I had the pleasure of meeting Marc Simon last February at Marco Island’s AuthorFest.I have read his story, The Leap Year Boy and highly recommend it. It is with great joy that I have him with us today. We’ll get right to the questions:
Joanne: Do you have a background in writing or take any special writing courses that helped you along the way?
Marc: I used to be in advertising as a copywriter in creative departments and as a freelancer. I used to write TV and radio commercials, print ads, brochures, web site copy, etc. Writing ad copy gives me a sense of how to be economical with words, as well as be colorful in descriptions of people and places. Also, I used to write and perform comedy. Doing comedy well requires a good sense of timing. I think there’s a carry over to fiction. But as far as having a degree in creative writing or journalism, no. I did take some workshops at a writing school in Boston called Grub Street. They were quite helpful, and I met a lot of fine writers along the way.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same genre?
Marc: Actually, no. I like to write plays, and last year, my one act play titled Sex After Death was a winner in Naples in the Sugden Reader’s Theater New Play Contest. Also, I don’t write only novels. I’ve written and had published several short stories. But I guess that’s still fiction.
Joanne: Many of us cross over genres and it is difficult to pinpoint one to fit our books. For the book we are promoting today, what shelf would we find it on if it were in a bricks and mortar bookstore?
Marc: You would find my novel, The Leap Year Boy on the fiction shelf. It’s literary historical fiction with a touch of magical realism.
Joanne: Are you published through a traditional publishing house? If yes, how did you find your agent and publisher?
Marc: My situation is a combination of the two, so let me explain. I do have a literary agent, Joelle Delbourgo, president of Delbourgo Associates in New York. I met her at a writing conference in Miami in 2010. The conference offered attendees an opportunity to have a short story or a chapter of a novel reviewed by an agent, editor or a writer. I had modest expectations, but low and behold, she liked my chapter so much she asked to see the entire novel. I sent it to her and three months later she offered to represent me. After I received about 25 “glowing” rejections from the traditional publishers, she sent my novel to Untreed Reads, a publisher that does eBooks only. They “bought” the novel pretty quickly.
After my novel was published as an ebook, I found that many people wanted a traditional paperback. Since my publisher doesn’t do paperbacks, I decided to self-publish the print version. I had a graphic designer prepare the cover and the inside pages. I used a company called Lightning Source as my printer. They are a print on demand company that also distributes worldwide, so in my contract with them, they distribute my novel to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, etc. Lightning Source is very professional and I think a step above many self-publishing companies in terms of quality.
Joanne: Do you always write in the same POV or narrative or do you switch it up in different stories?
Marc: I think every story calls for its own voice—unless you are writing a series, like a detective series or maybe a romance series. My novel is in 3rd person, past tense and takes the POV of several characters. My stories in many cases are first person, which makes switching POV in the story a no-no.
Joanne: What was the hardest part for you in the writing process; the outline, synopsis, query or building the story itself?
Marc: For me, the hardest part is sitting my butt down in the chair, shutting off the internet and writing. I don’t do outlines. I let the characters and the setting build the story. I’m always surprised at what happens after I struggle for an hour or so.
Joanne: What advise would you give to new writers just getting started with their first manuscript?
Marc: In my opinion, a new writer should just sit down and write and crank something out, whether it’s short story, a play or a novel and not look back until a first draft is done. There will be plenty of time to revise. And I recommend getting feedback from only a few people, and people who are not going to pat your on the back and tell you that you’re the next Faulkner, because quite frankly, you’re not. Only then should you go back and revise, revise, revise and rewrite.
Joanne: What is the premise of your novel we are promoting today?
Marc: The Leap Year Boy is set in Pittsburgh in the early 1900’s. It is the story of a working class family and an extraordinary boy named Alex Miller, born in the family’s home on February 29, 1908. What makes Alex so remarkable is that even though he’s full term, he weighs just two pounds, one ounce and is nine inches long.
