#AuthorInterview: Craig A. Hart

Jeri Walker
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This author interview with Craig A. Hart is a great way to wrap up 2016’s monthly author interviews here on the Word Bank blog. Craig represents a truly multi-faceted writer who wears his writer’s hat in a handful of genres as well as dabbling in both traditional and independent publishing. He’s cool in the best of bookish ways. Trust me. As for next year, stay tuned for author interviews with Idaho authors all year long. Yes, there are that many authors in the potato state! You’re going to be amazed at how literary my home state can be!

 

Official Bio: Craig A. Hart is the stay-at-home father of twin boys, a writer, editor, Amazon bestselling author, lover of the arts, and only human. He has served as editor-in-chief for The Rusty Nail literary magazine, manager for Sweatshoppe Media, and director of Northern Illinois Radio Information Service. He lives and writes in Iowa City with his wife, sons, and two cats.

 

1. Please provide a brief synopsis of your book.

Becoming Moon is a literary fiction novel that draws on my own experiences. It is the story of a boy struggling to be himself amid pressure from a religious family. Following his dream to be a writer, he leaves all behind. His desire for success causes him to betray his principles as an artist, but brings money and recognition. Success is brief and soon he is in a web of depression and financial hardship. During a trip north, he meets Nigel Moon, a grizzled author who gives him a chance to prove himself—but only if the writer is able to set his past aside.

 

Cover of Becoming Moon by Craig Hart

 

2. Tell us a little bit about what motivates or inspires your writing.

Writing is something of an addiction with me. I do it because I need to. There’s a quote by William Faulkner that goes something like, “If a story is in you, it has to come out.” I think that’s part of why I have to write. The other part is that drive to not just create but also to share that creation with the world. It’s the same reason painters paint and singers sing. Art is the tangible representation of the intangible prodding of muse. I’m not sure anyone truly understands it, but art consumers know when they see it and art creators know it when they feel it. One might go so far as to say that art, in all its forms, is what makes us distinctly human, being directly related to empathy, and provides us with a soul, even if only figuratively.

 

3. Writing aside, what passions drive your life?

This was going to be an easy question, until I realized you’d said “writing aside.” I suppose I would say that my twin boys fit the bill. That sounds like something of a cliché, but they have done a fantastic job of opening up a new realm of human emotion for me (always valuable for a writer). As any parent can tell you, there is nothing like a child to elicit strong and varying emotions. One moment you are convinced you need nothing but those little arms around your neck in order to feel fulfilled and the next moment you have to grip the arms of your chair to keep from running out of the house and diving into traffic.

 

Picture of author Craig Hart and Twins

 

4. It’s hard to pick just one, but what do you consider your favorite novel and why?

You ask the tough questions. If I simply must choose, I would select Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. Not only is it a haunting story, but it is significant in its place in the Hemingway canon. When I read a book, I am looking for well-rendered characters. And Hemingway does this better than most. And when I say well-rendered, I’m not talking about detailed descriptions of physical traits. I’m referring to that which makes the characters human: fears, ambitions, motivations, failings, and moments of beauty and ugliness. Characters make story happen. People talk about plot, but—for me—plot isn’t simply making things happen. It’s creating the people who are involved in what happens.

 

5. What is the name of your blog and what can readers expect to find there? 

I don’t operate a regular blog. I have tried several times, but I can’t keep up with it. It’s why I don’t journal on a regular basis: if I’m writing, I want to be working on a work-in-progress. My writing time is woefully limited as it is. If I were to try to maintain a blog, I fear I’d never finish another book. My hat is completely and unequivocally off to those who can keep up a blog. I don’t know how they do it. Instead, I have focused my outreach efforts on places like Facebook and Twitter, which I have found more manageable and interactive. I do however maintain an author website.

 

Picture of author Craig Hart

 

6. What does your drafting and/or editing process entail?

I am not nearly as disciplined as I’d like to be or as I should be. I tend to procrastinate. Eventually I will experience a period of extreme, almost manic, productivity during which I will churn out thousands and thousands of words in a relatively short time. This is typically followed by a time of exhaustion and near-depression. I will take time to recover, and the process starts all over. I would much rather plod along at a slow, steady, predictable pace, but most of the time it doesn’t work out that way for me.

 

I have a couple of people who read much of my work when it is hot off my computer screen. After that, I will go over it myself, make corrections and rewrite, and then send it to my editor. A word of advice to authors, especially those who self-publish: ALWAYS have someone else edit your work. I know it can seem pricey and a writer’s hubris tells them it isn’t necessary…but it is. Don’t cheat yourself or your work.

 

7. Are you traditionally published or self-published?

I have done both. Becoming Moon is published by Kindle Press, which owns the electronic rights. I own the print rights. I have published both traditionally and independently in the past. There are pros and cons of both. What I love about self-publishing is having complete control over every aspect of the process. On the other hand, that can be exhausting (and expensive), so it’s sometimes nice to have a publisher shoulder some of that. When I self-publish, I generally hire professionals to create cover art. There is no excuse these days for a bad cover. And I’m not talking about subjectively bad covers. I’m talking about covers that appear as if the author grabbed a picture off Google Images, opened it in Paint, and typed the title in Comic Sans across the front. Authors! I love you all too much to let you keep doing this. People shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they do. All the time. There are several good resources online that offer good covers for as little as $50. Go a little higher and you can get something that rivals what the bigger presses are putting out. Much like editing, it simply does not pay to cheat yourself on cover artwork. Trust me on this.

