Jacqueline Church Simonds, Galaxy of Authors

Jacqueline Church Simonds, Galaxy of Authors

Jacqueline Church Simonds

‘If you have built castles in the air, your work need not be lost; that is where they should be. Now put the foundations under them.’ ~ Henry David Thoreau

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Tell me about your book.

THE MIDSUMMER WIFE, Book One of the Heirs to Camelot: The reincarnated souls of King Arthur, Merlin, and an anxiety-ridden priestess return to save Britain after a devastating nuclear attack, only to find an old foe: Morgaine.

After a nuclear attack on London that heralds The Time Foretold, Ava Cerdwin, the anxiety-ridden high priestess in charge of fulfilling a 1500 year old prophecy, must assist the heirs of King Arthur and Merlin in healing the devastated country. The descendants of Britain’s great men of legend have kept the myths and relics for 61 generations, but no one is quite clear on what they must do next. Nothing goes as planned: Ava falls for the wrong heir, the panic attacks are getting worse, the complex obligations of reincarnation are straining old relationships, and Morgaine and her henchwomen are trying to kill them. Somehow, some way, Ava has to make the Healing happen, or Britain is finished. THE MIDSUMMER WIFE, Book One of the Heirs to Camelot is an Urban Fantasy that combines Arthurian lore, love, and a race to a breathtaking finish.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

The ones coming out are:

THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT is the prequel of the series. It will be out in August

THE SOLSTICE BRIDE (Book 2) should be out in early 2019

MISTRESS OF THE ROSE MOON (Book 3) should be out next Midsummer Day 2019

What do I have in my drawer? A very serious social justice novel I wrote for my college final thesis, 2 sci-fi humor starts, one semi-plotted very serious very weird sci-fi book, and a book about a dog that I’ve started twice and abandoned.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

Only idiots ban books. Period. If you don’t want to read a book, don’t. If you don’t want family members to read a book, tell them to their faces. If you think it is your business to stop people in your community from  reading a book – you need a hobby and should not be left alone with children and small animals.

When I was a little girl (I was 11 I think), a babysitter snatched TO KILL A MOCKEYBIRD out of my hands and told me it was a filthy book. She said she was going to tell my parents. She never returned, and my mother bought me 6 more books on social justice the next day.

(My parents and I are on opposite sides on the political spectrum, but your right to read what you want, and to vote for whom you want, are principles we hold strongly to.)

Tell me about a principal character in your book. What makes them memorable?

Ava Cerdwen, my MC, has an anxiety disorder that gives her panic attacks and causes her to suffer from agoraphobia (fear of being outdoors). She has a fairly serious agoraphobic attack in the book. Writing a character with an anxiety disorder caused me to have several anxiety attacks of my own—which I have experienced since I was 5 or 6.

Ava is doing the best she can, despite her anxiety issues. And that’s how it is for those of us who have anxiety. We do the best we can, one day at a time.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I self-published my first book, CAPTAIN MARY, BUCCANEER, back in 1999. Then I became an independent publisher (we put out 12 titles under our Beagle Bay Books imprint). So I’ve done the self-pub thing.

With THE MUDUSMMER WIFE, I decided I wanted to see how traditional publishing worked. I was rejected by about 60 different literary agencies. So I can’t really tell you yet how “traditional” publishing works. Outside of the fact I knew that it takes at least 2 years for the book to come out, you get little input into the cover, and marketing depends on what’s left over after the marquee authors in that line have all used up their marketing dollars.

I ended up going with independent publisher Vagabondage Press with their imprint Strange Fictions Press. The turn-around was quicker than the usual, they were far more receptive to my input on the cover, and are in general easier to work with.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I’ve met people (authors, journalists, and poets) who state that reading “pollutes” their work. This is twaddle. You MUST read—and read widely—to write well. You should certainly read a lot of books/poems in your preferred genre to see what the trends are. But you should also read a lot of stuff outside your story’s setting. You live in the world. Live it, read it!

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

Is there such a thing as a plotter/pantser? A Plonter? That would be me.

