IndieView with A.J. Mullican, author of Abnormal

If she was Gifted, it would be a simple case of self-defense, but as an Abnormal—a person in the lower class who was born with Gifts—she’s not even supposed to exist. Flay. End of Interview. Clare Rhoades is used to life under the radar. It doesn’t come across as fluid as a typed draft, so I’ve moved away from the analog method. In my mind, I fast-forwarded a hundred or so years and tried to envision a future where the government/ruling class was wealthy, and the lower classes were oppressed by government mandates that made it impossible to gain any kind of real power. Do you listen to music while you write? I don’t know why, but her music in the background seems to make things flow better. I’m glad fate brought me to an indie publisher, though, because you really feel like more than just a number, more than a potential cash cow, more than just another little fishie in an ocean of authors. It’s a struggle for me, because my first book only got the occasional tweet or Facebook post as “marketing”—beyond that, it was all word-of-mouth. If I hadn’t become friends with one of their editors through a Facebook critique group, if I hadn’t kept in touch with her, if I hadn’t asked her to beta read for me, I probably would have chickened out on querying agents and just self-published. Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? When did you start writing the book? What came easily? Don’t just write an awesome book and throw it into the wind. When he is joined by a partner, Clare does what it takes to survive. He even knows her Norm-ID is a fake. Fists. Gifts are reserved for the wealthy, and Abnormals are terminated–in the parents’ best interest, of course. I wanted to write a story set in the future, and while I was pondering what kind of story the word “Abnormal” came to mind, and I knew that was the title I wanted. Do you outline? The interpersonal relationships between the characters. RhetAskew was so unbelievably patient with me when we were going through the book cover design process! Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you? However, I still didn’t know what the story would be. I had a lot of frustrating moments when I repeatedly got feedback from my publisher that I was “telling” too much and providing too much exposition rather than letting the information come out organically. Otherwise, my own thoughts get too “noisy” and I can’t focus on what I’m trying to write. If not her exclusively, I listen to an Amazon music station that plays either 90s or current alternative music. This usually also gets me unstuck faster than anything else seems to. My first novel was a standalone, but I have plans for at least three or four more books in the Abnormal series, with a possible spin-off YA series. I’m still kicking myself for my shortcomings in these areas, and I think if I had known how these things worked before my book went live I would have had more success than I’ve had. Abnormal centers around Abnormal Telepath Clare Rhoades, who gets herself into trouble when she kills two men who are stalking her. It was terrible, just terrible. It’s a process, that’s for sure. Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? The law also forbade Abnormals from being born, so mandatory terminations became widespread among those who couldn’t afford to bribe a doctor. Get your copy of   Abnormal from Amazon US or Amazon UK. I brainstormed on what the future might be like with the evolution of enhanced human abilities, and I thought, “Well, the whole ‘everyone who’s different is outcast’ thing has been done a million times, so what would make only a section of these enhanced humans be shunned while others aren’t?” That’s when it came to me: the “Abnormals” weren’t going to be outcast because of race or abilities or anything like that; they were going to be outcasts because they weren’t rich like the Gifted. Though my writing is different from theirs—closer to Darynda’s, but still not quite the same—I was influenced by their world building and their prolific natures. The planets must have been aligned just right, because she liked it enough to discuss it with the other editors, and they asked me to submit it officially! When she runs into a stranger at the club, she uses her telepathic Abnormality to find out more about him and discovers an oil slick of nightmares. I was inspired by the current political situation, where money seems to have more clout than common sense or decency. It was even better than the one or two designs I settled on, and I still love it. Yet another reason RhetAskew is great: they put up with my complete lack of understanding of marketing concepts. RhetAskew’s Editor-in-Chief is great at marketing plans, and she has been eternally patient with me as I ask a million questions, or whine, or get frustrated at things about the marketing that I don’t understand. Sometimes when I’m stuck it helps me to reread what I’ve already written and tweak along the way until I get back to the point where I was mired. In my mind, I fast-forwarded a hundred or so years and tried to envision a future where the government/ruling class was wealthy, and the lower classes were oppressed by government mandates that made it impossible to gain any kind of real power. My most favorite authors currently are Darynda Jones and Patricia Briggs. Clare and Eli grow close as they take to abandoned back roads to evade the government’s Squads. …[Knives. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? Sometimes new plot points or new threads come to mind while I’m fixing little bits and pieces further back, which has taken some of my stories in better, stronger directions. