Interview with J C Steel

Why do you write?
My favourite facetious answer to this one is that writing is what my subconscious does when my conscious life bores its pants off. Truthfully, I’ve told myself stories pretty much as long as I can remember. Even books I liked and read until the covers fell off always lacked a little something, so I would retell parts of them to myself. Eventually, I found that my own stories filled all those gaps, and by that time it was far too late to stop writing.
What's your main character like?
My main character is a unit commander in a mercenary cult. She’s survived the attentions of the worst her society has to offer, including her own commanders. She’s had portions of her memory blocked, and she doesn’t know why, or what she may have lost. She has allies, and enemies, in places that neither her command nor her commanders know about, and she trusts no one absolutely, including herself.
Are there any characters that you love, or who you hate, in your books?
Actually I like a lot of the characters in my books. At some level, if you understand a character well enough to write them convincingly, you can’t despise them. However, if I have to pick a favourite character, it’d be my main character. It’s a pretty close tie between her and a few others. I don't really hate any of them. There are villains in my storyline, it wouldn’t be much of a plot without, but I don’t really have a least favourite character. They’re all playing a necessary role in the story.
Did any authors influence or inspire your writing?
I have to go with Roberts Burns on this one: ‘Here's tae us! Wha's like us? Damn few - and they're a'deid.’ I started reading when I was three, and I’d got all the way to Lord of the Rings by the time I was seven. If I had to make a short list, it would definitely include Dorothy Dunnett and Louise Cooper.
What are you working on next?
I’m in full editing mode at the moment, getting 'Elemental Affinity' the third in my series, beta-ready for May. I’m also building a new author site, finishing off the last of a slew of book reviews, and writing the first draft of book number eight.
Are you a plotter, or a pantser?
I’m a pantser. Mostly, a new book starts when I get a scene stuck in my head. It shows up at the most inconvenient times, can be triggered by almost anything, and leaves me with the attention span of a fruit fly on crack for several days to several months. Eventually, I write it down, and at that point my characters take over.
When did you decide to become a writer?
Actually I fought becoming a writer. I’d met writers as a child, and never formed a terribly positive opinion. When a friend told me in my teens that I should start writing down the stories I told myself, I procrastinated, objected, and generally brought the teenage drama. However, it was clear even to my obstinate teenage self that this friend had a point, and so for quite a few years in boarding school writing was my dirty little secret. I only finally published in 2015.
What have you written to date?
I’ve published the first two novels in a science-fiction series as of today, 'Through the Hostage' and 'Fighting Shadows'. They’re both set in a mercenary cult of genetically modified humanoids, and the only real rule of that society is that there are no rules. I have books 3 through 8 in that series in various stages of drafting, as I can’t seem to leave that universe alone, and I also have some one-off books I’m thinking about publishing in fantasy and urban fantasy.
What's the most difficult aspect to writing?
Sometimes, honestly, the hardest thing about writing is not doing it. My best ideas always seem to show up when I’m in a stultifyingly boring meeting, or working out, or somewhere else where it would be frowned on to whip out my tablet and start typing.
Why did you go indie?
I chose to go indie after quite a lot of thought. I did take some fairly widely-spaced efforts at getting a traditional publishing contract over the years; I almost got picked up by Transworld in 1998, and I can now say, with hindsight, that I’m very glad that didn’t happen. (Honestly.) The book I would have produced in '98 wouldn’t have been something I could have been proud of, and it would have belonged, almost entirely, to someone else. These days, rather than trying to get on the publisher-agent merry-go-round, I’m completely indie; I have the absolute rights to all my own work, and when I publish something, it’s a book I can be proud of, on my own schedule, that I thoroughly enjoyed writing.
Any advice to aspiring writers?
I don’t believe in ‘aspiring’ writers. As far as I’m concerned, the moment you start writing, you’re a writer. So the only real advice I can give anyone is … sit down and start writing. Get the ‘aspiring’ part out of the way as quickly as possible.
Published 2016-04-02.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Elemental Conflict
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 88,410. Language: English. Published: December 2, 2017. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
After a decade in the Cortii, her independence is one of the few things mercenary commander Khyria Ilan still values, but when she finds herself caught in the coils of an alien prophecy, independence is only one of the stakes in the game.
Elemental Affinity
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 89,460. Language: British English. Published: September 10, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Military, Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them. A newly discovered world. An opportunity for the Cortiian rebels. And a mission for Wildcat Cortia...
Fighting Shadows
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 96,220. Language: British English. Published: July 1, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Military
(4.00)
The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. From their beginnings in humanoid pre-history, they have grown and colonised to span every galaxy. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them.
Through the Hostage
Series: Cortii. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 100,290. Language: British English. Published: April 2, 2016. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure, Fiction » Science fiction » Space opera
(3.00)
The Cortii are mercenaries, for hire to anyone who can afford their services. From their beginnings in humanoid pre-history, they have grown and colonised to span every galaxy. Every government uses them; no single government can destroy them.