Each book I’ve written to date has taken its own course. THE MIDSUMMER WIFE started out as a frame tale (a narrative that has something to do with the main story and opens and closes (and sometimes appears in the middle of) a bigger narrative). The action of THE MIDSUMMER WIFE opened, appeared in the middle of, and at the end of, what has become the prequel to the series, THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT (out in August). So I had a narrative arc. I just wrote from Point A to Point Z (the end?). (Because of the way MIDSUMMER ends, I HAD to write a series!)

Book 2, THE SOLSTICE BRIDE, I started and immediately wrote 8 fully-realized scenes that happened throughout the book. I don’t mind telling you I had a hell of a time coming up with a story and arcs that connected all of them.

Book 3, MISTRESS OF THE ROSE MOON, I wrote an outline because it is a quest and you need to map out where you are going and where key events are happening. I just barely got the bare outline set down when the characters demanded I start writing them THAT MINUTE. Bossy little things!

I guess I like to lightly outline, and then pants-it from there.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

There are definitely secrets you will only find out if you read all the books in the series – and have a really good memory.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I do cross stitch. It keeps me from running in the streets. The biggest piece I’ve done was 3 feet by 3 feet.

What are you writing at the moment?

I am trying to decide if I should write a series based on the end of the prequel, or if I should do my sci-fi woman’s humor book. I honestly don’t know what I’m going to do at this point. Right now I am marketing THE MIDSUMMER WIFE and writing a lot of guest posts and interview responses.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I’ve been in publishing for 18 years, mostly assisting self-publishers in getting their work to print. The two biggest faults I see in self-publishers are impatience and cheapness.

I always hear authors say “I just want to get it out there!” like it’s a bad gall bladder or something. Nothing great was ever slapped together and thrown out into the world. A good book, like any other great piece of art, needs time to shape and perfect. In the case of books (or short stories, etc), you need an editor to help you achieve your voice, your direction, and to save you from grammar and typo whoopsies. It’s worth the time involved to work with an editor.

Editors are not in it to make your book sound like THEM. They are in it to make your book sound the most like YOU. Their job is to refine what you have (mostly) achieved. There’s only so far you can go with self-editing.

And yes, editing (and professional typesetting/formatting and a professional-looking cover) will cost money. Would you launch a store without spending any money? No. Few authors understand that the minute you stop writing, you are engaged in a $3 trillion a year global business. My advice: if you don’t have the money right away, save up until you can afford it.

Traditional publishing does put authors through editing (and professional typesetting and cover design and marketing). But they are doing less proofing, so you will still catch typos. And the more famous the author, the more often l feel they should have had a developmental editor cut back the book. But those authors are getting millions in royalties and—and oh hey! You just got a check for $20 from Amazon for 6 months of sales.

[Disclosure: I am an editor, and my company provides publishing services that have produced award-winning books.]

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

That’s an interesting question for me, since it turns out different musical styles seem to affect my approach to writing certain material.

For instance, as I was writing THE PRIESTESS OF CAMELOT, I really couldn’t listen to anything other than Celtic-based music. I use Pandora, so I set it on Enya and things went from there. THE MIDSUMMER WIFE I listened to 1960s-ish folk-based music, so I created a Simon and Garfunkel station. For THE SOLSTICE BRIDE and MISTRESS OF THE ROSE MOON, I had stuff from the 1980s and 90s (I’m old, so…). I sometimes switch out to a Miles Davis station.

Jacqueline, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Lissa Dobbs, Galaxy of Authors

Lissa Dobbs, Galaxy of Authors

Lissa Dobbs

‘Shadow Walkers: We walk in darkness so others may see only light.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I had to do a project in the fourth grade. We had to write the story, illustrate it, and make a book. I was hooked. As I got older and became more interested in mythology and folklore, writing gave me a chance to live in a world where magic was real.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I’m a big fan of Raymond E. Feist. His fantasy world of Midkemia was one of the first ones I visited, and I loved it there.

Tell me about one of your books.

Sometimes, what you need to find is yourself.

As a child, Gwennyth dreamed of taking a ship across the void and seeing the lands of Grevared. As an adult, she’s content to stay at home and spend her days researching magic. But all this ends when her mother Ravyn transposes forms at nearly 900 years old. Though she has been trained her entire life, Gwennyth is sure she isn’t up to the task of leading her people, and when their magic begins to fail, Gwennyth knows she can’t do it.

