this interview to a close, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
DSR: Maaaaaaaan, I’m going to forget somebody. In no order:
Discovering Aberration, SC Barrus– Great steampunk fun
Voyage Embarkation, Zachary Bonelli– just read it, it’s great.
For the YA crowd, my good friend Katie Cross has a book coming out at the end of the month, Miss Mabel’s School for Girls.
Finally, if you read one thing, read Planks, by SC Harrison. Incredible horror short collection.
SPS: Thank you for joining us today, Dean, and all the best for the future.
DSR: Thank you! And thanks to all of you who back the project!
SPS: For more information on Dean and his work, please do visit his Kickstarter page here.