So Susan finally deigned to finish my interview questions (heh heh heh) and I have her interview here! In true Susan form, she can’t resist the urge to take a swipe at me with all her answers…however, she does provide some awesome advice and insight to genre fiction and the life of a writer as well.
Thanks for being so gracious… knowing there will be copious amounts of abuse slung about, I appreciate you letting me back into your webspace, Selah!
- Every writer has some sort of process. Give us a glimpse into yours. Do you meticulously outline? Do you write depending on what calls are out there?
Hmmm… well, beyond texting you random bits of stupid plots at all hours of the day and night, I don’t have much of a routine. Having multiple literary personalities makes things doubly hard because I have to balance my time between writing speculative stuff and writing romance.
Beyond that I write in bursts when I can because my life is so hectic. My one standard is the Thursday Night Write In at the Starbucks in Rock Hill with Crymsyn Hart and Alexandra Christian. If it wasn’t for those two, I probably wouldn’t get any writing done at all.
*Bonus question – Do you put on a cape and do a chant before hunkering down to work? Sacrifice anything? Along with your process, what’s your quirkiest writing habit?
Trade secrets! I told you not to mention those things!!! *clears throat* Ahem… of course not. Why ever would you ask such a thing?
[Insert sidestep here.]
I don’t know if it’s considered quirky but lately I’ve found that writing longhand in a college-ruled notebook with a blue pen seems to work the best. See, I’m really picky about my pens. They have to be a certain style and be comfortable in my hand. The ink color usually doesn’t matter but for some reason blue is just working right now.
Are you a meticulous planner or do you believe in the muse? Where do your ideas come from? Do they filter in through your dreams? Do they show up at inopportune times and whap you upside the head? Do they result in a shady deal with a dark power?
You really like to ask lots of questions at once, don’t you?
I’m more of a hybrid writer. I do plan out the majority of the story from the beginning, but nine times out of ten I forget where I put that outline and wing it. As for the ideas, they come from all over the place. Sometimes I dream stories. Other times I do get slapped upside the head with things that work for various and sundry projects. There is always a notebook within reach for that very reason. And while I do watch a lot of true crime stuff (serial killers fascinate me…it’s all part of the horror “thing”), I haven’t actually made a deal with anything dark and shady yet.
Except you, of course… but that’s a story best left for another day.
* bonus question – If your muse had a physical manifestation, what would he or she look like and how would she or he act? Is it a sexy superhero version of Callisto? A sharp-tongued rogue? A reptilian alien? Do they have a catch phrase?
I’ve always pictured my muse to look like Destiny from Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics. He’s this big, hulking thing with a hood over his face. Remember that scene from the end of World’s End where they have the funeral procession in the sky? That very first scene where Destiny appears is what I picture him to look like…book and all. Instead of the book of destiny, I imagine my muse’s book to be filled with all the stories I haven’t written yet.
Randomly: That scene made me cry harder than any book ever has. One of these days I’m going to break down and have that image tattooed on me.
What’s the book/story that’s closest to your heart? Is there a piece that you clearly feel is a piece of you? Do you play favorites?
Devil’s Daughter, hands down. By now most people know the story behind it – I wrote it immediately after my father passed away. It was how I dealt with the initial shock and grief associated with losing him. I gave my character a way to do the one thing I couldn’t.
And absolutely hell yes I play favorites…sort of. I’m always going to shove Devil’s Daughter in the face of anyone who asks first. However, each one of my books is like a child. I’m more partial to the genre stuff as opposed to the romance because my first love is genre fiction, but I do love each of my stories…otherwise I wouldn’t have released them into the world.
If you could only write one genre ever again upon pain of being sacrificed to Cthulhu, what would it be and why?
Now you know full well Mr. Tentacle-Face would eat me inside a minute because I can’t pick just one. But since you’re forcing me to choose one, I’m going to have to say Urban Fantasy. I can add all of the other elements I love to write without technically straying outside the boundaries of that genre. I say that because it has sort of become a catch-all for genre fiction that isn’t high fantasy or hard sci-fi. Even horror has been lumped in, and considering the question this is the one time I think I’m actually happy to go along with that reclassification.