But there isn’t anyone else. Her siblings have moved on from Crowrest, and Gwennyth is all that is left. With only her best friend Vonner in tow, Gwennyth sets out into the world of Grevared in search of the goddess Aradia. Her only clue to the goddess’s whereabouts is ‘look not in the places of the gods’. But finding the goddess isn’t her only task. Gwennyth must also find herself.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Two that I’ve made decent progress on. I think there are a few more than only have a few paragraphs.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I don’t think books should be banned. Sure, there are some whose topics aren’t appropriate for younger readers, but those who don’t like a book always have the option of not reading it. There’s no need to ban them.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

Gwennyth, from Aradia’s Secret, is a book nerd who’d rather read than anything. She’s super-intelligent and knows how to do almost anything, but her confidence is so low that she believes she’s incapable. The sad part is that most of Crowrest thinks she’s incapable, too. She’s actually a bit whiny, and I found myself wanting to tell her to just suck it up and deal, but I think she may find her way out of all that. There’s only one book now, but I have plans for others.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I went with Indie publishing just because I wanted to be in charge of all aspects of the book. It gives me a chance to learn new skills, or at least try to.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

Definitely. I wouldn’t know what it was like not to have a book in my hand.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

There are times that it’s lonely, especially when there’s no one around to talk book plots with. On the other hand, there are plenty of characters to spend time with and plenty of worlds to create.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I actually do both. I start out with an outline then let the story decide where it’s going from there. I think both approaches are valid.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I love to make things. I crochet and make dollhouse miniatures. I also enjoy making dolls, though it’s been a while since I’ve done much of any of it.

What are you writing at the moment?

I’m working on a trilogy, the first story that came to me in the world of Grevared. I’ve been working on it for a few years now, but it’s about time it became a priority.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

There are poor quality and poorly edited books in both camps. I’ve read some traditionally published ones recently that made me wonder if an editor did more than flip through them, and I’ve read some Indie books that were wonderful. I think both need to take the time to produce a good book instead of being in a hurry to get them on the market.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

I write primarily fantasy because I enjoy creating worlds. I also do a bit of horror and paranormal when the mood strikes.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Oh, yeah. I’d go there in a heartbeat. I’d love to roam the forests of E’ma Thalas or use one of the mechanical bugs of the Xaggarene Empire. And just think about sitting down to a meal in the Kingdom of Emerell with the dwarfs or visiting the Shadow Walker guild hall in Corleon. I’m not sure I really want to visit the demon towns of Moirena, but Harrowwind, where the Blood Mages live, might be interesting. Well, there’s also Land’s End in southern Moirena. I’d love to see the Thunderfish River fall off the edge of the world.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Make it a bigger priority than it was until the last few years. Quit worrying about what everyone else says about it and just do it.

Tell me three unique things about you.

  1. I love crafting.
  2. I’m a mythology and folklore junkie.
  3. If I can’t put cheese on it, I don’t want to eat it.

Lissa, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

S E Sasaki, Galaxy of Authors

S E Sasaki, Galaxy of Authors

S E Sasaki

‘So many books, so little time!’

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In the beginning, tell me what made you decide to start writing.

I was always writing from a small child. I always had a pad of paper and a pencil or pen and I was always writing stories. I lived in my head. Then I went to school, did a B.Sc. and a Master of Science degree in Neurophysiology, went into medicine and practiced Family Practice for over twenty years, raising two kids and running a solo rural GP office. Twice I burned out. I did not realize it at the time, but I had suppressed the stories for so long that I think I was dying inside. I retired from family practice and started assisting in surgery, which freed up my mind enough to allow the stories to come back. Now I write my stories and still work but I am a lot happier. If you are a writer, you have to let the stories out.

Are there any authors or artists who influenced you?

Many! Frank Herbert, Roger Zelazny, J.R.R. Tolkien, William Gibson, Isaac Asimov, Orson Scott Card, Anne McCaffrey, Terry Pratchett, Lois McMaster Bujold, Neal Stephenson, Ian McDonlad, Steven Erikson to name a few.

