Author Interview: Assaph Mehr’s Writing Journey

This is the first post in a series of author interviews I’ll be conducting as a way to explore how different authors’ writing journeys have come into shape.

My intentions with these interviews is to allow others (aspiring writers, other authors and perhaps even readers) to see that there are many ways to go about your writing journey and that it’s never to late to start writing.

The first author to join us is Assaph Mehr : D

So, tell us a bit about yourself Assaph

I am the author of Murder In Absentia, an “historically-themed urban high-fantasy hardboiled murder mystery, with just a dash of horror”.

I grew up in Israel, but now live in Australia, where I enjoy my kids, cats, wife and even my day job in IT. I’ve loved reading and history since I was five.
I became infatuated with ancient Rome through Asterix and the many ruins and stories that surround Israel. I grew up reading a wide variety of book – fantasy, science fiction, mysteries, classics – and now enjoy blending these genres in my own writing.

What made you start writing?

I had the idea for a fantasy detective story and for the particular twist ending for a while. Then one hot night in January 2015 my wife complained that she had nothing good left to read, so I just sat down and started writing. And I didn’t stop until I finished the novel.

When did you decide to become an author?

I started to write only recently. I had my nose in a book since I was a child, and whilst seeing my name in print was on my bucket-list, I never thought to actually go and do something about it.

What genre(s) do you write in?

My “genre” is the Historically-themed Urban High-Fantasy Hard-boiled Detective (with a splash of Horror). I write in this, simply because that’s what I enjoy reading. I grew up on sci-fi and fantasy as well as classic detectives. I’ve always been partial to historical fiction, particularly that set in ancient Rome.

When it came time to write, I wrote what felt the most natural way to tell the story. This happened to be a story of a private detective solving a murder case, and set in a fantasy world inspired by ancient Rome. I worried less about the box it would fit in, and more about the integrity of the story and the world.

What is your writing routine?

Very simple one: find time away from distraction. Write.

I sometimes go for a walk on my lunch break, and find a quiet spot to write. My Instagram feed is filled with shots from around Sydney where I sit down to write, or interesting buildings from my walks. The other times I write are usually late at night or early in the morning when everything is quiet. Just turn off distractions, and start writing.

Now about your writing journey. Where would you say you are in your journey?

I am definitely somewhere on it. I’ve started, and I don’t think there is ever an ending, so that’s all I can say for certain.
I’ve published my first novel, and am now working on books two and three. I do plan to keep on writing, for as long as I can. In between full length novels, I post short stories on my blog. I keep learning about new aspects of writing and the subject matters on which I write every day.

What have you done up to this point to realise your dream of being an author?

Wrote and published Murder In Absentia! It has gotten some incredible rave reviews, and even got listed on Wikipedia as a sample for Historical Fantasy, so I must be doing something right.

What is your next step?

As mentioned above, I am working on book two and three. Each novel is a separate mystery, but there is some continuation with Felix (the protagonist) and the other characters’ life. The second novel picks up a few weeks later, when Felix is hired to solve a new case – this one about haunted houses.

If you could start over in your writing journey, is there anything you would do differently?

I published Murder In Absentia a bit too quickly. I did fix this with a relaunch of the novel, with a new cover and some better proofreading. Next time I will know better than to rush, and will have the cover, the final proofs, and all the marketing buzz done ahead of time.

How do you approach marketing your books?

My marketing strategy is aimed at getting as many reviews as I can. I am always happy to give a free copy of Murder In Absentia in exchange for an honest review. Reviews are the biggest driver for exposure, as they are used by automated recommendation algorithms (e.g. Amazon “also bought”, and on Goodreads).
To achieve this is I am very active on social media. I am also playing with paid promotions, checking out the various offerings. There are a lot of bogus ones out there, but a few good ones that shine.
With only one book though, once the promotion ends then the sales go back to the normal slow pace. Once I have more books out, these paid promotions work better as readers will buy the next volumes in the series.

As a last thing, do you have any advice to people starting out as writers?

It just takes a lot of perseverance to finish the first draft. And then to edit it. And then edit again. And then publish. And then market. Just stick to it, do a little bit every day, and eventually good things happen.
I’ve also written an article for Lifehacker with some other tips, about how to write, edit, publish and market books (when going through the self-publishing route).
You can find it here: The complete guide to writing your first novel!

But to provide the key takeaway for each main stage:

  • Writing: Just do it. A little bit, but every day. Keep at it, until you finish that draft.
  • Publishing: Never skimp on a good editor and a professional cover art. The difference they make is huge.
  • Marketing: Start with reviews, build up to automated processes as you grow. It’s a job for the long haul, not overnight fame.

It’s been a pleasure to talk with Assaph about his authorship. I can’t thank you enough for being the very first author in this series.
I’m excited to see where you writing journey will take you : )

You can find more of Assaph Mehr and his work on his website (which has free short stories!) and follow along his writing journey on his blog.
Assaph is also on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, Goodreads, Pinterest and lastly Instagram.

Don’t forget to check out Assaph’s book:
Murder in Absentia!

Available on Amazon!

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