Interview with Bianca D'Arc

Published 2018-07-06.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I was first published in 2006 by a small press publisher called Samhain Publishing, which made a big splash in the publishing world for a decade or so before the marketplace changed and they - along with several other trailblazers - went out of business. In 2009, I received my first "NY" publishing contract and was quickly disillusioned with the entire traditional publishing process. I'd been hearing about self-publishing for a while before I finally bit the bullet in 2011, very tentatively. I self-published a few space opera romances and had moderate success with them, but it wasn't until I indie published my first werebear book, titled ROCKY, that I fully understood indie was the way to go! I love the freedom to try new things and work at my own pace. I felt held back or pushed at times by publishers, but as an indie, the only person pushing is me, which is quite enough. lol. And as the sole caregiver to an elderly parent, it helps to be able to make my own scheduling decisions.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
Freedom. And I mean that in a number of ways. First, there's the mundane - freedom from having to work 9 to 5. I was a commuter to NYC for years, and that 45 minute train ride each way was a huge drag. By the time I got home (in the Winter I'd leave home in the dark and arrive back home in the dark!), I was wiped out and frankly, didn't have much energy or time to enjoy life itself. Next, there's creative freedom. Writing allows me to explore worlds and ideas in a way that turns daydreams into something you can share with the world. I love being able to set down in words the characters and fantastical worlds I see in my imagination. It's both a liberating and joyful experience, which most of my previous career was not. There's also the special freedom of being an indie author, which is very unlike how I started my career, writing for publishers who had the ultimate say over editing decisions, artwork and even titles. As an indie, I now have total control, which appeals to my inner megalomaniac. ;-)
What do your fans mean to you?
Fans are the BEST! I've made some super friends that started out as fans who liked my work. I'm still awe-struck every time I realize there are people out there actually reading the stories I write. How cool is that? I get all freaked out (in a really good way) when someone comes up to me at a conference and starts talking about the worlds I've written as if they know all the people and places. I love being able to talk about my worlds and characters with like-minded folk and I love how supportive people can be. Having fans of my work is something I still can't quite believe, but it's super cool and an incredible honor. I love you guys!!!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
At present, I'm living a fairly quiet life. My dad is in his 90's and I've lived with him since just before my mother died. When she got sick, I moved back home to help take care of her. Being an author allowed me to do that because if I'd still been working in the city, I wouldn't have been able to be there when my mother needed me, or be here now for Dad. So, my days are spent with him, although he's very undemanding and we both are rather quiet people. He works on his computer (Dad's a retired scientist and bought the family the first home computers back in the 1980's), and I work on mine. We watch TV in the evenings - mostly we stream British murder mysteries, which we both enjoy. We belong to a few clubs and we go to meetings now and again. We eat out a lot and spend time with friends. It's not very exciting, I'm sorry to say, but it's comfortable and it allows me a lot of time to write, which is helpful.
How do you discover the ebooks you read?
Well, like most readers, I have my favorite authors from long ago that I remain loyal to, but I also find new authors on occasion in all sorts of ways. Some are recommendations, some are things that just catch my eye - I read the blurb and give it a try. If I like it, I read everything by that author, because I'm greedy that way. ;-) I love ebooks and keep my ereader stocked with books to read while I'm waiting for Dad at his various doctor appointments. If I'm not actively writing a book of my own, I'm usually reading - especially right before bed. I flip the screen from white background/black type to black background/white type and then turn the brightness way down and read until I can't keep my eyes open anymore. LOL.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first was probably Sam and the Firefly, which was a picture book I loved when I was little. My mother had a Masters in Library Science and was both a school librarian and then, later, the director of a public library, so books were always around. She bought me a large picture book that told all the stories of the famous ballets when I was small and I LOVED that thing! The art was gorgeous and it told the stories in a way I could understand as I grew. I still have that book somewhere and I think that's why I wanted to have dancing lessons so badly when I was a kid. (Mom relented when I was 10 or 11 and I danced until I was in college.) In grammar school, what really turned me into a voracious reader was having to pick a book for a book report in one of the lower grades. I picked The Black Stallion and fell in love with the story. All that adventure! I read every single one of those books - I think there were like 100 of them, maybe. I read them one after the other, like the true book-a-holic I was about to become. ;-) I also read Nancy Drew and The Hardy Boys. Even back then, I loved series where you kept coming back to the same places and characters. That's probably why I write such long series myself, come to think of it.