Tell me about your series.

In Space, Medicine Can Be Murder

I started the series about a medical space station to give people a taste of what it is like to work in an emergency medical facility where you never knew what was coming in next. I placed it in the future so I could address issues in today’s world but push it far enough away so I could extrapolate on problems. Prejudice. Immortality. Artificial Intelligence. Superbugs. Abuse of Technology. Man’s abuse of Nature. War. Intolerance. Racism. Religious Intolerance. These are just some of the issues I try and tackle in my books but the themes are often hidden. You have to look for them. I like to ask, ‘What if?’ ‘If we do nothing, what then?’

  • Welcome to the Madhouse (Book One of The Grace Lord Series)

  • Bud by the Grace of God (Book Two of The Grace Lord Series)

  • Amazing Grace (Book Three of The Grace Lord Series)

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have a YA science fiction novel, titled Hiro’s Hardship, on which I am going through the final edit. Book Four of the Grace Lord Series, Saving Grace, has been completed in rough draft and needs to be polished up for the editor. I have a fantasy trilogy for which books one and two are done and book three partway written in rough draft. So much to do, so little time!

Tell me about a principal character in your book. What makes them memorable?

Most people tell me they LOVE Bud. Bud is the android who falls in love with my protagonist Doctor Grace Lord at first sight. Bud is a ‘budding’ AI and has trouble dealing with his new-found emotions. He is constantly making modifications on himself to better protect Grace and he follows her everywhere, unbeknownst to her. Bud is learning what it is to be human, but will never be accepted by the society as such. Saving the medical station from destruction on several occasions, he is a rather tragic, lovelorn hero.

Indie or traditionally published – and why?

I am old! A publisher offered to publish Welcome to the Madhouse and Bud by the Grace of God but it was not going to be published until 2021 or later because of their schedule. I was afraid I would be dead by then! I could not afford to do the agent hunt thing as it would take too long. I could be dead before I ever saw anything in print, so I decided to publish as an Indie author. The traditional publishers are taking fewer chances with new authors and you have to publish before an agent will show any interest in you.

It’s said to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I agree completely with that statement, especially in science fiction. You need to know your genre. You need to write in a fashion that readers will enjoy and want to come back to you. You need to understand about plot and theme, conflict and character development, spelling and grammar, and you need to develop a writing style that resonates with your audience. You must read to know what people like, what has been done before, what is original. Especially in science fiction, where the readers are quite intelligent and particular about their science, if you don’t get the science right, they will immediately put the book down.

Are you a plotter or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I have to say that I am somewhat of a pantser. I know where I would like the book to go but often times it does not get there! I have tried to completely plot out the entire book in advance, but once I had done that, I was so bored with the project, I could not even start on the writing of the book. I guess I write to find out what is going to happen and, believe it or not, I am always surprised!

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

I also paint collages using acrylic paint and Japanese papers. I have won best artwork in show twice at Ad Astra in Toronto for my dragon collages and I have shown at the World Fantasy Convention in Washington. You can see some of my pieces on my website at http://www.sesasaki.com.

What is your opinion on the belief that Indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

I believe there is some truth to that. I have read some Indie books that should not be published. They are badly written and should not be out there. On the other hand, I have read some Indie works that are very well written and excellent reads. The problem is determining which is which and there are a lot of books out there with false 5-star recommendations. I use a very experienced editor that edits for a publishing firm (which publishes science fiction and fantasy) and he has been editing for 30 years. He is expensive, but he is worth every penny. If he tells me to rewrite the first half of the book, I rewrite the first half of the book. As a writer, one has to be open to criticism and learn everything you can from everyone more experienced than you. I don’t know if most Indie writers hire top level editors or even take their advice. Because the traditional publishers are feeling the pinch of competition, I believe the books that get traditionally published these days either have to be by a successful author like Patterson, who just has ghost writers churning them out every month or it has to be an exceptional story, if it is a first time author.

Sharon, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

A M Rycroft, Galaxy of Authors

A M Rycroft, Galaxy of Authors

A M Rycroft

‘Beware imps bearing gifts.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I can’t say for sure what made me start my first story when I was very young, but I loved creating stories, even when I shouldn’t have been. (Homework? What homework?) That love just carried through into my adulthood, until I decided I didn’t want to do anything but write.

