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Better Than The Best BY JAMES OH

Better Than The Best BY JAMES OH
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Monday, 25 July 2011


Hi! Readers,

Firstly, I write to express my heartfelt thanks to Delphine Pontvieux, for her kindness to allow me to interview her despite her busy daily schedule. For those of you who want to know her background, please click at the title of this post to access to my preceding article. So, let us put our hands together to welcome this awesome author, Delphine, who is here to share with us her insight of her experience in publishing her award winner novel. Below please find my interview with her for your reading pleasure.

James: Perhaps you may share with us your feeling when you were declared winner for this award.

Delphine : It came as a surprise as I received the email while I was traveling in France to visit my family. I submitted my novel so many months prior, I had sort of forgotten about the contest, so it was even more exciting news because it was unexpected. It is a good thing because people value this kind of recognition, and it definitely helps with sales and getting added exposure for the novel.

James: Can you enlighten us a little more about your books?

Delphine : So far I have only one published novel, ETA-Estimated Time of Arrest. I am working on novel # 2 currently and I have also submitted several short stories for upcoming anthologies about various topics. I invite you all to like my Facebook page in order to find out when they are getting published. Here is the link:

Here is some information about my novel:

ETA takes place in the French Pyrenees and the Basque country. It is a fast-paced action thriller combining politics, romance, suspense and police drama. After participating in a pro-separatist march that turned violent in January of 1992, 21-year-old Lorenzo Lartaun Izcoa is wrongly charged with the fatal bombing of a police station in Irun and finds himself on the Spanish Secret Service’s “most wanted” list, branded an active member of the Basque terrorist group ETA. He has no choice but to flee his country until two years later, Lartaun’s childhood friend, Patxi, offers him the chance to return to Europe under a new identity in exchange for a “small favor.” Lartaun seizes the opportunity, yet soon realizes that the favor he owes his friend is not so “small” after all, as Patxi is secretly planning a brutal event that will shake Spanish politics.

James: Is there anything else you would like your readers to pay special attention in regards to your book, which you have not mentioned above?

Delphine : Here is a tidbit that readers may not be aware of: The novel’s title is a “double” play on words. Not only it is a variation of the common abbreviation “Estimated Time of Arrival” (I used ‘Arrest’ instead of ‘Arrival’), but also because ETA is the name of the Basque terrorist group that’s been active for over 50 years in the Basque country and Spain. ETA means “Euskadi Ta Askatasuna,” which means “Basque country and freedom” in Euskara, the language of the Basque people.

Also, while this novel is a work of fiction, the action is intimately set within the current political situation in the Basque country. I strived to keep the story in check within the actual historical context to give it more substance and credibility. For instance, the story alludes to events that really happened, such as the Hotel Mombar shooting, the arrest of ETA leaders in Bidart, France, etc. The 90s were an important turning point because that was when France started to collaborate with Spain to crack down on ETA members living on French soil, after decades of giving them the political refugee status. I tried to illustrate this reversal of situation in the book through the candid conversations between the gendarmes and French DST agents, for example. The construction of the tunnel at the Somport was also going on then. What makes the story seem real is perhaps because what happens to the characters is plausible and could indeed have happened in the real world, even though their adventures are entirely a product of my imagination.

James : Please share a little about your journey to publication. How long have you been writing? How hard was it to find a publisher? What did you learn in the process?

Delphine : I have always loved writing. When I was a teenager I wrote an anthology of short stories. Of course, they were never published! I have always loved writing and reading, but in all honesty I never thought I would ever write a full novel. And yet I started writing ETA in February of 2007 and from that moment on I never looked back. As far as the publishing part of the book: I have worked for 10+ years for two very successful, 100% independently-owned record labels in the past. As a result, the independent model of doing business has always been very much engrained in me, especially when working for an industry largely dominated by ‘major’ companies. I always took it upon myself to get the work done without relying on anyone but my sound judgement and experience. It can be risky at times, but it is also rewarding. Thus, when my novel was nearing completion, I never really thought about shopping my manuscript to agents and so forth. My editor, who used to work for a big publishing company in New York, advised me to try the ‘traditional route’ first, because she thought I had a good chance of finding an agent. So she took it upon herself to query my book to four of her prominent agent friends in LA, which is seldom heard of. I got a reply the very next day from one of them. She liked my writing, but thought the story was far too political for her liking. I did not hear back from the three others. I told myself, ‘OK, so we tried that. Now it’s time to really get to work.’

While I was putting the finishing touches to my novel, I laid the foundations for Miss Nyet Publishing, LLC. I always wanted to create my company one day, just as much as I wanted my book to see the light. I am lucky I could put the experience and expertise I acquired while working in the music industry to the book-publishing business, even though I would not recommend it to anyone without prior experience in the business. Now, will I shop my next novel to an agent or release it again right away on Miss Nyet? I can not answer that question just yet. I have come to realize it takes a tremendous amount of time and energy to wear both the hats of a publisher and writer at the same time.

James: When do you plan to publish your book 2.

Delphine : I am not sure as I am just about starting to seriously get back to it, so there is still much work to go before it is completed. In the meantime, I have a few short stories that should be published in the upcoming months (see answer above). I hope it will keep my readers interested while they wait for the next one to be out!

James : How many volume of books for the above series, if applicable ?

Delphine : My novel ETA-Estimated Time of Arrest was never part of a series, even though everyone is requesting a sequel! So, who knows, it may happen at some point, but so far I am currently working on a completely different story, even though it is still in the same vein, thriller/action-adventure genre.

James: Tell us your guided principle that governs your life? How you cultivate these values?

Delphine : My motto is “It’s never too late.” I try to do as many things as I can in life, go and visit as many countries as I can, meet people from all horizons and take chances so that I don’t have too many regrets when the end comes.

James: Any other advice which you like to share with our readers?

Dephine : When you enjoy a book, take a few moments to write a review on or Amazon, because it really helps the author getting much needed exposure and besides, we love to receive feedback on our work. Also, don’t be afraid to tell all your friends about the books you truly enjoyed, because they value your input.

James : what are the best and worst aspects of being an author?

Delphine : The best is to receive a compliment from a reader. To hear that someone stayed up the whole night because they simply could not put the book down is a tremendous reward and it makes all the hard work completely worthwhile.

On the other hand, it can be hard when you spend so much time promoting your work and somehow it feels that it is getting lost in the mass of books out there. Thanks and have a fruitful week end,

Thank you so much for the interview, Delphine and I truly love the way you express yourself.

Last but not least, I do hope you too enjoy reading it as I did. That's all and look forward to seeing you again.

James Oh

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