Hello everybody so this week the author I interviewed via email is Mr Marc Secchia the author of The Pygmy Dragon. I met Mr Marc on Twitter as well. He was very nice and he also let me review one of his books and I was instantly in love with it.
So here is my interview with Mr. Marc. Hope you enjoy it and I’d love to hear your thoughts down the comment section.
Q: Hello Mr. Marc, thank you again for Accepting this interview request, would you mind telling us a little something about yourself?
A: Well, you can catch some of this on my bio but I was born in Cape Town and grew up there. While I was younger the apartheid system broke down, but its legacy and my observations of living under such an unjust, skewed regime have informed my writing ever since. Currently I live and work in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. I love Africa, the unsung, unappreciated continent. That is why I chose to set some of my writing in Africa, and I often feature protagonists who are not standard Western/European stereotypes.
I play the flute, panflute and Irish Whistle, I love singing and listen to a range of music especially while writing, which ranges from classical and acoustic to heavy rock (y’know, for dragon battles). I’m a creative type and I’m much better at starting projects than finishing them. However, I’m all about finishing unfinished series this coming year!
In terms of books I am privileged to regularly have 7-8 books in the Amazon top 100 for Coming of Age fantasy, including this work, The Pygmy Dragon.
Q: what genres do you feel comfortable writing Mr. Marc? What draws you into those specific genres?
A: At the moment my writing is almost purely Fantasy – epic fantasy, coming of age fantasy, and African historical fantasy. I read an eclectic selection but at the moment all of my writing (18 books) is in the field of my favourite genre, my first bookish love, fantasy.
Q: Can you tell the viewers a little bit about your Book? Which is The Pygmy Dragon.
A: This tale is about a Pygmy girl who, when she is young, is captured by slavers and sold to a zoo, where she becomes an exhibit. There, she becomes an object of ridicule, living with monkeys, but also an object of study by an academic. The early story concentrates on her narrow worldview as seen from a person living inside a cage, and how she comes to self-awareness and knowledge of her humanity despite her difficult circumstances.
After this, the crucial turning-point of the story comes when Pip is kidnapped by a dragon and taken to Dragon Rider Academy. She sees and appreciates her world beyond the borders of her old jungle life or the zoo’s walls for the first time. There are poignant moments, bittersweet experiences as she is bullied for who she is (a 3 foot 11-inch Pygmy girl) but Pip rises beyond these things; her spirit and her destiny are greater than anything she could have imagined. The story is not so much about the negative experiences but about Pip’s triumph over an adverse set of circumstances to become the heroine.
Q: can you please tell us what made you want to write The Pygmy Dragon? And also why Dragons?
A: Dragons are Fantasy’s most majestic creatures. I like my dragons served up awesome, magical and as full of character as any person you’d wish to meet, the kind of person you’re almost compelled to spend time with or watch. I’m a fan of Anne McCaffrey’s Dragonriders of Pern as well as her other writings. It was her viewpoint of fully-formed dragon characters, the telepathic communication between Dragon and Rider, and the possibilities of Human-Dragon interaction which shaped my early fascination with dragons as creatures and characters. Oh yes, and it is fun to blow up hydrogen dirigibles with dragon fire.
I also wanted to write a story specifically about peoples that are largely forgotten and marginalised in the modern world. In some respects, Pip’s story is a throwback to the awful, dehumanizing history of slavery in Africa.
Q: Please give us an Insight to your Main characters. What does these characters do that makes them special?
A: First of all, there’s Pip, the overcomer. She does not become bitter as a result of years of mistreatment, or even when her sweetest dreams are crushed by reality. She shows largeness of heart in all her dealings, even when her erstwhile friends mistreat her. Then, the old wise-mentor Dragon Zardon, who becomes her friend. There are others who rally around her, like Nak and Oyda, the Dragon Riders who feature so strongly in the later story of Aranya, also set in the same world and tied into The Pygmy Dragon storyline. There are also a raft of lesser Human, Shapeshifter Dragon and Dragon characters who unite around the primal force represented by Pip. It is her force of character that makes her unstoppable in the tale.
Q: do you think that having a character development like what Pip had is important in the plot of the story? Cause there are some stories that would have a let’s say a dim-witted main character but the story still works out for him/her do you think the story would go differently if Pip stayed Oblivious and Ignorant?
A: I think it’s a deep misnomer to think of another people group as oblivious and ignorant; a colonial mindset to think we must ‘civilize’ the native. In everything that Pip does and becomes. She remains true to her heritage and values, and those really do have value in this story. In fact, I’d argue that those who bully her are the ones who show true ignorance. Yes, there is an ‘education’ process that happens – she learns to speak Island Standard and read and goes to school and all, but I think what this story shows is the depth of who she is within, her core, remains true and grounded and beautiful.
To me this character development, which we see much more of in the 2nd book as she does go back and find her roots, is crucial. Yes, I am commenting through the story on issues such as race, prejudice, bullying, development mindset and colonialism. She is not a ‘poor little black/native girl’ who needs ‘help’ – whatever form we think that help should take. She is Pip and she’s in charge of her destiny. That’s the thrust of this book.
Here’s the picture of the book cover of The Pygmy Dragon
Q: The cover really got my attention, can you tell us how it came about?
A: The book cover is a Pygmy girl with a forest/jungle background blending into a Shapeshifter Dragon form.
