When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
Going on road trips, reading, being around friends and family, and connecting with readers. The regular stuff that people in my industry love doing.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
I tend to browse through Google search results and occasionally Amazon since so many authors have titles that they want to get into the hands of readers. I'm also subscribed to a few email newsletters featuring free e-books. If I see one with a cool cover and story that stands out to me, I'll snatch it up.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I remember writing was in middle school for a creative writing class, when we were learning about descriptive writing. I can't remember the writing prompt or details of my work to save my life, but there was a piece where I focused on a girl running. I was so specific on the details making up her environment that it's as though they were the only thing relevant to the plot.
What is your writing process?
I don't have a clear-set way to it. I have preferences when I do write, such as being in bed or being on my laptop, but getting there varies every time. Sometimes, I'll find myself thinking of a story, or progressing a story that I'm already working on, and I just have to get it on my word document before I forget any details. It's a very spur-of-the-moment thing, and I might even get a little frustrated if I wait too long to put the scene into words and forget some part to it that really drew me in at the time. I am very routine about one aspect of it, though; if I get stuck with whatever I'm writing, I won't force it. I'll go do something else for a little bit, relax, and get back into the mindset naturally. Since I implemented this technique, it eliminated a lot of sloppy writing that I would go back to and ask, "what was I thinking?"
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I have a faint memory of my grandma reading me stories when I was a little girl, but the first story that I can clearly remember was Harry Potter. My mom would read me the entire series as it was starting out and I loved it. She would read to me for hours a day every night, and the books were so long that there was plenty of opportunity for it. The funny thing is that we didn't start with The Sorcerer's Stone. It was either book four or five. I want to say four, because I swear I can visualize the Russian cover in my mind just thinking about it, but I can't be sure, as I think we got both books four and five in the Russian editions before transitioning to English.
How do you approach cover design?
I have only designed covers for two books so far, Fallacies and The First Look. Both covers came from the same photoshoot. The process was very organic, but one that I had pre-planned for months upon months. When I mean organic, I mean that I grabbed my boyfriend, gave him an idea of what I wanted, and asked for his help. He clasped our hands at first with a necklace I wanted to use wound around our thumbs thumbs, his thumb over mine, and we captured that. We both thought it looked cool, and he was of course done by that point with how particular I was being for just that one picture, but I wasn't satisfied enough to go edit it. I got a white canvas paper and using it as a background, had us take the same shot, but with our hands clasped and our thumbs overlapping a bit, where mine was still clearly visible, the chain wrapped in a different pattern where it represented more of the theme of the story. The chain the Blue Garnet device was attached to in Fallacies was a burden that both Sean and Natalie had to be involved in safeguarding, but Sean wouldn't let Natalie be at the forefront of the danger it drew, thus shielding her, while unable to keep her from being attached to the device altogether. In the shot, it was the same thing, where the uppermost thumb, my boyfriends, was shielding mine while we were both wound into the chain. I of course used that shot for my Fallacies cover. When it came to The First Look, I zoomed into the chain from one of the pictures we took to focus in on where it was most prominent. Since The First Look examines the details behind Fallacies and the impact the device has on everyone, it was perfect. To me, cover design is always meant to represent the deepest meanings to a story.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
My five favorite books will have to be grouped mostly into series titles, because those are the stories I most enjoy reading, with exceptions of course. I will have to say that the first is the Harry Potter series. I have so many fond memories of my mom reading the books to me that it'll just always be the first thing I became attached to. I love magic and adventure, especially when I was little. The second would be the Divergent series because it has a such a cool premise that can evolve into so many directions. I love dystopian themes with a science fiction flare, too, so it's a huge plus. The third would be the Pendragon series by D. J. MacHale. They captured my interest when I was a teenager and I kept getting reading through every book as quickly as I possible could. They were amazing. I think that the reason I liked them so much was because the writing allowed me to picture vivid scenes in my mind as I read. They were very easy to follow along with, make guesses of plot twists, and relate to on some level. The fourth would be The Hunger Games series. It's got the dystopian/science fiction theme that I like, plus with the conflict happening in the Donetsk, Ukraine area, where most of my family is, it hits a little close to home. Finally, the fifth is Dracula by Bram Stoker. I can't place if it's the writing style or the emotions this book elicits, but it's definitely one of my favorites.
