The Cumberland Tales is a work of historical fiction. The tales, germinated from a few scattered images grew to include aspects of magic realism and reality. Mother's Keep is a winding tale of family, friendship, loss, and spirituality. Cumberland Gold - a murderous, multi-generation tale of old wounds and revenge will be released soon.
Why did you decide to self-publish? Did you have any doubts?
I knew I would write about my hometown, Cumberland, after completing my degree in English. As part of my degree, I studied poetry with the Canadian poet, Marlyin Dumont. In my final year, I took an advanced course in creative writing , but poetry came first, prose later. I had no doubts because the stories I wanted to write were close to my heart.
I initially tried the traditional route, sending off manuscripts directly to press houses, but was informed that I needed to get an agent. So, to publish traditionally, you need to go through two gatekeepers, getting an agent (submitting letter and searching for acceptance), then the agent must search for a publisher. In addition, when published the agent and press room both get a cut of the profits. For me, it was a no-brainer to form my own publishing company, and self-publish: no gatekeepers and I keep greater portion of royalties.
How long did it take?
My first book, The Cumberland Tales, from start to published book took about 5 years. It is a work of poetry and prose with a poem preceding each chapter. That year, I was given an Award of Excellence for my poetry by the Poetry Institute of Canada. The second book, Mother’s Keep, was inspired by my granny who was a war bride and lived during the depression years on acreage in Gibsons, Canada. My third book, Cumberland Gold, took about 2 years and is another visit to my hometown of Cumberland.
What did you like best?
I’m probably happiest with Mother’s Keep or Cumberland Gold. But The Cumberland Tales also sells reasonably well. In terms of quality of work, The Cumberland Tales is fragmented, yet many people like it. Mother’s Keep is a linear plot and the narrator is a ghost. And Cumberland Gold is more of a thriller murder mystery and does not have much poetry in it, but two of the characters are poets who critique each other’s work.
What was the hardest part?
The start is always the hardest part for me, how to outline, how to make it all work together. Once I start, I know I will at some point finish it, but never know when. I usually have a few prose pieces on the go at the same time, this is interspersed with poetry that I submit and discuss with writer friends. If I get tired of writing prose, I will switch to poetry. Indeed, one day, I’d like to try to write drama.
Would you do it again?
Definitely, I’ve got two more books in mind, the first is a sequel to Cumberland Gold and the second, The Mysterious Transformation of Margery Kempe, Beatrice Bonner, and Celestria Baxter, (which I’m presently working on), is based on Margery Kempe, the female mystic of medieval England. I’m interested in Margery’s personal relationships with her husband, God, and the patriarchal society which all women inhabited back then.
What advice do you have for authors just starting?
If you’re young, get a degree in English, round it out with writing poetry with a good instructor, and round that out with advanced fiction writing. However, if you don’t have the time or money, read all the good authors: Joyce, Faulkner, Lessing, Hemingway, et.al., read lots of them, and read good poetry too. Then sit your butt down and start writing. Also, listen to the way people talk, takes note of phrasing, what people say, how they say it. It’s all good fodder for writing. The most important thing is to write about something that is important to you, probably family or experiences. Someone you loved, or write about conflicts of the heart.
Frank Wayne Mottl's debut novel, The Cumberland Tales is a collection of connected stories. He's recently published his second, Mother’s Keep, and has sent off his third, Cumberland Gold. You can find out more at www.frankwayne.net
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