Sean van der Wath is one of our newest TouchPoint Press Authors. His latest thriller, Nether, was released on September 15th. He is also our first author located in South Africa. If you like to know more about new authors before reading their books, this is your chance to get connected with another TPP author.
- What was your motivation for becoming an author?
My motivation came from the love of creating stories. It was only after a time that I began to believe my ideas might have a place in the world.
- I like to ask authors this question because I know how hard it is to choose a publishing company, and TouchPoint Press isn’t that well known. Every author has a different answer. How did you find/choose TouchPoint Press? How involved were you during the publishing process?
I came across TPP while searching for a publishing house that might take time to read through my pitch. I must say with all honesty that they have been great. There was always support, and I never felt left in the dark.
- You started writing at a young age, so when you did you first consider yourself a “real” author? How do you feel about those old stories now?
I think I considered myself an author when I got the contract for Nether. As for my old writing, through high school, I started writing my own lyrics to songs I tried to compose on my old banged up guitar. I think the foundation to the stories I have thus far created was born in those days of one-page lyrics.
- How do you balance your career, family life, and writing life? Do you view writing as a full-time/second job?
I usually spent about an hour in the evenings writing. I see the activity (or job) I do during the day simply as a means to survive. Writing is my true job.
- That’s a great way to look at it! You have been called a first-time author on our site, but Nether isn’t your first published work. Can you tell us a little about your older projects and what you’ve learned or done differently since working with TouchPoint Press?
I actually wrote what I thought then would be my first published project in 2008. It was a fantasy tale about a young man controlled by forces outside the realm of sight. But it was not to be. I got rejected and demoralized by many of the queries I submitted, and so I crept back into my hole. For years I didn’t write until I had a horrible nightmare one night about three years ago. This, along with certain other sources, brought about the idea of Nether. With Nether, every chapter was revealed to me as I wrote. This made me want to write more. I was telling myself the story, watching myself go deeper into the world which existed in my thoughts. It has been much the same with my other books.
- Can you describe your writing desk or atmosphere? Do you have any habits surrounding your writing time?
My desk is kept pretty neat, and pretty simple. When I sit down in the evenings to write, I make sure I have something to drink as I start. Be it a cup of tea or a glass of beer.
- What is one moment in the writing/editing/publishing process that you will never forget?
Seeing my work published after all these years as a whole was the greatest moment.
- I can definitely understand that! What the most challenging part about writing characters? Do you consider real inspiration for characters necessary? Did you use your own life as inspiration for your books?
The characters in my books are born with the idea as the story is born in my mind. They flow into the setting of the story and what message I wish to convey. I have never used myself as any one character in my books, but I believe every author at least sees a bit of him or herself in the characters they create.
- It sounds like creating your stories involves quite a bit of time. Does writing exhaust or energize you?
It comes down to balance in the end. I make writing into a routine, and this gives me a great deal of satisfaction.
- I haven’t done any research about writing groups in South Africa. If you’re a part of any groups, can you tell us about them? Or is writing a solitary experience for you?
At the moment, it’s a solitary experience.
- What can you tell me about your future writing projects? Will Nether be part of a series?
As of this moment I have a couple of short stories that I am working on and a novella that might someday see the light of day. I am also writing a much longer tale as part of a new creative technique I am trying to master.
- It sounds like Nether and everything else you’re working on right now are stand-alone stories. What books on your shelf could you never get rid of?
Definitely my “Wheel of Time” collection by Robert Jordan.
- I know that you have literary inspirations – (most authors do, and you can list some if you want) – but I want to know if you have any non-literary inspirations.
I have always found sanctuary in music. I would say that this is defiantly one of my most non-literary inspirations. There is no substitute for good music.
- I’d be curious to learn what types of music or artists inspired Nether. But moving on…What was one surprisingly difficult part of the writing process? Did you find one part surprisingly easy?
The hard part is making the story gel and allowing the characters to play out their respective roles in unison to each other. Sometimes it works out, and other times it doesn’t. When I get stuck in either the plot or setting I usually try to take a step back and let the story breath for a while. When I return, the answer is usually right there in front of my nose.
- So I think you’d agree that being an author is rewarding, but it isn’t always easy. Which part of the writing/editing process do you wish you could skip?
I’m not very fond of the editing process, although I know how important it is. If I had my way, I would write a story in a completely spontaneous mindset and send it out into the world. It doesn’t matter what the people might think of the grammar or spelling. To me, it’s important that the story conveys a message, and I believe the true meaning of a good story transcends the letters it’s boxed into.
- What is the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Probably on promotions.
- That makes sense. Promotion is a crucial part of the publishing process. How much research do you conduct while writing?
I write from the heart, so my research is only done when a snag comes in the story I’m creating. If I am uncertain about a place or a fact, I immediately research it. But I like to keep the stories I create as original as possible, and that usually means making up my own facts or places.
- Is there something that you want readers to know that you haven’t gotten the chance to tell them?
About me, no. I think you will get to know me through my stories. About writing, only this – a story is no great mind created plan. It starts with a single flash of inspiration, and through this tiny doorway, a billion paths may run. We as writers are tasked with following those paths and giving life to all we experience on them.
- Okay, last question. I’d like you to weigh in on one of the biggest arguments in the writing community. Do you believe in writer’s block?
No, not at all. I believe that you will write when you have to and that the only time you can’t write is when you make yourself believe it.
I love that answer! And I’ve really enjoyed getting to know all of our authors. Every writer is different. They have different motivations and different techniques, and it just goes to show that writing is an art, not a science.
You can order your very own copy of Nether on Amazon or the TouchPoint Press Bookstore. Check back soon for the cover release of Sean van der Wath’s second book, Tainted.