Saturday, November 17, 2012

Interview with Author Craig Everett








Author Bio

Craig Everett was born and raised in Maine, spending his childhood summers digging along the shores of Bar Harbor for buried pirate treasure – blissfully unaware that pirates seldom ventured that far north. He received his B.A. in Economics from Tufts University, an MBA from George Mason University, and a Ph.D. in Finance from Purdue University.

He spent nearly twenty years in private industry, experiencing business, finance and entrepreneurship in the real world. Now a full-time teacher, he is passing along what he has learned to the next generation.

Dr. Everett is currently a finance professor at Pepperdine University in Malibu, California, where he teaches corporate and entrepreneurial finance. He dedicates his free time as a volunteer in local schools teaching kids about money and finance. He lives just north of Los Angeles in Thousand Oaks with his amazing wife and five (also amazing) children



Deirdra: When did you first know you wanted to be an author?

Craig: Wanting to be an author came rather late in life.  I’ve always been a good writer, but I had never done any fiction.  While I was working on my PhD dissertation, I came up with this idea of incorporating financial literacy topics into middle-grade fiction.  My wife and I preview a lot of books before our kids read them, and I thought to myself, “I could do this.”


Deirdra:  What is your writing and educational background?

Craig: Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune is my first novel.  I also do original research and write finance articles for academic conferences and journals.  Toby Gold is definitely a lot more fun.  I have a bachelor’s degree in economics, a master’s in business administration, and a PhD in finance.


Deirdra:  What makes you passionate about writing?

Craig:  Once the basic plot of the story is in my head, it’s like an obsession to get it out of my head and onto paper.  I think that I fear that I might forget the story if I don’t get it written down quickly.


Deirdra: What was the pathway like for you to get your first book published?

Craig: Like most first-time authors, my pathway was long and tortuous.

My first draft of Toby Gold took about 3 months to write.  I thought it was a masterpiece.  It wasn’t.  Once I got feedback from an actual professional writer, I realized that it needed major revisions.  Once those revisions were done, I began querying literary agents.  It took nearly a year, but finally I was able to land a big-shot New York agent. 

I thought my journey to publication was over.  It wasn’t.  Based on my agent’s comments, I had to do another full re-write before she was willing to start submitting the manuscript to her editor contacts.

The good news is that my manuscript has been read by editors at most of the major publishing houses.  The bad news is that most of them had similar comments.  To paraphrase, “I really loved the story and the writing is solid.  Unfortunately, we don’t quite know how to market this sort of work.” 

Ultimately, my agent gave up.

So then I started submitting the manuscript to indie/regional publishers.  Finally, an indie publisher up in Oregon (Wyatt-McKenzie) was willing to pick it up.  In fact, since this book is such a unique concept, I am working with them to set up a special imprint, named Fiscal Press, to publish this book and other quirky business titles.  This new imprint will be managed by my MBA students.



Deirdra: Were you ever discouraged along the way? If so, how did you deal with it?

Craig: I’ve absolutely been discouraged.  Some people believe, “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.”  I don’t completely subscribe to that.  I think that if at first you don’t succeed, try one more time to make sure the first failure wasn’t an anomaly.  Then if you fail again, it might be worthwhile to take a small break and re-think your approach.  If you’re doing something wrong, then it doesn’t matter how many times you try.  You will continue to fail.  Success comes only after a high level of effort using the right approach.


Deirdra: When did you write your first book and how old were you?

Craig: I was forty-four years old and in the middle of my dissertation for my PhD in finance.  Writing this book was a way for me to take a break from my work and have fun.


Deirdra: What books have most influenced your life?

Craig: Non-fiction: The scriptures, The Seven Habits of Highly Effective People, and anything by Malcolm Gladwell.
Fiction: Hardy Boys, Lord of the Rings, The Great Gatsby, Ender’s Game



Deirdra:  What is your writing schedule like?

Craig: Because I am a professor, I do a lot of writing.  I spend an hour each day doing research by reading academic papers.  I also spend at least an hour or two writing original research papers.  When I am writing fiction, I take my laptop to lunch and write for an hour or so per day while eating.


Deirdra: What do you do to relax and unwind?
Craig: I read middle-grade fantasy novels, watch the news, swim, or go to the movies.


Deirdra:  Can you tell us a little about your book, Toby Gold and the Secret Fortune

Craig: Toby Gold is a seventh grader in Wallingford, Connecticut who has always known that he is good with money but has no idea how good until he discovers a dangerous hidden society of money and intrigue that co-exists with the everyday world we all know.

