...but first, let me plug this story. It was a little over a year ago when I first heard about Hippie Boy, and was intrigued the moment I caught the plug (on Book Blogs). Right away I asked the author where could I purchase a copy and, of course, was disappointed to hear this alluring plug was actually a work in progress. I heard this before. Many writers take years, if ever, to move their work out of this status.
So, now imagine how excited I was to hear (a year later) Hippie Boy was available for purchase! I was so excited I actually let out a cheer. I am humbled and honored Ingrid agreed to this online Q&A chat. It honestly is an inspiration that keeps on giving.
Provided by the author; Ingrid Ricks is a Seattle-based writer and speaker who focuses on overcoming adversity and embracing the moment. She is the author of Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story, a compelling true story about a feisty teenage girl who escapes her abusive Mormon stepfather and suffocating religious home-life by joining her dad on the road as a tool-selling vagabond – until his arrest forces her to take charge of her life.
Interviewed November 2011 by RYCJ/OEBooks
OEB: What was the first thing you did after realizing you had a complete manuscript?
Ingrid: I might have celebrated by going out to dinner with my husband and two daughters that night—though I'm not certain about that. What I do remember is launching a book Web site (www.hippieboybook.com) within days of completing the manuscript, starting on my book proposal, and emailing an agent I'd met at a writer's conference a few years back.
OEB: What message did you hope to convey in Hippie Boy?
Ingrid: Hippie Boy: A Girl's Story, is, in part, about escaping an oppressive and extreme Mormon home life. I wanted to show how a religious and cultural climate that gives men absolute power over their wives and children can have devastating consequences, and shine the spotlight on what I think is a very serious issue. But Hippie Boy is also about navigating a wild, rocky journey through childhood and adolescence and making it through on top. It's about discovering that whatever adversity or challenges you face in life, you have the power within yourself to overcome it. And once you discover that power, nothing can stop you from obtaining the life you want for yourself.
OEB: What did you enjoy about the writing process?
Ingrid: I worked on Hippie Boy for several years and immersed myself in numerous writing classes and critique groups before I finally understood how to bring the story to life. Once it all clicked for me, I really loved setting the scene and finding the words that would grab readers and pull them into the story.
OEB: Was there anything about the writing process that surprised you, or you realized you'd taken for granted?
Ingrid: What surprised me was how hard it is to "show" vs. "tell". I had worked as a journalist for years and was used to summarizing and telling a story. It took a long time for me to learn how to effectively bring the story to life through scene, dialogue and character development.
OEB: (So true on showing vs. telling). But here's a big question. Where would you draw the line selling your book to a mainstream publisher; If you were told 'they' had to change the title, wanted the content 'juicier', or... where would you draw the line?
Ingrid: That's a great question. I was with an agent for nearly a year before deciding to publish Hippie Boy on my own. Acquisition editors at three of the top publishing houses read the manuscript and all said they really enjoyed it. But then they said that the memoir market was too saturated and that my type of story was too similar to others they had acquired that weren't doing well so they all chose to pass. To counter this, my agent suggested that I reclassify the book as a YA novel because she said YA was a hot market and indicated that several YA publishers were interested in my story—if I presented it as a novel. That's where I drew the line. I would never pretend that my story isn't true in order to find a publisher. Nor would I ever change the title, because Hippie Boy was my nickname growing up and in so many ways, I think it captures the essence of the story.
OEB: Now that you've brought a manuscript full circle, is there one genre you're interested writing in?
Ingrid: Yes. Narrative nonfiction. I love narrative nonfiction—whether it's my own stories, or stories of other fascinating people. I started my career as a print journalist/freelance magazine writer and I always loved writing profiles because I find true stories so compelling. During the year of platform building that my agent urged me to do in order to land a traditional publisher, I started writing essays and short personal stories and had several of them published on Salon. I discovered that I love the essay/short memoir format and have published a free short eBook of essays titled A Little Book of Mormon and Not So Mormon Stories. I'm currently working on more essays/short stories and plan to release an expanded version of that book in the spring.
OEB: What's your favorite reading genre?
Ingrid: I love memoirs, though I also love great novels that read like memoirs.
OEB: I read Kite Runner is your favorite book? What was it about the book that moved you most?
Ingrid: First of all, the book read like a memoir to me. The storyline is so personal and so real. Second, the subject matter is riveting and heartbreaking, which made it impossible for me to put the book down. I also loved A Thousand Splendid Suns by the same author, Khaled Hosseini, for the same reasons.
OEB: Actually, how do you select books to read?
Ingrid: Most of the books I choose are based on word-of-mouth from friends whose tastes are similar to mine. Now that I have a Kindle, I tend to look at the books that are recommended for me based on other books I’ve purchased and then I read the reviews. Occasionally I still wander into a bookstore, browse and pick up whatever grabs my attention that day.
OEB: I also understand that you are in the marketing business. When, or when not, should an independent author hire a publicist? Why, or why not?
Ingrid: If an author is uncomfortable approaching bloggers, radio stations and media outlets on their own, I think it makes sense to hire a publicist. It also might make sense if you have the budget for it because it can be nice having someone do the selling on your behalf – particularly if they already have the relationships in place. But ultimately, I believe that authors are the best advocate for their own book, and have the best understanding of how to sell that book and what the book's message is. And just because you spend the money on a publicist doesn't mean they’ll drive results for you. I have a friend who hired a publicist for her first book and didn't get much from it at all. But through her own outreach efforts, she recently landed a spot on MSNBC.
OEB: And last but not least, do you have any upcoming book engagements or celebrations planned?
Ingrid: I have several local speaking engagements lined up, as well as an author book slam, a local book club Hippie Boy discussion, an author marketing webinar (I'm being interviewed) and a few other things in the works from a book marketing front. As far as celebrations go, I have an expensive bottle of champagne I was given as a congratulations gift. As soon as I sell 1,000 books (e-book/print book combination), I'm popping that baby open!
OEB: WoW! You've got to love this interview! I'm inspired. Thank You, Ingrid, and Congratulations!
Visit www.hippieboybook.com to read more about Ingrid, or to purchase a paperback copy of Hippie Boy.
eBook copies are available on Amazon or BN.com for $2.99.