Born in Vienna, Austria, Werner is now living in the paradise of Perth, Australia with his wife, two married children and three grandchildren. He worked in the printing industry for many years and later for the United Nations in Vienna. He found illustrators through Odesk, narrated them himself for YouTube and finally took the next step by publishing eBooks. In Australia I finally got involved in Real Estate. With the empty house syndrome and finally retired, I had to fill the void. This was when, very surprisingly, my series “Oliver and Jumpy” came into being.
What is your latest book about, Werner?
“Oliver and Jumpy”, are best of friends and experience many adventures together. Oliver is a black-and-white tomcat, who is very self-assured. As a matter of fact he says: “I love myself!” quite often. But his best friend Jumpy is aware that he is only putting up a front! Oliver has a soft heart and will always want to help others. The great thing is Jumpy’s pouch, which Oliver loves to ride in! He calls her his kangaroo taxi! This is the first book of an extensive series with 13 books so far and another 7 in the works.
Who or what influenced you to write it?
There are lots of fairy tales and bedtime stories around and many of them are quite violent and unsuitable for young children. This made Werner decide to write something different. On a flight from Europe to Australia he watched the movie ‘Magic on Belle Island’ with Morgan Freeman, where Freeman teaches a little girl to have imagination and write her first story. This inspired Werner as well and the first stories with his two characters Oliver, the elegant tomcat, and Jumpy, his kangaroo lady friend, made their appearance.
Did you do any specialised research for your story?
There was no need to research for the stories, but rather to find illustrators and the right software for doing the books and YouTube clips.
What challenges did you face while writing the story?
I simply had to try thinking like a small child and imagine their reactions.
Who is the protagonist?
Oliver, the elegant tomcat, is a know-it-all individual, who thinks he is the best, but is always helpful to others.
What would you say is the protagonist’s greatest weakness or obstacle and why?
Oliver does not like to get wet, but generally does not have any obstacles.
What would you say is the main antagonist’s greatest strength?
There is no common antagonist in this series. There are occasionally witches, magicians and giants.
Could you provide a short passage from your book to give us a taster?
Excerpt of the first Story
Do you like cats? Yes? I am glad, because I am a black cat with a white top hat. I have a few white spots on my fur too. Mum is white, you see! My name is Oliver. I am a very elegant tomcat with the shiniest coat in the world. I brush my fur every morning and always keep my nails trimmed! Of course, my hat is really refined too, which is another word for elegant.
Whenever you put on your new clothes, you can announce to everybody, “I am refined!” And everybody will think you are an elegant person. Well, enough of all that talk about me, although I can never talk too much about myself. I really think I am a cool cat. I love myself! Do you think this is naughty? You are probably right, but I can’t help it.
My best friend’s name is Jumpy. You guessed it. She likes to jump a lot, because she is a kangaroo! She is a great girl and she lets me ride in her pouch! I get in and Jumpy jumps away and away! That’s a lot of fun. I bet you would like to ride in her pouch too, wouldn't you? You are probably a bit too big. I am quite small, so it is OK. I love it, but after a while I need to rest. All that up and down makes me dizzy. It’s a bit like being on a roller coaster.
When you write, do write off-the-cuff or do you use some kind of formula?
I go through different scenarios of children’s stories and pick out one after the other.
How do you deal with writers-block?
I just pick a quiet spot, close my eyes and let my mind sail in the darkness. Eventually I can visualize an image which can become a story.
Preference for writing: Day or Night?
The night is for sleeping. I live very healthy.
What is your process for editing your work?
After the initial draft, I let the story rest for a while and then revisit. I revise a couple of times before letting my editor have it. English is not my mother tongue, so I need help with the grammar. It is usually a case of shifting the words into a different order.
How do you come up with your book covers?
The covers are the first page of the picture book with title rather than text.
Do you think the book cover is important?
Sure, covers are important. But with a series it is a little different. A series needs brand recognition. I prefer to keep them simple, but recognizable. There are so many beautiful covers out there that one looks like the other. Just look at romance books! There is either a beautiful muscle man on the cover or a couple kissing. They are all generic! A series needs to be recognizable at a glance!
Which publishing platform do you prefer and why?
I prefer eBooks on all eBook platforms. It is just so much simpler. Print-on-demand will be another option later on. If a publisher wants to bring my books into shops then I will look at that as well. I just don’t see any money in it here in Australia, where most chains have closed.
Do you face any daunting obstacles during the publishing process?
Sure, there is a lot of frustration on the way. Mainly the slow speed and incompetence of the all people involved. It is always a surprise if something works out properly. But that’s life! Expect the worst and be happy when things work out.
What methods do you use to promote your work?
Currently I am doing everything I can do to collect as many reviews as possible. This takes an enormous lot of time.
Do you have any advice for new authors?
Produce a good product and persevere with promotion. Nobody will do it as well as yourself!
Which social media platforms do you use the most?
I use Google+, Facebook, YouTube, Twitter, LinkedIn.
When and how did you become a writer?
