Interview with Fiona J.R. Titchenell

When did you first start writing?
I've been writing for as long as I can remember. I couldn't have been more than six or seven when I started typing rambling narratives about fairies and frogs and adventures in the forest.

It wasn't until I was about fifteen or sixteen that I started getting serious about it, though. Until then, I was convinced that I was going to be an actress. I always knew that I needed to be a part of storytelling, and I never stopped writing fiction on the side, but the prospect of showing written fragments of my soul to other living human beings was absolutely terrifying.

Of course, that's exactly why I had to become a writer, and why I couldn't be an actress. In acting, I was always holding back, which is what made my performances forgettable. Writing was the medium that clicked with me enough to make me honest to a terrifying degree, which is how it has to be.

I think most artists eventually have to go through that tipping point where the urge to share pieces of yourself outweighs the fear of doing exactly that.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
The usual: a bad experience with a traditional publisher. That doesn't mean I'm against traditional publishing now (in fact I recently signed on along with my husband/coauthor to do a project for a Skyhorse imprint), but after having to dissolve my first traditional publishing contract, my first three novels would have been left out of print, and The Prospero Chronicles series would have been killed after the second book, if not for the option of indie publishing.

This is what made me into a hybrid author, and for that reason, part of me is glad it happened.

I feel very lucky to live in a time when, with a little effort, an author can take control of making his or her own work available to whatever audience wants it, without being beholden to someone else's algorithm for what's most likely to make them money. Discovering this for myself has also made me feel more free to write some more personal, specific, possibly esoteric projects in the future for indie release, while still pursuing traditional publishing with my more commercial work.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
My favorite part is when the characters suddenly take the lead and won't shut up until I write it all down. I also love when I've been working on a project for a few drafts and think I'm sick to death of it, but then part of it strikes me like I'm reading it for the first time, and I get to be amazed for a few seconds that a particular thought or phrasing came out of my head.
Who are your favorite authors?
I always have to list J.K. Rowling first, because even though I rarely write fantasy, she probably had the strongest hand in making me a writer. The Harry Potter universe was my second home as a kid. It got me through some of my toughest times, and I always knew I wanted to be able to create characters and worlds that were as real to people, to me, as hers were.

Nowadays, any list of my favorite authors also has to include Suzanne Collins, Isaac Marion, Lauren Oliver, John Green, Rainbow Rowell, Scott Westerfeld, Shirley Jackson, and Brian K. Vaughan.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I'm an LA local, born and raised, and the California flavor is definitely prominent in a lot of my stories. I was home schooled among other home schoolers until I started community college early, so I was exposed early to a lot of eclectic extremes of philosophy, background, and personality, which I think comes across in a lot of the conflicts my close-knit yet mismatched ensembles of characters tend to have.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love Halloween mazes, the Renaissance Faire, board games, and learning new stuff. My husband and I usually spend at least a couple hours in the evening watching movies or TV shows from our collection, mostly Sci-Fi and Horror, or reading to each other. Deep Space Nine is my favorite Star Trek!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Kindle Keyboard. It's ancient, but it's mine, and we've been through so much together!
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
A lot of the ebooks I read are by other authors I meet on social media and get curious about, but sometimes I look through the top listings of my favorite genre niches, or I'll surf book blogs and check out touring new releases.
What is your writing process?
It starts with a concept, sometimes just one scene, a character in a particular position feeling a particular way about it, and then the outline wraps around that scene, and any connected scenes I realize this character needs to have.

Once I have an outline, I tend to draft in a fairly linear fashion, though I'll occasional jump ahead if I'm spectacularly inspired for a later scene and want to make sure not to lose it.

When Matt and I are working on a project together, we construct the outline together and then mostly alternate the chapters between us, so we'll be writing a pair of chapters concurrently, then we'll trade them, make notes to each other, adjust accordingly, and continue on to the next pair. Even when we're not working on the same project, the process often goes pretty much the same, but with each of us working on a chapter for our own book and swapping to make suggestions for each other's.

