Matty Dalrymple is the author of the Ann Kinnear Suspense Novels, “The Sense of Death” and “The Sense of Reckoning” and the owner of William Kingsfield Publishers LLC. She blogs, podcasts, and consults about independent publishing as The Indy Author.
Welcome to the very first episode of The Indy Author podcast! As I got ready to launch this podcast, I was thinking about how I could best introduce myself to the listeners … then I realized I already had the perfect introduction–an interview I had done with Channel 20 in West Chester, Pennsylvania a few months ago. In it I give some background on myself, my books, and my commitment to independent publishing.
Sandy Wollenberg: Hello, and welcome to Channel 20. We’re going to be showing you another edition of Meet the Author today, and today I’m excited about visiting with the Chester County resident, Matty Dalrymple, who is writing suspense novels. She is beginning a series with the heroine being Ann Kinnear who has very special gifts.Welcome, Matty.
Matty Dalrymple: Thank you.
Sandy: It was nice of you to come and take time out of your busy day. We appreciate it.
Matty: Happy to do it.
Sandy: So, on your bio, it says you live in Chester County which is very exciting because your book, the one that I read, The Sense of Death, which is the one we’re going to be talking about today, takes place in Chester County and I’m new to Pennsylvania. I’m so excited that even I know where some of these places are, and I was like, “Oh, yey! I know where that is.”
Anyway, I know you’re married, and you’ve vacationed in Maine and you have two Dalmatians and your husband’s a pilot and you’ve been playing around, trying to be a pilot also, so why don’t you tell us a little bit more about yourself, before we talk about the book.
Matty: Well, as you said, I’m from Chester County myself, lived in West Chester for many years and recently with Downingtown. I figured that I would do the like what you know, so as you said, a lot of the first book is based on Chester County and also surrounding areas. A lot of it takes place in Philadelphia, Wilmington, the Hotel du Pont. Some of the places I call out but some of them I changed the name a little bit. Sometimes people in the area enjoy reading them and trying to guess what the actual location is that it’s based on but–
Sandy: Probably would be fun but I was just too much of a novice to have known that. Maybe the book club, if we can read you in our book club–
Matty: I would love to do that.
Sandy: But what made you start writing because you don’t- that’s not your primary career.
Matty: Right. I write in my spare time. I think, I had the idea of being a writer because my father wrote. My father wrote short stories back in the ’50s. He got them stories published in Collier’s Weekly and Cosmopolitan. He wrote under the name William Kingsfield, which is the name I took when I published my books, the name of my publisher is William Kingsfield Publisher so that’s kind of an homage to my father.
You know, the whole idea of having a story and being able to share it with people was really attractive to me but- and I did a little bit of writing. I got a couple of stories published when I was in college but then I sort of let it go for a long time. Then, a couple of- like 2011, I guess. My husband and I were vacationing in Yellowstone. We were at the Yellowstone Hotel which is a fabulous old hotel and a park. I had this scene in my head that I was describing to him that was very much like a movie scene. It was one of those things that as I would fall asleep at night. Sometimes, I would think about this scene, and I said, “You know, it feels like a movie but I’m not really interested in doing a movie.”
And he said, “Well, you know, make it into a book.”
So that scene became the first- unfortunately not the first scene of The Sense of Death, but the first scene I wrote. It was a scene where the main character, Ann Kinnear is a woman who has the ability to sense spirits, and at the beginning of The Sense of Death, it’s a very basic ability. She can only sort of sense when a spirit is present and kind of sense what the demeanor of the spirit is, whether it’s friendly or not. She has a sort of consulting business that her brother manages for her surrounding that, and the scene I had in my mind was Ann going to a house on a business engagement. The person had asked to find out if the house was haunted and she arrives.
The aura that the house is giving off is so malevolent, that she can’t even go in. The reader knows that it was in fact the site of a murder that took place. At the time I was picturing the scene, it was in San Francisco but by the time I wrote the book it was in Rittenhouse Square. So I moved it to closer grounds and then I built the book around that.
It turned out to be a very inefficient way of writing a book because I had to write all the scenes that led up to that scene. That scenes probably halfway through the book and then I had to write all the scenes that led away from that to a satisfying conclusion. So, I write some of the beginning part and I think, “Ugh! That’s not really working,” and at night I have to rework it. So, it took me about two and a half years to write the first one because I was going out about it in that sort of inefficient way. But I finally got it all pulled together.
