IndieView with Assaph Mehr, author of In Numina

It’s also one of the most noticeable things when reading a book, and the one that separates amateurs from pros. One name comes highly recommended for solving nutty cases. How long did it take you to write it? It should be a no-brainer for them given the obvious success, and would open up bigger opportunities for me. I live in Sydney with my wife, kids, cats, and – this being Australia – some freakishly huge native spiders. They are known as Andromeda Rocks, because according to legend that is where Andromeda was chained to appease the sea monster, and where Perseus flew on Pegasus to save her. Dressed in a toga and armed with a dagger, Felix is neither a traditional detective nor a traditional magician – but something in between. Are there any particular authors that have influenced how you write and, if so, how have they influenced you? My stories are a cross between Roman era detectives (think Lindsey Davis, Steven Saylor, or Ruth Downie) and dark urban fantasy (by authors such as Jim Butcher). Horror is a fine thing and has its place, but there’s nothing that causes me to cackle evilly like dropping my protagonist in the sewers or describe the (historically accurate) food people ate. Do you listen to music while you write? My protagonist is an urban fantasy detective in a fantasy world based on ancient Rome (think Harry Dresden in a toga, or Lindsey Davis’ Falco as a paranormal investigator). If you think the ideas that make it into the books are original and weird, you need to see the slush pile in my head. If you like any two out of Ancient Rome, Detective Mysteries, and Fantasy – give the stories a try. While I admit that my tastes and skills have become more refined as I became an author and learnt to pay attention to errors and missed opportunities in writing, an ‘average’ reader would still notice the overall effect even if they couldn’t put a finger to specific issues. I’ve binge-read Lindsey Davis’ Falco series and Steven Saylor’s Gordianus, both Roman-era detectives, as well as Colleen McCullough’s excellent Masters of Rome series. I seem to take macabre pleasure in describing gross situations. What came easily? Many! Coincidentally, my son is also three years old. What would you like readers to know about you? I would like to mention Barry Hughart’s Bridge of Birds (and sequels – my review here) as a historical-fantasy-detective mix (though set in a ‘China that never was’). I have developmental editors, proofreaders, and an extremely talented cover designer. This is a story of a cynical, hardboiled detective dealing with anything from daily life to the old forces roaming the world. While drafting In Numina, I put a hard problem to my protagonist and had no idea how he could possibly solve it. Murder In Absentia was done (drafted, edited, proofed, and published) in about a year. A quick review of the publishing industry was enough. There’s no magic bullet, just a lot of hard work. 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) I’ve also started work on the next full volume in the series, In Victrix – a story of gladiators and womanly mysteries. Did you get your book cover professionally done or did you do it yourself? I started to write it very soon after finishing writing my first novel, Murder In Absentia, about three years ago. Some of it was due to forced breaks, outside of my control. Whenever there is a foul business of bad magic, Felix is hired to sniff out the truth. Any evil genius worth his salt has one, tucked away inside an impossible safe buried under an active volcano. Get your copy of   In Numina from Amazon US or Amazon UK. My favourite spot is in Jaffa. Figured that as a first-time author my chances are close to nil, and – especially since I’m writing for the love of telling stories – I just wanted to get on with it. Do you outline? In Numina is set in a fantasy world. Ideas are easy – it’s the execution that takes time. Horror is a fine thing and has its place, but there’s nothing that causes me to cackle evilly like dropping my protagonist in the sewers or describe the (historically accurate) food people ate. My latest release is titled In Numina: the second Story of Togas, Daggers, and Magic. Most such establishments are quick in-and-out affairs — no affront meant for my male readers — where a tunic is preferred for ease of access. Are your characters entirely fictitious or have you borrowed from real world people you know? In his second major case, he is called upon to investigate what appears to be haunted apartment blocks (because size matters). I hope to be able to publish a full novel every year or so. About the book
What is the book about? That is par for the course with any book. I’ve just completed a stand-alone novella in the Stories of Togas, Daggers, and Magic series and am currently working through my editor’s comments. (For comparison, the idea behind MIA was kicking a can around the back of my head for a decade before I sat down to start writing). Do you have a marketing plan for the book or are you just winging it? Figure out what’s right for you, and persevere. Love his work, and can only hope I’ll improve like he did from his first novel to the latest. If you go down the indie path, accept that you will be doing it as a hobby, especially in the beginning. I’m perfectly willing to work hard for a decade in order to then become an overnight success. There were parts that were harder to write, and parts (not necessarily the same) that were harder to edit. Most editing happens after the first draft is completed. Where do you live now? Seriously, it’s really simple:

Write, publish, seek reviews. As above, a first-time author can take years to break through. Of course I have a plan. It took three years from the moment I started writing till I finally published the book. I seem to take macabre pleasure in describing gross situations. Once I really got into the rhythm, it took a year and a half to finish the draft, edit (repeatedly), proof, and publish. He told me, ‘trust me, I got this’ – then walked into the nearest brothel… His solution was interesting, though effective. As above, only the major highlights. I do book layout & typography as well as marketing myself, because those are areas I’m proficient in from my day-job. I grew up in Israel, where any place you dig you’re likely to find sacred historical relics. His co-consul doesn’t want to go down in history as the ‘year of the crazy consuls’ – but the physicians can’t find the problem. Was it a particular event or a gradual process? These books have incredible charm and re-read value. I have my own publishing house, and besides guaranteeing myself a contract the rest is handled by professionals as a business. If so, do you do so extensively or just chapter headings and a couple of sentences? My nefarious plan is to first build a successful platform and range of books (and with hundreds of positive reviews across Goodreads and Amazon I’m well on that path), and then apply to one of the premiere SFF publishers like TOR to pick up the series. If yes, what gets