Our guest today is Ron Parsons, author of the short story collection, The Sense of Touch. Ron is a writer living in Sioux Falls. Born in Michigan and raised in South Dakota, he was inspired to begin writing fiction in Minneapolis while attending the University of Minnesota. His short stories have appeared in many literary magazines and venues, including The Gettysburg Review, Indiana Review, Storyville App, The Briar Cliff Review, Flyway, and The Onion. His debut collection of stories, THE SENSE OF TOUCH, was released by Aqueous Books in 2013.
Thank you for this interview, Ron. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
I was born in the Detroit area. Our family moved to Sioux Falls, South Dakota, when I was nine. I was always pretty good at English and writing (and bad at math), but I really started to become interested in writing fiction when I was attending the University of Minnesota. I was lucky enough to be placed in a fiction writing seminar led by Alexs Pate, now an award-winning novelist and playwright. He was in the process of publishing his first novel at the time – Losing Absalom, for which he won the Minnesota Book Award – and was kind enough to share with us all of his excitement and frustrations about the editing and publishing process. He showed us that publishing a book could actually be done, a uniquely effective form of encouragement.
Can you tell us briefly what your book is about?
The Sense of Touch is about the importance of connecting with others and the ways in which we are inevitably transformed by those encounters. It tells both cautionary tales and stories of evolution and hope.
Why did you choose your particular genre?
When I was in college, a friend of mine loaned me copies of two short story collections, Like Life by Lorrie Moore and The Watch by Rick Bass. I think I read them on consecutive evenings and thought they were perfect; collections of small, brilliant gems. I resolved that someday, somehow, I would publish a short story collection of my own.
What was your greatest challenge writing this book?
I think the greatest challenge was in not giving up. When I first started submitting short stories to literary reviews, I received dozens upon dozens of rejections. But I stuck with it, continued to work on improving them, and eventually a few acceptances began to trickle in. My first true success was in placing “Hezekiah Number Three” with The Gettysburg Review. Once I saw that first story in print, and held the copy of the issue in my hands, I had enough encouragement to press on. It is true that nothing in the world can take the place of persistence.
Are you published by a traditional house, small press or are you self-published?
The Sense of Touch is my debut collection of short stories and it was published by Aqueous Books, a small, independent press.
Was it the right choice for you?
It was the perfect choice for me. I recommend the experience to anyone.
How are you promoting your book thus far?
I have made appearances at various book festivals and done readings and signings at bookstores. I’ve worked with a publicist, who also helped me create an online presence for the book, participated in virtual book tours, and stayed in touch with readers through social media. All of the new, traditional things.
How is that going for you?
It has exceeded my expectations. The reaction to the book has been very positive and I really enjoy hearing from people who read it.
Can you tell us one thing you have done that actually resulted in one or more sales?
Making myself available to appear at book clubs, whether in person or via Skype, has led to other clubs selecting my book to read through word of mouth. I could trace many, many sales to book club promotion alone.
Do you have another job besides writing?
I am an appellate attorney, so most of my days are spent reading, writing, and crafting legal arguments. And every now and then, I am privileged to present an oral argument to an appellate court, usually either the South Dakota Supreme Court in Pierre or the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, which has its chambers in St. Paul and St. Louis. It’s a job that I truly enjoy.
If you could give one book promotion tip to new authors, what would that be?
I think that you have to invest the maximum possible quantum of yourself, your time, and, yes, financial resources, in the promotion of your work. The right person who can help bring you to the next level of success will not be able to discover the quality of your work if they never hear about it.
What’s next for you?
I continue to work on short stories to submit to literary reviews, but I am also in the initial stages of working on a novel. Wish me luck!
Thank you for this interview, Ron. Can you tell us where we can find you on the web?
Certainly. My book has its own website and pages on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and Red Room. And it is available to purchase on Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Powell’s Books, and Tower Books. Thank you so much for hosting me today.