First of all, I want to thank P.I. Barrington for participating in this author interview on my blog. Throughout my writing and publishing career, I have met so many wonderful people who all have their own stories to tell. Each writer's experience is quite unique and fascinating. My goal is to share their inspirational highlights, what makes them tick, and their current WIP's.
On to the questions:
1.) When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
Well, I didn't really want to. I won contests and things in grade school and my first real job was as a cub reporter for my local newspaper (oh, yeah, and I was my college paper's editor) and pretty much everything related to that. But that was not what I wanted to do; I wanted to work in music. It was the only thing I ever really wanted to do and I directed all my energy toward it until I ended up in radio and from there to a major record label with other aspects of entertainment tossed into the mix. It was only several years ago that I thought I'd try my hand at writing again and this time I only focused on fiction writing instead of journalism. Seems to be going well, lol!
2.) What type of genre do you write in?
I write in several genre' and a couple of mixed genre' as well. My first trilogy Future Imperfect is a futuristic crime thriller w/ romantic elements; I also write paranormal crime thrillers, short stories in urban fantasy and some horror-ish, one cozy mystery, sci fi w/romantic elements, and my latest baby, Isadora DayStar a dark, quasi-military, sci-fi adventure…I mix 'em up a lot! (One note: Most of my work is co-written with my sister Loni Emmert, another author in her own right)
3.) What inspires you to write in this genre?
For the futuristic sci fi stuff, I love it because I get to play fast and loose with the rules and I can make up my own as well as my fascination with military science fiction. I've never been enlisted but it just entrances me. The cozy my sister talked me into co-writing, it's not something I write at all really. The crime thrillers are my main genre they're what I normally write and the urban fantasy were my first published work—very tongue-in-cheek attitude—though recently I've had some horror-ish shorts published. I love anything where I can break the rules and make my own! I think you get more creative leeway that way.
4.) Where to you get your ideas for your writing?
Wow from everywhere. There is one secret place I do physically go to get inspired but I will never give it up, not even upon pain of death, lol. Inspiration can come from snippets of conversations I've had, song lyrics, television, commercials, playing what if (though I'm not good at that.) In fact Isadora DayStar came about from both an interview I'd read and from watching CreationScapes on the Daystar television network! I thought DayStar would make a great last name for a female sci-fi character and Isadora just popped into my head. It was perfect!
5.) Who are your favorite authors and why?
Oh! There are so many! I've read everything from Shakespeare to Mad Magazine (my favorite) and everything in between. Currently I love Colleen McCullough & her Masters of Rome series. I love James Michener, Tom Clancy but since I've started writing in earnest, I really don't have time to read anything, other than blurbs on the backs of novels and their cover art. Of course the sci-fi and fantasy masters as well: Tolkien, Bradbury, Ellison, Mary Stewart's Merlin series was a HUGE influence on me. Evangeline Walton's version of the Welsh mythology of The Mabinogion was big too. And Shakespeare—he blew me away as a child when I read MacBeth! The theme of guilt and self-punishment is prevalent in nearly ALL my stories—it's such a universal human experience. Everyone (excepting sociopaths) experiences guilt in their lives regardless of beliefs and much of human behavior is a result of it. Isadora DayStar is all about guilt and redemption. In Future Imperfect, my two main characters carry around enormous guilt just as she does.
6.) In your opinion, what key parts of a story make it great?
Plot, characterization and conflict are the cornerstones of a great story. So is a magnificent villain! Pacing and style play a major part and just a great overall story! Plus a twist in there someplace ratchets things up as well!
7.) What activities do you undertake for inspiration?
Other than forcing myself to watch television or movies, there really isn't any activity that I perform or engage in aside from my secret place. I love movies like the old black and white films and classic spectacle movies like Gone with the Wind and The Ten Commandments. Oh and my two favorite sci fi movies, Alien/Aliens and BladeRunner! I've never been a big TV fan, most of what I know about television I learned from reruns, except classics like Dragnet, Twilight Zone, Star Trek. I do watch NCIS now—Loni hooked me on it—and reality shows about cops and forensics.
8.) Do you belong to any writing communities, or critique groups?
No critique groups but both Loni and I belong to Sisters in Crime and Romance Writers of America (I'm rejoining soon) that are major non-profit writing associations. There are others, sci fi and mystery organizations that we need to join as well and plan to in the future.
9.) Do you have a day job?
I do not so I concentrate on writing and the never ending promotion that comes with it, lol! Loni still works in the entertainment industry so I'm still in the loop in a roundabout way—I get the gossip!
10.) If you could do it over again, what aspects of the writing/submission process would you change before becoming published?
You know, I’m old enough to remember the days when authors typed out their novels on manual typewriters and snail mailed them in then waited ages to find out if they'd been accepted so I am unbelievably thankful that today we send them in almost instantaneously! And we get responses almost as fast! I think that I re-entered the publishing industry at the most advantageous time!
11.) What is the title of your upcoming/newly released novel, and where can we find it?
My latest novel, Isadora DayStar, a dark sci-fi adventure, is available through Smashwords.com at this link: http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/76514
Here's the short blurb:
When drug addled assassin Isadora DayStar finally snags a major interplanetary killing job, she thinks it will both support her habit and revise her status as the laughingstock of her profession. Instead, she embarks on a journey that brings her face to face with her tortured past.