2014 Snapshot Archive: Mitchell Hogan

First published at Katharine Stubbs’ blog.

When Mitchell was eleven he was given the Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings trilogy to read and a love of fantasy novels was born. He has since accumulated numerous bookcases full of fantasy and sci-fi novels and doesn’t look to stop anytime soon.

He lives in Sydney, Australia, with his wife, Angela, and daughter, Isabelle. Mitchell has a degree in Chemical Engineering and worked for a pharmaceutical company and a bank, before following his dream of writing fantasy novels (making stuff up) and home brewing.

His novels (A Crucible of Souls and Blood of Innocents) are available at ebook retailers such as Amazon, B&N, Kobo, iBookstore and Scribd, and in print through indie supportive bookstores. Mitchell has also signed with Audible to produce audiobooks of his current series.

A Crucible of Souls won the 2013 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel.

1. You self published your current series and have seen quite a bit of success in doing so! What was that experience like, and what challenges did you find along the way?

CrucibleofSoulsThe first challenge was whether to self publish or not! There’s a lot of conflicting information out there but after spending a lot of time researching I realised the choice wasn’t to self publish or go with a traditional publisher, because you can’t choose to traditionally publish. I could either self publish or submit to the publishing industry (i.e. agents) and in the end I chose not to submit.Having decided to go down the self publishing path it was then up to me to decide what to do next. You have all the control but that means making all the decisions and taking all the costs on yourself. You can spend as much or as little as you want but finding talented freelancers to help isn’t cheap. The actual process is almost the same as publishing any book, except you are the one deciding which editors to work with, which cover designer to go with, who will format your book etc. Very early on I learned there’s writing and the business of writing, and you need to be good at both. My goal was to produce a book indistinguishable from a traditionally published book and I think I struck not far off the mark. I’d say the biggest challenge was learning how self publishing works, and what the steps were to produce a quality book that was available at multiple retailers in multiple formats. It was initially a tough task but very rewarding. The second book was much easier to produce.

2. You have two books out so far, but what have you written before this? Anything you hope to publish in the future, or pieces that won’t ever see the light of day?

I’d love to say I have 10 books stuffed in my bottom drawer! But unfortunately I hadn’t written anything before my first book. I read a lot of epic fantasy and that’s what I wanted to write. I definitely bit off more than I could chew though and my first draft (and fourth and fifth…) were terrible.

Actually I tell a lie… I wrote a page or two of fantasy when I was at university. It went straight into the bin as it was full of evil old wizards with grey beards, dressed in black, living in a tower… it was so bad!

3. You’re currently working on the third book in your Sorcery Ascendant Sequence trilogy, but do you have any other works currently in progress that you’d like to tell us about?

I love reading science fiction and there have been a few ideas percolating around inside my head for a while. Believe it or not I attended a speculative fiction festival, and at an interesting session on retelling fairy tales it made me reconsider my sci-fi story and character ideas in a different light. I won’t say much more except it was thinking about fairy tales which brought all my ideas together, except in a sci-fi way… it’s tentatively titled Emerald Eyes Rising and will be shorter than my fantasy novels, with plenty of action. A seat of your pants ride interlaced with themes of finding freedom, deepest desires, oppression and objectification. I would like to release it in 2014 but that’s looking less and less likely at the moment. With the success of my fantasy series those books have to take priority.

4. What Australian works have you loved recently?

I haven’t had a lot of time for reading in the last 6 months, and I’ve been disappointed with the books I started to read which is unusual. I tried a couple of bestselling and acclaimed books by non-Australian authors only to put them down early on as I lost interest. Then I was lucky enough to get my hands on The Other Tree by DK Mok, an Aurealis award nominated Australian author. It’s not my usual fare, but DK’s writing is quirky, intelligent, and sometimes snarky, and it’s a fantastic read so far! As an author it can be disheartening when you realise someone has far greater talent than you, but after having a little cry I pulled myself together and kept reading… DK is a pretty sharp writer, and one to watch.

5. Have recent changes in the publishing industry influenced the way you work? What do you think you will be publishing/writing/reading in five years from now?

BloodOfinnocentI’ve only been published for about 12 months, and because I’m self published and relatively new on the scene any recent changes in the publishing industry have had no effect on me. Though you could say the self publishing shadow industry is a recent phenomenon, and as such has had a huge effect! A year ago my plan was to write, edit, publish, repeat, and that hasn’t changed.

In 5 years I think the face of publishing will be quite different. Currently indie published ebooks make up 27% of ebooks sold on Amazon (though only 15% of gross $ sales) and in 5 years that will increase substantially. There are fantastic opportunities for both writers and publishers at the moment, and a place for everyone. But change is inevitable. Whatever happens, it’s a great time to be a writer!

For myself, I’ll still be writing and reading fantasy and sci-fi. I have no plans to try my hand at any other genre. In 5 years I expect to have another 6-7 novels published, mostly fantasy plus a few sci-fi. I’ve just signed a three book deal with Audible to produce audiobooks of my Sorcery Ascendant Sequence trilogy and I also hope to expand to foreign translations. And possibly a publishing contract for additional career building and exposure, and to get print books into bookstores.

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