INTERVIEW: FRANK ZUBEK
I’ve known Frank since joining up with the Kindle All-Stars last year, and we communicate back and forth quite regularly. I recently worked with Frank and doing a cover for his novella OBLITERATE! which is available now from the Kindle Store.
He has a short story collection called GUARDING ANDREW GATES out now, which is most definitely recommended.
How long have you been writing?
Since 1999. So far, to date, I’ve made about 40 bucks. Seriously. A grand total of 40 bucks. This is not an endeavor for the weak or desperate. It takes dedication and also, the better you are at putting final draft material out there the faster you will find out how good at this you are (either critically or financially). But you should think of it as a marathon not a sprint.
How much time do you spend on social media promoting your work? And which do you prefer – twitter or facebook?
Some days it seems like not enough and other days it seems like too much. Especially twitter. I try to limit my time on twitter to about an hour or two a week. It doesn’t seem to be getting me as many sales as I thought it might though down the road it MIGHT help in that area, so I keep my hand in it. Facebook seems to be getting a bad rap lately so I mostly use it to steer people to my blog.
I like your blog, whatbrickwall. Tell us about it.
www.whatbrickwall.blogspot.com/ has been my blog for three years. I have people from around the world stopping by each week and I average 600 or more hits a month.
The name is from the phrase, “up against a brick wall” which is a metaphor about facing an obstacle. Which in this case, for me, is writing.
I try to keep it interesting by letting people know about certain pop culture events like a book release or a new film as well as news about my writing.
In fact, most of the stuff on the blog is there so people don’t get bored. If I ONLY posted stuff about my writing I’d have nobody reading it!
Tell me a little bit about Guarding Andrew Gates, your first short story collection.
To be truthful, it’s not actually my first collection. Last year I had a horror collection called Empath that had nine short stories about a cop who encounters people with strange problems. It sold about 80 copies and while it could have been successful I wanted to take it in a different direction, so I took Empath off of the market and will be releasing Nick Crowell in a new format this fall. Probably in a novel.
Now, Guarding Andrew Gates is my newest collection and has fifteen short stories.
http://www.amazon.com/dp/B006UOWHJC While most of them have made the rounds of a handful of literary magazines the last ten years and been rejected, there ARE three stories in there that HAVE been published. I even got paid for one of them! This doesn’t mean they are bad stories, it just means magazines have only so much room each month . Sill, I wrote them to be read so thanks to the world of e-books, I have them available on Amazon in this story collection for a very reasonable price.
What’s your process for writing a short story?
I don’t know. That’s always a tough question. An idea just pops into my head. Sometimes I can write it out fully into a workable story and sometimes it doesn’t work and I move on.
One such story, “Blur”, started out when I was looking up some info on Robert Redford online. I googled his name and then clicked on the tool bar under ‘Images’. After looking at several dozen pictures one in particular caught my eye. It was a somewhat blurry shot of him on a street corner. (Actually it seems to be a still shot taken from a video taken of him while filming a movie)
That struck me as odd that someone would post a blurry image of Redford. I mean you could tell it was him- but it was on out of focus shot.
And this got my mind thinking.
Who took the picture and why did she decide to print it anyway?
Then the ‘what ifs’ began (and that’s always a good sign)
What if the woman who took the picture decides to blow the shot up?
What if she invites her friends over to see the picture?
And since the story needed some drama- what if one person in the group became jealous and confronted the woman later in the story?
And so over the course of two days I finished it and then I put it away for a few days. Then I went back in and polished it some more and gave it to a few friends to read.
And it was actually a few days ago that I sent it to a literary magazine for consideration.
Now I wait two to three months to see if they will accept it or reject it. Meanwhile- I have already thought up more stories that I am writing. In fact, the full behind the scenes story of the creation and writing of “Blur” can be found on my blog.
And tell me a bit about your novella OBLITERATE!
Obliterate is about an archeologist who is in the wrong place at the wrong time.
She happens to be working on a few ancient ruins that have been discovered a few light years from Earth. The twist to this story is that a group of wealthy men do not want the hieroglyphics on the ruin walls to be deciphered so they hire a team of men with special equipment to go and destroy the rocks. The archeological team there just happens to be in the way and they get killed.
Now, the main character and a security guard manage to escape the blood bath but their lives have changed! They have to get new identities and hide from these crazy people. That’s basically the story. It’s a romantic race against time thriller.
What made you think of the story behind OBLITERATE! ?
I’m really into the pyramids and the mysterious secrets that lie in the making of them,
because even today, with all our amazing technology, we can’t figure out how they did what they did back then when they had mostly rope, rocks and knives for tools. Unless,,, they just stumbled upon these buildings and claimed them as their own.
But then, if THAT’S true… who DID build these monolithic structures and why?
And after awhile, my mind began to play around with the What If’s.
Eventually I had enough to fill about a hundred pages.
What’s your experience publishing on Amazon so far? Every author has a different one, so how has yours been?
My greatest success to date has been Empath with 80 copies. I sometimes regret taking it down because if I would have kept it going and nursed it along who knows how many copies it might be selling today?
But I think this idea for a novel that I have will work better and reach a larger audience.
On the other hand, Andrew Gates has been averaging a few copies a month, which is encouraging. This is the reason I agreed to give this interview because I figured that there may be some readers on the other side of the ocean that enjoy short stories and might consider giving my work a try.
Which authors inspire you in your writing?
Stephen King is my hero. His work ethic and imagination are beyond compare.
There are others like JK Rowling and her accomplishments and Dan Simmons, among others. I read as much as I can so there isn’t enough room here to name them all.
What’s a typical writing day for you?
I am lucky enough to have a wife who understands the needs of my work. She tolerates the madness to a degree and I appreciate it.
I get up in the morning and check the news and e-mails and I try to limit that to about half an hour. Then I start working on whatever project is on the table. Sometimes it’s a short story and sometimes it’s a novella. I can work best in the early morning and late into the evenings. The tick of it is to sit your butt in the chair and face that blank space.
Any advice for other writers?
As I said earlier, the more a writer can crank out near first draft work, the faster they will be able to have a completed story. But even still, every writer should go over their manuscript at a minimum of five times to be sure its perfect. And even then, spend the money on a good editor- they are priceless. (But like all things, shop around for a good fit for your work and your budget)
What would you say are the five books that have had the most profound effect on you?
MISERY by Stephen King
FULL DARK NO STARS by Stephen King
SINCE THE LAYOFFS by Iain Levison
THE CARPETMAKERS by Andreas Eschbach.
THE DOGS OF BABEL by Carolyn Parkhurst
Before we go, anything on the slate we should know about? What’s next for Frank Zubek?
Just the Nick Crowell novel at the moment. I hope to release it by Halloween. Thanks very much for the interview!