– First, introduce yourself a bit. What is your name (or pen name) and where are you from?
Hi! My name is Bert S. Lechner and I’m a cosmic horror author on the autism spectrum from the Bay Area, CA.
– Next, tell us a bit about your most recent work. Is this your first published book? What is it about and what genre would you classify it as?
My most recent book is a cosmic horror novelette, Joanne’s Vault. It’s the third book in my series of cosmic horror stories, The Roots Grow Into the Earth, all set in a shared universe of dark magic and cosmic nightmares. Joanne’s Vault is about the protector of a vault of occult items, hidden away for the safety of others. Faced with a malicious presence in the dark of night she finds herself in a position where she must come to terms with the monster she harbors within herself, bound in enchanted tattoos, in order to save herself and the innocents brought into the crossfire.
– What was your hardest scene to write in this (or any) book?
The hardest scene for me to write so far in any book has been the ending of my first book, Interstate. It was a culminating moment in the book, a major reveal, and, most of all, a painful moment for the protagonist that I really did not want to put down on paper.
– Did you go the traditional route when publishing your book or did you choose to self-publish?
I chose to self publish my work! It’s been a fulfilling adventure to learn how to publish and market my work, even if it’s been an incredible challenge.
– What would you say is the most difficult part of your writing journey and what advice would you give to other writers?
The most difficult part of my journey to become an author has been my experience as a survivor of domestic abuse and the challenges of recovering from the trauma that abuse brings with it. My dream of writing as a career was something my abuser dismissed, belittled, and shot down early on in our relationship, demanding instead that I take on work that would pay enough for her to pursue her own artistic endeavors. Experiencing this early discouragement, and the continuing abuse I experienced, very much killed my desire to write or be a writer for a long time. After the relationship ended it took a long period of recovery to build my writing back up. Despite the challenge, pulling myself through that difficult time has ended up becoming a source of strength for me and has very much forged me into the author I am today.
From this experience I think the best advice to aspiring writers I can give is this: don’t let someone tell you you can’t be an author. Don’t let someone use pessimistic odds of success to discourage you. Don’t let someone say you’ve got to stick to writing as a hobby if your ambition tells you you want more than that. If writing is something that sets your core alight with inspiration and joy, and you find yourself with an opportunity to strike forth and put your art out in front of the world, give it a try.
– Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
My series, The Roots Grow Into the Earth, is my first foray into a larger universe that I’ve been developing for nearly 20 years. I have so many stories to tell from this setting, and many of the characters I’ve written about so far are characters I want to explore further in other short stories and novels.
– Who are some of your favourite authors, what are some of your favourite books, and what inspired you to become a writer in the first place?
Stephen King is a huge inspiration for how and what I write, as is Neil Gaiman. HP Lovecraft’s works have also had an influence on the kind of horror I pursue, but he’s not an author that I look up to. It’s hard to pick a favorite book, but among my favorites are the Dark Tower series, Salem’s Lot, Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarilion.
As for what inspired me to write in the first place, I can’t really place it. I’ve consistently had a vibrant sense of creativity throughout my, and after pursuing other forms of art that didn’t quite click I sort of just fell into putting my imagination onto paper and found out that I liked it.
– What would you say has been the best way to market your books?
Instagram has been great for finding readers and spreading the word. I also use Reddit, Tumbr, Facebook and Discord servers as places to talk about my work. From my minimal experience as a marketer it seems two good practices include casting your promotions across a wide net of social media networks and having an awareness of what keywords are most likely to get your work in front of an audience that will love it.
– Do you read reviews of your book and, if so, how do you handle negative feedback?
I still have only a small number of reviews, but the review I appreciate the most has been the one for my book The Wall, which included constructive criticism of some grammar challenges I’ve run into.
– What are some of your quirks as a writer? Do you like to plot everything out or do you prefer to just “wing it” and see where the story takes you? Do you listen to music when writing and, if so, what do you listen to?
I spend a lot of time running through sentences in my head, working them over like dough to find the right way to get the sort of prose I prefer. A lot of my stories start out as titles, or single thoughts that sound cool. Joanne’s Vault was inspired by a dream, as is another story in my todo list. I do have a hard time with outlines, though, so most of my work is absolutely written by winging it and seeing where it ends up.
– What is the best advice you’ve ever had when it comes to writing and what advice would you give to new writers?
It’s been said by many people many times, but the first big piece of advice I can give is to just write if you want to write: even if it’s just one sentence a day, getting that habit started is the best thing you can do to unleash your own avalanche of creativity.
– What’s next for you? Are you currently working on any new books or stories?
I have a wealth of ideas for what to write, but for now I’m focusing on finishing the stories that will comprise my current series in progress. For The Roots Grow Into the Earth, I have three more novelette length stories planned. I’m hoping to have a paperback collection out in October which contains my existing works, the planned novelettes, and a few bonus smaller stories.
– Finally, feel free to plug your social media, website, and links to Amazon, GoodReads, and other relevant sites below, and detail any current offers available for your book/s:
Wow. This was a great interview with some very sound advice. Exactly what I needed to read today. I know you’re taking a break from these for a while but I hope you will do more in the future.