the fingers tapping? In Numina didn’t quite get there (except for his home-cooked meal of lamb-brains-and-pine-nuts sausages), but I promise there will be more odoriferous feasting in future books. Detailed one, colour-coded with diagrams and charts. However, all characters are based on my experiences, observations of, and interactions with other people – not as a single entity, but in aggregate of the human condition. Do you have a target reader? The reality is that no one, no matter what they claim, knows which books will take off. The idea for In Numina came to me while working on Murder In Absentia. Not matter what, keep writing and persevering. Nothing screams ‘amateur’ like a bad cover. Thus a Roman-esque world was a natural backdrop for my paranormal detective. I like my peace and quiet when I write. Were there any parts of the book where you struggled? If you stand on top of the hill and look out to the sea, you’ll note are a few rocks jutting out. Where did you get the idea from? This is a novella of Togas, daggers, and Magic – for lovers of Ancient Rome, Murder Mysteries, and Urban Fantasy. Given that background, is it any surprise I’m a history buff? Did you hire a professional editor? About You
Where did you grow up? So it’s about 25% foreknowledge and 75% discovery, wrapped around 1% unique inspiration and 99% sticking-to-it-ness. In Numina took longer because I was working in breaks. Repeat. Oh, you mean a creative process. I am more of a discovery writer than a plotter, but when I start I usually know what the novel is about and the highlights (emotional and otherwise) I want to hit. If so can you please describe it? Indie is more suitable for people who are not afraid to commit money and time to produce and market books (like me) and who can usually write quickly and release more than one book per year (unlike me). Generally speaking, though, the Stories of Togas, Daggers, and Magic are simply the mash-up of my favourite genres to read: dark fantasy, Roman-era historical fiction, and detective mysteries. Even with a traditional publisher, you will be both expected to contribute significantly to marketing while still writing more. Most characters are entirely fictitious, with some are notable historical figures that I’ve borrowed (like Cicero). Assaph Mehr – 16 December 2018
The Back Flap
This is a story of Togas, daggers, and Magic – for lovers of Ancient Rome, Hardboiled detectives, and Urban Fantasy. Excavation found layered settlements of Ottoman, Mamluk, Arab, Byzantine, Roman, Greek, Canaanite, and Egyptian origins. Professionally done, by a graphic designer that specializes in book covers. Whether you go indie or trad depends largely on your temperament and willingness to tackle tasks on a pro level. Rarely. End of Interview:
For more from   Assaph, visit his website, follow him on Twitter, and like his Facebook page. With enough reviews, go after the premiere services like BookBub. Now he must separate fact from superstition – a hard task in a world where the old gods still roam the earth. It will only be available to subscribers of my mailing list, and by the time you read this you could get it for free here: https://www.subscribepage.com/AquaeEtIgnis
As a teaser:
The year’s senior consul came back from military campaign stark raving mad. Either way, you’d find that you need to do a lot of marketing and getting out there (the days of the recluse author are over for the most part). I jotted it down (amongst others) and am slowly working through the list, while continually adding to it. The city of Egretia borrows elements from a thousand years of ancient Roman culture, from the founding of Rome to the late empire, mixed with a judicious amount of magic. Nope. It’s a story of dark magics and grim events, of wizards and villains, of politics and religion, that spills out to the law courts and the highest reaches of society. What made you decide to go Indie, whether self-publishing or with an indie publisher? I grew up on detective stories, classic Sci-Fi and Fantasy, and have always loved ancient Rome. While my fans have compared Felix (my protagonist) to Harry Dresden in a Toga, I only started reading Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files after I published my first novel. A rich landlord finds tenants are abandoning his apartment buildings, spouting tales of horrific events and whispering that the old gods – the numina – came alive and cursed the buildings. Yes, definitely. I discovery-write the bits in between, then edit to ensure proper flow and foreshadowing. About Publishing
Did you submit your work to Agents? Enter Felix, a professional fox. That’s the time I have with no distractions. Always happy to talks books, though, so feel free to contact me with any question or comment. What are you working on now? I think this it true for most authors. At other times I listen to music styles the same as I read literary genres – anything that catches my fancy at the time, from classical, to 70’s progressive rock, to acid jazz. I do a little editing while drafting, but mostly it goes into ‘to-do’ notes in the margins about things I want to remember or revisit later. While I had to do some edits later about his chosen course of action (why it made sense), it led to some of the more memorable quotes:
It was the first time I had to wear a toga to a brothel. Do you edit as you go or wait until you’ve finished? I even have free short stories on my website to entice readers and help them decide if my writing is for them. In a true Felix fashion, this is a story of Lunacy and Piracy, of Exile and Ghosts! For each story, these include the mystery aspect (whodunit), the Roman culture (trivia for the background), the fantastical/paranormal twist, and the emotional payoff at the end. About Writing
Do you have a writing process? Get on the train, open laptop, start typing. For the curious, Ellie Augsburger from Creative Digital Studios is amazing and highly recommended. When did you start writing the book? I cannot stress enough how working with professional editors (which requires a learning curve) has improved my writing. Then write more. In Murder In Absentia I had him investigate a garum (fish sauce) factory – all those fish guts fermenting in the warm sun for weeks were a joy to write. And, no matter what, you need to keep writing. I actually started to write while still working on editing and publishing MIA, as I wanted to keep writing creatively. So, I gave him free rein. We all know how important it is for writers to read. I’d rather keep writing and publishing, building a fan base and growing my skills and craft as I go with intense feedback. So focus on continually writing, and market your books to reviewers and potential readers via (light) social media engagement and dedicated premium services. Any advice that you would like to give to other newbies considering becoming Indie authors? Traditional publishing usually moved at a slower pace of book releases (with exceptions, of course), and you trade control over your book in exchange for not doing (nor paying for) certain tasks.