What are your five favorite books, and why?
1. The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkein - started it all for me as far as fantasy goes. I first read the trilogy when I was 13 and it captured my imagination completely.
2. The Valdemar series by Mercedes Lackey - I started reading these when I was a teen and still re-read them on occasion. She's writing new books now, and of course, I'm reading those as well. I LOVE the ongoing series and the worldbuilding.
3. The Serrano series (also the Vatta series) by Elizabeth Moon - I found these about a decade ago and I find myself re-reading them all every year or so. Such great worldbuilding and adventure!
4. The EarthCent Ambassador series by E.M. Foner - I found these last year and they're on constant re-read lately. I LOVE the world this man has created. It's hilarious. It's witty. It's just super cool! I picked up the first one "Date Night on Union Station" expecting a bit of romance, but that's not really what it is at all. Normally, I would have been disappointed, but the actual story is so incredibly quirky and interesting, that I found a new favorite author! I'm a total stalker of his books. ;-)
5. WHY IS THERE NO ROMANCE ON MY LIST? I can hear you asking that. The simple answer is that there are too many to list and I don't want to hurt anyone's feelings! LOL. But I'll put a few of my faves here: Nalini Singh's Psy-Changelings, Jennifer Ashley's shifters, all Lora Leigh, Laurann Dohner's New Species, T.S. Joyce, Christine Warren, Celia Kyle, and the list goes on... Like I said, too many to mention! LOL
What do you read for pleasure?
Mostly science fiction and fantasy right now. I tend to avoid genres I'm writing in because I want to keep my voice fresh and totally my own. I'm not sure how much other writers might influence my work, but I want to try to be as original as possible, so I don't read a lot in the genre I'm writing, at or around the time I'm doing the writing, if that makes any sense. Sometimes, I just can't read anyone else's take on a particular thing - like dragons. Since starting my Dragon Knights series in 2005, I just can't read other books featuring dragons because I have a very clear picture in my mind of what dragons are all about and I can't really make that mesh with other authors' ideas about them. It's a quirk of mine, I guess. *shrug*
What is your e-reading device of choice?
In 2005-ish, I was re-reading The Lord of the Rings on my Palm Pilot! LOL. I have an old iPad I use for reading, as well as a newer Kindle. I've been known to read on my phone in a pinch, too. Mostly, I use the Kindle app nowadays, but I've used others in the past. I LOVE ebooks and have since before there was such thing as a Kindle.
Describe your desk
My desk is a disaster! Stuff everywhere. Papers, pens, a pile of bills waiting to be paid, lists, and now, reading and computer glasses all over the place. It's a huge mess, but it works for me, I guess. I bought a desk with a hutch a few years back, specifically for writing. It has a compartment on the lower left for my desktop's tower case and a pull-out drawer that folds down for the keyboard. I put rectangular baskets in the overhead hutch that hold more papers and stuff, and on top of that is a sea of things from books, to statues of dragons, to my award statuettes. I like to look at those writing awards now and again and remind myself that I really am a writer! Who woulda thunk it? ;-)
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born and raised on Long Island in New York, but my mother was an immigrant from the Netherlands, so I was raised a little differently from most American kids. I traveled to Europe several times before I was even a teen, to see my mother's relatives, which wasn't something most of the kids I grew up with had ever done. We were strictly middle class and both of my parents worked. My Dad was a scientist who worked on the space program and had Top Secret clearance. My mother was a librarian and later became a lawyer in her 60's. They were an incredible influence on me. Both believed that I could do just about anything and I started to believe it too. ;-) Growing up so close to New York City was really helpful to my writing in that I was exposed to so many different cultures, religions and personalities. Lots and lots of real characters that sometimes come out in the fictional characters I write today.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has been super supportive since day one. I had the good fortune to meet and speak with Mark Coker at several conferences and I love how he shares his in-depth knowledge of the market so openly. I like that Smashwords can reach vendors I wouldn't be able to manage on my own and I love that they help promote authors. I've been lucky enough to have my books make the Smashwords Hot List a number of times and as a result, be featured occasionally on the USA Today Happily Ever After blog. I think that's an awesome feature and it's something I wouldn't even begin to know how to do on my own. It's hard being an indie author, wearing all the hats - writing, sourcing and approving cover art, web design, marketing, promotion, advertising, etc. Smashwords helps a bit, which is always very welcome!
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author or publisher.

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