Interview with S.M. Staggs

When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
When I'm not working on my next novel or short story I spend my time in many different ways. I enjoy cooking, I'm taking classes, and more often than not I'm parked on the couch with my fiancé and a bowl of popcorn enjoying the latest adventure movie or watching reruns of our favorite shows. Some of our favorite things to watch, as mentioned in my short bio, include Doctor Who, Torchwood, Star Trek, and anything comic related such as The Avengers, The Dark Knight, or the X-Men films.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
An excellent question and I really wish I did, though I'm sure it was terrible. I've been writing short stories and badly illustrated comic strips ever since elementary school and unfortunately most have been lost to time between one move or another. I do make much more of an effort to keep up with first drafts and character ideas these days and not too long ago discovered the initial writing I did for the character of David, the protagonist in my first short story The Ship, which is available for free here on Smashwords. (I'm certainly not above shameless self-promotion.)
What is your writing process?
Most of my story, novel, and screenplays come from simple, half-formed ideas I have. Whenever something pops into my head, a character or a log line, I open up my Notes app on my phone and type out as much of the idea as I can. At any given time I have between 10-25 story ideas on my phone that I revisit, add too, and find which ones work best. From there I just start writing and sticking ideas together until the story I want emerges. Sometimes I can write a compete story in a day, other times, such as the writing for The Ship, I write 2 or 3 different versions of them constantly tinkering until it feels just right. That particular story was conceived in 2010 and only published this year and now available to download here at Smashwords. (Told you, shameless.)
What are your five favorite books, and why?
Wow that is a huge question but I think I'm up to the task. Right off the bat my favorite novel hands down has always been The Elric Saga Part II by the legend Michael Moorcock. This was the first high-fantasy novel I can ever remember finishing, closing the book, thinking on it for a few minutes, and immediately starting it over. That book is perfectly written, and deviously addictive and Elric Melnibone is by far my favorite tortured protagonist. Not one book but the entire Harry Potter series was something that was huge for my generation and the year long wait between each one was the worst cruelty I can remember enduring. Memnoch the Devil by Anne Rice is an all-time favorite (as are all the other Vampire Chronicles) and took me through the realms of Heaven and Hell with fantastic visuals. The Hobbit will always hold a special place in my heart, as do all the Tolkien works. Last but not least number 5 would have to belong to 1984 by George Orwell. I've always been a sucker for alternate history and 1984 does it better than anything else while really making you feel for poor Winston.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I certainly don't remember the first story I ever read, I doubt many writers do as I've been reading for as long as I can remember. Some of the biggest influences on my writing have certainly been J.K. Rowling and J.R.R Tolkien (I even use the initials naming style) as these were the authors who I first discovered creating entire worlds unto themselves. This idea has always fascinated me that we, as writers, can craft an entire world, a whole new existence purely from imagination and we have the power to make it real and share it with other people just by taking the time to jot it down. I do remember the first comic book I ever owned which was Judge Dredd/Batman: Die Laughing. I read this in elementary school and had it taken away by a teacher when she noticed the graphic art style. Fortunately a year or two ago I discovered a copy and have been able to add it back to my bookshelf. (Take that grade-school reading sheriff.)
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Usually when looking for something new to read I browse the most popular results in my favorite genres, those being sci-fi and fantasy. I read the description and if those few sentences make me want to read more then I will! I do enjoy good old-fashioned print books as well and have an ever-growing collection of bookshelves.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Time for a short answer! An iPad, my favorite because my fiancé owns one so I don't have to buy an e-reader. Occasionally however I read on my Macbook and I have an excellent digital comic reading app called Ehon which I enjoy immensely
What do you read for pleasure?
I read a lot of graphic novels, mostly Deadpool and team-up books. I am pro-Marvel and pro-DC though most people seem to limit themselves to one or the other. I recently began reading A Song of Ice and Fire by George R.R. Martin and I'm certainly in love with it as I am with the HBO series. I read any and everything put out by Stephen King or Anne Rice. I also enjoy novels set in comic-book universes, my favorites being the X-Men/Avengers crossover series Gamma Quest parts 1-3. I enjoy diving into classic Sherlock Holmes adventures from time to time.
How do you approach cover design?
When I create a new cover I want it to reflect the story underneath without giving too much away. The cover for The Ship is a simple one, a refrigerator floating in space with a flying saucer entering it, and it gives you exactly what you need to enter the story which is confusion and curiosity. What does this ship have to do with a fridge? Why is this fridge in space? Read the story to find out for yourself! I also enjoy covers that are unique, that break away from conventional covers and have a little more personality to them which is a little harder to find these days.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I do everything I can to market myself to the right audience, though for independent writers it's certainly an uphill battle. I post on Facebook accounts and pages, I try to build positive word-of-mouth, and it's always nice to build anticipation for a coming release, to have people waiting for your next work to drop. In the future I would like to branch out into the Twitter-verse, create a webpage, and maybe do some giveaways or contests. In the end its all about positive reviews so I hold myself to a high standard of story-telling and try to present the best finished works that i am capable of. Appropriate tags are always helpful as well.
Published 2014-06-01.
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Books by This Author

The Ship
Price: Free! Words: 3,840. Language: English. Published: May 23, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Science fiction » Adventure
(4.00 from 2 reviews)
An unassuming man finds a secret the size of the universe hidden away behind his refrigerator. What he finds will change his life forever, and maybe not for the best.