Imagine coming of age in the 1970s. Sounds like fun considering all the wild hedonism of that decade – the sex before the AIDS crisis, the drugs before cocaine was realized to be addictive. There was also no Internet, no cable and no cellphones.
Author Irving Podolsky takes a look of a young man in his early twenties trying to figure out life in such a time in Los Angeles in his New Adult trilogy – Irv’s Odyssey. Podolsky knows that era pretty well, and came up with an interesting reason to explore that time period.
Here he is:
MC: What inspired you to become a writer?
IP: What inspired me as a writer? To answer that question I should tell you want motivated me first. To be totally honest, if I write, I want to be read.
Why is it important to be read?
So I feel like I matter, that I’ve made a tiny positive ripple in the World.
I don’t know how, when and why I grabbed the idea that I need to justify my existence, but I’ve been pushing it since I was little – in fine art, playing music, working in the film business, and this time by writing a series of three novels.
So back to your question: What inspired me to become a writer?
When I started authoring extended prose, the reactions from readers showed me I had engaged them, and that they wanted more. Only then did I think to myself, ‘Yeah. I can do this!’
Before that, the challenge of organizing thousands of interesting words was intimidating. I got past that by chunking down my story into shorter sections so that I could give them out for criticism and advice. (This is the job of book editors in traditional publishing.)
By getting feedback along the way, I never veered that far off course and the enthusiasm I was feeling from readers encouraged me to keep writing and finish all three books. That’s how I became a novelist – I knew, out of the gate, that what I wrote wanted to be read, and just not by friends.
MC: You say the main character of your Irv’s Odyssey trilogy lives in your mind. Did the character come to you on it’s own, or did something in your mind lead to the creation of Irv?
IP: Who is Irving Podolsky? He’s that part of me that makes wiser, more mature decisions. He does that because he’s got a “coach” watching his moves and correcting them on the page. When I read what Irv does and says, I realize I could be more like my guy if only I let my Inner Advisor guide me like it shapes Irv.
Before I took on that massive job of scribing three novels, I had written a number of screenplays under my own name, one of which was bought and packaged but never went into production. All of those scripts were totally fabricated plots and characters.
But with the Irv’s Odyssey trilogy, I decided to tap a resource of story content I had never used before. That well of characters and plots was my own bazaar life from 1970 to 1975. But I didn’t want to write my memoir. I wanted to write a novel. Hence, the character Irving Podolskly was born who tells his story in the first person.
Okay, you’re doing the math. Unless Irv was five in 1970, and even if he WAS five in 1970, he’s OLD now.
Yep, the real ME is “old”. Sort of. But I’m young too. You don’t have to give up youth to gain years of maturity. Irv is that part of me that first discovered the secrets of life and was wowed by them. They don’t go away if you don’t stop looking and I still watch for magical jewels everyday.
And I’m still amazed.
That’s what I mean when I say that Irv lives in the mind of this writer. He’s the Peter Pan in us all; that spirit that doesn’t grow old unless we ignore it.
Also, “Irving Podolsky” is my writer persona and not the ME my wife asks to take out the garbage and refill her coffee cup.
MC: What made you decide to self-publish?
IP: As many writers and readers know, the publishing industry is drastically changing. Financing is tight and the price readers are willing to pay for content is dropping. The traditional publishing industry can no longer afford to take risks and the boutique publishers don’t have the cash for saturation marketing. That means every publisher is trying to sell what is already popular and every writer (except the super stars) are left with the responsibility of building his or her own platform – our fans, followers and book sales.
I am a debut novelist and I did not write within a trendy genre. Consequently, not a single agent would read my manuscript. After the first six rejections I saw the message on the wall. Sure, I knew that six passes weren’t many, but the reason always the same: I had not written what was currently producing mass sales.
I knew I could spend a year soliciting more agents or I could use that time getting published. I also knew that self publishing would probably be a better option, unless the Big Six took me on with a lot of promotion. Without an agent, and without a paranormal, YA romance, that was highly unlikely.
So I produced the books myself and here’s the upside of self publishing.
I own everything. I hired the cover design artist and guided his illustrations. I controlled all interior content and design. And best of all, I control distribution and royalties.
Within traditional publishing, if an author’s work doesn’t catch fire within six months, his/her book is pulled from distribution and bookstores. For a nominal fee I can keep my books in world wide circulation indefinitely. And that’s important because it gives me the time to build a following and draw reviewers.
Print-On-Demand publishing, print-as-needed instant distribution of content, changed the rules of book publishing forever, and to the benefit of we writers.
MC: Some believe NA/New Adult won’t go anywhere because it is not a real genre and only a marketing gimmick. What are your thoughts on that?
IP: I don’t think that “New Adult” is a marketing gimmick. I think it’s another marketing sub-category. Nothing wrong with that if it helps writers connect with readers.
I did not set out to write for any genre when I started my books. Once finished I called them coming-of-age, which is out of fashion. Actually the concept isn’t, but the genre name changed. It’s now called young adult or new adult.
In February of 2011, an agent asked me where she would find my novels in a bookstore. I told her they would be stacked on the shelf next to Poe, as in Edgar Allan – Podolsky…Poe…Potok…etc.
Putting my work amongst literary fiction wasn’t secure enough for her and she passed on my pages, again without reading them. Just eighteen months later, I can tell her now, “Irv’s Odyssey would go to the New Adult section.”
That’s how fast the book business changes. As I said, it’s currently working better for writers. If agents and publishers need another category in order to pitch a book, let’s give it to them. I’m happy about the New Adult Genre.
Learn more about Irving Podolsky at these sites:
Click here to learn more about Irv’s Odyssey – www.IrvingsJourney.com.