Wherever I go, I’ve been fielding a lot of questions about the writing and publishing of the TELESA book. Some of them serious, “How long did it take you to write?…Is the book about Ezra Taylor?…Are you rich now?” And some of them, not-so-serious, “Can I be Leila in the movie version of the book?…Are you afraid the real telesa is going to punish you for writing it?” Once and for all, this post is to answer the serious questions. Some Random TELESA Book Trivia.
1. All up, the book took me 6 months to write and rewrite. Another month for editing and another month for formatting. The toughest part was formatting it. I’m hopeless with Word document intricacies and there was a lot of cursing and general witchiness during my attempts to prep TELESA, first as an electronic book and then as a print book. I hope and pray that formatting the second book will be provoke far fewer curse words.
2. No. I did not base the character of ‘Daniel’ on rugby player Ezra Taylor. I had never heard of Ezra or seen any pictures of him until a few months ago when I was formatting the book and planning the TELESA promotional campaign. A sister-blogger ( who shall remain nameless to protect the guilty), pointed him out to me. He’s a great role model for our Pacific youth in many ways. I’m grateful that he accepted the invitation to be the cover model and he has generously ‘gone the extra mile’ and assisted with book/video trailers and more. No, I have never met Ezra in person. Photoshoots etc were arranged via phone, email and Twitter. (I’ve met his mum though and she’s super cool and an inspiring Pacifica woman – which probably explains why her son is kinda cool too.) When I read the TELESA book and as I continue working on the second one, I do not envision Ezra when I’m writing Daniel and Leila’s story. It would really kill the creative process if a real person invaded my thoughts while I was writing! Daniel is completely fictional – although many of his qualities were inspired by a blend of characteristics from different boys/men I have met in my life.
3. I can’t point to one place or moment where I got the idea to write TELESA. I grew up with the telesa stories and warnings like most young Samoan girls but I found them fascinating rather than frightening because I don’t believe in ‘witchcraft’ or demons etc. It annoyed me that nobody could answer my questions about telesa. I wanted to know more about her and so I resorted to imagination to fill in the blanks. I have used several key names from our Samoan mythology eg. Nafanua, but I have deliberately mis-spelled others eg. Saumaeafe – because I’m NOT writing about the character from the legends and I do not want people to assume that I am. Read the disclaimer at the front of the book – I’m not an expert on Samoan legends/mythology, I’ve made up everything and anything in the book – so please don’t sue me or throw stones at me if the story doesn’t ‘match’ whatever legends you were told as a child. Another source of inspiration was the X-Men. I loved X-Men comics and the idea of mutants, people gifted/cursed with special abilities has always enthralled me.
4. Yes there are more TELESA books coming. I can say with 100% surety that there will be three books but I am also dabbling with the idea of several others after that. (They may not have Leila and Daniel as the key characters though because they will be taking up the storyline of other telesa.)
5. No I have not made lots of money on the TELESA book. Most people are illegally file sharing the e-book with gazillions of friends and relatives. I anticipated this though and so I didn’t run out and buy my Hummer dreamcar. I’m grateful that people want to read my book enough to
steal it – share it because I’m a nobody writer with her first fiction novel – and even opening my book to the first page, is taking a risk on your part. At this point in the game, I’m thrilled people are reading it, never mind how they got it. I received my first royalties cheque from Amazon in the mail last week for the Sept sales of the e-book – a whopping total of $245 USD, which will allow me to get McDonalds for the Fab5…a couple of times. When someone buys a print book off Amazon for $12, I get $3.00 of that. This is still a better deal than that offered by a publishing company, because most of them will only offer 8 to 10% royalties. So if they sold my book for 12, I would only get $1.20…eek! I had to invest a big chunk of money into printing TELESA books here in NZ – but those sales are the ones that bring in the most return. Enough to pay off my book loan, fund launches, and then reassure me (and my bank) enough to get me a second loan to print another lot of books. Maybe by the time “When Water Burns” is out, I will be able to answer ‘yes’ to the money question. (When I tell you that the Hot Man has quit his night job as Head Security at an Auckland nightclub…then you will know that the TELESA book is finally making us some money!)
Hope that answered your questions as well..if you have more, please ask away! All comments / questions go in the draw to win one of TWO Telesa book t.shirts. It’s been 3 months since the release of the TELESA e-book. To celebrate, and to thank you all for the awesome support on this journey, I have TELESA t.shirts to give away.
Leave a comment / question and I will randomly draw TWO winners at midnight on 30th Dec. If youre having trouble commenting on the blog, then please add it on the Facebook page, all quetions/comments there and here will be in the draw. There will be more T.Shirt giveaways as we welcome the New Year, so stay tuned. Good luck!