Interview with Terrie Leigh Relf

What are your five favorite books, and why?
I've been reading since I was five years old. That said, I wish I'd kept track of each and every book I've read, as the titles often elude me. There are so many books on my "favorites" list and for a variety of reasons. I view each book I read as a unique experience - and opportunity - to have an adventure into the mind (and world) of the author.

At the top of my list is Arthur C. Clarke's work. Childhood's End stands out for me, primarily due to its "utopian" promises and the disturbing reality of transformation. Secondly, anything by Ray Bradbury. The Martian Chronicles were mesmerizing and I remember being fascinated by the altered states of consciousness aspect. I originally read Fahrenheit 451 in German class, and while it was a different read than the English version, it made a profound effect on me in terms of free speech, independent thinking, and so forth. Fourthly, anything by Kurt Vonnegut, such as Slaughterhouse-Five (which I also originally read in German). Vonnegut et al expanded my universe and thinking. Fifthly, I would have to say that Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams as I was fixated on learning the meaning to life!

The above books definitely shaped my interest and dedication to the science and speculative fiction genre. There are current ones I've read as well that have made a major impact on me as well, such as Limbus, Inc., Book I, edited by Jonathan Maberry and Brett J. Talley, and Limbus, Inc. Book II, edited by Jonathan Maberry and Joe R. Lansdale.
What is your e-reading device of choice?
I have a Kindle ap for my Mac, which works fine. I borrowed a friend's Kindle once, and plan to get one at some point.
What book marketing techniques have been most effective for you?
Over the years, I've discovered that good old-fashioned word-of-mouth and social media has been the most effective. I'm also fortunate to have an awesome publisher who sets up a table at conferences.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
There were several factors that motivated me to become an indie author. The main one was when I re-focused on getting my work out there, my very first chapbook was published by an independent press. Around that time, I also met some awesome people at Tom Brinck's SciFaiku.com list, which eventually lead me to be on staff at an indie press.

In general, I love the indie press because there is usually more opportunity to connect with a community of authors and artists - and staff. It's much more personalized, I believe. Another aspect is the multiplicity of voices - and from emerging as well as established writers.
Describe your desk
You don't want to see it! Seriously, though, I once posted several photos of my desk and extended working area on FB. My desk is actually a long work table so I can spread everything out.
Here is a list of what's on my desk now:
*Macbook Pro
*Printer (sans ink) and scanner
*Coffee cup
*Stickie notes
*Index cards
*Appointment book
*Stack of old journals and folders of stories to go through
*Altoids
*Container of pens and clips
*Lip balm
When did you first start writing?
I first started writing - and reading - at five. My grandmother encouraged me to keep a dream and daily journal. My first poem was published when I was six years old, and I always enjoyed writing short stories and papers. At some point during my early school years, I discovered the relationship between reading and writing - how they inform each other - and how writing was how I processed information, explored ideas, and examined my thoughts.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I grew up in La Jolla, CA, which was, at the time, quite the intellectual and cultural mecca. Coming from an all-around creative family made a major impact on my own creative pursuits. We had a great library and all kinds of local workshops which I attended - including an art program for kids lead by none other than Dr. Seuss!
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is multi-layered. First of all, it is being able to immerse myself in the process; secondly, in the case of my fiction, it's observing how the characters and their stories unveil, and in the case of my poetry, the poem ripening; and thirdly, it's the response I receive from editors and readers!
What do your fans mean to you?
Words fall short. . .I am my fans' greatest fan. They are my barometer and seismograph. I love receiving feedback on any aspect of my writing - whether it's my articles, fiction or poetry. It's not unusual for one of my fans to see something I didn't see. Perhaps it's an alternate meaning or an entirely different perspective, and I love this. I was one of those people who still believed in Reader Response Theory back in grad school, much to several of my professors and fellow students' chagrin.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest book (which is almost ready to send to the publisher) is currently titled Walks-With-Two-Spirits. The story behind it has evolved through several revisions, and while not a sequel to my novel, The Waters of Nyr, is part of that world. I would probably classify it as a space opera, as it's not hard SF, but has some elements of that genre along with horror and speculative fiction.

Walks-With-Two-Spirits has multiple layers and subplots. The story takes place against a backdrop and within a web of transgalactic power brokers: The Consortium, a transgalactic coalition that has been overseeing Earth (AKA Haura) since it was first populated; The T'ar El, or Guardians of Sihar Meh Toh, that watch over spirits between bodies and perform The Embodiment; The Sisterhood of the Blood Moon, whose Reverend Mothers serve as political and spiritual advisors and seers; Trilune, a transgalactic corporation which oversees most industries (e.g., mining, medical, pharmaceutical, transportation et al), and has had two consecutive corrupt CEOs; an unnamed organization on Earth which is comprised of individuals within the government and private sector, which has been colluding with Trilune for its own purposes as well as working with The Consortium to obtain technological and other resources; and the Mora, a symbiotic spider and flower used by The Sisterhood for vision quests, which when processed, is both medicine and poison - and its cultivation is closely guarded.

Without giving any spoilers. . .This is the story of Naomi Running Deer, a medicine woman of indeterminate tribal origin living in Tacoma, Washington, who is intimately connected to the Mora. After her daughter and son-in-law go missing, she raises her two grandchildren, Ryan and Veronica, who are unaware of what lies beneath their childhood home. After Naomi dies, Ryan, and then Veronica, move to San Diego, CA, until Forrest, Naomi's adopted son and family attorney, calls them home for a very important reason: The Blood Moon's Spider Dance. But there is more going on up in Tacoma than the lunar eclipse, as The Coalition is meeting above Earth's atmosphere to negotiate an exchange of valuable resources. Meanwhile, Trilune's interim CEO is engaged in secret negotiations with Earth, as well as a species previously denied a seat at The Coalition table. Everything hinges - or does it - on finding a cure for M17, a virus which has nearly decimated the population of Mahrain. Has it been let loose on Earth?
What are you working on next?
I have three projects that I'm planning to complete before starting on my new novel: The Missing Piece of Sky, a collection of previously published supernatural tales; Origami Stars, a collection of previously published speculative fiction tales; and Postcards from Space, a collection of previously published speculative poetry. I will, of course, be writing new material to include in each collection.

My next novel, which is currently gestating, will definitely focus on reincarnation. Its tentative title is The Vow, and it will begin in ancient Peru or China.
Published 2015-05-16.
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Books by This Author

Networking Tips for Writers: Envisioning Success
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 6,210. Language: English. Published: February 16, 2016. Categories: Nonfiction » Self-improvement » Personal Growth / Success
This short eBook is about the collaborative process and is intended for writers of all levels and experience. Whether you’re new to the writing scene or are a networking guru, I hope you find something of value within these pages.
Search for a Kinder Muse
Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 5,420. Language: English. Published: July 18, 2015. Categories: Fiction » Poetry » Female authors
This is a collections of ars poetica - or poems about writing. It also contains a few Ekphrasis poems inspired by Marcia Borell's art. In addition to new poems, there are select poems from my first chapbook, Lap Danced by the Muse as well as another out-of-print collection, My Friend, The Poet, and Other Poems About People I Think I Know.