Q1: What first inspired you to write I.R.I.S.?
Author Response (AR): I was writing another book and the underlying theme of ravens as spirit guides kept popping into my head. Plus, around that time, I’d be out walking my dog around the neighbourhood and I was often followed by a trio of young, playful ravens. As they flew overhead one day I wondered what it might be like if they were spying on me, literally.
Q2: Why did you choose to self-publish rather than seek traditional publication?
AR2: As an unknown writer I was keenly aware that finding a publisher in today’s changing landscape might take a long time or result in many rejections. And, it’s widely known that a book can take years to go from manuscript to actual store shelves. This book was written for my sons and I wanted them to read it before they were beyond the age and scope of the story. As it turns out, many of my readers are well beyond that age range yet still love the book; and, since it took me four years to write my kids are already older than the intended age range anyway; so I’ll just have to trust that they can still enjoy a good action/adventure story. I also woefully admit that I like having total control over a project that is so dear to my heart, and the rewards in publishing it myself have far out-weighed the alternative of seeking traditional representation where I might not have any control over important things like the title or cover.
Q3: Had you written or published anything before I.R.I.S.?
A3: Yes. I’ve stirred my spoon in several pots, or so to speak: published in community newspapers, print and digital magazines, on websites, and chapters or excerpts in the books of other authors. I’ve written a number of food and travel articles, editorials on being and raising Canadian kids while living abroad, short essays on education, health and wellness; articles on being and raising multilingual children in bi-cultural families, educational guides, and chapters in books of English as a second language for foreign nurses. And, I’ve also been something like a ghost writer for more than ten years; reviewing, editing, and translating medical and scientific research for publication in international medical journals. Last year I self-published a novel for young adults, Sumac Summer, and it has received rave reviews. The experience was so rewarding I thought I’d try it again. My short story was long-listed for the CBC’s Creative Nonfiction contest in 2015. And, I recently won first place in a writing contest for a flash fiction challenge in a new Canadian literary magazine.
Q4: Using an acronym as a title is a bold thing to do. Were you worried?
AR4: Yes, I was worried that people would connect the title to ISIS, which was practically unheard of back when I had the idea for the book but has since become commonplace. And I also worried that people wouldn’t be sufficiently intrigued by it, but so far it has done what I wanted it to do: intrigue, and boost the notion of agency or secrecy.
Q5: What more can you tell us about your micro-press?
A5: Winter Wind Press was first established in July 2015 with the aim and mission to publish unique and timeless stories in different or cross-over genres for young adults and teens who love to read. Using my own books as pilot projects I first intend to self-publish three or four stand-alone books before taking on the monumental task of publishing the work of someone else (keeping that as a future goal).
Q6: How did you come up with the name Winter Wind Press?
A6: I wanted something distinctly and whole-heartedly Canadian that would embody the idea that ‘a good book will always keep you warm so let the storms outside rage on’. My kids get credit for the name, logo and brand. It’s a family thing.
Q7: Is there a sequel to I.R.I.S.?
AR7: There is a prequel and a sequel, yes. I just need to find the time to write them.