What do you read for pleasure?
I always read fiction for pleasure. They primarily fall into the Young Adult genre, although I've recently been edging towards the new-adult genre because I want characters that are closer to my age. I tend to develop interest in books due to emotional connections that often come about from things that are currently happening in my personal life. Having characters my age is an important part of the relateability factor.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
That would be my Android S-6. I have no e-reader, like Kindle or Nook, but I have both apps downloaded to let me read titles off the Amazon and Barnes & Noble libraries. I can read stories from my laptop as well, but I really like the convenience of carrying the stories around without having to relocate everything else around me to accommodate a heavy laptop. It's easy on my eyes and it lets me gauge how much I'm into the story by how happy I am to scroll through pages at an accelerated rate.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Being new to the publishing industry, and having to take it on from an agent's perspective, I'm still working on figuring that out, but I'd say posting screenshots of my writing and picture-posts on Twitter and Instagram has garnered the greatest response. Call-to-action messages are important, too.
Describe your desk
My desk is whatever I make it. I have no physical desk, so it can be on the couch, at a make-shift adjustable table my boyfriend and I set up for his computer, or the dining room table. Anything comfortable and convenient is the day's desk.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
For six years, I grew up in Donetsk, Ukraine. Then, I moved to Sevastopol, Ukraine, to prepare for immigration to the United States. At seven is when I moved to Washington state. Growing up in all three places has shaped the way that I write. Being in Ukraine has given me the feeling of community, family, and friendship that I display in my writing. Being in Sevastopol has influenced the danger and adventure that I portray. Being in the United States has influenced the adventure a bit, too, but primarily reflects the action, creativity, logic, and love that I demonstrate in my work. If you look closely at Fallacies, you'll see aspects of these three locations reflected in the storyline, even the places I described.
When did you first start writing?
I was pretty young when I started writing short stories for the fun of it. I can't remember too much of it, so the first time I really know I was writing was in my creative writing class in middle school. After I was fifteen or so, I stopped altogether and didn't make an effort to save any of my work. I picked it back up again when I was about to turn nineteen. That's when I made an effort to make it worthwhile, saved everything, and wrote Fallacies.
What's the story behind your latest book?
In my latest book, Fallacies, the story revolves around the adventure of a seventeen/eighteen-year-old girl named Natalie. Her country, made up of three states in the Pacific Northwest, one being Washington, has divided from the United States in 2019. Five years later, after listening to a speech by a Council man at an annual parade, she's getting the sense that something is about to happen where public freedom will become threatened. A recruiter stays at the end of the event to take registration requests for military service. She takes him to her parents in an effort to convince them to let her join, hoping that being a part of the government will help protect her and her family from what she fears will happen. To her surprise, her dad let's her go. Her recruiter, Sean, giver her the choice of joining the military program with the contingency of completing an annual competition that the Council puts together to elect a representative to work directly beneath them. She accepts and returns home to realize that her parents have known Sean and his parents for years. She leaves for training, falls in love with Sean, and soon finds herself in the middle of an internal plot to sabotage competitors within the Council's program. Scathing the teeth of death a few times, she learns that the attempts on her life are a direct result of her relationship with Sean and his knowledge of the Blue Garnet, a device sought after by the government for containing information that would allow them to exert control over both Crestpoint and the United States. Only she never expected Sean to have the device himself.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I have considered taking the traditional publishing route, but ultimately wanted full control over my work. By seeking a publisher, I knew that I would be forced to edit my books beyond a point where I would be comfortable. There was a strong risk of deleting content that I purposefully added to connect, for example, book 1 to book 2. I didn't want to change the tone or message of the story in any way. More so, becoming an indie author is a challenge. I could always write, but I have consistently hit a wall when it comes to marketing. Becoming an indie author has given me the opportunity to break this barrier down and learn the publishing industry inside-and-out. I want to be that author that started from the ground up and built a story that becomes known worldwide for my efforts.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has made the prequel to Fallacies, The First Look, available for free on retailers that would otherwise require me to sell it at some price, even if 99 cents, such as Barnes & Noble. It highly contributed to my marketing efforts and brought it into the hands of readers everywhere, allowing them to get a glimpse into my story to discover Fallcies itself.
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