Interview with K. L. Schaefer

When did you first start writing?
I started as a teen-ager. One of my high school teachers gave us a term project that consisted of writing a short story. Even though I'd been an avid reader from the time I learned how to read, it never occurred to me that I could actually write a story myself. That was something authors did, not something an ordinary person could do. From then on, I was hooked. I scribbled down several stories, but never showed them to anyone else.
Much later on, I ran across STAR TREK fan fiction magazines, and found that there was a market for non-professional writers to have their stories published. From that time on, I wrote fan fiction in numerous universes, but only rarely did I try to write my own original fiction, which mostly got turned down by editors and publishers on the grounds that it was "non-commercial".
Now that ebooks have entered the mainstream, I decided to try again.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
As I often say, I write for love, not money. But good writing is often done in your own blood, sweat, and tears, not ink.
My greatest joy is hearing from a reader that one of my novels or stories has meant something to them, just as many other people's writings have meant something important to me.
My greatest pleasure in the actual process of writing is when a new idea emerges in my mind, and I can barely scribble it down fast enough to capture the major points of the idea.
What do your fans mean to you?
Everything. They are the people I hope to reach out and touch with my words. If I can give back to my readers what other writers have given to me, I will be satisfied. If even one person finds hope or inspiration in what I've written, I will have achieved my goal.
What are you working on next?
At the present time, I'm working on rewriting a novel I originally wrote over twenty years ago, hoping to get it up on Smashwords in the near future.
My SF writing all falls into a category which might best be termed "Anthropological Science Fiction" because of its emphasis on alien culture and society, without the obligatory human presence most authors feel compelled to include. I especially like to invent sexually-unorthodox aliens, then figure out what sort of society they might have created.
"Walls of Ancient Stone" is definitely in that category. It tells the story of a rillenu named Daveeka, a childless male of a race of marsupials, where only Females and Fathers are of any consequence. He starts out wanting nothing more than the child that will bring him honor and respect, but ends up undermining the walls of tradition and assumption that form the basis of his world.
The plot deals with one individual's struggle to find a place in the world, when that world places little value upon him, and the price he has to pay to change things.
Who are your favorite authors?
Barry Longyear, whose excellent story "Enemy Mine" first made me think about sexually-unorthodox aliens, and whose novel "The Enemy Papers" showed me how fascinating a totally different society can be and yet still tell us humans a lot about ourselves and our own world.
Jacqueline Lichtenberg, whose Sime/Gen novels inspired me to write my first fan fiction story meant for other people to read. Jacqueline invests a lot of her time and energy helping and critiquing her fan writers. I would never have learned how to plot without her. I thought all one had to do was scribble down whatever stuff came to mind. Thanks, Jacqueline!
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Yes. It was written as a high school term project. I was interested in World War II and the Nazis at the time. The title was "Alles für Deutschland" and it was about a hapless young German soldier during the downfall of Berlin. Ironically, he dies at the end, because he shoots a deserter rather than letting him escape, giving away his own position to a sniper.
What is your writing process?
I call it the Patchwork Quilt Method, since I construct the various squares first, then try arranging them into various patterns, then finally sew them together when I'm satisfied.
I start by coming up with vague ideas for what I want to write, scribbling them down on paper until I have accumulated a good number of possibilities. Then I type them into my computer. After that, I sort them out as best I can, deciding what may fit and what certainly doesn't (but always saving the things that are rejected for possible future use).
When a particular scene grabs me, I write out a preliminary version of that scene. After I have a number of possible scenes and I've come up with a reasonably coherent plot, I start arranging them in order, changing them in minor or major ways where needed. If there are blank spaces, I note down what sort of thing(s) need to happen to tie everything together, then work on the details later on.
As things begin to form a pattern, I ask myself if it works, if something I thought was good really doesn't fit or needs radical changes in order to fit, and just keep working at it until I'm satisfied.
How do you approach cover design?
I try to visualize an image of something very relevant to what I've written. Once I know what I want, if it's something that I can take a photo of, I'll take a shot at it. If not, I'll search online for what I want from what's available in the public domain. It can be a tedious process, but sooner or later I always find just the right thing.
I use Photoshop to make the image look just the way I want it to appear, then add the text.
Sounds a lot easier than it is!
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Mostly I use my Kindle Paperwhite. However, for other types of files, I have an ASUS transformer book, which comes in handy for a lot of uses besides just reading, since it can be attached to its own real keyboard and/or a real mouse. (Can you tell that I hate texting with tiny keypads?)
What motivated you to become an indie author?
Desperation when none of my books or stories were accepted by print publishers since they were not deemed to be commercial enough.
Actually, that happened many years ago, so I had pretty much given up on writing original stories and concentrated on fan fiction instead, since there were lots of zines and, later on, websites that would publish my work.
Once ebooks became popular, I read about Amazon's upload software and it sounded very easy to use. My New Year's Resolution for this year was to get some of my original stories up on Amazon, which I did. Now I'm in the process of getting them available through Smashwords also, in the hopes of gaining a bigger readership.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I don't know yet, as I just got my first ebook onto Smashwords a few days ago and am still waiting to see if it will get into the Premium Catalog. However, in just this short time, I've gotten a lot of downloads and a great review, so I'm very hopeful.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
The hope that I'll come up with some new ideas for whatever I'm working on at present.
Yeah, that sounds a little silly, doesn't it? But ever since I retired, writing has become the main focus of my life.
Published 2014-08-07.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Walls of Ancient Stone
Price: Free! Words: 93,000. Language: English. Published: October 19, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00)
WALLS deals with one individual's struggle to find a place in his world, when that world puts little value upon him. Share the adventures of a Rillenu named Daveeka, a childless male of a race of marsupials, where only females and Fathers are of any consequence. He starts out wanting nothing more than the child that will bring him honor and respect, but ends up undermining the walls of tradition.
The Caring-Shell
Price: Free! Words: 24,190. Language: English. Published: October 17, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(4.50)
Far far away in another galaxy, on an earthlike planet, there exists a species of mammalian creatures who lay eggs and are functional hermaphrodites. This is the tale of Jilvray of the Clan of Hilvesh. Taken captive by this infamous Clan, ee has long ago given up all hope of escape. Then a new scharn is brought in, a youngster who still longs for freedom and isn’t about to give up without a fight.
Es war einmal auf einer Wolke
Price: Free! Words: 7,710. Language: German. Published: August 28, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Short stories
(5.00)
High in the atmosphere of a gas giant planet, strange creatures live out their lives in the sky. An alien perspective on youth, old age, life, the universe, and everything. Hoch oben in der Atmosphäre eines Gasgiganten führen seltsame Kreaturen Ihr Dasein in den Lüften. Eine fremdartige Perspektive auf die Jugend, das Alter, Leben, das Universum und Alles.
Once Upon A Cloud
Price: Free! Words: 9,850. Language: English. Published: August 5, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » General
(5.00)
High in the atmosphere of a gas giant planet, strange creatures live out their lives in the sky. An alien perspective on youth, old age, life, the universe, and everything. This is a tale told entirely from the point of view of the alien creatures themselves. No hard science, no space ships or galactic empires, and definitely no humans.