An Interview With Zarina Macha

Thank you so much for sharing your book with me and agreeing to do a Q&A for my readers.

No problem!

Every Last Psycho is a really unique project that combines two novellas. Give us a quick summary of the stories included.

The first one is about a girl with schizophrenia that falls in love with her best friend who doesn’t feel the same and has a girlfriend. The second is about a seemingly-perfect girl – beautiful, popular and intelligent – applying to Cambridge University to read Law, but inside she is a misanthropic psychopath.

What was your process as you wrote Every Last Psycho and worked to get it published?

I have an ‘About these books’ section at the back of the book which explains everything. In brief: I wrote the first story (Every Last Thought) in 2015, and the second (Psycho Girl) in 2016. I had my best friend read over and edit and sent to several agents and publishers, as well as posting ‘Psycho Girl’ on my blog to get it read. I had no luck with those stories or the other books I was trying to submit, so I decided self-publishing with KDP was a good shout.

How long did it take you to get this book published, from its initial conception to the release date?

Well, I’ve been working on several stories simultaneously for the past few years including the two novellas. I decided to publish these two together because they’re the most ‘polished’ out of the stories I’ve been working heavily on. I decided around the end of May that I wanted to self-publish these two stories as one book due to their similar themes (plus they’re both novellas so it made sense to make one larger overall book). I sent the full manuscript to an editor at Jericho Writers, made a few minor changes and then got the story copy-edited. Plus I found a great cover designer on fiverr who didn’t charge much. That was all done by the end of June, and after that I was just doing promo and editing the manuscript to create a Kindle and paperback copy.

What was the biggest hurdle you had to overcome in completing your book?

I think self-publishing is wonderful, but the one downside is that you have to pay for editing yourself, which isn’t cheap. I used money from my Student Loan and a few recent jobs to pay for the editing; fortunately I live at home so don’t pay rent! I had another book I considered self-publishing earlier this year with a company called Matador, but with all the costs they charge up front for publication, cover design, ISBN and then printing AND marketing costs up front it just wasn’t worth it. KDP is one of the most cost-effective ways as at least we don’t have to pay to publish.

What other books and authors inspire you?

My favourite author as a child was Jacqueline Wilson, and my favourite author as a young adult is Stephen King. I’m a huge fan of ‘Game of Thrones’ and am currently working my way through A Song of Ice and Fire by George R R Martin. There are too many books I love to list all, but a few I adore are Gone Girl, The Girl on the Train, The Circle, Lolita, I don’t know how she does it and The Bell Jar.

Every Last Psycho centers heavily on mental illness. Why did you choose to focus both books in the collection on this topic?

I didn’t really choose; stories tend to develop by themselves. Again, the back-story is mentioned at the end of the books. However, it is a little close to home as I’ve suffered for a few years with depression, anxiety and panic attacks, and am a recovering alcoholic.

As your debut novel, were there any big takeaways you’ve had in the writing and publishing process you’d like to share with readers or that you hope will help with your next book?

I would definitely advise self-publishing for those struggling with traditional publishing. I love the freedom that comes with it, and the creative control, plus being able to do it all quickly rather than waiting years for a book to be published. There are lots of marketing services on fiverr, and contacting book bloggers (like you, haha) is great to get reviews/interviews. I would love to be able to make a comfortable living one day as a self-published author.

Both main characters in this collection are strong, unique women. How do you create characters your reader loves, fears and remembers?

I want to create protagonists from all angles in my books, not just ‘loveable hero’ or ‘heinous villain’. Tess is a deeply troubled character who I hope the reader sympathizes deeply with. She isn’t a hero; she isn’t the most likeable person in the world, but I think she’s very interesting and hope young people struggling with mental illness will relate to her. Evelyn was very fun to write – she’s a horrible person but I think it’s fun to see inside her head and explore a psychopath from a young woman’s perspective (Psycho Girl was very inspired by American Psycho). Writing these novellas as character studies was important for the style and target audience.

You have a great blog that posts often! Did you have a hard time balancing writing your book with the writing you do for your blog?

Thank you, I love my blog! And not at all. I’m always writing constantly. Some of my blog posts take twenty minutes to execute. I don’t really ‘think’ about it, I just do it.

What is the first book that made you cry?

Honestly can’t remember. I don’t often cry when reading books or watching movies. Asking for it by Louise O’Neill (love her books) made me very upset, as did her first novel Only Ever Yours.

What advice do you have for aspiring writers looking to publish their first novel?

The classic really: read a lot, write a lot. If you’re working on several projects at once, pick one that you think will be the quickest to get done and has a good target audience. If you have the money for editing, then I recommend self-publishing with KDP. I also think it’s good to have a platform where you write constantly, such as a blog, local/student paper column, poetry, short stories etc. Marketing is also very important; it’s good to be active on social media and contact people who can review your book and ask you about it.

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What is your favorite book to recommend to others?

I have too many but I would deffo recommend A Song of Ice and Fire (currently on A Feast For Crows, the fourth one) and it is beyond brilliant. Language, prose, world-building, plot points, character – you can immerse yourself in that collection. My favourite so far was A Storm of Swords.

Every Last Psycho is available now on Amazon and is free with your Kindle Unlimited subscription!