Today I get to interview Michael Pierce, who recently published the young adult fantasy novel, Provex City.
A little about Provex City:
"Fifteen-year-old Oliver Grain begins his school year fighting off bullies, learning about the boy who committed suicide in his room, and trying to understand why his history teacher, Mr. Gordon, has taken such a personal interest in him.
Do you believe in ghosts? Do you believe you can make bullies simply disappear? Do you believe you can walk through walls?
Mr. Gordon tells Oliver: "When you truly believe anything is possible, you will be able to open doors where there were only walls." And one of those doors leads Oliver to Provex City, which puts him in far greater danger than he can possibly fathom."
Could you tell us more about Provex City?
Provex City went through several large revisions before it became what’s available now. It started off as a story called Patrick’s Ghost. I wrote a few chapters, outlined the book, and then scrapped it all. Patrick become Oliver. Mr. Gordon stayed the same, but he was originally a dual character, the mentor and the villain. In this new version, it was titled Shroud Lifted before it became Provex City. I like the title now, but I originally changed titles so I could submit to the same agents again, hoping they wouldn’t notice that it was the same book. Haha.
It is a wild ride of a hero's journey for Oliver, involving different planes of existence and developing his powers. What were your inspirations for the story?
I was inspired by Harry Potter and a number of self-help books, which helped me find direction in my life.
A lot of characters have secrets, or are more than what they appear. Can you tell us more about how your characters developed?
Provex City is all about Oliver finding himself, and the rest of the series is about him fulfilling his destiny. I tried to create characters with different insecurities and flaws, and have them act true to themselves—but allowing the readers to be privileged to the “whys” one at a time (some reveals in this book and others saved for further into the series). I want as many of my characters as possible to be significant and have some role to play in the big picture.
The book contains a lot of philosophy which Mr. Gordon teaches Oliver. Positive messages such believing anything is possible, focusing on what you want, and overcoming doubt. What was the inspiration for these positive messages?
I’m a big fan of Anthony Robbins and Wayne Dyer. They’ve given me so much inspiration and motivation over the past few years. These are messages I think are important to share and important for myself. I thought this positive thinking and possible human potential would make for an interesting “seemingly” magical system. Though Mr. Gordon will say that it is not magic.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself, and your other hobbies/interests?
I am a coffee addict, a newbie to the glazing industry, a very amateur musician, an unworthy husband to my soul mate, and lucky father of an amazing five month old. Most of my spare time disappeared with the birth of my daughter. Now, when I’m not enjoying my brief daily family time and not in the office, I’m writing and blogging. I love my family and I love my writing, so I can’t complain.
What is the biggest challenge you faced when writing Provex City and how did you overcome it? Every next challenge was the biggest challenge. When I set out to write Provex City, I had never attempted a novel before. And I hadn’t written a short story in about five years. So I had a lot of warming up and catching up to do. I learned so much in the process of writing and editing. I cut over 20,000 words of Provex City. Then came the challenge of submitting to agents, writing queries, and perfecting a synopsis. And when I decided to self-publish instead of waiting for an agent, a whole new adventure began.
How long did it take you to write and finish?
I go through spurts of being really productive and then slow periods. Provex City took me about a year to write. I edited for a couple of months before starting to submit to agents. But while I was submitting, I continued to edit. I didn’t arrive to a draft similar to what’s available now for about another year.
Do you have any tips for writing in the YA genre? Specifically creating an authentic YA voice?
I worked in coffee shops for about twelve years, spending a lot of time with high school and college students. I would advise being careful with slang unless you’re specifically trying to create authenticity for a specific time or region. Different regions of the US have different slang. It can get distracting and take away from the storytelling. And speaking of voice, recite your dialogue out loud. It sounds different than in your head.
Provex City was riveting, do you have any tips for creating page turners?
I kept what interested me and cut parts that I found myself skimming through to get to more exciting scenes. I like cliffhanger chapter endings, which caught my attention in the Harry Potter books. I don’t want a chapter to be nicely resolved so you have a clean place to stop. I want my readers to get to the end of a chapter and be like “Crap! Now what’s gonna happen?”
Why did you decide to self-publish?
I got tired of waiting for my perfect agent. I figured there was more than one way to get a desired result. I have multiple role models with publishing success stemming from self-publishing.
Do you have any advice for people considering self publishing?
Don’t take any sale for granted. You have to appreciate each “one” before you can appreciate each “million.” It starts with one.
On your blog you said, "Provex City is as much my journey as it is Oliver’s." Can you explain? Oliver is searching for his destiny, and so am I. Oliver is tested and learns what he can handle and what he’s capable of. I feel the same way, from writing my first novel to taking it to the marketplace myself, I’m discovering what I’m made of. Oliver can’t quit (I won’t let him) and neither can I.
So many writers struggle between pursuing practical careers vs. pursuing their writing dreams, do you have any advice?
Since I’m still in a practical career to support myself and help support my family, no, I don’t really have any advice. All I can say, and what I’m trying to live by every day is: Don’t give up on your passion! There are so many people living practical, without passion, just waiting for the next weekend. I want to look forward to every day, not just two days out of the week.
Do you have any other tips for emerging writers?
If you love it, then do it! If not, then don’t. Because it’s not easy, but it’s not supposed to be. It’s supposed to be something you love doing no matter what. Don’t be the next “someone else;” be the first you. Write something you’d like to read (it doesn’t matter if it’s something you know about or not…you can learn). If you really want to write, then write. Don’t quit. If you don’t quit, then it’s impossible to fail.
You can find Provex City on Amazon by clicking on the link below.
Provex City (Kindle Version) on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Provex-Lorne-Family-Series-ebook/dp/B007HHO0K0/ref=sr_1_2?ie=UTF8&qid=1339127842&sr=8-2
Provex City (Print Version) on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Provex-City-Lorne-Family-Series/dp/1470121204/ref=sr_1_cc_1?s=aps&ie=UTF8&qid=1340198876&sr=1-1-catcorr&keywords=provex+city
Michael Pierce's Blog: http://www.michaelpiercebooks.blogspot.com/
Michael Pierce's Website: http://www.michaelpiercebooks.com/
Michael on Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/michaelpiercebooks
Michael on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/MrPierceBooks