NPL interviews novelist Sue-Ellen Welfonder, who also writes under the pen-name Allie Mackay.
1) You’re a professional storyteller; you know how to engage readers with plot, atmosphere, pacing… did this talent come naturally to you or is it something you had to cultivate, or both?
SEW/AM: Both. I believe all creative people have a knack for what they do. Perhaps it is a good balance of imagination and instinct? Whatever it is, it must be there. Anyone can learn the nuts and bolts of writing, but if there isn’t a spark of storytelling magic inside you, the result is just ink on the page.
2) Can you tell us about any current projects in the works?
SEW/AM: I have two November releases. One is the re-release of my favorite Allie Mackay title, Some Like It Kilted, originally published by Penguin/NAL. Also The Taming of Mairi MacKenzie, a novella in a 7-author bundle Highland Winds, Scrolls of Cridhe, Vol. I. We’re doing more bundles in 2015. In December, I’m releasing a new novel, Ring Around the Moon, inspired by my years overseas. It’s set in Europe, not Scotland, so is totally different. I’m also working on a new Allie Mackay trilogy (light-hearted Scottish paranormals) and my Hachette series, Scandalous Scots. It’s a 4.5 book series and the next title is To Desire A Highlander, in summer 2015. So I’m busy and loving every minute.
3) Scotland is a big inspiration for you. Were you a writer before living overseas, or did the experience awaken that side of you?
SEW/AM: No, I wasn’t writing before I moved overseas. My background is with the airlines. I always loved reading and had a vivid imagination, even winning a story competition in 2nd grade. But my dream was to be an airline stewardess and see the world. I did that for many years. It was the late Becky Lee Weyrich, time travel queen of the 80s and 90s, who encouraged me to write. She was a friend and I’d send her letters about my travel adventures in far-flung corners of the globe. She’d say my words transported her to these places. For that reason, she urged me to write and became a wonderful mentor. Once Becky convinced me to try, it was indeed Scotland that awakened my inner storyteller.
4) You’ve expressed support for Amazon’s pricing policy; your support stems from your experience in both traditional and independent publishing. Do you think that big publishers like Hachette will eventually adopt pricing models like Amazon’s?
SEW/AM: I think they will, eventually. Readers have embraced lower-priced books. Many people are struggling these days and reading is an ideal escape. Easily accessible books at reader friendly prices are the books readers want and will buy. Independent publishing allows authors to offer such titles and I love that. It’s good for writers and readers. By contrast, many readers now hesitate to pay more than $3.99 for an ebook. I’ve asked readers for their opinions and that is the max for many, even when they love a writer. So I set my novellas at $.99 and my novels at $2.99 and $3.99. I’m sure the really huge authors will continue to sell well at any price. But something needs to be done for traditional midlisters. I suspect that will happen as more and more readers balk at purchasing expensive midlist titles. I’ve seen one or two major houses running short-term specials ($1.99, $2.99), usually around the release of an author’s new title. They release the new book at full price and offer a few of the author’s other titles at a bargain. But that isn’t enough – not when a wealth of equally good independent titles are available (always) at great prices.
Bottom line: readers will always want books and authors will keep on writing them. It’s an exciting time with wonderful new opportunities. We should embrace that. Many writers are. I think big publishers will, too. Eventually.
Thank you, Sue-Ellen!