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? I was hooked on writing after finishing and self-publishing my first novel the year before, but “gypsy vampire” was not working for me. Beyond that, they’re all their own identities. I don’t like putting people I know into my stories. I get on the laptop in bed or on the chaise of the couch and just start going. The horrific visions invade her mind as she delves deeper into his. She didn’t mean to kill them; worse, they were the sons of powerful and wealthy council members. I really struggled with getting the above concepts across without just expositioning all over the place. As a New Adult book, Abnormal targets millenial/Gen X females, but I’ve had books purchased by adult men of all ages, and one fan even bought a copy for her grandmother! I started in 2016, after a miserable attempt at writing a gypsy vampire novel. If so can you please describe it? They all came to me practically fully formed, and their speech patterns, habits, and idiosyncrasies just flowed. Educate yourself about how to contact local bookstores, about how to get your book distributed to different venues, about signings, about conventions, about all the stuff that I didn’t educate myself on. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? I’ve had characters surprise me on more than one occasion, and it’s fun when they take over for a little while and take the story in a direction I hadn’t even considered—at least not consciously. I was inspired by the current political situation, where money seems to have more clout than common sense or decency. Aspects of the main character, Clare, are similar to me, but only at the most superficial of levels. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? It was basically that kismet, that perfect storm of events that led to RhetAskew bringing me on board. Where did you get the idea from? I was a total diva, because I had a notion in my head of what I wanted when I had thought I’d end up self-publishing, and the first, oh, half a dozen samples they sent me just weren’t anything like what I wanted. What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? Mullican – 24 August 2019
The Back Flap
In the city of Heaven’s Light, the difference between a genetic Gift and an Abnormality is determined by the number of credits in your parents’ bank account. Share this:Click to share on Facebook (Opens in new window)Click to share on Twitter (Opens in new window)Click to email this to a friend (Opens in new window) About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents? I was so happy the day of the cover reveal when I finally saw the cover art for Abnormal! One of their editors is a good friend of mine from a while back, when I was writing my first book, and I asked her to beta read it. Too bad she’s being tracked…
About the book
What is the book about? I will take extensive notes on plot points I want to hit, characters’ traits, where I ideally want each book to go, but I don’t actually outline much. I started to brainstorm on what else I might try, what other story might come from the ether, and after a couple of months the idea for Abnormal surfaced. The title came to me first. I’m still not where I’d like to be marketing-wise, but I’m getting there slowly. From what I’ve seen on Twitter’s writing community I’m somewhat of an oddity in that, but odd works for me. For more from AJ, visit her website, follow her on Twitter, and like her Facebook page. That one’s still on the back burner, though, because right now I have to get the story of Abnormal told first. Fire.]…
He knows more about her than anyone should. On the run and off the grid, Clare’s only hope is escape. I listen to a lot of K. I definitely try to steer clear of the under-18 crowd, because there are quite a few graphic scenes in the book. Research. Whatever my mood, there has to be music, and there have to be lyrics. The first draft took less than a year, but with edits, revisions, more edits, more revisions, and a few beta reads before a serendipitous turn of events brought it to a brand spanking new indie publisher, RhetAskew Publishing. How long did it take you to write it? I still have troubles with this, but I’m getting better. A.J. Do you have a target reader? There is a marketing plan, but I fumble and stumble the whole way. After that, it was another eight to ten months of more edits, more revisions, and a complete overhaul of the ending before Abnormal was finally published. It was great to “see” some of the banter that came forth as I typed. About Writing
Do you have a writing process? This included mandated prenatal genescans, which identified “Abnormal” fetuses. She’s got a lot of tattoos and piercings, and she likes to wear her hair in unusual colors. When I’m not at my computer, I use the Evernote app on my phone to make notes when plot points, character traits, or other important details come to mind. We all know how important it is for writers to read. Clare goes on the run, assisted by a stranger who offers his help, an Abnormal Athlete named Eli. Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? I edit as I go, definitely. I think it’s a narcissistic thing; I want to be the “god” of the worlds I create, so I don’t want to use another god’s creation. Was it a particular event or a gradual process? If that makes any sense. I like to let the story flow and let the characters take me where they want to go. I’m a planner/pantser hybrid—a plantser, if you will. No. I have chronic early-am insomnia, so that quiet time when my husband is still asleep tends to be my main writing time. I’ve tried writing by hand, but not only is it a pain to transcribe onto the computer, my writing style is different when I’m handwriting. I was waffling between self-publishing again, like I did with my first book, or submitting to agents, but before I could make up my mind I was approached by RhetAskew.