Q1: What is your favorite book and why?
Oh, hard one! I read in many genres and I'm not sure I have one "absolute favorite." But as far as a fantasy series goes, I adore the Wheel of Time books by Robert Jordan. The world he created is so rich and imaginative and intricately detailed, the magic system is awesome, and the characters are people you love or hate passionately. I can just read those books again and again. They're a gold standard of world-building.
Q2: What inspired you to write The Midnight Sea?
I really wanted to try my hand at an epic fantasy series. Since my mom read me all the LoTR books out loud when I was just a kid, it's been one of my all-time favorite genres. And after researching the daevas, I just knew I had to set the first trilogy in ancient Persia. That is their origin story, and it needed to be told. Confession: I actually have a nearly 90k-word completed manuscript called "Darius" that I wrote first and which set the story in contemporary times. In the end, I decided it just wasn't right and I stuck it in a drawer and started again. It was a tough call, but the right one. I'm so happy with the Midnight Sea, and can't wait to release the sequel, Blood of the Prophet, which is with my editor right now.
Q3: You published a dystopian novel titled “Some Fine Day” through an Angry Robots imprint called “Strange Chemistry”. Since then this imprint has been discontinued. What does this mean for the future of “Some Fine Day” and any possible sequels?
Yeah, that was…an interesting moment. Strange Chemistry suddenly folded about a month ahead of my release date, right in the middle of my blog tour. I had a three-book deal with them, so I was pretty bummed out! Luckily, I got my rights back and my agent sold the book to Skyscape, so it had a happy ending. I've toyed with the idea of a sequel for a while—and even written more than half of it—but it's on the back burner at the moment while I focus on the Fourth Element series. Still, never say never!
Q4: You are self-publishing “The Fourth Element” series. Was this decision influenced by the fact that “Strange Chemistry” was discontinued?
That was definitely frustrating, and although it didn't play a direct role in my decision, it's a good example of how little you have control over your career when you go the traditional route. Anything can happen. Self-pubbing can be a lot of work, but frankly, I prefer to have the final say in my cover art, blurb, release date, promos—all of it. I'm not the most patient person, so waiting around for green lights from other people is basically agony of the worst sort.
Q5: You have written a dystopian as well as a historical fantasy. If you had to pick one of these two worlds to live in, which would you choose and why?
Definitely historical! My dystopian future world was too scary. Half the population lived underground because of superstorms on the surface (and I'm claustrophobic, which SO would not work for me), and the other half was constantly on the run from the hypercanes. I'm not sure I'd want to go all the way back to the Midnight Sea era (terrible dentistry!), but I am a bit obsessed with Gilded Age New York. In fact, I'll have a book coming out later this year set in 1888 that's a prequel to the next segment of the Fourth Element series once the trilogy is done. Did that make any sense at all, lol? I promise it will once you read the books!
Q6: Your novel “The Midnight Sea” has creatures called daevas. In your letter to the readers, you explain that daevas are from the Zoroastrian religion. Would you mind telling us how you first learned about the Zoroastrian religion and the daevas?
I like to poke around in Wikipedia's mythology pages. I find all the folktales from different cultures around the world to be so interesting—and a great place to find inspiration for monsters and demons in my own writing. It may have been during research for another book, I can't remember exactly (this is a while back now), but I stumbled over daevas and initially just loved the word—the sound of it, the spelling. When I read that they were supposed to embody evil in Zoroastrianism, and yet once had been deities, I got to thinking about how that fall came about. And then I also find the idea of being unwillingly tied to the emotions of another person or creature to be very intriguing. The story took shape from there.
Q7: Your bio tells us that you are a mother. How does being a mother effect your writing?
There's a lot of my daughter in Nazafareen! And in all the strong female characters I write. My daughter is also mixed - half-white, half-African - and it's important to me that she be represented. I'm really glad the movement for greater diversity in YA and sci-fi/fantasy is gaining momentum. And I mean that in every sense—class, gender, sexuality, race, etc.
Q8: Since publishing your first novel, have you made the acquaintance of any fellow authors whose books you love?
So many! Lisa Maxwell is fantastic. Jessica Therrien. Joshua David Bellin. Kat Howard. Just to name a few.
Q9: In your opinion, how is self-publishing different than working with a publisher?
The bulk of the work—sitting down every day and writing—is the same. The business side has been a pretty steep learning curve for me over the last six months, and still is, but I think the key is having a great team behind you, which is no different than traditional publishing. Damonza designs all my covers and they are just amazing. Kat Howard is my editor, Acorn is my imprint and they have been incredibly supportive about the self-pubbing process. Xpresso is now handling all my blog promo stuff. I've met some wonderful beta readers in the last year who give me invaluable advice on early drafts. So basically every book I put out has the same level of professionalism as a book that is traditionally published. It's an investment of time and money, but I don't think you can skimp on any of that if you want to be commercially successful.
Q10: Where do you see yourself and your writing career in ten years?
Ha! Writing from my laptop on a beach somewhere while I dominate the NYT bestseller list, of course. Seriously, I just hope to still be doing what I love and connecting with fans. If I keep going at the rate of the last two years, I should have 30 more books out by then! I would love to dabble in some genre-busting, like a sci-fi detective story or romantic thriller that's really a dark comedy. :)
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