 

Picture of author Craig Hart

 

8. Can you offer one or two helpful tips for fellow writers when it comes to marketing and publicity?

Here’s a little tough love. Yelling “Buy my book!” on social media outlets will not get you sales. Do it enough and not only will people not buy your book, they will unfollow or block you. Marketing is about relationships. Work—both online and in your local area—to build relationships with readers, bookstore managers, librarians, and other authors. Do nice stuff for other writers. Help them promote their books. Not everyone will return the favor, but some will.

 

Using promotional pricing for ebooks can be a great way to get a lot of downloads quickly. Places like BookBub have enormous lists of readers who have opted in to receive information about free and deeply discounted ebooks. For a fee, you can have your book included in one of their email blasts. BookBub can be tough to get into, but there are a ton of others. My only advice would be to do your research. You can easily run up quite a bill by going with every service out there. They are not all created equal.

 

 9. What future projects can we look forward to?

I am currently working on a novel and collection of short stories.

 

Picture of author Craig Hart

 

10. Is there anything else you want your potential readers to know?

I’ve received some feedback that mentioned unlikeable characters in my work. From my perspective, all characters don’t have to be likeable. Not even main characters. They just need to be compelling. It’s much the same reason all art doesn’t have to be traditionally beautiful. Rendered by a skillful hand, a picture of a dead lily can be just as lovely as a picture of one that thrives. Finding beauty in the ugly—or just the mundane—is something that fascinates me, and is a skill I’d love to hone.

 

 

You can connect with Craig Hart and his social media sites via his author website.

 

Is there anything else you’d like to know about Craig Hart? 

 

 

Please share responsibly. Jeri Walker, 2016.

 

Author: Jeri Walker

Need help writing that book blurb, bio, or newsletter? Give your book the attention it deserves. Book your copy edit, manuscript critique, or proofread today. Promotional discounts change monthly.

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36 Comments

  1. It was fun to see this interview appear in my inbox, Jeri. I just updated my “to be read & reviewed” spreadsheet and “Serenity” by Craig Hart is up on the list.

    It’s always a pleasure to read advice from published authors–it’s encouraging.

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  2. I enjoyed reading your interview with Craig A. Hart. He comes across as down to earth. So much of what he has said resonated with me but the following stuck out;

    1. He writes because he is compelled to.

    2. He does not have a blog as he knows he cannot commit to it long term. How honest is he? He obviously runs by the rule that you either do something on excellence or not at all.

    3. He believes in paying for an editor and a designer. A writer cannot afford to deliver sloppy work.

    Thank you for sharing this.

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    • Thanks for stopping by to read the interview, Phoenicia! And thanks for the kind comment as well.

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  3. Hi Jeri

    Thanks for the introduction to Craig. This interview is just loaded with excellent advice = especially hire an editor and get a professional cover.

    I like the man and fell in love with the twins – they are adorable.

    Since this is your last interview of the year, I want to wish you a wonderful Christmas and look forward to seeing you in 2017.

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    • Hi Lenie! Thank you for the kind comment! And it was great to connect on Twitter as well.

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  4. Super interview, Jeri. I love the cover of Craig’s book and the title as well. It’s nice to see you profile a person of the male persuasion. I think your site and mine tend to be too female heavy. I guess that’s just the nature of the businesses we’re in. But nice to hear from the guys, too.

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    • Doreen, the female to male author ratio I feature does lean toward the female side, so I agree that’s it’s great to have Craig here too. I’m also pleased that the novel featured here is a literary one as those tend to be my favorites.

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    • Hi Doreen! I was happy to be profiled! 🙂 And thanks for the comment, re: the cover and title. I’m glad you like them!

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  5. Hi Jeri, thank you for another fantastic author interview. I always enjoy reading these to learn something new and I do each time! I liked this one and it “spoke” in some real nuts and bolts terms for my very novice self to understand 🙂

    Best of luck to Mr Hart!

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    • Hi Mike! Thanks for reading the interview. I’m glad you found something in there to be useful. And the best of luck to you as well!

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  6. I appreciate Craig’s comments on being a father. I pretty much feel the same way. Nothing really has a greater impact on your life than having children. And I guess he got double the impact.

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    • Hi Ken! Having children definitely changes things. I’m just glad I didn’t have one, and THEN have two. At least this way I don’t really know how much harder two is than one. Ignorance, in this case, may actually be bliss!

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  7. I thoroughly enjoyed learning about Craig and his writing process. He is so right when saying that blogging does eat into writing time, but it’s a double-edged sword. Love the Faulkner quote too. 🙂

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    • Thank you so much for stopping by to read the interview, and comment as well! I appreciate your words.