It usually takes us about four drafts to get a manuscript ready for an outside editor. Draft two fixes major continuity errors and adds in any parts we wanted to include but forgot in draft one. Draft three cuts the fat and smooths emotional continuity, and Draft four is usually down to fine-tuning.
Describe your desk
My desk really belongs to the Badass Ladies' Club (a.k.a., my Funko figure collection). I just work there.

Ever since my husband discovered that vinyl figures of awesome fictional women are about the same price as flowers and brighten my days for much longer, the collection has spread from one shelf to take over most of the work space.

The ladies tend to cluster together as they discover common ground. Kamala Khan and Buffy Summers are hanging out in the Superteens section. Dana Scully, Peggy Carter, and Disney's Tiana are talking shop on the Professionals' shelf. Hermione Granger and Bioshock's Elizabeth are commiserating in Underappreciated Sidekick Corner. Katniss Everdeen and Jessica Jones are being reluctantly heroic together, while Fa Mulan and Brienne of Tarth nobly stand guard over all.

I could go on.

Oh yeah, and I think there's a computer under here somewhere...
Published 2017-03-25.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Series: The Prospero Chronicles. Pre-release—available December 18, 2018. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 99,370. Language: English. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
Prospero is on lockdown. The Sliver Queen’s forces are massacring the few humans who remain. Ben is missing, and Mina’s starting to worry that there might be nothing she wouldn’t risk to get him back. In this long-awaited final chronicle, she’ll get one last chance to fight for her species, deciding in the process what her life, her friends, and her planet are worth.
Out of the Pocket
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 79,260. Language: English. Published: April 24, 2018. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Paranormal, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Fantasy
In this dark, subversive, genre-savvy take on the modern paranormal romance, the ghost of a man named Joshua Thorne appears to a lonely bookworm named Angela, begging her to help him solve his own murder. The truth of his story lies somewhere in the hidden world of jumbled memory and fantasy he calls the Pocket, but it might not be the story either of them is hoping for.
Some Side Effects May Occur
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 79,680. Language: English. Published: September 5, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Social Issues
When an aspiring teenage actress is given the chance to participate in human trials for a revolutionary new beauty supplement, she sees her one chance for a camera-ready body and a real career. She’s sure she can cope with any side effects, whatever it takes to be good enough at last, but what the treatment turns her into may be even more monstrous and cutthroat than her professional world.
Series: The Prospero Chronicles. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 91,440. Language: English. Published: July 6, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
Mina and Ben's resistance Network has managed to sustain an uneasy truce with the Splinters for several months, for the purpose of stopping the far more dangerous Slivers. They've got rescuing innocent humans down to a science, but does that mean there might be room in their lives for a little normal teenage fun?
Series: The Prospero Chronicles. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 92,970. Language: English. Published: June 20, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
After their escape from the Splinter Warehouse last summer, Ben and Mina are forced to face their town's shapeshifting invaders on the most treacherous of battlefields -- high school. New breeds of Splinter are surfacing, with powers they've never seen before, and they've set their sights squarely on the rebel pair's friendship.
Series: The Prospero Chronicles. Price: $0.99 USD. Words: 81,020. Language: English. Published: June 6, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Sci-Fi & fantasy
Ben's an easy-going people person with a healthy skepticism about the paranormal. Mina's a dangerously obsessive monster-hunter with a crippling fear of betrayal. Together, they're all that stands between the small town of Prospero and its insidious, shape-shifting invaders.
Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of)
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 85,530. Language: English. Published: April 4, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Young adult or teen » Horror, Fiction » Young adult or teen » Humor
Fifteen-year-old Cassie Fremont and her tiny band of teenage survivors take a road trip across the zombie-infested U.S. to rescue their stranded friend, and no amount of blood and guts along the way will quell their sense of snark. Now, if only they knew how to drive.