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Interview with Fabulous Anna W. Aden

INTERVIEW WITH ANNA W. ADEN

I am thrilled to present my latest interview with the wonderful Anna. I've seen her around an author's critique site we both frequent, and always respected her gentle humor and insightful comments, so it was really exciting to sit down with her for a quick tete-a-tete. Ann writes mostly shorts, but has delved into the world of novels. She writes for escapism and relaxation. Her stories take place in the good old United States, but she lives in Great Britain herself. She loves cake, and bargains, London’s green spaces, music concert, and libraries. Sounds like someone I could be really good friends with, if there weren't a massive pond called the Atlantic between us.

Check out her blog https://applesandpeanuts.wordpress.com. You will not regret it!

Here we go!

Welcome Anna! True pleasure to chat with you! Let's get started! Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?

Not really but it was probably a fairy tale where a princess and prince fell in love, and lived happily ever after. What I do remember is my first novel. I wrote it as a young teen without chapters. It was a space opera, and I passed round handwritten pages to my classmates, until I eventually got bored of writing.

Space opera! So fun. So you started out giving it away for free, and now? Where do you see publishing going in the future?

Huge question! I'll just focus on something that affects the industry as a whole -traditional and self-publishing. I think there may be a move towards monetizing content, similar to what's happening in the music industry online - where you can either buy a whole album or just individual tracks. Amazon has already implemented that in a way where they pay authors by chapters or something. So a lot more monetizing via chapters where readers can pick what they what to read - I'm not sure if that's a good thing since it may have an effect on the way authors write.

Pay by the page. It certainly makes sense for the serious erotic shorts. Hehe! Sorry, couldn't resist. So... how often do you write, and do you have a special time during the day to write?

I am able to write anytime once I'm not preoccupied with other things or tired or time-pressured. If I am preoccupied, I tend to have writer's block.

Write anytime. This sounds like heaven. I'm jealous. How about with marketing? Will you do a press release, Goodreads book launch or anything else to promote your work and do you think it would work?

I'll probably try everything depending on my budget and see what works. As a writer, it's daunting yet exciting to think of this side of publishing - the press release, blog tour and Goodreads - it makes it all real. I find Goodreads awesome, I love the community there, and I'll probably be trying twitter and Facebook as well..

Now for a random question, what is your favorite takeaway meal?

I like a nice veggie takeout with a good bottle of red wine. Normally a new world Cabernet Sauvignon and a portobello mushroom burger with fries. Or if I’m feeling in a traditional fast food mood, I’d just go for a Burger King Whopper meal.

Hmmmmmmm....mushroom burger. Yum! Thank you so much Anna! Pleasure chatting with you!

Interview with Christina Feindel

Hello! I am thrilled to announce this week’s interview is with Christina Feindel!

C. L. Feindel resides in central Texas with her multi-talented husband, Noah. While traversing academia, civil service, and chronic illness in early adulthood, she founded the whole-foods blog ACleanPlate.com and now works as a cook, photographer, and educator. She pens fiction in her spare time, with a particular passion for character development and genre-blending. More info about her and her debut novel can be found at CLFeindel.com.

Immy: Straight to it. Let’s talk about inspiration. Which writers inspire you?

Christina: I have my favorite authors, like Scott Lynch and Hugh Howey, who manage to do things so brilliant and unique it forces you to rethink the bounds of genre. But the writers that inspire me the most are the people in my life who have in whatever way constantly spun good yarns in the years I’ve known them. Actors, improvisers, game masters–the whole lot of them. Whether they ever share their stories with the world or not, I’m very lucky to be surrounded by so many creative, entertaining people day in and day out.

Immy: I’m jealous. I’m surrounded by droolers and gummyhands. Love ’em like mad, and they have their genius moments, but… Anyway. So after the inspiration, and you’re actually working on the novel. What was the hardest thing about writing your upcoming novel?

Christina: Unlike other books I’ve tried to write, I went into this one knowing that it would get finished and eventually published. It just felt like the one. And that expectation made editing the hardest thing about it. I kept feeling like it wasn’t good enough, and some problems took months to solve, and then I would find a new problem that would take a few more months. It was agonizing work, but I know the product I wound up with was so much better for it.

Immy: Do you the editing yourself or do you get someone to do that for you?

Christina: I love editing, and I’ve freelanced as an editor in the past. But it’s hard to be objective about your own words. I gave it my best shot, then I employed a large team of beta readers to get some outside opinions. It was immensely helpful and I’m so grateful to all of them, but it was also very time-consuming. In the future, I’ll probably cut to the chase and hire a professional editor early on just to move things along a bit faster.

Immy: I wish I could edit. Not going to happen though. What about characters? Give us some insight into your main character, Grayson. What’s special about her?

