It first started with a Facebook message from a friend who admirably promotes local talent and messaged "Have you heard about...?" I hadn't, but it was inevitable as shortly afterwards it seemed that Allie MacPhail and I Can't Sleep was ubiquitous in Nassau, Bahamas. I either walked into a shop where the insightful and humorous book beamed at me; read about it online without trying; or overheard critics raving about it.
The following - at long last - is my interview with author/publisher and powerhouse marketer, Allie MacPhail:
Q) As a Marriage and Family Therapist, how did writing and creativity come about?
A) In my role as a therapist, people typically come to me with “problems” or a certain feeling of “stuckness”. I have always been creative, but in therapy, my mind must be more so. As a therapist I collaborate with my clients to come up with new ways to view situations they desire to change. I love people’s stories, as there is always something unique and beautiful no matter how horrible the circumstance. People are truly amazing and I am blessed to hear many of them offer their story to me. I write all the time as a way to engage a subject in a different way and encourage my clients to do the same. Some of the most beautiful stories I have read have come from clients who took on the brave stance of wanting to tell their story and found that picking up a pen was a helpful way to better understand their own story.
Q) You not only chose to self-publish, but also launch Turtle Back Publishing. Why?A) At the printers, I was told that there was space for the publisher’s information. I told them I did not have a publisher. The man smiled and said, "Actually, you are the publisher!" Awesome moment! I decided right then to launch my own publishing company in an effort to promote the books I write. Hence, the birth of Turtle Back Publishing!
Q) What inspired you to write I Can't Sleep?
A) It was written one night where – you guessed it, I could not sleep. I started to journal all the things that were on my mind. I looked at how big the list was and how big I had let it get and chuckled. I thought then, I could do a children's book; make it fun as well as teach this idea. I wrote the story in a few hours that night but took many years to edit and eventually get the book done.
Q) Marketing your book seems to have been a snap. What was your game plan?
A) I did not have a game plan other than to be relentless and self advertise. If I received a no for an answer I was OK with that, and just moved on to the next store. Thankfully, I Can’t Sleep has been very well received and the branding of Turtle Back Publishing is getting known as well! I love promoting the book, and reading to the children while interacting with their questions is quite possibly the best part of being a children’s author! If it looks like it’s been a snap, that’s because I have had so much fun with this book.
Q) How did you find your illustrator?
A) I found my illustrator by asking local artists and gallery owners. Having just moved here (Nassau) in 2010, I didn't know where to begin, so I asked Pamela Burnside at Doongalik Studios. She suggested Jace McKinney. We hit it off instantly and the book was underway. I was so blessed to find and work with Jace McKinney, who is a brilliant artist.
Q) Have you written or published before?
A) I blog a lot, and write a newspaper column for Baark! (Bahamas Alliance for Animal Rights Kindness) in the Tuesday edition of the Guardian Newspaper, but this is my first book.
Q) Do you have any advice for future or current writers?
A) Yeah. Write, write, write...write for yourself and then if you’re comfortable, share it with others. The key thing for a writer is to first enjoy the writing process, as a gift for oneself. That way it will always have felt productive. I've started a newsletter for writers called Inside the Shell (a play on our Turtle Back publishing name) anyone can subscribe for free. Just follow the link http://eepurl.com/wSglL to sign up (no spam I promise!)
Q) Your next book is expected - when?
A) The next book is due out – we hope fall 2013. I've engaged an artist in San Francisco for this one. We've been working on it for almost 3 years on and off, as we both maintain our regular jobs. This book is why I started dabbling in publishing; this one is my baby. I can't wait to announce it. The artist is Allie Rutland (yes, same first name) and currently works at Pixar for her “real" job as an animator. Needless to say, the art is spectacular!