Friday, February 10, 2012
How/why did you start to write?
I started writing when I was a kid. I think it's always been my favorite way to make sense out of human traits that baffle me, like greed or pettiness or people acting out of short-sighted self-interest. Whether the confusing trait is in myself or in someone else, I've always found fiction a good way to explore it in a safe – and generally entertaining – way.
How did you become an author?
I wrote a book from start to finish – as in, I found a premise that compelled me forward and kept me at my desk, because it was fun to write. I then connected that manuscript with a publisher – a cool and quirky guy at the other end of an email in Toronto.
What was your first published piece?
Dead Politician Society. (My first novel.) I know you're supposed to start with short stories and literary journals and stuff, but I never got that memo. I was clueless about the writing industry until I had to dive into it.
Where was it published?
ECW Press – a Toronto publisher I really like working with.
How long ago?
What did you do before embarking on your writing career? Was it an asset to your writing? How?
I waitressed and bartended for years after dropping out of university. This was a good job for me – it got me out of my introverted shell and taught me how to interact with a huge range of people. To do the job well, you have to find real things to like about the people you're serving and working with – genuine points of connection go a long way toward making people comfortable. I credit this with helping me write multiple point of view characters with a range of ages and backgrounds.
What inspires you?
Morning. I wake up excited to get to my computer, to check in with my characters in that half-fresh, half-still dreamy brain state. I get pretty grumpy if someone gets in my path to my computer first thing. Though if my husband is around I will make him a latte first. He's worked hard to help me create this writing life; I like to send him off to work feeling well looked-after.
Please share one of your successful marketing techniques
Playing cards for Death Plays Poker. I give cards away at signings and events, and I'll mail packs to people who post honest reviews online.
They're a popular gimmick because they're both useful (people play with them) and relevant to the book. And they're a promotion that keeps on giving – ideally, when a reader cracks out the deck to play cards with them, their friends will say, “Hey, what's that book about?”
If you're in Toronto on November 24th, consider yourself invited to the launch party for Death Plays Poker, hosted by ECW Press at Ben McNally Books, 366 Bay St. 6-8 p.m.
Website: http://www.robinspano.comTwitter: @Robin_Spano