Interview with Queen of Swords Press

What do you read for pleasure?
Fantasy, graphic novels, history, biographies, horror, science fiction, mysteries - you name it. For relaxation, I really like fantasies, graphic novels and mysteries, but it really depends on my mood and what else is going on. I love discovering new writers as well as rereading old favorites.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I have found that has varied from book to book. For print books, in person events like book release parties and author readings have been most effective. For ebooks, it's been a mix. Interviews, guest blog posts, podcasts - anything that builds word of mouth is generally helpful.
Describe your desk
*Cue maniacal laughter* It's a bit of a mess, really. Action figures, small toys, copies of books that I have written and/or had stories in, paperwork I'm meaning to get back to, a computer, peripherals. The usual, really. There used to be a stuffed Cthulhu, but I ran out space for that and moved it to another room.
When did you first start writing?
I started writing fiction in my early 30s. Prior to that, I had only written nonfiction for school projects and some media outlets. I read an enormous amount but I didn't try writing fiction when I was younger. But when I turned 31, I had to close down my bookstore and I started a brief stint in law school. I found my muse around the same time that I discovered that law school made me both miserable and telekinetic. I quit law school and took up writing fiction instead.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book is a collection of my fantasy, horror and science fiction with LGBT/queer protagonists. I've had a lot of short fiction published but at this point, my previous collections were out of print and I had some stories that had been unavailable for a long time. I want to use these to reach out to my existing audience as well as building a new one. It's also the launch book for my new publishing company Queen of Swords Press. I'll be releasing several more collections as well as some of my novels while I figure out some good strategies for marketing and get a better handle on what works well and what doesn't. At that point, I plan to open up to submissions.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've worked with a lot of traditional publishers, some of whom were wonderful, others were less so. I had some not too great experiences with traditional presses and want to see if I can do better on my own. In addition, I like to challenge myself and there are some terrific learning opportunities involved in indie press. I'm looking forward to seeing what I can accomplish and look forward to be doing well enough to publish other authors down the road.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love it all! Even rewriting! Okay, maybe not every minute of that. But I love creating a story and watching it come together, like a statue out of a block of stone. Then I love improving it and making it the best that it can be at that point in time. I really enjoy the fact that writing is an ongoing process: you never know everything and as long as you push yourself, there are always new things to learn.
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are terrific! I'm not a very well-known author (yet) but I do get fan mail and get to meet my readers at conventions and other events. It's wonderful to know that your work moved someone or inspired them to try their own.
What are you working on next?
I also write erotica and erotic romance as Emily L. Byrne so I'm working on a collection of Emily stories. That will be going out for editing and cover art soon, at which point, I'll start on the next book. I'm also promoting "Out of This World" right now and planning more Catherine books and stories. And I'm always writing short fiction and articles.
Who are your favorite authors?
Ooph. So many. And it varies - I might love one book by an author but not enjoy their other works, or vice versa. Right now, for speculative fiction: Angela Carter, Shirley Jackson, Joanna Russ, P.C. Hodgell, Robert Jackson Bennett, Samuel Delany, Nalo Hopkinson, Melissa Scott, Sofia Samatar, Will Alexander, Amanda Downum and a bunch of others. For writers who write LGBTQ+ work: Ellen Hart, Benny Lawrence, Tenea D. Johnson, Ginn Hale, Craig Gidney, Heather Rose Jones, Warren Rochelle, Sacchi Green, A.J. Fitzwater, Sarah Waters, Sarah Schulman. S. Bear Bergman, Julia Serrano and the list goes on and on.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I have a day job in IT and I do a lot of panels and programming at science fiction conventions. I also teach writing classes at The Loft Literary Center and do some volunteer work with local social service agencies. I love theater and live music and try to go to as much of both as I can. And I read. A lot. :-)
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Recommendations from reviewers and friends, as well as other authors. I've recently discovered Story Bundle, which make it easy to discover a bunch of new authors for a reasonable price while donating to good things. If I interact with an author on social media and am favorably impressed with what they have to say, I'll generally try one of their books too.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Well, yes. It wasn't that long ago! And it was published, which helps. I wrote a story called "M. de Maupin," based on the early life of seventeenth century French opera singer/swordswoman/scandalous bisexual prone to dressing in men's clothes, Julie d'Aubigny. It was published in a magazine that no longer exists, but artist Alicia Austin based the cover for that issue on my story. I had her sign it years later and still treasure it.
How do you approach cover design?
I look at an artist's existing work but I also browse Shutterstock a lot. I generally search for a theme and see what's out there. Then I look at Amazon and elsewhere to see what other authors in the genre are using for cover art. I know what I like, but I'm not a trained graphic designer, so where possible, I'd rather hire someone who's good at it. Kanaxa Designs did my book cover for "Out of This World" and S.L. Johnson Images created my press logo and I will definitely work with them on future projects, if they're available. I want a product that looks professional, unique and resizes well so I'm always looking at those factors.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Nook but I also use the IBooks app on various devices for reading.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
My cats pounding on the door and howling to be fed before I leave for work?
What is your writing process?
I seize every opportunity that I can to write or do something that inspires more writing. Since I work full time and have a life, it's more difficult to carve out specific blocks of writing time, but I try to keep most Sunday mornings and at least one night a week free for writing-related activities. I listen to a lot of music, set myself a goal and a time limit and try and stick with it.
Published 2017-01-08.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.