During that time, I also took a suspense writing class with Mary Jones who is another local Philadelphia area author of [indistinct] Club. I got a lot of great tips from her. So that’s how the first book came about.
Sandy: So, the suspense then, came from this kind of dream or had you always thought that suspense would be your genre?
Matty: I think, it came from the scene, like I didn’t go into it thinking that I specifically wanted to write the suspense book. I went into it more thinking that I wanted to tell the story, and that’s why it was done. I had to sort of pick what genre it was.
Sandy: Well, you do very well. It was very interesting. I was wondering how you were going to get her at that house because that wasn’t what her business was all about. You did a very good job of getting her there. I’m very impressed. But anyway, the recurring heroine is that something that you like is to write about one person all the time or will you venture off into other–?
Matty: I am actually venturing off- the first two books are both featuring Ann and I wrote the first one not really having an idea in mind of whether I was going to do a standalone or series. Then, it got done and I really like the characters. They had all become sort of like friends. To me, that’s one of the reasons that I really like doing book clubs is there’s nothing more fun than sitting around with a bunch of people who also think of these people as friends.
There were a couple of characters in particular in addition to Ann that I thought, I really feel like some story here to tell. So, from a creative point of view, that was why it expanded into a series. From a publishing point of view, the series in general are much more successful in standalone books because I think everybody likes to read a book in the hope that they’ll really like the first one and then they’ll have two or three or four more to read.
So, I’m going to be picking up the Ann Kinnear series again but the book I’m working on now is actually- it’s either the beginning of a second series or it’s going to be a standalone and that’s more of a thriller than a suspense novel.
Sandy: Okay, we’ll have to go into the fine tunes of the thriller versus suspense. I’m not that knowledgeable but anyway, I’m glad you say that because you’re right, Ann as a child was so happy and outgoing. She really like her gift.
Then, as an adult she seemed kind of depressed and unhappy and I was wondering, “What a poor lady. What’s going to happen to her? Why is she in this business?” and I’m assuming that your second book kind of maybe picks up on that or has a little bit —
Matty: Well, I think, that Ann as a child just takes her skill for granted. It isn’t until she starts suffering the consequences of being teased by her classmates or having her parents be worried that she seems to have an imaginary friend, that seems very real to her, and that only her younger brother really believes what she’s saying. So, I think that just as she becomes an adult, she’s trained by society to think of it as something that either people think she’s lying or she’s crazy.
But it’s a skill that can really help people out. So there are a couple of stories in there about business engagement she has with her clients, to I think sort of highlight why she sticks with it even though it is difficult for her. But then, things happen in the first book that start making her feel really conflicted about it, and in the second book she is more serious about saying, “Well, maybe this is something I don’t want to do anymore. Maybe this is something that I don’t want people talking about when they talk about me.” So, it gets a little worse before it gets a little better.
Sandy: Have you have any experiences yourself with–?
Matty: I have not. I would love to, but I have not. My husband has. My husband and his family, many years ago are in Gettysburg and if ever you’re going to go haunted places, it’s probably Gettysburg. They run on the battlefield at night and they were walking away from- they had gone out to one of the sites and they were walking back to the car and my husband felt a hand on his back pushing him along and he turned around thinking that his father was going to be behind him and there was no one behind him. That is just the idea that I find so appealing. I wish it would to me, but it hasn’t yet.
Sandy: Well, we’ll see what we can do about that for. So now, you named your own publishing company, you said. How does this work, this self-publishing thing? I thought you like and went to other little companies that publish things for you and then you marketed it but that’s not true.
Matty: Well, the publishing world is now sort of divided into traditional publishing and independent publishing. Some people say self-publishing and I’ll explain why I don’t say self-publishing in a moment. When I was finishing up my first book I started talking to people who had experience in the traditional publishing world and saying to them, “Oh well, you know, if you can get this, if you can get the approval of the publishing company, they must help you with the marketing.”
Well, no. Not really. I ran through all the things that I imagine must be the benefits of that. I think, that unless you’re Stephen King or John Grisham, you’re not getting that. It’s still very much on the author but you’re giving up a lot of control.
Sandy: Yes, I heard that.
