When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
My schedule is extremely busy. Besides being a writer, I am a single parent of teenager with Asperger's, I am also a psychological counselor, and full time graduate student at Montana University Bozeman. I am a press and promotional manager for select artists, which can require public appearances, networking, etc. I am also a chef, am active in Native American affairs, education and life, and am a freelance journalist on indigenous topics.
What's the story behind your latest book?
My latest novel, and my first full length fictional work, is The Agony of Joy, which this year was the top winner in the Global E-Book Awards as Best LGBT Fiction. Taking almost ten years to complete, it incorporates many of my experiences and observations as a survivor of sexual abuse and violence. But far from being the central theme, although psychological and behavioral after-effects continue for many, the novel focuses on the courage it takes, often in the face of opposition, misunderstanding and/or apathy to not allow anything or anyone to keep you imprisoned by that past, not even yourself.
What motivated you to become an indie author?
I've been published both traditionally and independent, but primarily went indie because I came to very much dislike the completely subjective and/or vapid nature of some publishers and editors. I write the stories I want to write, and often need to write. My work may not appeal to everyone, naturally, but I will not compromise my personal integrity and voice to suit an individual editor's taste for their niché market and reader demographic.
Especially with my last novel, The Agony of Joy, which was rejected by a number of publishers, it is a great accomplish in its way. I had submitted to trad-pubs primarily because my personal schedule is so busy, I didn't have the time to properly market and advertise the novel on my own, but as I said was rejected, as they didn't see any appeal in the work. I was gratified by the fact it recently received an award for best book in its category in the Global E-Book Awards 2013. Goes to show what they know. So, basically, I was motivated to be and stay indie because I hate subjectivity.
Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?
I was born in Germany so I have an affinity with aspects of that society, but I mostly grew up in Alabama and Tennessee in the US. Because my family moved a lot at times, but also because I was a very quiet, introverted child and through life I'd experienced and observed, I preferred to be alone. During those times I amused myself imagining stories of all kinds, different peoples or aliens, and places I'd read about, as I was a voracious reader from the age of four. I remember all of those things, the characters, etc. and they influence my writing even now.
When did you first start writing?
I more seriously started writing around the age of eleven: poetry and fiction, as well as articles and observations about things I'd read or that had influenced me. For example, I particularly loved history, so I would write about my feelings on certain events. These ranged from WW2 and the Holocaust, to the Russian Revolution, and of course, being a Native American Indian myself, to the brutal acts perpetrated on my people.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has allowed me to publish my and other authors work in a variety of formats, and has facilitated their distribution across the world through a number of selling venues.
Who are your favorite authors?
Some of my favorite and most influential authors are Michael Moorcock, H.G. Wells, Edgar Allen Poe, C.J. Cherryh and Yevgeny Yevtushenko. Others, especially for my poetry, would include Emily Dickinson, Lord Alfred Tennyson and Leslie Marmon Silko.
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
Simply because it needs to be done. I have problems with insomnia, and haven't slept a night through in over thirty years, so when the alarm goes off or its time to get up: I just do it. Sheer determination most of the time.
What is your writing process?
Most of my story ideas are old ones I've been thinking about for some time. When one really affects me again, meaning when the characters and their story becoming overwhelmingly "vocal" and wish to be told, I usually meditate upon them very strongly. This may take days or even years, as I fully have to feel them, as they become a kind of total reality for me. As I meditate, I also plan the outline and direction of the story, so that when I sit down to write, it has become an overwhelming passion, and it all flows out at once. I am not a writer who methodically sits down and writes on a project everyday, nor do I believe in "word counts." That doesn't fit my personality, character or way of living. I may not write on my projects every day, but I do write everyday, whether its articles on my blog and websites, or I am answering the many emails, inquiries or correspondence I receive.
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
The first story I really strongly remember reading was "The People That Time Forgot" by Edgar Rice Burroughs. I was around 7 or 8 years old, and the collectible copy had been given to me by a family friend. It was fantasy adventure, had some romance that even a child could appreciate, was action packed and well-written. It really set my reading preferences for life, as I prefer epic fantasy, very innovative, descriptive works outside of main stream, average tastes.
Describe your desk
I am a very minimalistic person by choice. In 2011 when I moved from the US back to Germany, I sold some of my personal items, but the majority was donated to charities or given away to those who needed or wanted them, even my car. To me, materialism is a disease, and I don't want to have any life where things and acquiring them is more important that humanity. I could have whatever kind of desk I want, but my current desk is a wooden board on top of the box my printer came in. It serves its purpose, and its good enough.
What are you working on next?
Ahh, that's a loaded question. I have many personal writing projects in mind, or which I've outlined or have developed; stories I wish to tell. Some are sequel to my works, Katrdeshtr's Redemption and The Agony of Joy, and others are original ideas. However, because of my busy personal schedule as well as the fact my passion for them hasn't reach epic, needed proportions for me to start actively writing on them, I would say I am not working, as in book writing.
I have a couple of article ideas for Indian Country Today Media Network that have been accepted, and which I need to complete. I also have a huge multi-media idea that is in development with a number of fellow Native American Indians that we want to make happen. Otherwise, I continue reviewing different venues and events here in Germany such as art openings, film and dance performance reviews and music events.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.