Tell me about your series.

Her father’s last wish will probably kill her.

The Cathell series starts with Into the Darkness and the sell-sword Aeryn Ravane who has lived a haunted life, haunted by her father’s voice telling her to finish his quest to find Aric, a sword of untold powers. But when she finds the sword, she discovers that it guards a dark secret that threatens all of Cathell. It’s up to her to find a way to master the sword’s powers before the evil she unleashed destroys everything and everyone she cares about.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

Five in actual type and two exist just in my head. Two of the five that are in type are almost complete. They’re in the final stages and will be released in early 2018. One is book 4 of the Cathell series and the other kicks off a new sword and sorcery/horror series. The others are later books in the Cathell series.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

I’m generally against it, because the reasoning behind it is usually some kind of moral judgment against the books. I don’t think anyone has the right to say what someone else should or shouldn’t read. Let the reader decide if a book has merit for themselves, not for other people.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

How do I pick just one? Well, if I have to, I’ll pick the young thief Theo, because I usually talk about Aeryn or Thystle.

What’s memorable about her? She’s an orphan who has had to live most of her young life as a thief on the street. So she’s naturally cynical and older than her years in a lot of ways. But she also still has the vulnerability and immaturity of a ten year old. That’s very obvious in The Joy Thief. She likes to act like she’s fine being alone, but she’s really afraid of being abandoned again. She’s also really funny in a sarcastic kind of way.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

I started out indie, but now the imprint I started publishes other authors, so I guess you could say I’m published by a small press now. I started indie, because I was impatient, and I didn’t want to wait on rejection letters and acceptances. That’s the absolute worst reason to go indie, by the way. I got in over my head as a result. I used the first iteration of my first novel as a learning experience, though, and figured out how to publish the right way. Now I help other authors get their work into print.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I think you at least need to start out reading a lot. Being an avid reader will give you a basic understanding of story structure. But reading alone won’t make you a good writer, no matter what anyone might tell you. Formal training is very helpful. I can tell right away which authors took creative writing courses and which haven’t. I don’t recommend every author get an MFA prior to writing their first book, but taking a handful of creative writing and composition courses goes a long way to making you a better writer as well as being an avid reader.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The worst is not knowing whether a new book will connect with readers. That’s the thing that keeps me awake at night more than anything.

There are so many great things, though, that outweigh that doubt. I get to travel to undiscovered places and learn about my characters every single day. I have lived a dozen lives through the pages of my books so far, and that number just keeps going up. Plus, I get to meet a lot of fun people, both writers and readers, each time I do a book event.

Honestly, I’ll take the bad with the good any day, if it means I get to be an author for the rest of my life. I wouldn’t trade it for any other job out there.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I always tell people that I am an organic writer. Pantser just sounds somehow obscene to me. I prefer to watch a character and their story grow organically, like the branches of a tree.

I know plotting works for some people, and I say do what works for you. But plotting has always felt restrictive to me, and like I’m butting into my characters’ lives too much.

Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?

Oh, wow. I’ve never gotten that question before. The answer is yes. There are scenes in some books that have been borrowed from real life, as well as some particular traits of my characters are ones inspired by things that affect me.

Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.

Photography and art. I’ve done both of those almost as long as I’ve been a writer. When I was about 11, I started taking pictures with an old Polaroid camera my parents had, and my grandparents were always buying me art supplies. I’m also very into football and hockey.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

There are badly edited, poor quality books on both sides of publishing. That’s a fact traditional publishers don’t want you to know. The difference is in how much care the publisher, be they the author or a publishing house, takes when preparing a book. If a lot of time and effort is put into editing and developing a novel, it’ll shine. If not, the flaws will show.