I have always been an avid reader and did like to write essays, newspaper articles etc. Of course there has always been the idea about that novel to be written. The problem with immigrants is that you lose a lot of ability in your mother tongue and you never gain full expertise with your second language. I found that not only did I have the language for novel writing, which could be overcome with ghost writers or good editors, but I simply did not have any plots to tell. But whoever looks after us decided to give me an option. On an West to East-bound flight with sleepless nights afterwards, the idea for my series was born. Through the first night I was somehow given the idea to write my stories for small kids as a series. I saw the two main characters before me and had the first three short stories in my mind when I got up in the morning. I wrote another story daily. They are now nearly 60. Two days later I thought it might be great to have them illustrated. I found several great illustrators who helped me to create the YouTube illustrations and now the ebooks. This series is still continuing. There will eventually be 20 books sometime by the end of the year. A TV series is next on the agenda.
What type of preparation do you do for a manuscript? Do you plan everything first or just shoot from the hip?
I used to get most ideas for a new story in the pool swimming. I have learned to see the story in pictures and write the text accordingly.
What do you enjoy most about being a writer?
I love doing my series, because I do almost everything myself. I write the story, source it out for illustrations, create the book and YouTube version on my iPad, do all promoting and so forth.
What is the hardest thing about being a writer?
Like most writers will know, promotions are the hardest.
What were you in a past life, before you became a writer?
Most likely a ruler of some sort. I should be now, but can’t be bothered to go into politics.
What is your greatest writing achievement?
Just this series.
What are you working on at the moment?
Oliver and Jumpy will take the rest of my life to finish with other language version to follow.
What inspires you?
My daughter’s cat.
What genre do you write?
Do you have any tips for new writers?
Get your work edited by a couple of people if you self-publish. I am still having things fixed!
Do you suffer from writer's block?
Do you have a preferred writing schedule?
Do you have a favourite writing place?
On the couch with the iPad.
What is your greatest joy in writing?
Who is your favourite author and why?
Nora Roberts. She is just so amazing with her 200 books. Of course they are much the same, but I love her language and stamina.
What's the greatest compliment that you have ever received from a reader?
That some of my stories are educational.
What was the worst comment from a reader?
That I need to edit the stories. Still in the works!
Writers are sometimes influenced by things that happen in their own lives. Are you?
Not in this case.
Other than writing, what else do you love?
Reading, reading, reading, walking, travelling, architecture.
Did you have your book(s) professionally edited before publication?
Unfortunately not. I was too full of myself.
Describe your perfect day.
Do all socializing and promoting mornings and evenings over my iPad. Have very late lunch out and a late long walk down to the beach. House work as needed. Remember, we are retired.
If you were stuck on a desert island with one person, who would it be and why?
Now that is a trick question, because I need to say: my wife! Hopefully she will never read this. I am not saying any name, but I guess, another writer with a lot of imagination and all around knowledge. Of course SHE would need to be pretty and interested in me as well. Otherwise it still may get boring.
What would you say if you had the chance to speak to world leaders?
Wake up! War has never worked in the long run. Leave people live their own lives without interference; no matter how bad they manage their affairs. Look after your own people first of all. Do the best at home and look after your poor.
What are your plans for the future?
Keep the series going, do other language versions, do a TV series and eventually create a new series with different characters.
What five books would you take to heaven?
I only read books once. So I would take five new ones. All my books come from the library in large print. I still have 150 Nora Roberts novels to go. I buy the tissue boxes wholesale!
Do you see yourself in any of your characters?
Yes, I am Oliver, the tomcat.
Does the publishing industry frustrate you?
Doesn't it to everybody?
Did you ever think of quitting?
No. I am not a quitter. I push things through no matter what.
What was your favourite manuscript to write and why?
I only do this series.
How would you define success as a writer?
In the end success is measured in money. The majority of people on Amazon never sell any books. They would tell you about the satisfaction they get from writing and seeing their book published. B…! Everybody wants to sell books and see how successful they are!!!
What should readers walk away from your books knowing? How should they feel?
Children should enjoy the drawings and the uncomplicated stories, maybe learn a little lesson now and then.
How much thought goes into designing a book cover?
Well, everybody says covers sell the book. Thats why you see so many very good covers that you can’t make a choice. I have been told my covers are crap. But I believe in a series you need a uniform approach that brands the series. So I opted for simple covers. The pictures are taken out from the books. The great thing is that I do them myself as well and if you see my book between a hundred other covers, you will immediately remember that you have seen another book from this series.
What's your ultimate dream?
Get invited by Ellen DeGeneres.
Writing is one thing. What about marketing you, your books and your brand? Any thoughts?
I spend unlimited time on promoting and finding ways to promote. LinkedIn Groups are a fantastic place to find new ways. I spent hundreds of hours collecting emails of reviewers and manage to get 30 reviews within a short time.
Are your books self-published?
Yes, I have an aggregator helping me with this, because I thought I save time. Bad news. I would have been faster doing everything myself in the end. After a year we are finally getting somewhere.
Describe yourself in five words.
Logical, efficient, motivated, individual, imaginative. Sorry if that sounds like Oliver!
What pisses you off most?
Illogical, inefficient, unmotivated, sheep, unimaginative people.
What is the title of the last book you read?
One of fifty Nora Roberts books. I don’t even look at the titles anymore. I know the guys kiss after ten pages and have three times sex throughout the book.
What would be the very last sentence you'd write?
What would make you happier than you are now? Would you care to share?
Being able to look after our grandchildren.
Anything you'd like to add?
My website: http://www.bedtimestory4you.com
My Amazon author’s page: http://www.amazon.com/Werner-Stejskal/e/B00NFANG58