Interview with THG StarDragon Publishing

What are you working on next?
I am working on "Selkies' Skins: Temple and Skinquest" to release in print and ebook formats. This is the second book in Kirsty and the Makay family's saga. The Selkies' Skins story I expect to cover four books, each book divided into three sections following the descent, trial, and return formats of the initiation series. There are several side stories and branches that will have books of their own.

Illya Leonov, the narrator of my first Selkies' Skins book is currently preparing "Pearls of Sea and Stone: Book of Seals" for audiobook release.

The other book I plan to work on is "Dragon Shaman Book Three: The Forge and the Well" following Ryu, BlowingWind, and some of the O'Drake family. The Dragon Shaman series is expected to be eight books long and ties in with "Selkies' Skins" and "The Shadow Chronicles" which is still unpublished.

JoAnne Spiese is working on a fantasy book "Help, my Mother's a Witch" as well as having plans for some other projects, which have been approved. I also plan to be returning to editing and preparing Marantha D. Jenelle's "The Ihmayran Chronicles Trilogy." There is of course a long workline after this.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many favorite authors. Tolkien, Peter S. Beagle, C.S. Lewis, J.K. Rowling, Anne McCaffrey, Hiyao Miyazaki, Eastman and Laird of Ninja Turtle comics fame, Anne Rice, Hushicho, M.C.A. Hogarth, Cerridwen Morningstar. I've read whole libraries in my time, and my personal library is split between my apartment and my mother's I've read so many that it is very hard to choose a favorite or even a handful of favorites. I'll need a wheelbarrow.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
I get out of bed every day because I have two kids depending on me, a mate even though he's on the other side of the world, and a big spread out family that would be pretty disturbed if I didn't. Even on the days that I can't get out of bed I'll still be doing work. Thankfully my health has vastly improved from where it was several years ago. Even bedridden I was still busy writing and doing my schoolwork though. I took it with me to the hospital when I was going in for a surgery even, my cellphone to text with my mate, and my kids visited during my recovery before my release.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I used to be able to say that I was drowning in coursework for my International Relations degree. I just recently finished it though, and I've been encouraged by close friends to take a year off of school (masters and doctorates will eventually be won) to rest and recuperate... and of course get back to writing more. I have had to find other things to occupy non-writing time.

When I'm not writing I am either facilitating meditations in Second Life, volunteering time at one of two Second Life libraries supervising live readers or reading myself, doing errands, trying to keep up on cleaning after the kids, editing, writing or doing other work for Dragon Hearts or another website or reading. Sometimes I'll get to join the kids in a video game or play a PC game. We go hiking too, and I hope to have the kids at the local Taiko festival this summer. What I do depends on how much time I have and my health at the time.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Sometimes I discover them browsing. Other times I hear about them in author groups and get interested in seeing what my peers are working on or have published. A lot of the time I get recommendations from people, then some are written by people I knew and was friends with before being told they were authors too.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
I was really little when I wrote my first story, so I don't remember much other than it had to do with an angel. I do remember always having pen and paper though, dad always brought home notepads and writing implements for me from work (because I couldn't go with him ordinarily, it was too dangerous), and that when we got our first computer mom and dad made sure to get me the first Storybook Creator. Now, on THAT platform I can remember writing a short adventure a fairy had.
What is your writing process?
I have storylines that have been cooking in my head for years. Sometimes I'll just sit and write, other times I'll scratch up an outline first. I used to write longform on paper and retype, but my hands no longer can wield a pen for 8 hour marathons so I usually just type now. I like to have music playing when I work, and it ranges from pirate metal (not joking) to classical depending on what I'm working on and in the mood for.

Then sometimes I'll grump to my mate over the messenger and he'll unwittingly say something that prods me again, or something that happens in an RP kicks the gears into high again.

