Writing a book was the easy part, says Perry Hall native Matthew Mainster. Getting it published was an entirely new and different struggle for the 25-year-old Yale University-trained musician.
Mainster recently released "Giggleswick," an adventure novel for elementary and middle school-aged audiences. The book's launch is planned for 3 p.m. Saturday at the Bel Air Liberatore's. It is being sold in paperback and for Kindle on Amazon.
Mainster graduated from Perry Hall High School in 2004. He later attended Lebanon Valley College and received a graduate degree in organ performance from Yale University. He currently lives in Churchville with his family, and directs music at St. James Episcopal Church and teaches lessons at the Maryland Conservatory of Music.
Patch recently sat down with the first-time book author to discuss "Giggleswick."
The following is an excerpt from our interview:
Patch: What is "Giggleswick" about?
Mainster: A pretty down-and-out kid is given a chance to start a fresh life somewhere way cool—or at least much cooler than he originally thinks—and then he has friends, a mystery and an adventure. It's pretty similar to a lot of classic children's books.
It's not really fantasy. It's more fantastical or whimsical—it pushes reality to the limit, but doesn't fully admit that what's happening couldn't happen in real life. It's not about wizards or vampires. I did not want to jump on that bandwagon, although both have been done well and I'm a fan of both. The main character starts off in America and then travels to Giggleswick—so it's still grounded. There's no magic, but unusual things do happen.
Patch: Where did the title for "Giggleswick" come from?
Mainster: I was looking for a place. I like names. Naming characters is one of my favorite things. I looked up a bunch of town names and found this tiny town named Giggleswick. It's a very tiny town, which does exist. I've never been there. It's in no way connected with that town, although I did borrow the name from them.
Patch: Who is the intended audience for this book?
Mainster: The broad sweeping term is middle grade, so about 8 and up. But it's really multi-generational. I've had a lot of adults like it. I wrote it for myself and I'm an adult. I think it has elements for everybody.
Patch: Tell me about the process of getting published.
Mainster: It's a headache. Writing is the easy part and the fun part. I finished it and it was this huge feeling of fulfillment, and I thought it was the best thing ever, and that I could just send it off to get published. I just wasn't aware of how many people are trying to get something published. There are websites and companies that help. The thing I realized is that these agents get 600-700 manuscripts a month and they can only take on two books a year. That was a depressing part of the process.
I did find a publisher, but I didn't get an agent. I had pretty much queried everyone I thought of. I did get recognition from a lot of big name agents. They wanted the full manuscripts, but couldn't take it on. I ended up going the small publisher route—it was a lot easier. This way, I get a lot bigger cut of the proceeds. It's now available for Kindle and on Amazon and a lot of the independent book stores are going to carry it.
Patch: What was your goal in writing this?
Mainster: I hope people read it and enjoy. I could also see it as a successful movie, because I'm a very visual person and I have a very clear picture of the characters—but that's not necessarily a huge goal. I would just be thrilled if it gets bought and enjoyed by readers.
Patch: How did growing up in Perry Hall impact your writing?
Mainster: We lived behind the old Perry Hall Library, and I used to walk there all the time. So, to some extent, I was always inspired to be reading. It was the only place I could walk to. I volunteered there for years and worked at the Parkville Library. It was definitely an inspiring place for me. I loved working with the books and the people there.
And, of course, I was inspired by my teachers. I had Ms. Willig, now her name is Jackie Nelson, in seventh grade at Perry Hall Middle. I always liked books but I wasn't the best reader until that class. She was an inspiration and very supportive. She read some of my earlier books that were really bad.
Patch: Do you see writing as a career, beyond your work as a musician?
Mainster: I'm very much a musician and I never see that falling out of play. I give recitals all the time, mainly piano. I played with an orchestra in a concert back in April. Those things are a lot of fun and I never see myself giving that up.
But I definitely want to give a writing career a try. Whether I'll be able to make enough to keep it part of my career, I don't know. One thing I am confident about is that I will finish the second and third book in the "Giggleswick" series. I'm also hoping to finish another book outside of this series this month.
More information on the book is available on The World of Giggleswick blog.