Interview with Donald Firesmith

Interview with Donald Firesmith

What genre do you write and why?
I write in a mix of three different subgenres of speculative fiction (i.e., apocalyptic science fiction, modern paranormal fantasy, and horror) with a bit of action/adventure thrown into the mix.  I write in these genres because I write the types of stories that I personally love to read. Eventually, I hope to do a steampunk book because that is another of my favorite subgenres.

Interview with Donald Firesmith
Tell us about your latest book.
My most recent book, Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton, is book 2 in my Hell Holes trilogy. In the first book, Hell Holes: What Lurks Below, an oil company hires a team of scientists to study one of the hundreds of huge holes that mysteriously appeared overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle. When an invading horde of demons flood out of the holes, the team is forced to flee to the mothballed Pump Station 2 along the Trans-Alaska Pipeline. In book 2, the three survivors from the first book are chased south down the treacherous Dalton Highway towards the relative safety of Fairbanks. This includes geologist Dr. Jack Oswald, climatologist Dr. Angela Menendez – Jack’s wife and colleague, and the beautiful Aileen O’Shannon, a 1,400-year-old demon hunter who had posed as a young photojournalist to join the research team. I am currently writing the third book in the series, Hell Holes: To Hell and Back.

How was this book published? (traditional, small press, self pub, etcc...)  Why did you choose that particular publishing route?
While my six technical books have all been published by traditional major publishers, I am a proud indie author and publish my fiction under my personal imprint Magical Wand Press. With the advent of print on demand (POD), ebooks, and distributors such as Amazon’s CreateSpace, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Smashwords, IngramSpark, and InstaFreebie, it has become almost trivially easy to self-publish. This way, I have far more artistic control. I am able to make changes anytime that I want, and I can have fixes and improvements out in just a few days.

Interview with Donald Firesmith
What marketing methods are you using to promote your book?
I’m actually using quite a few with blog tours probably being the most effective single approach. However, I find that one really has to use a lot of different marketing approaches if you want to see your book claw its way up to near the top of one of Amazon’s subgenre-specific top 100 best seller lists. I’ve captured what I’ve learned over the last couple of years in a new book I’ve titled Free and Low-Cost Marketing for Indie Authors. The book manuscript is about 90% done, and until the book is finalized and launched, you can download a free current draft copy from my author’s website (

Do you read your book reviews? How do you deal with the bad or good ones?
I read each and every review, both the good and the bad. Few readers realize just how important reviews are, not just to help prospective readers decide which books to read but also to use authors, especially indie authors like me. A good review does not merely summarize the book; that’s what book blurbs are for. The best reviews say what the reader specifically liked and didn’t like, which can help an author write better books (and fix mistakes that somehow made it past the editors and beta readers). Actually, intentionally negative reviews aren’t the hardest ones for me to take, because they often have something to teach me. It is the occasional review that is inconsistent with itself that bothers me the most. I get very frustrated when all of the text is highly positive, but the star rating is only 3 stars, which Amazon considers to be a critical (i.e., negative) review.

What formats is the book available in?
Paperback and three ebook formats: mobi (Kindle), epub (Nook), and pdf.

Where can people find out more about you and your writing?
Please check out my official author website (, and you can also subscribe to my free monthly newsletter, Firesmith’s Speculative Fiction Newsletter.

Do you believe in writers block?
I’ve never really suffered traditional writer’s block, per se. I do have days when a chronic illness leaves me physically or emotionally unable to enjoy writing or even force myself to write. But usually, my problem is finding sufficient time to write.

How do you research your books?
First and foremost, it’s the Internet and my favourite search engine, Google. It’s amazing what you can find in the way of textual information and images. For Hell Holes: Demons on the Dalton, I also used Google Maps street view to virtually drive the part of the Dalton Highway that I had not been able to visit in person. Part of the action takes place at Eielson Air Force Base, and I got the base historian to give me a tour of all of the relevant parts of the base that are used in the Hell Holes trilogy including even “The Vault” where classified planning meetings take place. I also had three military advisors who helped me get the military aspects right, and a University of Alaska Fairbanks geology professor helped with the geology aspects and set up a tour of a tunnel through the permafrost. Finally, a person who works at the Coldfoot Inn helped me get certain aspects of Coldfoot correct. To me, it is very important to nail the real parts of my books, because I believe a solid grounding in reality helps readers suspend disbelief when it comes to the fantasy/science fiction parts of the books.
What is your work in progress? Tell us about it.

The Hollywood producers, Michael Chamoy and Nat Mundel, just acquired the shopping rights to my Hell Holes trilogy with the ultimate aim of making a major feature film. They are hiring a writer for the script and film treatment, and I am busy producing a Hell Holes Cheat Sheet to help them understand the books’ characters, the different types of demons, and Hell – the demons’ homeworld. Mike also gave me two great recommendations that will make the script more marketable and also improve the books. So the other thing I am currently doing is making some significant improvements to my first two Hell Holes books to make them consistent with the script.

Interview with Donald Firesmith

Interview with Donald Firesmith


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