Interview with Becca Lusher

Published 2014-02-14.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
I read a lot of books as a child, and I have trouble remembering which came first. I can remember reading Alice in Wonderland when I was about six, and trying to beat my sister to the finish. Since she's three years older than me and had already started, I skipped a fair bit! I also remember reading Black Beauty around this time. Poor Ginger! From then on it was all animals and magical things. My reading habits haven't really altered much.
How do you approach cover design?
For my first book, Orion's Kiss, I had a very firm idea in my head of what I wanted. However, lack of funds and the necessary artistic skills limited my ambitions somewhat. So I figured out what I could do, figured out what I wanted to do, and actually the finished product wasn't too far off what I wanted. Since this is an Aekhartain book I knew I needed stars, magpies and a big feather, for my things-with-wings. I then realised buildings in the background would be a good marker for an urban(ish) fantasy setting, and since this was Freyda's tale then I needed a blackbird. As for the font and the colours used, I just went with what felt right to me. A little dark and brooding perhaps, but with a hint of lightness. I was so pleased with how my magpies turned out, and how the O of Orion circles them.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
I don't have a hard and fast list, so this will have to be my favourite five for now. In no particular order.
Persuasion by Jane Austen.
I love this story. Anne Elliott is so stoic and downtrodden, yet she was loved and lovely once. Which is a bit of a miracle considering her truly awful family. Sure, Captain Wentworth is an idiot at the beginning, but that letter makes up for it. In fact that letter is why this is my favourite Austen novel rather than Pride and Prejudice or Sense and Sensibility.

Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold
I love all the Chalion books, mostly for the Bastard God. He's amazing. This is my favourite (over Paladin of Souls) at the moment because of Caz and the sheer hell he goes through trying to lift the curse. Being a saint is definitely no picnic, and these Gods are not gentle with Their chosen! LMB is one of my all time favourite authors. Her characters are amazing, and the worlds she creates are just glorious.

Any Discworld with the Witches or Vimes by Terry Pratchett
I can't pick just one, that's impossible. Even though this series isn't strictly written to be read in order, the witch books and the Sam Vimes books definitely expand on what's gone before. I love how Granny Weatherwax looks at the world, how she changes everything without seeming to change anything. Her Headology is just brilliant. Then there's Nanny Ogg. There is no way to describe her. I love Vimes for his rigid beliefs, which should make him inflexible and intolerant, yet somehow make him more accepting than almost anyone else. Snuff is a prime example of that.

The Dark Lord of Derkholm - Diana Wynne Jones
I love so many of DWJ's books (the Chrestomanci series, the Howl books, so many others), but this will always have a special place in my heart. Not just for the way it completely sends up the fantasy genre - but with great affection - but because of those griffins. Derk is a wonderful character, but Kit will forever be my favourite. I adore that griffin.

The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien
I can't believe I almost forgot to put this on the list. Yes, I know it's a cliché for a fantasy writer, but I don't care. (I'm also including The Silmarillion, Unfinished Tales and Tales from the Perilous Realm in this favourite - and you can't stop me.) The attention to detail, the layers, the scope of the story, it's all just wonderful. I read it as a teenager and my brain just said, Yes, this story works for me. There are issues, lack of diversity is a particular problem, and sometimes his characterisation could have been better, but as a whole it's beautiful, epic and inspiring. LotR isn't the reason why I write fantasy, but on many days it's the reason why I still read it.

