Today on the ShoreIndie blog we're celebrating the publication of one of the books that was a 2017 Round 1 Winner, Malfunction (The Malfunction Trilogy, Book 1) by J.E. Purazzi, which went live on Amazon on Sunday, October 8th. J.E. was kind enough to take time out of her busy schedule to do a brief interview with us about her book and her experience with the ShoreIndie Contest. Read on to learn about the inspirations for Malfunction, what it took to get it publish-ready, J.E.'s advice to emerging indies, and more.
J.E. Purazzi (JEP):
Sure! The original idea was just going to be a short story for Wattpad, something to try to gain an audience for my fantasy project before I really knew good marketing practices. My first glimmer of the idea was focused on the virtual reality and was about a kid (a blend of Menrva and Cowl back then) in a subterranean city, escaping through Virtual Reality only to find out that the game they were playing was real. As I worked on the concept, hammering out the plot holes and applying existing science, I ended up sticking with the one image of the climax in the second book and wrote the first draft of Malfunction in about a month.
One of the ideas that carried through all the drafts was that of human beings being reduced to objects in order to provide safety and pleasure to others, a concept that I think is really relevant to the issues of modern-day slavery and human trafficking.
I took a lot of hints from Gothic Horror and focused on the darkness in our own nature as the source of fear while still providing a small glimmer of hope. Some of those books I turned on their heads: like taking the idea of Frankenstein's monster and imagining what he would have been like if he’d been loved. Some things are pretty much intact, like with the duality of human nature as in Jekyll and Hyde, or the concept of the supposed “monster” who is seen to be much more once he’s given the chance, like in The Hunchback of Notre Dame.
I also drew a lot from scripture (the friendship between David and Jonathan and the Garden of Gethsemane for instance) and from history (with multiple hints and references to the Protestant Reformation and Sun Tzu).
I explore a lot of my favorite themes, like nature vs. nurture, friendship and family, man or monster, comparison and contrast, the meaning of true strength, and heroism.
It is always important for me to fit those things into my stories, however, and not to fit my stories around the inspiration. As a result, most of the inspiration is so diluted I doubt many people could point it out anymore.
SI: What had your writing and revision process entailed at the time you entered the 2017 ShoreIndie Contest? How many drafts had you written before you entered, and from whom had you received feedback?
I was still mostly learning my writing process when I entered the Shore Indie contest. I had used the Story Grid method as much as I was able with my novella, but was still having trouble understanding how to apply it to a larger project. Malfunction had some major trouble areas that I had basically given up on. I had listened to a lot of podcasts that had stressed quality and speed but emphasized speed over everything else. Many suggested you couldn’t make it as an indie without putting out a book every three months which, let me tell you, is a stressful concept!
I had done a lot of rounds with betas at different stages and had used their feedback as much as possible, but I knew I needed something a bit more individualized if I was going to take everything I had studied and applied it appropriately.
My feedback started with Wattpad readers...good for gut-instinct, but take it with a couple cups of salt. My critique partners were helpful, and had great instincts, but were all newbies themselves. By the time I applied to ShoreIndie I was probably on my fifth draft with that hit-or-miss method. Finding good, available beta readers was HARD. I have a system mostly in place now, but each project looks a bit different.
Even after working through just one book with Sione, thanks to ShoreIndie, I feel like I can apply all the heaps of information I’ve collected and start working through my books professionally and with a lot of pride in my work.
SI: What were the highlights of working with your ShoreIndie editor, Sione Aeschliman?
I really appreciated how well Sione was able to identify the structure in my novel and clearly communicate it to me. She was able to identify the main issues with my two biggest problem areas immediately and explain to me just how to fix them.
One of the best parts about her work was how well she communicated with me. She was quick to answer my questions, always made sure to get my ideas on what I felt needed the most focus, and made sure that keeping my voice and vision was foremost.
She geeked out over my characters just like I did, and I was impressed at the level of detail she went into. Not just in the scenes (remembering every little thing) but also with the characters. Often, when she suggested a change she kept in line with my characters, their motivations, personalities and the heavy character-focus of my style.
I don’t think I could even begin to communicate how much I have learned and continue to learn as I apply the results of the intense ShoreIndie contest to my writing and reading. I don’t doubt that Malfunction is a better book, and I know the next two in the trilogy will be better based on what I’ve learned as well.
SI: Now that you've got two books out there, what advice would you give authors who are toward the beginning of their self-publishing journey?
I always suggest that people do their research. There are a ton of amazing resources out there: podcasts, YouTube, books, articles, and a lot of very willing writers.
The best way to learn is to have a fast feedback loop. It’s hard to find trustworthy readers and writers who can give you the best advice, but if you put in your work it’s always worth it. Whether it’s a trustworthy editor (which, believe me, good idea!) or a writer whose work you love, getting another set of eyes is great.
Of course, doing one without the other is a bad idea. Too much research and no feedback, and you will get stiff and formulaic (and maybe a bit arrogant; I’ve gone there). Too much feedback without research and you run the risk of losing your voice and getting some really bad advice.
Finally...and we all say it…read and write a LOT.
SI: What can we look forward to seeing from you next?
I have quite a few works in the pipeline here. For now, I’m focusing on The Malfunction Trilogy, with the second and third books going into some pretty intense edits. I hope to have those out in six months and a year, respectively.
I am also continuing with more stories in that universe, so there will be a lot of short stories, novellas with possibilities for a follow-up trilogy, and a prequel series if there seems to be interest. I am a couple thousand words into a prequel novella for a character named Starke that has been requested by a few people now.
I’ll be working on a paranormal novelette serial for NaNoWriMo, with the intention of releasing it next year. The series is called The Raventree Society (for now) and is sort of Supernatural meets blended family drama.
I’m really looking forward to picking up work on my epic fantasy again and turning that into an expanded universe like Malfunction, with many stories to tell. I’ll probably be publishing that in 2019.
I’m also in the early planning stages of an urban fantasy/noir based on the prohibition era with necromancers. I am considering a traditional or small press publisher for it, with an aim of going hybrid.
Of course, like any author, I have a million ideas; it’s just about what I can get done and what my readers want next.
Thank you so much for your time, J.E.! We're thrilled to help you welcome your book into the world and wish you much success with it.
When Menrva, a geneticist in the subterranean city of survivors known as Bunker, responds to a call for help from Cowl, her former best friend, and Bas, a renegade cyborg, she makes a vital mistake and places all three of them in danger. As they struggle to escape City guards, cyborg soldiers, desperate scavengers, and ravenous aliens, they find in each other something they never expected: family.
During a battle, an attacking cyborg manages to overcome her programming just long enough to deliver a cryptic message. The trio is forced to decide if they will risk death - or worse, capture - to seek out the truth about the City, or if they will fight only for themselves.
This fast-paced, gritty first book of The Malfunction Trilogy introduces a future caught between destruction and oppression, where Menrva and her friends must decide if the ends justify the means.
Buy Malfunction on Amazon.com
About the author
Visit J.E. Purazzi's website