Matty: Yeah, so, I wasn’t seeing a big upside, and people I think that the traditional publishing world is going to guarantee riches and that’s not true unless you’re Stephen King or John Grisham. Also, just the timing of it. I think the traditional publishing is tough both in the sense that it can take a very long time. You can get your book accepted and then maybe you have to wait eighteen months or two years before to actually get out there which I think would be crazy or your publisher is asking for books on a very aggressive schedule.
You may give them a book they love it and said, “Oh, that’s great. Can you give me three more eighteen months?” And so, none of those things that were appealing to me and so I thought, “I’m going to publish independently,” and I like to say independently because I think that suggests that you’re going about it like a business. Whereas, self-publishing, I think it has sort of carries the stigma that you get real drunk on a Friday night, on Monday everybody can buy your [indistinct] on Amazon.
With independent publishing, I think there’s an acknowledgment that you need a professional book cover to identify or you need a professional editor, you need a professional proofreader but you as the business owner are being able to make the decisions. The business owner and the creative force behind that we’re to be able to make the decisions about that.
Sandy: That’s a great description. Thank you. But then, who actually–?
Matty: Well, Amazon is probably the leading source for independent published books. So, they have a branch called Kindle Direct Publishing – KDP, which you can upload your files to in a certain format for the e-book, so you can buy my books on Kindle. They have a brand called CreateSpace which is print on demand, which means I upload all my files, the cover file, the interior and then they just print it on demand, as people order it.
So, if I upload my book and one person buys it, they print one copy. If a million people buy it, they print a million copies so you don’t have to worry about having to warehouse hundreds of copies of the book. In my opinion, very good quality, too. I was nervous when I first tried that but I was really pleased with the effect. They even now have an audiobook arm and you can buy both my books and audiobook as well.
Sandy: So, you don’t need an agent or anything?
Matty: You don’t need an agent. For people who are just starting out, Amazon is usually the way to go. I’m also expanding into other platforms like Barnes and Noble, Nook, and Kobo, which is a company in Canada. You can load it to one other distributor who then makes it available to many of the other non-Amazon platforms. By the end of Feb, I’m hoping that both the books will be available on all of those different forms.
Sandy: Wow! That was so exciting. I’m very impressed. You’re just a fount of information. Maybe sometimes you can come back and just talk to us about that.
Matty: Yeah, I would love to.
Sandy: But we have like just over a minute left. Is there anything else you would like to tell our viewers? I know you have a website and probably you would like to direct us to that.
Matty: Yes, if anybody is interested more information my website is mattydalrymple.com, with two ‘Ys’, M-A-T-T-Y-D-A-L-R-Y-M-P-L-E. People in [indistinct], you know Clay Dalrymple, you can remember my last name because of the famous Clay Dalrymple who I think with a pitcher for Phillies or catcher for the Phillies, I think.
I also have- I’m starting out a nonfiction platform called The Indy Author, also with the ‘Y’, I-N-D-Y, which I’m using to start spreading the word about independent publishing. You can also use their sources to follow my work on my third book which is kind of called A Mind Disease, which as with my other books is like a Shakespeare quote but I think, it will end up being something different because “a mind disease” is hard to say. That’s more of a thriller in the sense of a little more action oriented, than a sort of psychological suspense oriented.
So I would encourage anyone who had book club in the area who would be interested in reading them. I love visiting book clubs. So, that’s the message I would like to send out, I love visiting book clubs.
Sandy: Okay, well you’ll be at ours. I’m sure, I’ll give you a big- we’ve got two of us here that belong to the same — for sure you’ll be there. I am just so excited. I loved your book. You’re a good author. You write well. You give a lot of descriptive detail but it doesn’t bog it down. It just move nicely and the concept was really good so I would really recommend this book. This is a nice author and a nice series and I can’t wait to read the second one.
Matty: Well, thank you.
Sandy: So thank you Matty and please come again.
Matty: I would love to, thank you very much.
Sandy: Okay, so for Sandy Wollenberg in Channel 20, that’s it and make sure that you wait for our next edition of Matty Dalrymple and her- what’s the next book called?
Matty: The Sense of Reckoning.
Sandy: The Sense of Reckoning. Okay, I think you’ll like the Ann Kinnear heroine that you have created. It’s very good.