Although, I will say that the number of indie authors who insist on self-editing their work has contributed to the notion that indie published works are of lower quality. No matter how many times you read your own work or send it through Grammarly, you’ll never catch all the typos and mistakes in grammar or structure. So get an editor. Even editors hire editors to read through their work.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Sword and sorcery dark fantasy, of course. I don’t know why. I guess I’ve always been fascinated by heroes, dragons, swords. Although, when I was a kid, most of the heroes were male. I usually write about heroic women.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Probably not. I enjoy my modern conveniences a little too much. Although, I’d consider a day trip.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

When I started writing my first novel, I had trouble listening to anything with words, so I wrote to mostly instrumental soundtracks. But that changed after I hit book 2. In terms of instrumental stuff, I like the Constantine soundtrack and the Pirates of the Caribbean soundtracks best. I also listen to Bjork, Tool, Five Finger Death Punch, Breaking Benjamin, Hellyeah, and older Shinedown, among others.

Tell me three unique things about you.

1) I first cut my hair short when I was really young. I caught some flack for being too tomboyish, but I didn’t really care.

2) My favorite thing to do in the gym is weight lifting, and I don’t mean little weights either. When I do bent rows, I pick up the 60lb free weights. I’m not a big fan of cardio.

3) If I had been given the chance to play tackle football as a kid (that wasn’t an option, unfortunately), I would have played defense. I love watching defensive players sack a quarterback or pick off a pass, and I think that would be the greatest feeling to get to do that.

A. M., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Steve Harrison, Galaxy of Authors

Steve Harrison, Galaxy of Authors

Steve Harrison

‘Every major literary work began with a blank page, so all writers begin each story on an equal footing with every great writer who ever lived.’

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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I wish I knew. I was in my late twenties and working in a boring office job when an idea occurred to me for a science fiction story. I quickly wrote it, looked up some magazine addresses and posted it off. It was accepted and I became addicted!

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

I was hooked from an early age on CS Forester’s Hornblower novels, which led me on to Dudley Pope, Alexander Kent and Patrick O’Brien, to whom a couple of people have kindly compared my writing style. Their novels certainly had a heavy influence on my published novel, TimeStorm. Other contemporary influences are Stephen King, Bernard Cornwell and Lee Child.

Tell me about your book.

Hornblower meets Jack Reacher

TimeStorm follows a British convict ship en route to Australia in 1795 as it miraculously survives a strange storm and limps into Sydney, where the convicts rebel and escape. But the year is now 2017…

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

I have one other finished book, the first of a proposed YA science fiction adventure series, called Blurred Vision, currently out with an agent, and I am halfway through a crime thriller.

Indie, or traditionally published – and why?

Traditional. I decided I would only publish if someone independent was willing to invest cash in my work. It took many years to sell TimeStorm, but I have no regrets and it was very satisfying when I signed a contract.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

I don’t know if that’s true. For me, I read far more than I write and can’t imagine doing anything else. But, like all generalised statements about writing, I don’t think there are any limits to creativity or how a writer approaches or produces their work.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The best thing is living in a fictional world while writing. I find it very therapeutic to step outside the real world on a regular basis. The worst thing for me is actually starting to write, as I am a terrible procrastinator.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I’ve tried both and I’m a ‘kinda’ pantser these days, in that I don’t make any written notes. My ideas form in my mind and I run them through a process similar to watching a movie. It’s as though I see the story broadly from a high aerial shot and as the story comes together I slowly zoom in on the detail. Eventually, I have a completed ‘movie’ version of the story in my head and I write what I ‘see.’ I don’t have an opinion on other methods as the best one is the method that works for you or the particular work at hand.

What are you writing at the moment?

A crime thriller about a serial killer and the human organ trafficking trade.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

Overall, I share that belief, though I have read several excellent self-published novels by authors who went the extra mile to hire highly professional editors, proof readers and cover artists to ensure their work was as good as any novel published by the majors. Traditionally published novels go through a rigorous process before being released and it’s easy to see from the first few pages of any novel if these processes are lacking. I like to read the preview pages of novels on Amazon and I see a lot of work that appears rushed and would have benefitted from additional editing.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

None. If I have any writing ability today it’s because of all the mistakes I made along the way and I wouldn’t want my younger self to avoid any of them. I was quite stubborn and suspicious of writing advice (I still am!) and often tried to prove it wrong, particularly when people said ‘you must’ or ‘you can’t.’