I’m starting to worry about you with these questions, by the way.
What’s your biggest frustration as a writer? What do you consider the downside, or is there one? Is there any cliché that makes you want to wring people’s necks?
The biggest frustration? Finding time to write. The starving artist tag is a popular one, but “starving” doesn’t look too good on me. I work full time and I have a family, so I have to write as I can.
The downside to writing is that it’s a tough business. Sometimes things I think are fabulous are a very hard sell because editors don’t see the same thing I do. It’s discouraging to love a story so much and have it rejected again and again. I tell myself that it’s destined for greatness, but that’s hard to believe when nobody so far has agreed with me.
And the clichés… I actually posted on my blog the other day about the biggest one that bugs me. Writer’s Block. I won’t go into it here, but HERE’S THE POST if anyone is so inclined to go laugh at my mad rant.
Oh, and there’s another one… I’ve had plenty of authors tell me that they never, ever have trouble with their stories and it’s so easy to write ten thousand words a day. To that, I say this: HOOEY! I have a hard time believing that if you’re pushing to write 10,000 words or more a day, not all of those words are going to be as good as you think they are because you can’t possibly be thinking seriously about what you’re writing. I’m also not the type to blindly write because I’m so neurotic about word choice and grammar. I’ll stick with my 2-4K and be perfectly happy with that.
If you had to be stuck in one of your own books/stories for the rest of your life, what would it be and why? If you had to stick a loved one in one of your own books, what would it be and why? An enemy?
Me? I could go with the world from one of my romances – Blood Doll. I’m sort of in love with the hero, Christian Sterling. Plus it would be cool as hell to be a vampire. And I love Boston.
My friends… depends on the friend. One I would definitely put on the cruise ship from Something In the Air because she’s so perky and happy and contemporary. Another I’d stick into the setting of Marked because the hero in that one is a werewolf and is supposed to look like Gerard Butler from Timeline.
My enemies… I’m not entirely certain I’d wish ill on anyone, but I sort of wrote the first page of Wolfy (coming soon!) with someone specific in mind. I won’t call names, but suffice it to say I’m always game to let a werewolf eat a bitch. Otherwise I’d feed them to the house in Haunted.
Do you think it’s possible to develop a sure-fire recipe/formula for success as a writer? Would you want to, or does that compromise the art or the fun of it?
I think the recipe for success is a personal thing and different tactics work for different people. I know lots of writers published with the Big Six that write to a formula and can churn out stories left and right. That doesn’t work for me. My ideas are all over the place and a bit too elaborate in some cases for a standard formula. As I said before, I start with a basis for the plot and mostly go off on tangents from there. I’d much prefer to read something Neil Gaiman wrote as opposed to the cookie-cutter fiction coming off the presses at every turn. I’m not quite as into the stream-of-consciousness writing as William Faulkner (dude really needed to dial back the long sentences!), but I’d rather meander through a story than hit point after point with perfect accuracy. That goes for reading or writing.
Everyone has words of wisdom for young writers, so I’m not going to ask you about that. With a few unknown writers becoming success stories, a lot of people seem to think it’s an easy career choice. What would your words of wisdom be to these people?
A very wise man named Allan Wold once said at a convention (okay, so at every con he’s been at), “For any new writer – if you want to get into the writing game, don’t. If there is anything else in this world you can possibly find to make you happy, do that instead. Being a writer is hard. It’s not glamorous. It’s not easy. DO SOMETHING ELSE INSTEAD IF YOU CAN. However… if you absolutely, positively cannot do anything else that will fulfill you, then go ahead and write. But don’t expect to be successful because most people never become Stephen King.”
Adding to that, don’t expect to be an overnight success and absolutely do not plan on how much money you’re going to make from your first book. I can tell you from experience that it isn’t going to be much, and you’re going to bust your butt for little gain in the first years. As much as I’d love to have THAT CONTRACT like Stephenie Meyer or E.L. James, I’m not banking on someone finding me out of the blue. BUT… but don’t ever stop trying because you never know who might be watching you without your knowledge.
