Interview with R. A. Finley

What are you working on next?
I'm working on the next book—the third—in The Wheel of the Year series. I hope to have it available this December. There is a lot going on in it, and the characters are going to face some tough, emotional challenges along with "solving the immediate problem." (Even though this is a continuing series, each book has a mystery, a challnge to be faced, of its own. A self-contained mystery-adventure that is resolved by the last chapter.)
What is your writing process?
I outline. In my current series, the books are essentially mysteries, or mystery-adventure. Plotting is crucial, what with there needing to be a complex problem for the characters to figure out (along with their individual storylines). I'd rather find out that something doesn't make sense sooner rather than later. And so I outline.
Describe your desk
A compact oak secretary with barley-twist legs that I picked up in an antique store. It doesn't have the shelf unit that went on it (as indicated by the holes where it would have attached), the drawers are uneven and sticky, and it makes plenty of creaks and startling pops—but I love it.
How do you approach cover design?
I like to put a scene from the book on the cover, or at least a scene which could be from it. I have a background in art and visual effects, so I do them myself. They may not be the best possible covers the books could have—the ones someone with a background in graphic design could produce—and the images might make better paintings than they do covers (where they need to work at teeny-tiny thumbnail size), but I enjoy making them. And, honestly, that's all my budget can allow, anyway!
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I wanted to spend my time writing the next book instead of shopping the previous book around to agents and editors. When I realized how many hours and weeks and eventually months were going toward the latter, I had to think about what the smartest course of action was—given that the book I was shopping was but the first one of a series. Did it make sense to write the second book (something I really wanted to do) when the first one kept getting the response of, "This isn't right for our agency/company at this time"? And, then, there was that response. The book wasn't right for those agencies and publishing houses at that time, but did that mean it wasn't right for potential readers at that time?

I decided that the answer to both questions was no. And then I decided that rather than let "The Stone of Shadows" sit in a computer file while I worked on the follow-up book, I would make it available.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Aagh, yes. Yes, I do, and I'm sure it's in a box somewhere here. I was eight.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Not the first one, no, because it feels as if I have always been reading—or having stories read to me. But books like "Harold and the Purple Crayon" and "Arty the Smarty" stand out. I must have read them hundreds of times. To me, Harold was about creativity and transformation: He created an entire world for himself with one simple crayon. Arty, for me, made it not just okay to be different, to go against the crowd, but showed how it could be the smart thing to do. Really look at what's around you, it said, and think about it for yourself.

And then later, Daniel Pinkwater's "The Snarkout Boys and the Avocado of Death." Wonderful story. Really witty, with rich, quirky characters.
What do you read for pleasure?
I read romance, and mainly historical romance, at that. There are exceptions, of course. Suspense slips in sometimes, or an epic fantasy. But my interest is better held when there are romantic elements (bickering hero and heroine are a favorite). I hesitate to read anything that won't, after all the struggles and danger and anxiety, end on a hopeful note. Life is hard enough.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Truly, I prefer paper. But the cost difference does add up, doesn't it? So I buy paper versions of books I'm fairly sure I'll enjoy reading and re-reading for years to come, and I'll download all the other books I want to try onto my phone.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I lived in Tempe, Arizona up until the start of high school when my parents and I moved to Oregon. I'm not sure anything particularly Arizonan or suburban is detectable in my current book series, but Oregon sure is. I set much of "The Stone of Shadows" in a fictionalized version of Ashland, and almost all of "The Darkest Midnight." It will make up the bulk of the book I'm currently working on, "The Vale of Silence," as well.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Published 2015-07-26.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

The Darkest Midnight
Series: The Wheel of the Year. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 110,600. Language: English. Published: July 26, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Thriller & suspense » Supernatural
Thia has more than enough trouble. She is the new owner of a gift store at the busiest time of year, the magical powers she inherited are not yet under control, Cormac has dropped out of sight—and so has the woman who swore revenge upon them both—and the Brigantium still wants her to join its secret ranks. And that's before Eclectica’s cafe manager disappears and everything gets so much worse.
The Stone of Shadows
Series: The Wheel of the Year. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 110,820. Language: English. Published: May 19, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Fantasy » Contemporary, Fiction » Fantasy » Urban
TROUBLE COMES THIS DAY When Thia McDaniel is sent a polished crystal sphere and told to protect it at all costs, she finds herself caught up in a world beyond her imagining. A world of myth and magic, where a secret society seems to hold all the answers, an ancient sorcerer wants her dead, and an enigmatic charmer is either the last man she should trust—or the only one she can.