Aug 11

Saturday Six Pack – Carl Purdon – Author of Night Train

Happy Saturday, folks.

I’m starting a new regular feature on my site called Saturday Six Pack, an interview series with various authors I think my readers will find interesting. My initial installment features Carl Purdon, author of The Night Train.

Abused at home and bullied at school, young Jayrod Nash steals away on a freight train with a vow never to return. His best friend tags along, but his heart’s not in it. They meet up with a hobo named Farley, who offers protection in exchange for obedience, and soon learn he’s running too. “The Night Train” is a novel about the struggle of innocence against brutality, written with powerful characters who allow no commentary from the author. Together they paint a picture of life as it exists too often. Carl Purdon weaves a tale that takes the reader through the full gamut of emotions, and leaves them feeling as if they have known the Nash family all their lives. Perhaps they have.

1) Congratulations on The Night Train, Carl. I must say that it’s an impressive book. A bit tough in parts given the theme, but you have a tight writing style I always appreciate and look for. And it works on many levels for both younger and older adult readers. Can you tell us a bit about the genesis of the story and the process you used to draw it out?

Thank you for those kind words. The Night train began with a simple character idea – Jayrod, an abused boy who is bullied at school and decides to run away from home. From that point I started writing about him, not really knowing where it would lead. As I got to know Jayrod better, he began to tell me his story. This may sound strange, but I spent many hours “being” Jayrod Nash. I tend to slip into character at bedtime, as I’m going to sleep, or when I’m riding the mower for the several hours it takes to mow my lawn.

2) You live in a state that has produced a lot of writers and other artists as well. Mississippi native sons include William Faulkner, Richard Ford, and Tennessee Williams. (A great bar bet by the way – What state is Tennessee Williams from? It’s right up there with – Who’s the winningest pitcher never to have won the Cy Young award?) What is it about Mississippi that seems to produce so many great writers? Something in the water…or maybe the Mississippi Mules?

Don’t forget Elvis, and the many blues legends my state has produced. I can’t say for sure if there is something in the water, but I can tell you that visiting William Faulkner’s home on a school field trip when I was young was a real eye-opener for me. I think it was the first time I realized that it was possible for a kid from Mississippi to make good.

3) Like you, I’ve had good success using Amazon’s KDP promotional program. But, as you know all too well, there are a ton of books out there competing for everyone’s attention. Could you share those marketing and promotional strategies you found to be most successful?

The first time I ran a free two-day promotion on KDP I had somewhere around 400 downloads. I didn’t know what I was doing. Didn’t promote it. The second free promotion ran for three days and I had over 10,000 downloads. The difference, I believe, was that I worked hard after that first promo to build a presence on Twitter. I’ve made some good friends there, and spent a lot of time promoting other writers. When the time came for my second promo, the friends I had made really helped get the word out. Outside of Twitter, my next best strategy has been word of mouth. I’ve given away dozens of books, donated copies to local libraries, and sponsored a coach-pitch softball team. The result has been a steady increase in positive feedback.

4) I’m sure you get asked questions all the time about your work. People are always asking me how I write a book and when I tell them – One word at a time – it usually takes them a while to realize I’m not joking. But here’s one I get asked all the time and I’m not sure I have a good answer. When you’re preparing to begin a new book, at what point do you know when you’re actually ready to start writing?

I start writing immediately. Sometimes it takes off. Sometimes I get a page or two in and realize the idea doesn’t have legs, so I move on. It almost always begins with a character, though, because an interesting character can’t help but have a story attached.

5) Can you share a bit of information about what you’re currently working on and when we might expect to see it launched?

My current WIP is about an eccentric old man who wages a war against the furniture factory next door to his rural home. When the novel opens, he has just lost his wife to cancer, and is bitter that she spent her last two years in bed with the noise of the factory in her ears and the dust from its saws settling on her bed. When the owner of the factory is found murdered in his office, the old man is the obvious suspect. My goal is to release it in December 2012, but that depends on how much time my day job consumes. I have one of those jobs that often requires more than 40 hours, so it’s hard to set strict schedules.

6) Last question, and it’s the one standard question I’ll be using in this interview series because I’m intrigued by every writer’s ongoing effort to improve. If you could change one thing about yourself as a writer, what would it be?

This one is easy. I am incredibly shy about promoting my own work in person. I can’t force myself to walk into a bookstore, or the local newspaper office and introduce myself and my book. I’m getting better about answering the “what’s your book about” question, but I have a long way to go.

Thanks so much for taking the time to chat, Carl. Good luck with your books and be well.


Here’s the link to Carl’s The Night Train along with his other contact info.







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  1. Toots

    Thanks for the insightful interview…what a great idea. Eagerly awaiting the release of Larrikin Gene..

    1. B.R. Snow

      Thanks, Toots.

      Larrikin Gene will be launching in September.

      Really appreciate your support!

  2. Carl Purdon (@CarlPurdon)

    Thanks for allowing me to help kick off your new interview series, Bernie. I really enjoyed the questions and look forward to reading future installments.

    1. B.R. Snow

      No, thank you, Carl. Best of luck with The Night Train as well as your other works.

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