Are we all connected? Do the little things we do affect the nature of man as a whole? As insignificant as we may seem, all of us share in a collective spirit not only with those that live today, but also all who have lived before and have yet to come.
Through Jared Clarkson’s life-changing experiences in Reflections from Shadow, a fiction novel by Aurora author Malcom K. Watts, we learn that the choices we make in our inner universe affect the grater universe as a whole. Malcolm discusses his book and the world of self-publishing in our fifth installment of Introducing.
1) Tell us about your book, Reflections from Shadow?
This book is a complex one that can be read as entertainment, or as an exploration of the nature of reality and good and evil. In particular it addresses the question, posed by some Quantum scientists and others such as Seth (in the Jane Roberts books) who suggest that linear time is in many ways a human construct and that in fact everything is happening at one time. Further, it addresses the question about mankind’s collective responsibility for evil, and good, when it is carried out by some of us. The book can be read as a 60’s coming of age story with light and poignant moments that will resonate with people who grew up in small town Ontario in an era before children lost the freedom to range much more freely in their environment, as a psychological study, or a character study.
2) The character of Jared Clarkson is a dark, complicated young man growing up in a socially evolutionary time when self-realization was a cornerstone of the contemporary culture. Did his long journey to achieve this mean anything to you on a personal level?
As all characters in novels at some level must since they arise from the authors mind, Jared’s experience incorporates some of my own struggles around self-image, identity, relationship to God and religion. Having said this, when people ask me if I am Jared I deny this. Jared is an amalgam of imagination, my experience, and is created, as all fictional characters must, to meet the needs of story, plot, and theme.
3) What message are you hoping readers will learn from Jared’s story?
4) What do you find are the biggest challenges facing first-time Canadian authors these days?
Getting publicity is frustrating. I was annoyed one day to turn on Rogers cable TV and see Carolyn Weaver on her book show interviewing Margaret Atwood. I emailed her and suggested that community TV should be focusing on people who need some exposure for their work, not people like Margaret who, while certainly a fine writer, is well off and well-publicized. Carolyn responded and respectfully disagreed with my position. Unfortunately, Canadian authors, particularly self-published ones, seem to have the mark of Cain insofar as the traditional media is concerned. I sent out review packages, including copies, to several major media outlets but no reviews were done. When I followed up with the Toronto Star I was told “ We have a policy of not reviewing self-published books – period.” There are several reader reviews of Reflections from Shadow posted on my website, www.authorsden.com/malcolmwatts as well as my poetry, short stories, reviews I have written and commentary.
5) How was the self-publishing experience?
Self-publishing was eye-opening. It has pluses and minuses. I made some mistakes but overall I am proud of Reflections from Shadow, and consider it a readable and literary story that stands the test of time and provide me a certain legacy even if I never publish another novel. I would have done the cover differently to reflect the darker nature of the book. My concept with the cover and title was Jungian with the idea of the wounded inner child inside all of us.
6) What kind of promotional activities have you been doing to market your novel?
I have used the Internet extensively. Although my website has nearly 300,00 hits, I have sold very few books on-line. I only sell books by talking to readers one to one or in groups. Without mass media exposure, reviews etc, my book is like a boat in the water with no motor to drive it and I am rather tired of rowing. When I sell out my last few books, I will not re-order it. It will be available on-line from Trafford.com forever and I suppose that is a good thing although they have only sold a handful of books. The promise of Kindle has not resulted in sales for me. Again, without reviews and traditional media exposure the self-published author is like a voice in the wilderness.
7) I have a copy of Aurora Storyalis and enjoyed it very much. What inspired this multi-author project?
Aurora Storyalis II was the dream of the Aurora Writers Group. I was managing editor, and provided the cover photo ( I am also a creative photographer). The project is our second anthology and provides an opportunity for people to showcase their work, our group, and provide a venue for publishing not otherwise available to some of our members. I am pleased you enjoyed the book.
8) What can you tell us about your upcoming book, Out from the Dream: Memoir of a Social Worker?
My upcoming memoir is a personal/professional memoir that documents my own story growing up as a foster child in the Children’s Aid, and how I came to be interested and educated in the field of Social Work. It describes my thirty year career in the field as a psychotherapist with children, families, adolescents, adults and groups. I provide case studies and talk about the process of personal change and how social workers help people. I hope the book will be both of general reader interest, as well as being of interest to those considering a career in the great field of Social Work. I hope to publish this book through traditional publishing.
9) Where can readers get a copy of Reflections from Shadow?
People can contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org obtain a copy of Reflections from Shadow. I charge $23.00 including shipping – no tax. Alternatively, readers can order from Amazon.com or Trafford.com either in soft-cover or Kindle version but it will cost them close to $30.00 with taxes, shipping etc. This high price point is another down side that deters readership. The Kindle version is available from Amazon for under $10.00
Too few of us experience the epiphanies allowed to Jared Clarkson, but we all have the power to re-examine our roles in the universal collective. I thank Malcolm for speaking to us about his novel and for his frank comments on self-publishing. He can be reached through his website at www.authorsden.com/malcolmwatts.
Richard S. Todd is the author of the critically-praised Raincloud: A Novel and holds talks on the self-publishing experience. He spends his time blogging and working on his next novel, The Orphans of the Creek.
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