IndieMuse recently caught up with author Richard Wall to ask him a few questions. His latest novel, just released today (October 29, 2020), is called Near Death and has received an overwhelming recommendation from IndieMuse’s curation staff.
IndieMuse: Out of all the stories you could have written, why was Near Death the one you committed to?
Richard Wall: That’s an excellent question. Near Death was conceived a few years ago when a ‘What if’ question popped into my brain (I can’t elaborate because it would give the story away). At the time I was doing research for the sequel to Fat Man Blues and had begun writing the first few chapters. A few months later I was invited by Burdizzo Books (an independent British publisher) to contribute a short story to a horror anthology they were compiling. The theme fitted my ‘what-if’ scenario so I put the sequel to one side and began writing the short story. Very soon, the story grew arms and legs and a mind of its own and became a much more complex beast and two years later I had written my second novel.
Fat Man Blues began as an indulgence to my inner blues savant. I chose to pursue Near Death over the sequel a) because the story and characters interested me and b) because it was different (although there are elements of the blues weaved into the story).
IM: What sets apart Near Death from other books of its kind?
RW: Replying with classic British reserve, I’d say that I’m not sure that I’m the best person to answer that. I think the story is original (I’m certainly not aware of a similar plot) and early feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. I would like to think that my passion for American culture from the early-to-mid 20th Century shines through in the story, that the settings of the period ring true, the characters are believable and their dialogue is authentic and credible.
IM: What real-life inspirations or epiphanies did you draw from when writing this book?
RW: Another great question! I gained a deeper appreciation of the complexities of PTSD (two characters in Near Death are veterans of the Korean War and suffer from Gross Stress Anxiety—as PTSD was previously known). My research included reading about the subject and speaking with military veterans, through which I learned that it can take many forms and strike when least expected. Thankfully it’s now fully recognised as a disorder, but it hasn’t always been that way. On a personal level, with two novels and a publishing deal under my belt I feel that I can at last call myself a writer—it’s a good feeling.
IM: As for other independently published authors, who are your favorites and why?
RW: There are a few. Most notably; Ran Walker, Emma Dehaney and Matthew Cash. Ran Walker is the Assistant Professor of English and Creative Writing at Hampton University in Virginia. First novel Mojo’s Guitar (2012, but reissued this year as The Last Bluesman) caught my imagination as it tells the story of a novelist assigned to interviewing a legendary blues musician in Clarksdale, Mississippi. Ran went on to write several Black urban fiction novellas and has moved into flash-fiction. What I like about Ran is that you never know what’s coming next.
Emma Dehaney and Matthew Cash are the powerhouse behind Burdizzo Books, a tiny indie publisher who produce themed anthologies to showcase unknown horror writers. Emma’s novel The Searcher of The Thames and Matthew’s Fur are slices of contemporary British fiction that are unique and original.
IM: As an independent writer, how do you find readers for your work?
RW: By identifying who they are, and then going to where they hang out. Take a good long look at your story and then at the components that make it a whole. Each of these components will attract a particular type of reader.
First thing is to consider the genre of your story (horror, sci-fi, historic fiction etc)—genre-fans will be the first readers for you to approach. Next, think about all of the elements that feature strongly within the story (for example: places, music, time-period, cars etc) then find places where all these enthusiasts tend to gather. Facebook groups are the first place to start, but a search on Google may also yield forums, blogs and websites specifically for that particular element. Once you have found these places, begin by contributing to discussions, liking posts etc. Introduce yourself and make yourself known without overtly spamming your book—asking for advice is a great way to break the ice (especially if you offer an acknowledgement in the finished story).