Despite his size, Alex is perfectly healthy. However, his body grows at one-fourth the rate of a normal child—so that after one year, he’s the size of a three-month-old—but his mind grows much quicker. Eventually, so do certain parts of his body and his ability to do various and unusual things with them. As Alex’s special abilities become apparent, those around him see him as both a miracle child and a freak of nature—a freak to exploit.
How Alex saves himself from the designs of others—his religious fanatic grandmother, who sees him as the new Messiah; his money-grubbing immigrant doctor, who wants to put him on display; his unstable nanny, who believes Alex is her lost child; and his father and father’s mistress, who are eager to tap Alex’s commercial potential—is at the heart of the novel.
Ultimately, a family that has been fractured by ambition and circumstance rediscovers loyalty and love, thanks to Alex’s courage.
Joanne: This sounds so interesting. Where can readers get your book?
Marc: It is available on Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/The-Leap-Year-Marc-Simon/dp/0615802907/ref=tmm_pap_title_0?ie=UTF8&qid=1375201891&sr=1-1
Joanne: Thank you Marc. If you may, please share with the readers a sneak peak into your book.
The Leap Year Boy
Alex Miller was born on February 29, 1908, at 12:01 a.m., precisely nine months and a day after he was conceived. He weighed a mere two pounds, one ounce and measured just nine inches long, yet despite his size, his breathing was relaxed, his heart beat like a metronome and his blue eyes were active and alert.
Alex entered the world headfirst in the home of Abe and Irene Miller at 707 Mellon Street, Pittsburgh, less than 20 minutes after Irene had gone into labor. Ida Murphy, Irene’s mother, was in attendance, not so much out of concern for her daughter or the welfare of her nascent grandchild, whom she hoped would be her first female grandchild; rather, Ida wanted to see firsthand why her daughter had engaged the services of a medical doctor, since she herself had delivered without an attending physician during the births of her own three children, the third stillborn, each more agonizing than the one before it.
Ida felt a pang of jealousy when her daughter delivered so quickly and relatively pain free. Not that she didn’t love her daughter, in her own guarded way, or wish her well, but still, she thought, suffering builds character. If she’d had to go through it, why should her daughter get off so easy?
When she saw the tiny baby, she remarked to the doctor, “That’s it?”
Irene’s physician, Dr. Malkin, shrugged and assured her that it was indeed “it.”
Malkin was a hairy, bear-like Russian/Jewish immigrant with filmy pince-nez glasses he wore on the tip of his pointy nose. The veracity of his medical credentials was somewhat suspect, had anyone cared to investigate, since his professional certificates were printed in Cyrillic type and framed in clouded glass on the walls of his so-called surgery, which happened to be on the second floor of a cold-water walkup. He served the Miller family as general practitioner, pediatrician and dentist.
“But it’s so small. Are you sure there aren’t more babies in there somewhere?” Irene admonished him to keep looking, that there had to be one or two more, look at the size of the thing, it was no bigger than the runt in a litter of pigs. It was all she could do to keep from looking herself. But when Malkin shook his head no, that’s it, Ida put her hands on her wide hips and said, “Well, in that case, doctor, there’s no use me dilly-dallying around here anymore, is there?” She washed her hands with rough soap in the basin on the dresser next to the bed, put on her gloves, quickly kissed her daughter on her damp forehead, harrumphed at the tiny baby boy and went downstairs. As she put on her coat, she told Abe Miller, who was waiting with a cigar in one hand and a beer in the other, that his wife had given him another boy, and that she was fine, and he should go on upstairs but be ready for a surprise—and no thank you, she didn’t care to spend the night at their house, she was perfectly capable of walking home by herself or catching a trolley.
Abe bent down to look at the baby. His cigar fell out of his mouth. The baby blanket quickly smoldered until he tamped it out.
Malkin came by the next morning, expecting to find the teensy baby dead in its crib, but there it was, alive and kicking, nursing and crying and eliminating like any other newborn, albeit in miniscule quantities. He asked after Irene as well, who happily reported that she felt so good, she was ready to go down to Rooney’s for a ham sandwich and a bottle of lager.