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Iowa City author gets publishing deal for second novel, 'Resthaven' after marketing his first novel himself

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By Rob Cline, correspondent

Erik Therme is skilled at garnering attention for his books and turning that attention into publishing opportunities. His first novel, “Mortom,” was well-reviewed by readers of the self-published version, and that led to a publishing deal with an Amazon imprint. His fans came through again for his newest book, “Resthaven,” casting enough votes to get the novel selected for the Kindle Scout program.

In this e-interview, the Iowa City author talks about his publishing success, the original idea for “Resthaven,” and the challenges of writing convincingly about a group of teenaged girls.

Q: Tell me a little about your approach to publicizing your work and how it’s led to publishing opportunities.

A: Like many authors, I chased literary agents for years in hope of bridging the gap to publication. After too many close calls to count, I decided it was time to take matters into my own hands and self-publish.

I knew I was going to have to aggressively market “Mortom” to be successful, and I spent months promoting on Facebook and reaching out to every blogger and bookstore within 100 miles — anything I could think of to help spread the word. Six months later I received an email from an editor who had “discovered” the book and wanted to acquire it for re-publication. I’d love to say it was the universe rewarding me for all my hard work, but it was clearly a combination of perseverance, timing and dumb luck.

The same holds true for “Resthaven” and the Kindle Scout program: I wrote the best book I could, worked hard to promote it, and was fortunate enough to have it selected for publication.

Q: What was the initial spark or idea that led to the writing of “Resthaven?”

A: My older daughter is obsessed with horror flicks, so I thought it would be fun to write a story in a creepy, abandoned building that unfolds in “real-time” with no chapter breaks — almost like watching a movie.

Q: “Resthaven” stars a group of tween/teenaged girls. Do you consider the book a young adult novel?

A: I always struggle to answer this question, because “young adult” is such a broad category. Yes, the book centers on a group of junior high kids, but I was more interested in putting them in peril than giving them homework or boy problems. It was definitely a challenge telling the story from their viewpoint, because kids — unlike adults — have a much narrower view of the world, and it often takes them longer to reach obvious solutions.

Q: In both of your novels, you introduce readers to some fairly unlikable characters—and not just as villains, but as protagonists (though Kaylee, the narrator of “Resthaven,” is easy to root for). What attracts you to characters who aren’t, perhaps, easy for readers to identify with or cheer on?

A: It’s never my intent to create “unlikable” characters — they just seem to come out that way. I think it’s because I’m endlessly fascinated by people’s motivations and the choices they make. Life is complicated and messy, and even the best of us have dark moments. Do the ends justify the means? Do two wrongs make a right? These are the types of questions that drive my characters to do what they do. Many times I’m as surprised as the reader by the results.

Q: What are you working on now?

A: My third novel, “Roam,” is going through the editing process and will hopefully see publication by the end of this year. I’m also knee-deep into a fourth book about a father searching for his missing daughter, who might — or might not — be kidnapped.

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