Today marks the release of “Rakasha,” a collection of short stories from author Robert Davis. With a novel coming in November, these short stories interconnect his narratives as he delves into horror further, and continues to travel well beyond pigeonholing himself into one genre.
Davis was kind enough to sit down and take the time to conduct an interview as he celebrates becoming a published writer.
The collection, “Rakasha,” is officially available today. For those who are just now hearing about it, what is it about and what kind of experience are you trying to capture?
The book is a Horror book, and a collection of short stories. All the stories have the same villain (although that is a little simplistic). The Tiger Demon (Rakasha) has a bite that is addictive. The true horror is not that the victims get eaten, its that they want to get eaten, and the level of energy they will put into being eaten, or the thought process they have while they are being eaten – that’s where the horror is.
What inspired you to write these stories?
I have a novel coming out soon (I am eyeing a November release) that featured several demons, mentioned by name. The problem I had was that in the novel I couldn’t really explore the demons, or why they would be as scary as they are. In this case, the Rakasha is in a chapter, and it ends with a demon hunter asking the Young heroine if she was bit. These stories show why that was so relevant, why the possibility of her having been bit was so important.
How has the process been trying to get to this release date?
To be honest it has been like juggling cats in the rain! July is less than the optional time to release, but because of personal reasons, which I put on my writing blog, I really needed this out. If I had an unlimited budget it would not have been a problem, but I had the opposite, I had almost no budget and limited contacts. But the Production team and I got the product out, and I have to say, for a shoestring cost and having an impossible time frame they were able to put out a quality product. Having said that, for the next release, I will have more time and more money.
How did you go about getting this published?
This is going to be a self-published work. I got a lot of information from the Author U group, and from Judith Briles that helped me know what I needed and gave me tips on how to do this. While I don’t know if I will ever do traditional, or if this is going to be my only self published work, without Judith and the people at Author U I would have fallen for several of the traps, or publishing predators.
Are you planning on staying in Horror, or dabble elsewhere?
My interests, when it comes to writing, are all over the place. My blog, Miscreant Thoughts and Lesser Things, is far from horror (unless you’re a grammar Nazi) but it is also far from serious. My main novel is actually a paranormal adventure, the story of a deaf girl who is possessed by a demon. But I also love horror, and have a collection of ‘Creature Features’ as well as several shorts about how they are dealt with. How I put these together is anyone’s guess, but I will be sending out more horror as well as other stories, including comedy and adventure. Who knows, I have about four sci-fi stories that I can put out too, it just depends on my mood.
In a recent blog post, you mentioned a very personal drive to ensure your mother sees this novella in its completion. How pivotal has she been to your writing and career path?
My mom was very instrumental. As a teen she tried to ‘discourage me,’ all but guaranteeing that I would keep on doing it. Yes, I fell for an old reverse psychology trick. As an adult, it never let me lose that interest, even as the task of being a father, breadwinner and such wore on me. Now that I have reached that creative point, I am primed and ready to roll. My goal for this book, and the reason for the July release: She is facing surgery that is maybe 50/50. I want her to have and see my work in print before she does that. Who knows, maybe it will give her that extra little push to get past this and continue on. I should also make it clear, this is a SOLID piece of work, it was just as important, more so in fact, that I put out a quality piece of work, not just something with my name on it.
In addition to your blog, where can people find out more about you, and your writing (i.e. additional web pages, social media, GoodReads, Amazon author page, etc.)?
I am everywhere. It’s ironic, if you think about it. Being a writer is a very personal and solo thing, but to be an author, you have to be a social animal.
You seem to dislike certain social media practices by authors. What do you think writers, both published and aspiring, should keep in mind as they engage in social media and blog posts?
Understand the word “engage!” We have all gone to a party where there is one ass-hat that is talking and bragging about nothing but his new car, his promotion, or just themselves. It shocks me the number of authors that do the same thing, dropping your book title every now and then is one thing, but if the only thing you have to say is “I’m an author. Read my book,” then you’re wasting everyone’s time. Also, the “get me so many likes and I will show you something” is also annoying. Your fans have liked you, if you are interesting, funny, poignant or at least relevant they will share you & your work with others. If the only thing they get from listening to you is more bragging or sales pitches, guess how long they will keep listening. I may skirt my very rule, by blogging about the publishing/writing process, but I keep it very ‘high level.’ I talk about artists that have tripped me, or tricks I like to do [musical peanut butter was one such post] to show how my process is working and share any tips or tricks that work for me. But I keep it interesting, and personal, as well as relatable.
What would you say to those still unpublished?
You don’t fail till you quit.
If you are going to self publish DO IT RIGHT. There are some snake oil sales men out there saying, “You don’t need to hire an editor,” or “You needn’t worry about your cover,” or “Post your book everywhere you are and it will sell.” That advice is all WRONG. It’s a way for you to publish with out ever having to worry about selling anything! “You don’t need an editor” is like saying “You don’t need car insurance, just don’t wreck.” It’s beyond silly. Even if you are the most technically accomplished writer, you need a second set of eyes on your work! not only for the spelling and grammar but to be sure your story is coherent. Beta Readers and spouses don’t count. Spend some money (you can get editors fairly cheap if your careful) and be sure your not going to kill your book before it ever has a chance. Even this work, I made sure it was edited and vetted properly.
If you want to traditionally publish CHECK OUT YOUR PUBLISHER. If you have not heard of ‘Author House,’ or ‘Publish America,’ or any of the disgustingly long lists of predators out there, do your self a favor, research them. If someone is willing to publish you and is so impressed with your query that for $1999.95 they will print your book… you’ve found a predator. Remember these people play on our egos, our insecurities, and our desire as writers to be published and read. Go with the wrong person and you will still not be read, just published in a way that your book/story will languish and die with out ever having a chance.
Self-publishing is not for everyone, and if it’s easy, you’re doing it wrong. Frankly, I am not sure if I will do it again. I had to push and push to get people to keep their commitments. Maybe it won’t be so bad when I can move the deadlines, but right now it’s too much to think about. I need to let all the bruises from this publication heal before I think about trying it again.
If you’ll pardon a little promotion of my writer’s blog, people should read it, and other writers/path to publishing blogs. Most every author will share the process, no matter how great or how bad it was. Be sure you read both sides of it. Each approach has its pros and cons.
Now that this book is done and available, what’s next for you?
More books, and hopefully more fans. The opportunity to interact with people that enjoy my work is priceless to me. My Paranormal adventure “Jamie Ryder: Possessed” is coming by year’s end [I hope] and, who knows, maybe another short ‘creature feature’ with more delicious demons and other horror.
Congratulations once again. Are there any final thoughts as you step into the ranks of the published writers?
One thought – about numbers. Depending on how you view things, my book is 1 of the 2 million books that will be published this year, but I am now one of the .06% of Americans that have a published book. As an author, and to all my fellow writers and authors, ignore the numbers and go with your passion!