Christina: You know those kids that were huge troublemakers in school and it turned out they were just way too smart for the subject matter? They were literally bored out of their minds. That’s Grayson. She’s a recluse, she’s wary, she’s intelligent, but she’s not socially intelligent. She has an anti-hero’s obligatory dark past and just wants to survive any way she can. But she surprises me, sometimes. She’s still got a moral compass even if she doesn’t always follow it. I love the riot of emotions boiling under her surface, the barely-in-control. Her life is different enough from mine that I don’t get caught up in it. I can sit back and enjoy the ride without worrying too much about what’s going to happen to her along the way.

Immy: And when you aren’t writing? What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

Christina: My “day job” as a food blogger involves recipe development, photography, and web design, which I enjoy at least as much as I enjoy writing. It’s a great excuse to eat a lot of good food and to exercise my creativity in nonverbal ways. At the end of the day, I like to unwind with a good book or a game night with friends and family. We’re big board game geeks!

Interview with the Fierce (and funny) Alasdair Shaw

I am beyond thrilled to introduce this next author, Alasdair Shaw. A truly gifted writer with a supreme talent for action sequences that is nothing short of inspiring, I’ve been lucky enough to benefit from some of Alasdair’s expertise on occasion. He’s lent his knowledge in support of a few key scenes in some of my books, and indeed, he rescued my main character, Tam in The Bonding, from the indignity and horror of boxer shorts. I have a genuine soft spot for his unique brand of humor. I almost miss it… until I don’t.

He grew up in Lancashire, within easy reach of the Yorkshire Dales, Pennines, Lake District and Snowdonia. After stints living in Cambridge, North Wales, and the Cotswolds, he has lived in Somerset since 2002.

He has been rock climbing, mountaineering, caving, kayaking and skiing as long as he can remember. Growing up he spent most of his spare time in the hills. Recently he has been doing more sea kayaking and swimming.

Alasdair studied at the University of Cambridge, leaving in 2000 with an MA in Natural Sciences and an MSci in Experimental and Theoretical Physics. He went on to earn a PGCE, specialising in Science and Physics, from the University of Bangor. A secondary teacher for over fifteen years, he has plenty of experience communicating scientific ideas.

And he certainly puts that experience in his work. It positively glows with all that rich connectivity to nature. I highly recommend checking out his work, but more on that later.

Immy: Welcome Alasdair! I’m going to pick your brain. So get ready! Okay, let’s go! What tense do you write in? Is there a reason behind your choice?

Alasdair: I write in past tense. I just find it less tiring to read than present tense, and so don’t want to inflict that on my readers.

In my scientific writing I am so used to using third person passive that I have a real struggle making the voice active in my science fiction work! It gets beaten out in the editing, but I do keep slipping back.

Immy: Interesting. Okay, I’m getting ready to take notes. What advice would you give to aspiring writers?

Alasdair: Edit, edit, proof-read, edit. Repeat. Then let others see it and listen to their feedback.

Unless you give it a good polish before seeking other opinions, they are likely to focus their responses on things like typos and grammar. If you remove the bulk of these problems, they are more likely to examine the plot and writing style.

Use sites like Scribophile to get critiques of your work, and critique others. I have learned pretty much the same amount from each activity.

Immy: I’m awful at making sure my work is clean before crits, and you’re right. When my work is sloppy, people don’t see past the surface issues, and then the feedback is less useful. Okay, and one that is a personal struggle for me…Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it?

Alasdair: I always have several projects on the go, so it is very rare that I can’t get on with one of them. If I truly can’t face working on any of them, I figure there’s a good reason and do something else like go for a run or have an evening off. By the next time I sit at the computer, I have usually come up with a way round the problem.

Immy: I usually find that a long walk or a yoga session fixes me up too. Though, the trouble arises when I simply must finish something and don’t have the luxury of time to take a break. Okay, regarding marketing… What are your thoughts on good/bad reviews?

Alasdair: Generally, any review tends to be helpful. Even if it simply shows potential readers that your reviews have been gained honestly.

Getting reviews is a really key thing for success. The day after the first review went online for Liberty, the daily pre-orders of the ebook version went up twenty-fold. Many marketing opportunities are only available to books with a certain number and/or average score of reviews.

The biggest thing I wish Amazon would do is allow sections of reviews to be marked as spoilers. This could be by the review author, though also by request from other readers.

Immy: Do you prefer writing short stories or full-length novels?

Alasdair: They both have their place in my affections.

Short stories bring much more immediate satisfaction as they can be completed quickly. My first published piece of fiction, Independence, is a short story so that also has a place in my heart. Recently I edited an anthology of scifi shorts called The Newcomer. Choosing the twelve to include was both joyous and painful as I read so many great tales but couldn’t include them all.

However, actually getting to the end of a novel is so great. Having so much more space to explore themes and characters means you can produce something epic.
Having done one of each so far in my Two Democracies: Revolution series, I’ve split the difference on the latest piece and written a novelette. The Perception of Prejudice bridges between two novels (Liberty and Equality) and allows me to play with a new point-of-view character.