Aww, I have no spaces left. If I had then War Horse by Michael Morpurgo, something by Dick King-Smith, the Protector of the Small Quartet by Tamora Pierce, His Dark Materials trilogy by Philip Pullman, the Bridgertons by Julia Quinn and something by Georgette Heyer would likely be included.
What do you read for pleasure?
Depends on my mood. Romance is my usual go-to for when I just need something light and fluffy, be it contemporary or historical. I love fantasy, epic, urban, whatever part of the genre, but again what sort depends on my mood. I'll try Sci-fi too, and I love a good bit of steampunk. Then there are the days when I'll turn to some classics, or my non-fiction shelf, which is mostly populated by history texts. I like the read a lot, so I try to spread my reading habits around.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
Predictable me prefers my Kindle. It's an early, bog-standard one, but it works, it's light and exceedingly easy to use.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
I've only just started, so I'll get back to you on this one...
Describe your desk
I don't really have a desk. I tend to tote my laptop around with me. My favourite writing place, though, is my bed, with various notebooks to hand, a bottle of water, maybe something chocolatey and a good sound system nearby. There may also occasionally be cats.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in South Devon, next to the sea, with Dartmoor very close by. This comes out in my writing by my love of a good landscape. I love vivid descriptions, and setting the right surroundings and atmosphere has become quite important to me. As is the weather. C'mon, I'm British, of course I write about the weather!
When did you first start writing?
I used to think I didn't really start writing until I was a teenager. However, my mum has proof that I was writing at about seven-years-old, thanks to a self-made and fully illustrated book about dragons. Alas, my projected vocabulary far outweighed my spelling ability. (Nothing much has changed there then.)

I started writing in earnest at about sixteen. That's when I started finishing books, anyway. I have finished many since. Not all of them were worth the effort, sadly.
What's the story behind your latest book?
Orion's Kiss came about because I love stars and magpies, and I wanted to create a world of short stories, so that people didn't have to read my on-going novels if they didn't want to. This was about ten years ago. Freyda's tale has grown quite a bit since then, as have those not-really short stories. I'm not sure where the setting came from. It was just a girl, looking up at the stars and making a wish. Everything else can be blamed on Ima, my rapacious muse.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
My Tales of the Aekhartain will never appeal to mainstream publishing. They're not long enough, there's too many of them and they're all out of order. But I wanted to do something with them anyway. I've got lots of stories, set in lots of worlds, but I haven't got very far searching for a home for any of them. I'm not very good at selling *myself*, I'd rather just sell my stories.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
I'll let you know when/if I find out.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
I love the characters. I love seeing how they turn out and what they get up to. I also love the exploration of new worlds, of making them up out of nothing, and seeing how they develop. I just love to explore, really, characters and places. It's all fun for me.
What do your fans mean to you?
Any reader I have is precious, because they've taken time to invest in my world. Over the years I've made some really good friends out of people who've read my stories. Knowing other people are enjoying my tales as much as I do drives me to write more, to do better, to keep creating just so I can share them. Readers are great. I'd still write if I didn't have any, but I wouldn't be writing as much or have improved as much as I have without them.
What are you working on next?
I'm always working on several things at once, but for the purpose of publishing on Smashwords I plan to write a short story with a romantic twist, featuring some characters from Orion's Kiss, then I have to rework Demero's stories. That might take a while, so the short story will definitely appear first - hopefully with a preview of Demero at the end of it!
Who are your favorite authors?
Lois McMaster Bujold, Terry Pratchett, JRR Tolkien, Jane Austen, Georgette Heyer, Tamora Pierce, Diana Wynne Jones, Ilona Andrews, Nalini Singh, Meljean Brook, Susan Napier, Jessica Sims. There are more, but that's just off the top of my head for now.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Since I need a lot of sleep, it can take a lot to get me out of bed in the morning. However, aside from traditional responsibilities, I get up because there are always new stories to be told, new worlds to explore, whether inside or out, on a computer or with my feet. There's so much to see, so much to learn, so much to read. Much as I like to sleep and dream, life would be dull if I just stayed there all day.
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I read a lot, I walk my dogs, I cuddle my cats, I spend time with various members of my family and I take a lot of photos of gorgeous landscapes. I'm not an exciting person, but it works for me.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Luck and chance, mostly. I have no set way of finding things.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
Only because I've read it since - the dragon one. I remember something about my rabbits when I was 11, but I didn't finish that one. Then there was the one that clearly showed I'd been reading too much Tamora Pierce and Philip Pullman. That's the first book I ever finished, Earth Magic, and I'm pleased to say the second and third book were completely my own kind of thing. Even if that story will never again see the light of day...
What is your writing process?
I don't really have one. I just mull things over in my head over what I want to write today, fire up the laptop and hopefully away I go. I usually review what I wrote the last time first before continuing, but it's really nothing more special than that.

Well, apart from the chanting, the incense and the green and yellow candles... ;D
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