When I've got a draft I'll go through and revise it, reading it out loud often. Some characters have to be stiff and formal with choppy speech, so I have to really watch it with them that it does not become too bad. A few I WANT really awkward, most I don't. I also make sure to check that characters are reacting appropriately for their thought process and place in their personal storylines, and that can be tricky for someone like BlowingWind, who will be going back and forth in her opinion of being "stuck" with Ryu...who though it hurts him often does find some amusement in her reactions since he knows it's the pain talking and not herself truly. Of course to any watching it looks like I'm staring at a computer screen, poking in a barrage of letters, and going back and forth between timer based games, a message box or three, and the word processor again with weird music and the odd pause to dance a bit.

Area and culture research is also very important to my writing process. If I'm writing about an actual area I try to have as clear a picture of it in my head as possible.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I remember reading as a kid was when I was two or three...I was reading before Kingergarten which was a bit unusual where and when I grew up. It was an illustrated copy of "Goldilocks and the Three Bears," although I forget who the illustrator and author of that particular retelling were. I remember being very influenced by a little girl able to talk with bears that had a house. That's probably the start of where my love of fantasy came from. I also wondered why she was breaking in and just making herself at home, so that got me interested in what different land's hospitality and manners rules were.

I never liked Goldilocks herself much, but maybe by now someone has written a rendition that gave a why of her going into their house and more detail of how she came to be there.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I prefer the Nook Color. I got one for both of my children as well. I do have a Kindle however and use it rather often, and have used both the Nook for PC and Kindle for PC in addition to Adobe Digital Editions. I still prefer the Nook Color. This is what I use to preview formatting with, and it is very convenient for when I have to take my homework reading to the laundromat.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans for myself and for the other authors that publish under me mean a lot. You are the ones that keep us able to write, the ones we tell our stories to. We want you to like our work enough to come back for more. I like being able to interact with fans.

For Marantha, who is no longer with us in the land of the living, the ability to interact and talk with her fans and know her short stories and her blog were being read were very important. I can remember days that she would call me on the phone worrying that no one was reading her or that her work was of such little value that no one deemed it fit to comment on it. If you enjoy an indie author's work, please... TELL THEM SO. Send a note to their contact information if it's provided. Comment on their Goodreads page if they're there, or their Facebook page, or their blog. One little note, even a shy, "I read your short story and really liked it," may be all that stands between them and giving up on their work and life. You never know which author may be standing on that desperate brink, and a gentle reminder that they really aren't all alone at their work desk can be all it takes. Or even just to see that yes, they do have sales and will have their bread and water.

For myself, I also like talking with fans. I do not always have the time on my hands for speedy replies, and sometimes my email refuses to load when I'm logged in...but I do enjoy reading mails or comments. I like answering questions about characters or what is planned to happen to them in future books.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to have art that relates to a scene in the book or to the story. I see too many covers that have nothing to do with the story and it really irritates me to go into a bookstore and see only parts of people doing something that doesn't happen. A bold symbol for the storyline is great though. I also see a preponderance of white people on covers, even for books that are mixed race or have multiple races. That sort of thing bothers me, so in a book that I write or publish...if it has more than one race I'll try to make sure that they or the cultures in the book are represented.

I also like to make sure that the font suits the story's feel or the genre. I have a Celtic inspired script I use for covers with the "Selkies' Skins" storyline for example, while "Dragon Shaman" and "Call of the Kami" I wanted to have a Japanese feel. I still am not certain what to do fontwise for "The Shadow Chronicles" when I get those books ready. Perhaps it will be something flowy and forest-airy.

Victoria "Salaiek" Davis does the cover art for several of our books, and she takes care in getting the art details just right and that font looks good with the art. Marantha did all of her own cover art and insisted that it be so, and each cover went through several incarnations as she played with different levels, effects, and positioning. Samantha Buckley has done the print edition cover for Selkies' Skins, which is very different from the ebook cover that my daughter contributed to. If you look at the cover art that we use, you can tell the theme and tone of the book.
Published 2015-03-01.
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