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I try to match music to my writing, so for TimeStorm, an epic and violent adventure, I listened to a lot of music by movie trailer specialists, Two Steps from Hell. Writing my current thriller, I am alternating between the wonderful TV soundtracks for Westworld and The Handmaid’s Tale during suspenseful moments and the soulful songs by Cigarettes After Sex in the quieter sections. I become obsessive when I hook into great music.

Tell me three unique things about you.

1) I spent 10 years trying to break into screenwriting and almost sold a Pixar-esque animated screenplay to Fox (a very exciting couple of weeks!). The script was also nominated for an Australian Writer’s Guild (Awgie) award.

2) I was a movie and extra here in Australia in the late nineties and early noughties and appeared in The Matrix, Moulin Rouge and Mission Impossible II, among many others. My left shoulder is prominent for more than 10 seconds in the racecourse scene in MI2!

3) I was partnered with a young Hugh Jackman in the chorus of a 1989 amateur musical production of Paint Your Wagon. It is widely understood among the rest of the cast that I made Hugh look and sound so good he became a major international star…

Steve, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

Robert Lee Beers, Galaxy of Authors

Robert Lee Beers, Galaxy of Authors

Robert Lee Beers

‘I haven’t a clue.’

Buy the books!

In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?

I started in elementary school because it was fun and most of the things the teachers had me doing wasn’t.

Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?

Have you got room to list several hundred pages of names? Every author I read has influenced me to some degree. Off the top of my head I was say Heinlein, Campbell, Pratchett, DeChancie, Byrn, Foster, Eddings, McCaffrey, Stevenson, Dickens, Tolstoy…

Tell me about your series.

The funniest Supernatural Mystery series on the planet.

The Tony Mandolin Mysteries are an urban / noir fantasy series set in current San Francisco. As with most of the classic PI books, it is first person, told with much the same inflection found in Rex Stout’s Nero Wolf mysteries, except Stout didn’t have vampires, fairies, trolls and wizards in his cast.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

None, actually. I am currently writing three and all are due to be published.

What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?

It is an evil, and it presupposes that parents should set aside their responsibility to the state. Frankly, it is part of a very real slippery slope that has manifested in far too many countries. I’d rather ban those who suggest book banning.

Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?

Let’s go with the primary guest star in the Tony Mandolin series, one Franklin Amadeus Jackson, Frankie to his friends. Frankie, portrayed superbly by the masterful Elliot Dash in the Graphic Audio audio books, is nearly 7 feet tall, weighs over 300 pounds and was a raging drag queen in the first book. He is also a gourmet cook, a crack shot, inhumanly strong. A pop culture sponge with a chameleonic personality. He has also saved Tony’s life a dozen times over in the series so far.

It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?

It’s true. The best writers have always been prolific readers. In reading you learn what to do and what not to do, if you have the capability of learning such things. Not all do, but then, not everyone can swim. I’m one of those.

Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.

The worst is the constant rejection, and the best is being accepted. Even the top-selling authors in the world experience this. You can have a thousand five-star reviews on a book and that single one-star is all you can think about. Beyond that, it is the creation process itself. Finishing a paragraph or a section of a story that just WORKS, all caps are intended, is one of the most satisfying feeling there is. Having to delete a couple of pages because you just read it and it is crap and you know it, is the other side of that coin.

Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?

I do both. My outlines are a series of words and phrases that tell me where I want to go. But more often than not, the characters or the story itself refuses direction, and I’ve learned to listen to the voices.

What are you writing at the moment?

A Scottish historical novel set in the time of the ‘45 right after the battle of Culloden dealing with the aftermaths of the Jacobite Uprising. It is called The Tartan and I should be finished with it in about two months.

What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?

When I stop finding traditionally published books full of typos and continuity errors I’ll tell you.

What is your favourite genre to write, and why?

Fantasy. I like the freedom of imagination it allows.

If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?

Not on your life. I’d mouth off to a troll and wind up a pink smear on the ground.

If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?

Do not waste all that time trying to find an agent.

Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?

I prefer instrumental. There is a YouTube playlist titled Epic Pirate Music which is my favorite.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

That I was actually very good at it.

Robert, thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!

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