About the Author:
Clinton Festa, raised in Rockland County, NY, is son to two educators and grandson to four. Clinton studied animal science with the intention of pursuing a doctorate in veterinary medicine. Although not part of his science curriculum, Clinton took courses on writing, poetry, and literature while at Cornell University. He was also a cartoonist, writer, and the circulation editor for the Cornell Lunatic, the university humor magazine.
Prior to graduation, Clinton shifted his focus away from veterinary medicine. In a side-by-side comparison with vet school, he decided instead to attend commercial flight school in Florida, where he later met his wife.
Now with several thousand flight hours and ten years of aviation experience, Clinton has been the chief pilot for a cargo company in Raleigh, NC and an airline pilot based in LaGuardia. He now lives in Greensboro, NC and spends his free time with his wife and two small children, or writing. The epic drama Ancient Canada is Clinton’s first novel. Check out ancientcanada.com for more.
Interview with Clinton Festa
Holly: Hi, Clinton! Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
Clinton Festa: Hi! Since graduating college about ten years ago, I’ve been working in aviation. If you flew out of LaGuardia, O’Hare, or
recently there’s a slim chance I was your pilot. Greater chance if the landing was hard. I’d like to say I’m the first mythology writer who is also a pilot, but who knows. Atlanta
Holly: Your novel Ancient Canada is your first novel, is this the first novel written or just the first published?
Clinton Festa: Both. First novel written and published. Although I used to write police detective stories with a friend of mine back when we were in fourth grade. Funny enough, I called him one day a few years ago to talk to him about Ancient Canada. He told me he was writing his first novel, too. It’s called My Sweet Saga by Brett Sills and it’s fantastic. No word yet if we’ll resurrect our crime series, featuring ourselves as police detectives, our canine sidekick Sniffer, and our arch-nemesis, the drug lord Stromboli.
Holly: Can you tell us a little about Ancient Canada?
Clinton Festa: Ancient
is a mythological world set in an alternate Canada Arctic Circle. The main story focuses on Lavender and Marigold, two sisters exiled from . Lavender has a unique ability to see life and death, but she struggles with self-doubt and the fear that she may have been created evil. Marigold has no unique gift. She struggles with a sense of uselessness and copes by making the occasional poorly timed joke. Like Canterbury Tales, each chapter is a different narrator who shares their personal story and philosophies. Together the chapters link to bring the epic of Lavender and Marigold. Canada
Holly: What was the idea behind the novel?
Clinton Festa: I was walking around
in the summer of 2006 looking for something to eat. Ethiopian, Tibetan, Guatemalan... I couldn’t believe I had eaten it all. There are restaurants everywhere with a different country’s food, but I never found something I hadn’t already tried. I thought the only way to fix that was to make up a country, come up with a bunch of recipes, and open an ‘authentic’ restaurant for that country. The same idea turned into something that didn’t require a bank loan application. New York City fit best for the topics I wanted to address, but already has her mythology. So in the end, an alternate Canada fit even better. Canada
Holly: How long did it take you to write Ancient Canada, start to finish?
Clinton Festa: About four jobs and two pregnancies (by my wife, not me). I started writing in 2007 and it was published late in 2011, so about four years. The actual writing took two and a half years. But that’s a little misleading. I was working a rare pilot job, and would get my ideas during the week. I’d write them down, save them for the weekend, and do my writing on Friday and Saturday nights from about to . Once finished, I began simultaneously polishing up the manuscript and looking for publishers. That took a while too, over six months. Once I found SynergEbooks, I sat in queue to be published, which was about eight months. All standard. Those eight months were more rounds of editing. I realized that my favorite thing about writing is the six or seven times you finish the same manuscript. You get to experience that sense of accomplishment over and over and over again.
Holly: You are published by SynergEbooks—would you mind telling us a little about the publishing process, how long it took and how the overall experience was for you?
Clinton Festa: Sure, I’ll tell you a lot about it. I have a friend who has had a few plays sold. He told me to get a copy of The Writer’s Market. I’d find out about a publisher from there, look for them online, and get their most up to date submission guidelines. Many would say they don’t accept simultaneous submissions, meaning they don’t want to spend any time reading your submission if it’s submitted anywhere else. If they like it but you are already talking to another publisher, they’ve wasted some of their time reading your work. Problem with that is they’ll sometimes take six months to get back to you. Let’s say 1) they all did that, 2) you cooperated, and 3) you got picked up on the sixth publisher. You’ve just thrown three years down the drain. The process is a lot of waiting and not taking it personally, because most publishers want something so specific you’d almost have to write a book just for them. And they get so many submissions a day it’s actually very professional and courteous that the majority of them do reply even to turn you down. It’s also great that most accept online submissions, because if they wanted an entire manuscript via postal mail, it could run you over $20 per attempt. For me, a first time author, I felt pretty fortunate that it only took a little over six months to find a publisher.
Holly: Do you have any plans for another novel, in 2012 maybe?
Clinton Festa: Not right now. I have to focus on marketing the first book, but I do have pages and pages of notes for a sequel. In the meantime I’m posting fables occasionally on my website, ancientcanada.com. I figure any good ancient world would have its fables.
Holly: Where can we purchase Ancient Canada?
Clinton Festa: Here’s the main link to most of the purchasing links: http://ancientcanada.com/Ancient_Canada/Purchase.html. You can buy it on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and from SynergEbooks’ website http://synergebooks.com/, among many other places. Currently it’s available as an e-book only, but should be in print fairly soon. The nice thing about e-books is that Ancient Canada shouldn’t cost you more than $8.50 USD. Part of that is the conversion rate right now. The Ancient Canadian ‘tile’ really tanked after all they went through in Chapter 19.
Holly: Do you have anything you would like to say to your readers?
Clinton Festa: Email Marigold! Ancient
is a book where you can actually speak with the lead narrator at firstname.lastname@example.org. It’s me writing of course, but I respond in character. It’s no sillier than posing for a picture with a six-foot mouse or duck at Canada ’s favorite theme park. But you can ask Marigold serious questions, like, “Shouldn’t there be snow in Ancient Canada?” America
Holly: When writing your novel, do you think you learned anything about yourself, maybe that you did not know before hand?
Clinton Festa: Yes. I discovered that I can write as well at on my home computer as I can at on my work computer. Seriously though, I’m joking. I didn’t really do that I work. I was always gone by .
Books by Clinton Festa
Find Clinton at: His Website