Toby stumbles upon this dark financial world one day when he discovers secret messages encrypted into the stock ticker crawl that moves along the bottom of the screen on the financial news channel.
Toby’s shock only grows worse when he realizes that the secret messages are directed to him! His unique abilities with math and money have been noticed by the wrong people, and Toby is quickly sucked into a high-stakes life or death financial conspiracy that he is only able to resolve by using his amazing skills with money.
My goal with this book is to take this action-packed urban fantasy story and weave into it some basic financial literacy concepts, including saving, investing, banking, entrepreneurship, time value of money and basic financial statements.

Deirdra:  How many beta readers review your manuscript before you send it to your editor?

Craig: I had ten readers review it and provide feedback before the Toby Gold manuscript was seen by its first real editor.  Readers included writers, family members, and kids in the target age group.


Deirdra:  What do you hope readers will get from your books? 
Craig: Primarily, I hope they have fun.  Beyond that, the primary message is the encouragement to live significantly within your means.  “Save Half” is the motto, meaning that if people live on only half their income, and invest the rest, the will become financially independent very quickly (10-15 years, depending on the annual return). 
The idea behind “Save Half” is to get people thinking along the lines of living dramatically below their means.  If your goal is to save half, and then you run into unexpected expenses, you will still be saving money toward your financial freedom.  If your goal is to save 10% on the other hand, and you run into trouble, then suddenly you find yourself moving away from your financial freedom.  Better to shoot for the stars and hit the moon if you fall short.  If you aim for the moon and fall short, you may find yourself burning up in the atmosphere as you fall.
The book also introduces concepts like Time Value of Money, Saving and Investing, and Net Worth.

Deirdra: What is your process of brainstorming a story? Do you just sit down and write, waiting to see what happens next? Or do you outline first?

Craig: I just sit down and write, and see what the characters do and say.  I have an idea beforehand what the general outline should be, but I don’t let that constrict me.  I give the characters wide latitude to change the story if they want.  Then, after it’s written, I can go back and clean up the structure.


Deirdra: Do you ever experience a snag in a story, a form of writer's block? If so, how do you deal with it?

Craig: I just keep writing, even if I know it’s crappy.  I figure it’ll all change in the re-write anyway.
 
Deirdra: Do you need absolute quiet to write? Do you listen to music when you are writing?
 
Craig: I prefer to write in a public place, like a cafĂ© or restaurant.  No, I never listen to music while I work.  I’ve tried it, but it doesn’t seem to help.

Deirdra:  What authors do you admire, and why?
 
Craig: F. Scott Fitzgerald for his extremely tight yet vivid style and his intricate usage of symbolism.  Brandon Sanderson for his ability to create unbelievably original fantasy worlds.



Deirdra:  What are you working on now?

Craig: I am working on the next book in the Toby Gold series.  It’s called Toby Gold and the Order of the Invisible Hand.  It’s a very exciting story set in Paris, Philadelphia and Connecticut.

Deirdra:  Are you planning on self-publishing, finding and agent, going with a small press or other? And why?

Well, I was fortunate to land a great agent, and she was able to get my manuscript in front
of a very select group of editors at big publishing houses.  Ultimately, it didn’t get my book published.

So I had to find a publisher on my own.  I was able to find three small presses that were interested.  I went with the one that was most flexible for letting me be creative (from a business sense).  As you know, I am a business school professor.  My publisher is working with me to set up a new imprint (Fiscal Press) that will be entirely run by my MBA students.

Deirdra:  What are your goals as an author for the next three years?
My goals are to establish a highly exciting school visit presentation about writing and about financial literacy.  I am in a unique position to really do some good, since kids like both books and money…a lot. 

I would also like to write two more books in this series.  There are a total of six books are planned.


Deirdra: Where can readers go to find your books and order them?

The book will be available in hardcover and ebook format on October 18, 2012.  It will be available in some physical bookstores, but the best prices are from Amazon and B&N.  More information is available at TobyGold.com..




Synopsis

An infant is discovered one night on a commuter train from New York City during a stop in the sleepy town of Wallingford, Connecticut.  The local police are summoned, but are unable to locate the boy’s parents, despite painstakingly questioning each person on the train.  For some strange reason, none of the passengers can remember seeing his mother falling from the train – after falling victim to an assassin’s bullet.

Assigned the name “Toby Gold” by social services, the mysterious child grows up in Wallingford, moving from foster home to foster home, not knowing who his real parents are - or why he was born with such freakish skills with math and money.

Now a teenager, Toby’s money skills are noticed by the wrong people, and thus he is unwittingly sucked into a high-stakes financial conspiracy that puts his life, and the lives of his two closest friends, in great peril.  Ultimately, Toby solves the crime, saves his friends, and even saves his school using only his amazing money skills – and some chocolate pudding.


1 comment:

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