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  8. I like that you mentioned creating relationships on social media is more important than selling a product. It’s important to show your personality online. People will appreciate those thoughtful interactions and engage with you. Thanks for the reminder.

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    • Thank you, Sabrina! It really is about relationships. And I’m embarrassed by how long it took me to learn this!

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  9. Your quote from William Faulkner resonated with me: “If a story is in you, it has to come out.” And I agree, Craig: “…art, in all its forms, is what makes us distinctly human…” Writing sounds like a calling for you; you sound like a writer who is true to his inner being (i.e., you have integrity). Enjoyable reading this interview.

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    • Hi Ramona, thank you for commenting. I appreciate what you have to say. I try to stay true to the art. In fact, I can often sense when I am moving away from that focus, as I begin feeling incomplete.

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  10. What a great interview! I like that Becoming Moon is based on personal experience – they’re often the toughest to write especially from an emotional perspective. Great pic of the twins! Also, I loved the book cover. Looking forward to your 2017 interviews, Jeri!

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    • Thanks for reading, Erma! And you’re right about the difficulty of writing based on personal experience. At least, it was for me. Becoming Moon took three years to complete, and it is actually fairly short (for a novel).

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  11. I always enjoy reading about a writer’s process. The processes vary so much from writer to writer. It sounds as if Craig has a good understanding of what works and doesn’t work for him. I appreciate his approach and advice on publishing, editing and marketing. Very practical. I liked his comments on compelling versus likeable characters. There can be beauty in the ugly and the mundane.

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    • Thanks for stopping by and reading the interview, Donna! I really appreciate your comment.

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  12. Hi Craig, you had me at The Sun Also Rises 🙂 I fell in love with Hemingway when I read that book (my first read of his). Thanks for the indie author tips. Speaking of covers, your cover looks wonderful. It’s clean. It’s classy. I think becoming moon makes for interesting moral dilemmas that are so relatable. Religion, passion, parental control. Who can’t relate to these themes? The pic of you and your twins is precious! Jeri, thanks again for an interesting author interview!

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    • Hi Lisa! Ah, so great to hear from another Sun fan. It’s interesting to me how many Hemingway readers haven’t picked that one up. And thank you for the kind remarks concerning the cover and themes of Becoming Moon. And the twins want me to tell you they also think they’re precious…okay, so they’re only two and it sounded a lot like “Googawoogeemocka,” but that’s they meant.

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  13. Terrific interview, and I have to tell you I love the cover of Craig’s book. I can certainly see why he would enjoy being a dad to those adorable twins! Thanks for the enjoyable read Jeri. 🙂

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    • Thanks for reading, Marquita! And thank you for the kind comment concerning the book cover and twins. 🙂

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  14. Thanks, Jeri and Craig. I really enjoyed this interview and completely agree with Craig regarding book covers. I made this mistake in the beginning, but I learned. 😀

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  15. Hello Jeri and Craig. Great author interview. I know stay at home parents with one child that can barely find time to get out of their pajamas, much less write a book with twins at home. Certainly understandable that Craig kri up with a blog. Love your advice that marketing is about relationship. So agree with you there. 🙂

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  16. It’s fun to be introduced to various authors via your Interview Jeri. I like to be introduced to different new people so when you introduce to various authors it excites me as well as they and their work inspire me! Thank you for sharing!

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  17. Jeri, this interview is like Craig’s book cover…fresh like spring breeze! His answers are so appealing…marketing is all about creating connections and nurturing them. Also, his subtle suggestion about focus!
    I wish him success and appreciate his love and devotion to his twins, whose loving hugs must be so inspiring!

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  18. Great questions and answers. I’m a parent too, and yes, emotions tend to run high around my little ones. 🙂

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  19. Another great author interview.
    I like the section about marketing, now that I have a new publisher, I will get back into the swing of things.
    As normal, always great to see other author interviews on here.

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  20. Great interview, Craig & Jeri! I always feel so validated (and relieved) when I read of an author who has the same struggles as I do but who manages to get published (which I haven’t … yet). It encourages me while also helping me to realize that I can pick and choose which social media I want to use. Blogging does take up a lot of time, especially if you want your posts to be as well-written as a publishable short story. I’ve seen some favorite authors give up their blogs for this reason, although they might still have an author website or provide an occasional newsletter. Some very good advice here 🙂

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  21. I love Craig’s writing style, even just in this interview. As a mom I related most to the part about his children’s arms around his neck one minute and wanting to run into traffic the next. That totally captures the reality of parenting!

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  22. Hi, Craig. I recognize one aspect I do share with you as an author; I also go through more or less long periods of intense writing, that word rush that makes you pride, joyful and happy. Then I feel drained, empty and in an urgent need to recover. This is the most delicate time for that kind of writer (that is: me), but once we get out of that, all starts to get better again. In this case, it is very healthy to have a family and you know that.
    I agree with you on having one’s book edited by somebody else; I don’t think an author should edit his/her own work, he or she could do a re-read and tweak something here and there but editors are there to do their job and they help us a lot in self-consciousness and in seeing our work with different eyes.
    Good job and happy writing.

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