(Aside: I highly recommend Alan’s writing workshop to anyone trying to break into the business. I signed up for it several years ago and it helped me tremendously. I don’t ever start a new story without taking his suggestions into consideration.)
It seems like everyone likes to gang up on certain genres as being inferior, less meaningful, or cheap entertainment (especially if it’s speculative in nature). Make a case for the genre you write.
If I write what people want to read, then it’s 100% legitimate and I’ll take down anyone who says otherwise. I shouldn’t have to legitimize my work to the critics because the writing will stand for itself. I’m good at what I do, and I’m not afraid to tell people that.
Adding insult to injury, I’m a female writing in genres that are male-dominated. People look at a book that has a woman’s name on it and the first thing they think is “well that chick is probably writing romance or literary stuff and calling it this.” Dead freaking wrong, son. Just because I don’t have a penis doesn’t mean I’m not capable of creating nightmares or building civilizations, and anyone who says otherwise needs to watch out because I’m always on the hunt for new victims.
Rant aside, let’s look at a brief history of speculative literature:
One hundred years ago, Winston Churchill and William Locke were bestsellers. H.G. Wells and Jules Verne (who passed away around this time) were looked at as nothing more than passing fancy for daring to have an imagination because highbrow literary fiction was the rage.
In the fifties, Hemingway and Steinbeck took the cake with their rambling narratives on the lifes of despots and criminals. And all the while Arthur C. Clarke wrote “Science Fiction” that would ultimately become science reality yet people still laughed at him.
Those things people once called “pulp” and “trash” still stand as the cornerstones of genre fiction today. Nobody imagined that Verne’s electric submarines and solar sails would become reality. And look at Arthur C. Clarke’s ideas on satellites! If the “trash” can change the way the world works, that says something to me.
I am proud to admit that I write science fiction, fantasy, and horror because the trend is moving steadily away from literary hoo-hah and more toward the improbable. People enjoy epic adventures and they enjoy being scared. Literary fiction is sort of a dying art, and while I hate to see it go (because yes, I have read most of the classics), it opens up the market to those of us who like to explore the extraordinary.
What do you want people to instantly think of when they hear your name or your work mentioned?
I want to be known as a solid, smooth writer who can take on any challenge and win. I’m not worried about the “NYT BESTSELLER” tag right now. More than anything, I just want people to remember my name and keep coming back for more.
Please tell us about your latest/favorite work or a little bit about what you’re working on right now. It’s plug time, so go for it!
Yay! My favorite part of the day! Shameless self-promotion!
Today we’re talking about Devil’s Daughter, released by No Boundaries Press in August 2012.
“The Devil is a busy man.”
Lydia St. Clair was seventeen when she made her first deal with The Devil. Now twenty-one years old and a professional bounty hunter, Lydia possesses a unique set of skills that make her valuable to Lucifer’s grand plans. In the four years since that fateful night she has come full-circle, and now her nemesis has come back to collect on that debt.
Unfortunately for Lydia, He has leverage that will leave her questioning her own humanity.
The Devil is a sneaky bastard and he knows how to play upon the weak. He twists lies just enough to make them true, and when his victims are confused, he strikes. That’s how he got me. My name is Lydia St. Clair and I murdered my father.
Don’t look at me that way. It wasn’t like I signed up to be one of his henchmen. Not consciously, anyway. I didn’t understand what I was getting myself into. I was young and sloppy and didn’t know anything at all. Kids never do, but part of being a kid is that you can’t tell the little buggers anything at all.
My problem was that I was a little wild…okay, so I was a lot wild. My Daddy did his best with me, but I was one of those lost causes from the start. Stable suburban childhood. Supportive, God-fearing parents. Successful, intelligent older brother who was a complete suck-up.
Me? I was a bad egg.
I smoked. I snorted. I tripped. I drank. And yeah, I drove around a lot while doing all of those things. I was invincible, after all.
My story starts the night my life ended. I’m still alive, but this life isn’t mine anymore. I gave up my rights to it in a drunken stupor on my seventeenth birthday.
Where to find me and the things I write:
As S.H. Roddey:
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/shroddey
As Siobhan Kinkade:
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSiobhanKinkade
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/author/siobhankinkade