Read part one here.
Read part two here.
Airship Ambassador: Every author I’ve talked with has a different journey to seeing their works in print. What have your publishing experiences been like?
Terri Favro: Like every writer, I have had my disappointments but overall my experiences have been very positive. Quattro Books published my first book in 2012 as a co-winner of their Ken Klonsky Novella contest. It’s always challenging to get readings and reviews for a first book from an indie publisher, but over time attention grew for that book, which has been described as “dark fairy tale”. I have two new novels coming out in 2017 – one from ECW books and a sequel to The Proxy Bride from Inanna – so I’ve been pretty fortunate. And I’ve had a few pieces of short non-fiction published this year.
Also I had my first foray in the storytelling world when CBC Canada Books commissioned me to write a piece for a radio show and podcast called ALL TOLD: TALES FROM THE TRUE NORTH. That was a scary experience because I had to tell the story to an audience of 300 without notes, for a live taping –– it was like being on a high wire without a net – but I loved it. Grey Borders Books, an indie publisher in Niagara Falls, has published two Bella comics to date, with a reissue of both comics in a single book scheduled for this summer and graphic novel, Facer Street, due out next year. My publishing journey continues, and it feels like it may be gaining some momentum. I have a number of ideas for new books, including non-fiction and a horror novel, so as long as I have publishers willing to work with me, I’ll have new books coming out.
AA: How are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
TF: Word of mouth, primarily, although both the CBC Literary Awards and the Broken Pencil Indie Writers Deathmatch brought me to the attention of readers.
AA: For the aspiring writer, what lessons have you learned over time about having an editor, their feedback, and your writing?
TF: When the editor is positive, supportive and in tune with the writer’s intentions, the writer-editor collaboration is one of the best parts of the publishing process. I loved working with Dominik Parisien the editor for Clockwork Canada. A good editor knows how to help the writer improve their story, without taking over the process, pointing out weak spots and inconsistencies, and helping build on strengths. That’s a huge balancing act for an editor, but the good ones, like Dominik, know how to make it work. My advice: if you are working with an editor who has chosen to work with you as a writer, listen, discuss and consider what they have to offer. An editor who believes in your work is like gold, chocolate, summer holidays and your best birthday present ever.
AA: Have you been on book tours and to conventions? What has that been like, and the fan reaction?
TF: I have done many readings, but I’ve never been on a book tour or read at a convention. I hope that happens! (Ironically, the first chapter of my upcoming novel, Sputnik’s Children, is set at a ComicFanCon at a Niagara Falls casino. Maybe that chapter was my attempt at wish fulfillment.)
AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
TF: My day job is as a freelance copywriter and content provider, so I feel as if writing pretty much IS my life. When I have deadline driven assignments, they take priority, but I always find time in the day for my creative work. Other than that, I like to hike and bike with my husband, who also collaborates with me on the Bella comic books. Our two sons are in their twenties and living their own lives, so my mothering days are behind me, which means that I have more time to do what I want –– writing. Oh, and reading. Because to me, you can’t be a writer without being a reader.
AA: Do you get to talk much with other writers and artists to compare notes, have constructive critique reviews, and brainstorm new ideas?
TF: Yes, absolutely. I have a few writer friends who I share my work with, and who share their work with me. That’s always a good way to see whether a new piece is working., I also find it helpful to show work to friends who are avid readers but not writers themselves, because they often have insights and reactions that are more linked to the overall story than the technical aspects of the writing.
AA: How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
TF: I’m a little braver in my choices and the topics I will tackle than I was ten years ago. I also have learned more about my personal writing process. For one thing, a quick first draft is a sign that I’m on to a good idea, but I also realize that I can never do too many revisions. For me, that’s become the process: get the story down fast, while the idea is fresh, but be ready to rewrite many, many times. Another insight: a rewrite doesn’t mean that you have to accept your own revision. It’s okay to play with a story by writing an alt version, then comparing it to the original. You might actually return to what you originally wrote, but it doesn’t hurt to play with other approaches, even if you end up rejecting them.
AA: Those are good things to know. Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
TF: That’s easy: by reading books that are so good I wish I had written them. Reading is a huge part of the writing process because it shows me what others are doing. The pleasure of reading a great book written by someone else motivates and inspires me to try to write something that gives others the same experience. Going to literary readings is also useful.
AA: How is Toronto for writing? Does location matter for resources, access, publicity, etc
TF: The literary scene in the city is very vibrant; you could attend a reading, poetry slam or storytelling event every day of the week if you wanted to. It’s also probably one of the easiest places in Canada to become casually acquainted with agents and publishers because so many of them are based here. Having said that, I’m not convinced that being a Toronto-based writer makes it easier to get published or to publicize a book – that has more to do with having access to media and to individuals with the power to promote a book. The writer’s so-called platform is more important than where the writer lives.
AA: If you weren’t an author, what else would you be doing now?
TF: I’d definitely be a bartender. I’ve always loved mixing cocktails and listening to people’s stories with Frank Sinatra from the Columbia years playing the background. I get a kick out of reading the glossy booze-porn that the Ontario liquor board produces. And I love those retro paper placemats in restaurants with illustrations of, like, fifty different cocktails of the world. I can mix an excellent Negroni (a classic Italian cocktail that is like heroine in a glass, named for Count Camillo Negroni, whoever he was). I also shake a very good martini.
We’ll stop here in our chat with Terri. Join us next time when she talks about writing and other interests.
Keep up to date with Terri Favro’s latest news on her website.
You can support Terri and our community by getting your copy of Clockwork Canada here.