Joshua Landsman’s The Tale of the Teller of Tales is ” a novel of high adventure, low comedy, and disturbing metaphysical insights.”
Joshua is also the author of “Frank Talk About Matters Big and Small,” a play that settles once and for all the question of whether size matters. Writers I have loved, his sketchbook about writers and books important to him at different times in his life, has been featured on The Huffington Post and Print Magazine’s web site. He is also a software designer.
What inspired you to write The Tale of the Teller of Tales?
I’ve always enjoyed reading fables, folk tales and fairy tales. At some point I wrote a series of do-it-yourself fables, ambiguous tales that readers were supposed to supply their own morals for. The Tale of the Teller of Tales started out as one of those, and things got out of hand. I ended up using one of the do-it-yourself fables (The King, the Telescope and the Face of God) in the novel, slightly altered.
You’ve been working on this for a long time (20 years). What gave you the drive and motivation to finish it?
If I had any real drive and motivation I would have finished it long ago.
What was your favorite part of writing it? The greatest challenge?
My favorite part was also the most challenging: coming up with stories-within-the-story that are satisfying on their own but also advance the plot and theme of the novel.
Why did you decide to self publish? What was your process?
I went through the process of trying to find an agent for an earlier version. I got some very nice no’s – but they were still no’s. After revising the book I considered trying again, but I have to say that the way agents work is bizarre. First, there’s the extremely artificial format they insist on for submissions – cover letter, pitch, synopsis, blah blah blah. Seems to me it’s pretty easy to know from reading the first page of a story whether you want to read more, and you go from there. But apparently agents prefer to be talked into being interested in your writing, and part of that is doing their job for them by coming up with marketing and pitch ideas. If I’m going to be the marketer, I’d rather market to the market, not an agent – hence, self-publishing.
How are you promoting it?
Social media: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, tumblr. I have a small tumblr following from the Writers I have loved sketchbook. I’m hoping to take advantage of that somehow, but this is an area where I have a lot to learn. I’ve also placed the book in some local bookstores, and am trying to get some readings scheduled.
In what ways has your drawing helped with your writing? And vice versa?
That’s an interesting question. I’m not sure how much they overlap. Both are very solitary activities, so maybe one conditions you for the other. Writing and drawing comics, which combines both, has got to be the slowest, most solitary activity I’ve ever tried.
How do you balance your creative endeavors?
I bounce back and forth. I’m a one-thing-at-a-time person. Also, I’ve always worked in spurts, with long lazy spells in between. I wish I knew how to even that out.
Any advice for those considering self-publishing?
1) Do it. 2) Order a box of your books. 3) Feel good when it gets delivered.
What do you know now that you wish you knew at the beginning of your career?
That there’s no such thing as “being a writer” (there’s just writing); that I would never write literature; but that that’s okay.