E A Copen
‘There’s some good in this world, and it’s worth fighting for.’ (J.R.R. Tolkien, The Two Towers)
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In the beginning…tell me what made you decide to start writing?
I don’t remember. I wrote my first book when I was 3 with crayons and printer paper. It’s just always been a part of who I am.
Are there any authors or artists who influence(d) you?
Oh, lots. I’d say the top five are Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, Charles Dickens, Stephen King, and Margaret Atwood.
Tell me about your series.
A federal agent solves paranormal crimes on a supernatural reservation in Texas.
Judah Black is an agent working for BSI—the Bureau of Supernatural Investigations, which polices supernaturals. While her every day job is solving crimes, each case seems to bring her closer and closer to uncovering a truth her employers don’t want her to discover. It’s X-Files meets Anita Blake.
How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Dozens and dozens. At least three for every one I’ve finished.
What’s your opinion on the practice of ‘banning’ books?
I don’t think books should be banned. Books that challenge our perceptions and make us a little uncomfortable are the most important of all. That said, I’d consider it an honor to have something I wrote on a banned book list. It means I’m doing something write. Well-behaved women rarely change history, after all.
Tell me about a principal character in your book(s). What makes them memorable?
Judah Black is different from most urban fantasy heroines, partly because she’s a mom. She has a whole life outside of work that sometimes creeps in to complicate her job. She also doesn’t shift into any kind of were-animal or sling fireballs. She can see and manipulate auras, which makes her vastly underpowered against the things she has to take down. She draws on her own inner strength, and the relationships she forms with the people around her to get the job done.
Indie, or traditionally published – and why?
Both paths have their merits. I’m technically about to become a hybrid published author, as I have a space opera coming out with a micropress in the UK in December. I don’t prefer one process over the other. I love the creative control I have as an indie, but traditional publishing is certainly cheaper and takes up less of my daily time.
It’s said that to write well, you need to read a lot. What do you think?
Absolutely true. Read everything you can get your hands on, including good books, bad books, books in your genre, books outside your genre. Everything. You can learn something new from every single book.
Tell me what you feel the worst, and the best, aspects of being an author are, and why.
The best is definitely the people you meet. I’ve met some awesome authors since I started publishing, and of course my fans, who are the best people in the world. I’ve traveled and seen things I never would have otherwise. It’s been a really amazing experience to share my stories with the world.
That said, people can also be the hardest part of this. I’m not an extrovert by nature, and I don’t think I was fully prepared for how much attention I’d get. I suddenly had to navigate how to talk to people and appear professional, both in person and on the internet. For someone who would rather just crawl under a blanket with a good book and some coffee, that’s really hard.
Are you a plotter, or a pantser? What do you think of the opposite approach?
I’m sort of a hybrid of the two. It depends on which series I’m working on. I’m much more of a pantser when it comes to the Judah Black Novels, though I have a series outline with bullet points. It’s not a detailed outline, more of a list of things that should happen at some point. I tend to write a 2-3 sentence summary of each book before I start. For my space opera series? Because of the way so many stories branch off and come back together, I had to be super organized when I started that one. I have detailed outlines.
Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Oh yes. One of my favorite things to do. I especially like to play games with character names when I’m introducing someone from myth.
Tell me about one favourite hobby or pastime that isn’t writing or reading.
I’m a TV and film buff. I went to film school before I finally accepted I had to be a writer, so I love watching a film and examining how certain shots were done, analyzing lighting and costume choices, how small elements like that make a story come together.
What are you writing at the moment?
Right now, I’m writing the 5th Judah Black Novel, Death Warrant. I’m also working on another series that’s a mix of science fiction, urban fantasy, comedy, and cosmic horror. Lots of fun.
What’s your opinion on the belief that indie books are badly edited and lower quality than traditionally published?
If you’re doing it right, a reader shouldn’t be able to tell the difference between a traditionally published novel and an indie novel. Yeah, there are some out there that aren’t edited or are lower quality, but there’s a lot of pressure on authors to move away from that from the indie author community. If an indie book is bad, it’ll show because it won’t sell. That said, traditional books have a lot of mistakes in them as well. Most traditional novels I read have 10-20 errors still in them. It happens. No book is perfect.
What is your favourite genre to write, and why?
I like to write anything that’s a little on the scary side, but not straight up horror. It has to be mixed with something else and just have a drop of horror flavor.
If you could, would you live in the world you’ve created? Why / why not?
No way! I put my characters through hell and make my worlds really dangerous. I’m happy to be right where I am.
If you could go back to the start of your writing career, what is the one piece of advice you’d give yourself?
Believe in yourself a little more. You know more than you think you know, and anything is possible with enough time and effort.
Do you listen to music when you write, and if so, what do you like?
I listen to a little bit of everything from Johnny Cash to Imagine Dragons to epic trailer music. I have really wide and varied tastes when it comes to music. The only requirement is that it fit the scene. When I sit down to write, I tend to make whole soundtracks for my books. I think it comes from my love of film. You just can’t have a good scene without the right music.
What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?
Readers all have their favorite characters, and it’s probably not going to be who you expect. I obviously have my favorite characters, but they don’t tend to be the same people readers attach to. And it really varies from person to person who they like and why. It’s one of my favorite things to hear from readers, the answer to the question: Who’s your favorite character and why?
Tell me three unique things about you.
1) I collect hippos and coffee mugs.
2) I’m a professionally trained puppeteer.
3) On weekends, I time travel with the Society for Creative Anachronisms, a historical re-creationist group that covers Europe before 1650.
E.A., thank you for participating in Galaxy of Authors!