B.A.Saidel, the author of 'The Letters of Room 13' released her book in November 2019. We wanted to catch up with the new author and see how life had been treating her since she was published.
- Did you always dream of becoming an author?
I am not sure how to answer this question because I have always been an author in some form or another. In school I wrote a lot of pieces on this and that - from what did you do over the summer holiday to school essays about various subjects. In high school I wrote poetry that was published in the school arts magazine. I wrote in college and even after I began working, I wrote including a glorious failure entitled ‘Things My Mother Never Told Me’. Wether for work or for pleasure I have always been an author in some form.
Did I dream of writing something that would be published by a well-known publishing house? I hoped. I always hoped.
- What was your first job?
My first job was a Summer job and consisted of assembling scuba tank back packs. I wasn't there long. My second job was working for Sanyo Electronics in the parts department. I held this job briefly while in college. I found my third job by accident - I became the assistant to the producer of The Long Beach Civic Light Opera where I learned stage craft and how to write and create programs for each of the shows that were staged over a three year period. I also learned about stage photography and how the temperature of light can effect photography. All in all it was an interesting three years.
- How did you come about writing your book? Was that your intention or did you start writing for fun?
I have always been a writer. In fact I wrote a script for one of my favorite western tv shows while in high school. Although I thought it was pretty good, the truth is that I had no idea what to do with it so it became something that entered into the archives of my writing files. It was loosely based on a story that I had written in elementary school which was a day in a life of a young girl in a western frontier town. It involved a gunfight on the street which bothered my teacher so much that she decided she needed to meet with my parents! My parents were happy that I had such a great imagination and referred to the description of the gun fight as something I had seen on television. They assured my teacher that I did not have a violent bone in my body - repressed or otherwise.
The Letters of Room 13 was lurking in the back of my mind for several years, before I actually started working on it. I somehow knew that I did not have it in me to sustain a 250 page novel, however I knew I could write short stories. These started to form over time based upon a number of social issues that were of concern. The mechanism of using letters to tell each of these stories and the unusual experience of the letter writer helped to form the aspects of The Centre, the ’Ledger’ and its Keeper.
- What was your life like before you became an author?
Mine was quite typical for someone who was born in the early 1950s. I was a good student, did well in college and graduated with a Bachelors degree in History and Art History. I married when I was 26, moved from Southern California to Denver, Colorado, later divorced and moved on with my life. All through this time I continued to write.
- loosing two jobs due to the oil shale booms and busts, I found a great job at the Colorado Lottery, learned an awful lot about marketing and working with a team of on and off siders developed what became one of the first enhanced websites in the lottery industry. I retired at 55 and moved to Sydney, Australia.
- Did you face any struggles before becoming an author? If so, how did you overcome them?
I think the hardest part of becoming a published author is the quest to find a viable publisher. I had a number of rejections, but also had a couple of wonderful responses. Those did not include the opportunity for publishing only because the two publication houses felt they were too small to give ‘The Letters of Room 13’ the type of marketing support they felt was warranted.
I overcame those issues by continuing the search for a publisher. Fortunately for me Pegasus Elliot MacKenzie provided the end of that struggle.
- Now that you are a published author, how has your life changed, if at all?
I’d have to ask my family and friends about this. Although I must admit they are probably tired of hearing me talk about the book and its promotion. I think if I tell my sister that I sold out on Amazon one more time, she will bar me from the house!
- Can you please describe a typical day in your life now?
At present, a typical day includes learning the many ins and outs of social marketing. Since a lot of marketing is now done online, I have had to step up to Twitter, Instagram, Linked In and Facebook. Getting out the word about the book has been challenging and trying to get various entities such as Amazon and Facebook to accept reviews has been a bit frustrating, but these have also been great learning experiences. Ever the optimist it just goes to show that this old dog can still learn new tricks!
- What is your most memorable moment of your life as an author?
On November 28, 2019 I received a package at my sister’s home. In it were newly printed copies, the first I had ever seen, of The Letters of Room 13. That was a moment I will never forget.
- In a few words, how would you review your experience with Pegasus Publishers?
My experience has been a positive one. Living on the other side of the world from Cambridge made the process quite interesting although it was not as awkward as it might have been to manage time and date discrepancies.
Pegasus was very open to all of my ideas for the cover and title pages and the support and comments I received for the spelling in The Irishman, and the changes in spelling for letters written using GB English and American English were handled in a very positive light. This allowed each letter to have its own voice, which was paramount to what I was trying to achieve.
- Why did you choose Pegasus Publishers?
Pegasus Elliott MacKenzie was one of a number of publishers who received an electronic copy of my manuscript. Fortunately for me Suzanne at Pegasus read it and made me an offer I couldn’t refuse. So in a way Pegasus, I am happy to say, chose me.