Immy: And I’m so glad you do. I thought I’d never like another of your characters as much as Olivia, but you’re making me question myself. Thank you so much, Alasdair!

Again, if you haven’t already checked out Alasdair’s work, I highly recommend that you do. As someone who starts to sweat when someone says “hard sci-fi” and positively shake if they say “military” sci-fi, I have to say, his characters are so rich, and the world so layered, I was instantly captivated.

For more on Alasdair, You can sign up to Alasdair Shaw’s mailing list at http://www.alasdairshaw.co.uk/newsletter and see what else he gets up to on his website at http://www.alasdairshaw.co.uk.

The Two Democracies universe intersects with our own at https://twitter.com/IndieAI and https://www.facebook.com/twodemocracies.
The Two Democracies: Revolution science fiction series starts with Independence, and continues with Liberty. The third story, The Perception of Prejudice, has just been published. Equality, the next novel, will hopefully be released in summer 2017, followed by Fraternity the year after.

Interview with Fantastic Heather Hayden

This month, I am thrilled to introduce you to Heather Hayden!

KODAK Digital Still Camera

Though a part-time editor by day, Heather Hayden’s not-so-secret identity is that of a writer—at night she pours heart and soul into science fiction and fantasy novels. In March 2015 she published her first novella, Augment, a YA science fiction story filled with excitement, danger, and the strength of friendship. She immediately began work on its sequel, Upgrade, which continues the adventures of Viki, a girl who loves to run, and her friend Halle, an AI. Her latest release is a short story “Beneath His Skin,” which is part of an anthology her writer’s group put together called From the Stories of Old: A Collection of Fairy Tale Retellings. You can learn more about Heather and her stories through her blog and her Twitter, both of which consist of equal amounts of writerly things and random stuff she’s interested in.

Immy: Alright, I’m psyched for this interview. So let’s get straight to it! Always a burning question on my mind, since it touches on one of my big writer’s insecurities. How much research do you do?

Heather: Sometimes, not enough. Other times, too much. It really depends on what I’m working on. I write science fiction and fantasy; the latter tends to require less research and more imagination, while the former tends to require more research and controlled imagination (I try to keep the science somewhat realistic in my science fiction stories. Sometimes a little stretching of physics is needed, though!)

Immy: Stretching of physics. I love that! Research is one of the hardest parts for me. What is the hardest thing about writing for you?

Heather: I’d say editing, but technically that’s an entirely different kettle of fish. So I’m going to say the sitting down and writing part. I tend to work on bursts of inspiration for the most part, so days or even weeks might pass before a story has anything added to it. Granted, those bursts are usually pretty big—at least several thousand words, if not more—but I know that’s not going to hold up in the long run, so I’m working at writing a bit every day, inspiration or no.

Immy: I write a lot like that, too. Ten thousand words might pour out in a weekend, but then not much for a couple weeks. It’s frustrating when I’m on a deadline, but man, those spurts feel so good! Tell us about your style. Do you write in a specific tense or point-of-view? If so, is there a reason for it?

Heather: Most of my stories are written in third person, though, surprisingly, my first published novella, Augment, was mainly written in first person. I generally go with whatever best fits the story—usually by the time I’m a few chapters into a novel, I know what point-of-view is needed. As for tense, I’d say that probably 98% of my stories are written in past tense. I’m not as big a fan of present tense, but I do use it when the story calls for it. And I certainly can’t explain why I choose what I do in technical terms! All I can say is I have a gut feeling, and go with it.

Immy: So you’re very organic in your POV. Does that carry through for the whole novel? Do you prefer working to an outline or plot, or do you just see where an idea takes you?

Heather: One pantser, reporting for duty! I’ve tried plotting before, and I do sometimes follow a loose outline, but for the most part I just sit down and follow where the story goes. It’s more exciting that way, and when I’m excited about what I’m writing, my muse is much more inspired.

Immy: Ha! Pantsing can be so dangerous though! And when you aren’t writing? What is your favorite movie and why?

Heather: You might as well ask me what’s my favorite book! I love science fiction, especially anything pertaining to robots or AI (except the movie A.I., which is heart-breaking), so some days I might answer I, Robot or Real Steel or even Transformers if I’m feeling nostalgic. (Yes, I know how bad the live-action Transformers movies are. However, they did introduce me to my favorite fandom, so I’ll always have a soft spot for them. Only the first three, though. Four didn’t happen.)

In the realm of animation, Studio Ghibli pretty much walks away with the gold, silver, and bronze metals. I love Castle in the Sky, Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind, Howl’s Moving Castle, and even Spirited Away has grown on me since I first saw it. Not to mention all of their other amazing movies. Again, hard to pick one specifically as a favorite, but I’m a sucker for anything with beautiful animation and a good story.

Immy: My answers change by the day too. It’s too hard to choose just one! Great choices though. Thank you so much Heather! It’s been so fun chatting with you!