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Mystic writer’s journey takes him to ‘Fell’s Hollow’

By Rick Koster

Publication: The Day

Published February 07. 2014 4:00AM   Updated February 07. 2014 3:22PM

Welcome to The Written Word, an occasional feature wherein we profile an area author who's experienced a bit of success in the oft-difficult world of writing and publishing.

Who: A.J. Abbiati of Mystic

What: Working all possible angles of promotion for his self-published novel "Fell's Hollow," Abbiati recently introduced an audio version of the book.

A bit of a plot tease: An episodic fantasy novel with a setting that melds medieval times with a sprinkling of the Renaissance, "Fell's Hollow" follows 10 distinctive characters through three intertwined plot lines in a "seedy, thief-riddled, sorcerer-plagued city."

Bio: Abbiati graduated from Fitch High School, got a BS in computer science from Charter Oak, a BA in English from University of Maryland University College, and a MFA in creative writing from National University. By day job he is a software systems analyst for Science Applications International Corporation. And he writes. A lot.

Works: In addition to "Fell's Hollow," Abbiati recently finished "The Beast of Bledshire," a Fell's Hollow short story. He has also self-published a book called "The NORTAV Method for Writers." The acronym stands for Narration, Observation, Reaction, Thought, Action and Vocalization - which Abbiati calls the mix-and-match primary colors necessary for prose construction. He's working on the sequel novel to "Fell's Hollow" as well as a second textbook.

How did the audio book come about? "It seemed like a great way to get the book to another audience segment. But it only became possible through ACX," Abbiati says. "Otherwise, it wasn't something I could realistically afford."

ACX is an audio platform at Amazon similar to its CreateSpace arm that creates and publishes books for independent authors. All sorts of writers use ACX, including superstars like Neil Gaiman.

Abbiati explains, "Basically, ACX works as a broker between an author and narrators. There's an audition process and if you're happy with a particular voice talent, you do a contract. After that, it's between the writer and the actor."

Who is the voice of "Fell's Hollow"? David George, the British-born voice-over artist. Abbiati says, "David was super responsive and quick and very good - and very willing to make changes. He had one name pronunciation a bit off, and I hesitated to bother him about it. But the character was crucial - and David was so good about it."

Self-publishing versus New York houses: "There is a certain set of rules in the traditional publishing business," Abbiati says. "I was getting to go through the usual 'try to get an agent and submit' process, but I started paying attention to what was happening in terms of e-books. The publishing business was getting turned on its ear.

"There are pros and cons either way - self-publishing or trying New York. Given my personality, I thought the idea of getting a deal is like winning the lottery - and yet it comes with a small advance and vague royalty structures. I figured, being an IT guy, I could physically make an attractive book. But the advantage of big publishing houses is their distribution and marketing. It's hard to compete. So I'm trying everything - and the audio book is part of that."

Where to find Abbiati's work: ajabbiati.com, thenortavmethod.com, amazon.com, iTunes and audible.com (audio book), Bank Square Books in Mystic, and the Other Tiger in Westerly.

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