Today I’m very lucky to be interviewing Polly Iyer the author of Mind Games, Indiscretion, Backlash, Goddess of the Moon, Threads, and my personal favourite, Insight.
Hi Polly, thank you for agreeing to this interview. Tell us a little about yourself and your background?
Writing is my fourth career. I started out as a commercial artist, which I worked at for twenty-five years. Then my husband and I started a wholesale/retail import company, which led to a home furnishings store. I started writing in 2000. Had an idea and was hooked. Since then, I’ve written eight suspense/mystery/thrillers and three erotic romances under a pseudonym.
What were you like at school?
I was pretty outgoing. Had the lead in the school play in my senior year of high school and even flirted with going to college to study acting. Instead, I went to art school, which is what I had always planned.
Were you good at English?
Yes, but certainly not a student my teachers would think would become an author.
What are your ambitions for your writing career?
Just to keep doing it.
Which writers inspire you?
Dennis Lehane, Michael Connelly, Janet Evanovich, plus many more.
So, what have you written?
My eight novels are Hooked, InSight, Murder Déjà Vu, Threads, Kindle Scout winner Indiscretion, and three books in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series: Mind Games, Goddess of the Moon, and Backlash. I’ve written two short stories for Sisters in Crime anthologies.
Where can we buy or see them?
All my books are on Amazon in all countries.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
I’ll list my series character, Diana Racine, who is a psychic entertainer. Of course, people think she’s a fraud, and in some ways she is, but she really isn’t. It’s a complicated setup.
What are you working on at the minute?
The fourth book in the Diana Racine Psychic Suspense series.
What’s it about?
A ten-year old boy comes into the lives of Diana and her New Orleans police lieutenant boyfriend.
What draws you to this genre?
I love to read page-turners and hope I write them.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead character from your most recent book?
I’d love to see Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie play the lead parts in Hooked. Fat chance.
How much research do you do?
Depends on where the book takes me. I did a lot of research on psychics, on the blind and deaf, on call girls, and Satanists. So you see the varied subject matter I research. All of it is interesting to me.
When did you decide to become a writer?
It was never anything I thought of growing up. When I read one book that I thought was pretty bad, I challenged myself to write something better.
Why do you write?
I enjoy making up stories and becoming the characters. Maybe it satisfies my actress needs.
Do you write full-time or part-time?
I’ve been writing less this last year, but hope to get back into it full time.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
When I’m in the groove, I write seven days a week.
Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?
I try to, but I’ve learned I’m not disciplined enough to fill my quotas all the time. Sometimes I write more than what I plan, but other times I don’t.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
Where do your ideas come from?
I just gave a talk on this, so I’ll write what I said in the workshop.
Someone once said that I make heroes out of ordinary people. All my characters have to overcome something that changed their lives. So where do I find them?
Hooked — Tawny Dell – a high-priced call girl. I got the idea from a NY governor caught in a sting with a prostitute. I wondered what kind of woman does this for a living. The answer was quite interesting, and so my character was born.
Murder Déjà Vu – learning about people wrongly accused spending years in prison.
Threads – what would happen when a Hollywood director wanted to make a movie of a bestselling book and found the author didn’t exist?
InSight – blind psychologist came from watching blind runners at the South Carolina School for the Deaf and Blind when my son who ran track had meets there.
Indiscretion – fantasized about meeting a handsome stranger on the beach.
Mind Games – Diana Racine – Are psychics real?
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just to see where an idea takes you?
I do not outline. I get an idea and go from there.
How do you think you’ve evolved creatively?
Hopefully, my writing has improved. I’ve always liked my plots.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
Being disciplined enough to sit down and write.
How long on average does it take you to write a book?
The older I get, the longer it takes.
Do you ever get writer’s Block?
Rarely. When I do, I do a Sudoku puzzle and go back to my story, or I work in the yard.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writer’s block?
Don’t agonize over it. That only makes it worse. Write something else.
What are your thoughts on writing a book series?
Do it. They sell better than stand-alone books.
