Authors Welcome is excited to spotlight author Doug E. Jones. His debut novel is titled Nowhere To Goa: Bhang Lassis, Rickshaws, and Holy Cows! He graduated from UCLA with a degree in English Literature and a minor in Creative Writing. Doug works full-time as a writer and devotes much of his time to promoting his book.
We had a chance to speak to Doug about his book and characters, as well as his journey as an author.
AW: Tell us a little bit about your book.
DJ: My novel Nowhere To Goa: Bhang Lassis, Rickshaws, and Holy Cows! is a travel adventure/coming of age novel that takes off when Scott, a studious sophomore at Northwestern University, flies halfway around the world to bring home his troublesome twin brother who has just been released from jail in India after a run-in with the law; something to do with a bhang lassi, a rickshaw, and a holy cow!
AW: Who is your intended audience and why should they read your book?
DJ: The story is told through the eyes of a 19-year-old boy but what he discovers when he hits the road is universal: Love, Compassion, Religion, and Danger. And if you love to travel and discover new and interesting places, then this book is a perfect fit.
AW: How did you come up with the title for your book/series?
DJ: I’ve had the title since traveling in India years ago. Goa is a tropical state south of Bombay on the western coast. It’s where a lot of travelers flock to at Christmas. The title was something I wrote down in my journal. I just didn’t have the story yet.
AW: Tell us a bit about your cover design? Who designed it and did you have a lot of input into the design?
DJ: The story centers around twin brothers who are complete opposites so I knew I wanted a sun/moon (almost yin yang) feel to the cover and hired a graphic artist on the internet through Elance. I drew a very rough sketch which the artist then brought to life with a lot of back and forth.
AW: How long did it take to complete your novel?
DJ: It took two years, writing just about every day. It’s 135,000 words. One year to write, one year to edit. Luckily, I never got writer’s block on this project. I knew where I wanted my character to go and roughly how I wanted his story to end, but if you let your character’s decisions come organically and plausibly with some sense of truth, then you shouldn’t get stuck.
AW: Tell us about the challenges of getting your first novel published?
DJ: At first I tried the traditional New York route through the internet. You can go to the websites for literary agencies and publishers and find out their submission guidelines. However, when you submit without a connection, it can be really difficult to even get a response. That said, the landscape is changing more and more every day, and I think self-publishing will be the next big wave.
AW: Who is your favorite character from your book and why?
DJ: It would be easy to choose the protagonist, the boy who tells the story, but I really like a British woman he meets named Sam. She’s strong, beautiful, a seasoned traveler, and someone who prepares the boy for the rough road ahead.
AW: What authors inspired you?
DJ: Before starting this book, I read an interview with movie director Quentin Tarantino in which he was asked what kind of movies does he like to write. And his response was that he wrote movies that he wanted to watch. So that’s what I did. I wrote a story that I would like to read. As for other authors, I love John Irving, Kurt Vonnegut, and Tom Robbins.
AW: What made you decide to become an author?
DJ: I didn’t have a choice. I’ve always felt compelled to write. I was the guy writing on napkins and up and down my arm.
AW: What is the toughest criticism that you have received as an author?
DJ: I used to write for the TV show Charmed, and I hated to get re-written. I understood that the series needed an unifying voice and tone but to have someone delete your words, even if it’s for the greater good, is really painful.
AW: What is the best compliment?
DJ: My favorite comment was: “I loved your book. I’m going to buy copies for all my friends.”
AW: What can we expect from you in the future? Do you have a new novel or project that you are working on?
DJ: I have a finished screenplay that I want to convert into a novel. It’s centered around a true story from the 1970s, a time period that I hold a particular passion for.
AW: Do you have any tips for readers or advice for other writers trying to get published?
DJ: If you have literary contacts, use them. But if you don’t and want complete control of your work then it’s real simple nowadays to self-publish.
AW: How do you market your book?
DJ: I have a Facebook page devoted solely to the book. You can pay to “boost” your posts and place adds for your book in the news feed. I also have a website with pictures and video of India where you can read chapter 1 of the novel and which, of course, links to the page where you can purchase the book (paperback or eBook) on Amazon. And I use Twitter (and hashtags) to find people with similar interests to those being lived in the story.
Readers can find Doug’s website at http://www.nowheretogoa.com/Home_Page.html. He also has a Facebook page dedicated to my book, and you can follow him on Twitter at @Freshguy88. Readers can check out the first chapter of Nowhere to Goa on the website at http://www.nowheretogoa.com/Chapter_1.html.
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