Q: Who designs your book covers?
A: My dragon covers are all original artwork by Joemel Requeza who is super-awesome, and the font work is done by Victorine Lieske, who is also an NYT Bestselling author on the side.
Q: Do you think that the cover plays an important role in the buying process?
A: I think there’s a statistic that a cover can sell a book within 4 milliseconds. It’s essential. Especially for fantasy where the demand seems to be for rich artwork, it is definitely worth spending on a book cover.
Q: while writing your book, specifically The Pygmy Dragon did you encounter a “writer’s block”? If so, which part of the book?
A: No. Actually, I wrote a quarter of the book in one night. I could not leave it alone and managed to write 25,000 words overnight without stopping, from 7pm to 8am the following morning. Usually however I write a bit slower, on average 3-4,000 words per day.
Q: The Pygmy Dragon is part of a duology. Is making a duology easier than making a trilogy or a series?
A: Good question. It’s less physical work, but I’ve always been of the opinion that I should write until the story is done. If Dragonfriend will be 4 books, so be it. I want the reader to experience the full force of what I have for them, to hopefully be entertained and maddened and impressed and saddened and blown away, and if I can do that in 2 books or 10, I’ve done my job as a writer.
Q: I’m still not over those Dialects in your book (I was super impressed with those). Why did you add different dialects to the story?
A: Flavour. I love creating different cultures and drawing from some of my own cross-cultural experience in delivering a tale that hopefully works on many levels. Dialect and language is one of those levels. Conversely, writers too often create worlds in which races, species and peoples understand each other perfectly. That’s just not real. You’re telling me Elves, Dwarves and Dragons all speak the same, or even the same language, and naturally understand each other’s cultures and worldviews?
Misunderstandings can be fun. Pip doesn’t have a nudity taboo. That’s grounds for some entertaining scenes in the book until she works out why everyone else seems to think clothing is important. She then sallies off and turns some Dragon traditions and mores on their heads.
Q: What are you working on at the moment? Can you tell us what’s it about?
A: I have just finished The Girl who Loved the Whales, the second book in my IsleSong series. I’ve started the third of that series but will soon need to turn to my dragon books to complete 2 series that I’ve promised readers will be done in 2017 – the 4th and final books of the Dragonfriend and Aranya series.
The IsleSong series again ties into my dragon books but follows a completely different tale of the world outside of the impact crater in which the stories of The Pygmy Dragon, Dragon Thief, Aranya and Dragonfriend take place. It’s about a girl who has the gift of singing the songs of the different creatures in her ocean, and her battle against the burgeoning tide of Sea-Dragons that threatens to wipe out humanity.
Q: How are you publishing this book? And why? (Indie, Traditional or both)
A: I’ve self-published everything I’ve written – so I’m 100% Indie. I love the control and flexibility that this avenue provides to me, and I’ve enjoyed good success. As we speak, 14 of my books are Amazon genre bestsellers.
Q: What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
A: I think traditional publishing has reach and perceived status, but the gatekeepers of the traditional publishing industry are becoming increasingly irrelevant in today’s market as evidenced by the Indie takeover of the bestseller lists and sales charts. The main advantage of traditional is still, I think, reach in the marketplace.
The Indie scene is more vibrant, more competitively priced, and there’s great quality to be had if you look for it. I like the speed to market aspect (I publish every 3-4 months) and that I’ve been able to test out my books on the market and make changes if needed. It’s certainly been a learning process, but I’ve also had great help from many other writers along the way. I am also meticulous about quality and I think that is sometimes overlooked or undervalued by Indie authors.
Q: When did you become a writer?
A: I’ve always wanted to be a writer. I was the kid who when we were asked to produce a haiku, I’d write an epic haiku series in 16 parts. However the journey wasn’t easy. I’ve a fine pile of rejection letters to show for it. I think a person can be an author without being published. Success is a poor measure of skill or talent. So when? I guess I’d say, I’ve always been a writer and publishing is just another step in the journey.
Q: When did you decide to be a writer?
A: In 2013 I decided to self-publish and haven’t looked back, 18 books later. But as I said, I’ve been a writer all of my life. In 2013 I decided to package my work and try to start marketing it, but it took me 8 books to find some success in terms of sales. Again, looking ahead, I’d love to become a full-time writer when the opportunity presents itself.
Q: Why do you write?
A: Because I love writing and I love the creative process. I love bringing other worlds and characters to life. In the future, I’d love to put my skills to work in developing other writers, perhaps here in Ethiopia.
Q: Was there a particular Book/ Author that inspired you to write?
A: I love the works and worlds created by Anne McCaffrey and those are my inspiration for dragon books.
Here are the links to Mr. Marc Secchia’s Social Media Accounts & Website.
Amazon Author Page: http://smarturl.it/marcamazon
Thank you again Mr Marc for letting me interview you, review one of your books and for this amazing journey with the Dragons that you conjured up in your mind. It was really “Good-Good” I really got attached to the Oraial dialect. Like even though the story progresses I always wait for a scene where Hunagu and Pip would talk to each other. And also Pip’s full name is super hard to pronounce haha. That book was just awesome thank you again.
Hope you enjoyed this interview make sure to like this Author interview post and go check out my other blog posts such as my book reviews. Always happy to hear what you think about my new blog.