Do you read much and if so who are your favourite authors.
I read at night. Lately, I’ve been reading the series by Australian writer Michael Robotham and am enjoying it. I’ve read six of the eight books.
For your reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
I prefer ebooks. I have wrist problems, probably due to writing, so a Kindle is easier for me to handle.
Do you proofread/edit all your books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I have two amazing critique partners and a few beta readers. I’m always amazed at what they come up with after I’ve gone through the book word for word.
Do you let the book stew – leave it for a month and then come back to it to edit?
Depends. If I feel strongly that the book is good, I’ll send it on to my readers. I’ve had two books I put aside for years and finished them to my satisfaction then. One won the Kindle Scout contest.
Tell us about the cover/s and how it/they came about.
Since my background is in art, I do all my own covers. I look through a series of photos with something in mind and create a cover from that.
Do you think that the cover plays an important part in the buying process?
Definitely. I can’t stand an amateurish cover.
How are you publishing this/these book/s and why?
I am strictly indie, exclusive to Amazon, though one book is published by Kindle Press when I entered it in the Kindle Scout program, and it won.
What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
Biggest is control. That includes cover, pricing, and the ability to fix something if you want to change it.
How do you market your books?
I run price promos, basically giving away a book or lowering the price for a certain number of days.
Why did you choose this route?
It gets your book noticed, and when the promo is over, it seems to sell books. I have no idea why.
Would you or do you use a PR agency?
Not unless I come into a chunk of money.
Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?
Read how by the master marketers. There’s plenty of info out there.
What part of your writing time do you devote to marketing your book?
What do you do to get book reviews?
I really don’t do enough of that either. When I run a price promo, reviews usually follow.
What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?
You’re going to get both. Develop a thick skin.
What’s your views on social media for marketing?
I personally hate Twitter. I do it, not so much lately, but I do it. I am active on Facebook. I don’t post my books too much. It’s better if you develop friends. I have an author page and a personal page, but I’m more active on the personal page. Too much promotion is a turn-off.
Did you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and did it work?
I’m afraid I’ve done none of these things. My philosophy is to keep writing good books instead of wasting too much time promoting.
Did you get interviewed by local press/radio for your book launch?
Is there any marketing technique you used that had an immediate impact on your sales figures?
Yes, running a free book. If you can get a BookBub ad, that’s the best, but it’s gotten very hard to get one and very expensive.
Why do you think that other well-written books just don’t sell?
Lack of networking. If you can go to conferences, meet other writers and get on their radars, that’s the best. However, it’s also expensive. It helps if you’re in an area where there’s a strong writers’ support system.
What do you think of “trailers” for books?
I think they’re great if they’re well done. I did one myself and I like it a lot. I made a few mistakes. I’d like to do more and may.
Did you format your book?
Yes, I’m a control freak. If you can learn how to do everything, you’re that much further ahead. Also, when writing, if you format as you write using Styles, your book is pretty well ready for Kindle. The things you need to learn are all online. Use Google. Learn.
In what formats is your book available?
Ebook and paperback.
How do you relax?
Puzzles., walking my dog.
What is your favourite motivational phrase?
I love the Nike meme, Just Do It.
What is your favourite film and why?
Oh, dear, I have a bunch. Casablanca, My Cousin Vinny, Roman Holiday, Shawshank Redemption, just saw a very good film, Hell or High Water. Don’t know if it will be a favorite, but I would see it again.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
Go into a profession where you have a 401K and can retire rich.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
Mystic River because it has all the elements of a great crime novel.
What advice would you give to aspiring writers?
Learn your craft. Listen to people who know more than you do.
Where do you see publishing going in the future?
I really don’t know. There will always be paper books. I hope indie authors are accepted in more of the major organizations. As of now, it’s rare for one to be allowed on a panel at a conference.
How can readers discover more about you and your work?
I have a book trailer on YouTube which they can see by clicking on the link below
YouTube book trailer
Thank you very much for taking the time out of your busy schedule to take part in this interview.
Thank you so much for interviewing me. I’m honored.