Tell us about your genre. How did you come to choose it? Why does it appeal to you?
I don’t think I did choose it, at least not consciously. I knew what the story was that I wanted to tell, and only after I was well into writing it did I start trying to figure out what it was, category-wise. I’m not surprised it turned out to be a literary noir, though. I’ve always thoroughly enjoyed books and films in the genre, probably because they often speak to a self-destructive element of human nature that I just can’t look away from. Certainly, that describes the character of Alton Carver in my book, and since he’s the driving force of the entire narrative, it seems like a natural fit.
What do you find most challenging about the writing process, and how do you deal with it?
No question, it’s the compulsion to second-guess everything in the early stages. It derailed me from ever really getting started when I was younger, because all my first drafts were so terrible. But that was before I understood that first drafts are supposed to be terrible; the good stuff emerges from the rewriting process. So I force myself to just write a certain minimum number of words when I’m working on a first draft, as a way to ensure that at least some progress is made each session. And sometimes, when I go back for the first round of rewrites, I find it’s not as bad as I originally thought. I still rewrite it, though, because you never get it exactly right on the first try.
When and where do you do your writing?
If I’m working on a short story, I’ll write it basically anywhere I can, whenever I have an hour or more to focus. I wrote a story on a recent vacation to Italy, even though I intentionally didn’t bring my laptop on the trip. But it was for a recurring reading series that I’d been trying to get into for a while, and the deadline was going to pass before I’d be home. So I bought a notebook and pencil and wrote a couple drafts before dictating it into my phone and submitting it with about five hours to spare before the deadline. And yes, writing a story in a cafe looking out onto a historic Italian piazza is exactly as romantic and gratifying as it sounds.
But more recently, I’ve been working on the next novel, and I find I need to set aside larger blocks of time to make much headway. So I’ll write in the evenings or during the day on weekends, usually at home or at this starkly-apportioned minimalist coffee shop near my apartment. I find the background noise of the customers and machinery helps me focus in a way that I don’t really understand, but it works so I’m not questioning it.
What have you learned about promoting your books?
The biggest thing I’ve learned so far is that it’s incredibly hard to get anyone to pay attention to you, especially before you really have any kind of a track record. There are so many authors out there, all trying to promote their own books by using the same channels everyone else uses. It’s really crowded, and it’s a huge challenge to get that needle to budge.
That said, I have to remind myself that book promotion for an indie author like me is necessarily going to be a long-term project, and that short-term wins are going to be scarce for a while. It’s dispiriting and frustrating, but as a writer you’ve got to keep doing it because nobody else is going to care as much about your book as you do.
What are you most proud of as a writer?
Finishing and actually publishing this novel. Seriously, I know so many people who have started first novels but never finished them for a variety of reasons, all of them valid. Writing a novel is a huge demand on anyone’s time, and the act of writing fiction can be way more personal and revealing than some people expect or are comfortable with. I don’t blame people for stopping, but this was something I’ve wanted to do for a long time. I’m proud to have succeeded – and I have succeeded, even before selling a single copy.
If you could have dinner with any writer, living or dead, who would it be and what would you talk about?
Douglas Adams. As for what we’d talk about, well, pretty much whatever he’d like, though I expect he might be disappointed if he wanted to talk about cricket.
How I’m Spending My Afterlife
By Spencer Fleury
Genre: Noir, Suspense, General
Alton Carver has a problem.
A cocky lawyer in his mid-30s, he’s under federal investigation for embezzling and securities fraud. Instead of spending the next three to five years behind bars, he’s got a plan: stage his own death, take the money he stole and light out for Central America, leaving behind wife Nicole and daughter Clara. But when he sticks around town long enough to watch his own funeral, he makes the unpleasant discovery that the life he’s leaving behind isn’t the life he thought he had.
When he overhears the way his former colleagues talk about him now that he’s “gone,” Alton is forced to reconsider his self-image as a respected and admired pillar of the legal community. Then the shock of seeing Nicole in the arms of another man leads Alton to postpone his plan to run for the border. What comes next is a slow-burn train wreck, a tale of self-deception, revenge and bad decisions.
About the Author
Spencer Fleury has worked as a sailor, copywriter, economics professor and record store clerk, among other disreputable professions. He was born in the Detroit suburbs, spent most of his life in Florida, and now lives in San Francisco. How I’m Spending My Afterlife is his first novel.
Categories: Guest Blog