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Thursday, July 21, 2011

Indie Author Interview: Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion

Time for another indie author interview! Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion are coauthors of Fate's Mirror, a cyberpunk style science fiction book that was just released last week. I'm not very far into it yet, but I love what I've read so far. If you enjoy books by William Gibson and/or Neal Stephenson (like I do!), then you'll love Fate's Mirror.

And now, on with the interview!

1. Your novel Fate’s Mirror has just been released. Tell me a little bit about it.
Fate’s Mirror is about a super hacker named Morris Payne. He is practically omnipotent in the virtual world, and all but useless in the real one. His two worlds collide when he becomes the target of an artificial intelligence who wants him dead. Now Morris has to brave the dangers of the real world to stop a killer who isn’t even human.

2. Your pen name has an interesting origin. Could you tell my readers how you came up with it, and why?
The M. and H. are Margaret and Harry. The “Mead” is an inside joke from college. We basically spent college annoying our professors by whispering and writing notes all through class, and it didn’t take much to crack each other up. Margaret used to write her name on the front of her notebooks, which Harry found rather silly. One day he pointed to the brand name of his own notebook and said, “then my name must be Mead.”  Hilarious at the time, but you probably had to be there.

3. What challenges did you face as co-authors? How did you split up your writing time?
The biggest challenge is geography. Harry lives outside Detroit, and Margaret lives in Ann Arbor, an hour away. It’s not worth the drive unless we can spend several hours writing. So at the beginning of a project, we have plotting marathons, and at the end, we have editing marathons. In between, phone and email are our best friends. We’re also working around our day jobs and our families.

Even though we have logistic problems, we never have creative or compatibility problems. We probably share a brain, since we finish each other’s sentences even when we’re not working together.

4. Have the two of you always been science fiction fans?
Oh, yes, for both reading and writing. Harry doesn’t write anything that isn’t speculative fiction of some kind, although Margaret has been known to dabble in other genres, and has won awards for her mainstream fiction.

5. Are there any authors who are particularly inspiring to you?
We read and re-read books by Larry Niven (Ringworld, The Mote in God’s Eye). Technology change always has social and psychological effects, and Larry Niven explores those beautifully. To us, he sets the standard for hard science fiction.

6. The Fate's Mirror book trailer does a great job promoting your book. Do you have any tips for new authors who want to create a book trailer of their own?
Find a smart teenager. That’s what we did. We paid a teen $15 to teach us how to use Windows Moviemaker, which comes with many PC’s. Turns out, it’s not much harder than using PowerPoint. Who knew?

So that’s the technical part. For the artistic part, we watched a lot of book trailers to see how others did it. We learned that the most important thing is to condense the book as much as you can, and let the images do some of the storytelling. You’ve only got a minute or so, which means maybe ten slides, max. You can’t tell the entire story in that time. All you can do is tease.

7. What made you decide to go the indie publishing route?
We almost went with a mainstream publisher. We had a powerhouse agent and lots of editor interest. But in this publishing climate, indie publishing made more sense to us. We like the reader-friendly pricing and the author-friendly royalty rates. We like choosing our own cover art and writing our own jacket copy. Plus, our agent wasn’t a great fit for us, so firing him was a no-brainer.

8. I know lots of indie authors struggle when it comes time to price their books. How did you arrive at the $2.99 price point for Fate’s Mirror?
We read a lot of blogs from both the big guys (Joe Konrath, Dean Wesley Smith) and the up and coming (Lindsay Buroker). It seems that $2.99 is the right price for novel-length ebooks. Low enough to be easy on the reader, but high enough to give a decent royalty to the writer.

Not everyone has an ereader so we produced a paper version of Fate’s Mirror too. We had to price that at $10.99. Amazon wouldn’t let us go any lower. Too bad paper is so expensive.

9. What advice do you have for newbie writers who are also considering self-publishing their own books?
Read blogs, join twitter, and soak up what’s out there. Indie authors are extremely generous about sharing what they know, so you can get a great education just by watching and listening. Some of the advice will be contradictory. It almost has to be, since new information about publishing comes every day. But before long you’ll separate the good from the bad and figure out what will work for you. Be brave! Try stuff! What’s the worst that can happen?

10. What's next for the two of you?
We are working on two new projects. Both are crime stories that take place in near-future Detroit. One is a novella about a genetically engineered pet that may or may not have killed her owner. The other is a novel about a burnt-out cop who has to solve the murder of some professional hitchhikers.  Both projects should be out in the late fall or early winter.

Where to purchase Fate's Mirror:


About the Authors

   M.H. Mead is the pen name of Margaret Yang and Harry R. Campion.

Margaret Yang is a writer and parent who lives in Ann Arbor, Michigan. She loves all things modern and is still waiting for her flying car. When not reading, writing, and parenting, she is on the endless quest for the perfect slice of key lime pie.

Harry R. Campion is a teacher, writer and parent who lives in Harper Woods, Michigan. In addition to reading and writing, Harry’s favorite activity is camping in the wilderness, especially if he has a canoe and a river to explore.

Margaret and Harry have been friends and co-authors for many years. To learn more about them and read their published work, please visit

You can also follow Margaret on Twitter at: Margaret Yang