Interview with Xao Thao

What motivated you to become an indie author?
What motivated me the most is the complete control that I have over the finished product. Being a writer, I have in mind the title I want and the story that I want to tell. Some of my favorite authors have later expressed a bit of regret over their publishers changing the names of their novels or had them cut off 40,000 words to fit into a specific mold. Also, the amount of work is limited. If a story doesn't sell so well, then the rest of that story, whether the author has already written it out or not, is more than likely not ever going to be published. I didn't want to feel like I didn't give my creativity and my work the best that it deserved.

With Smashwords and self-publishing, I have complete control over the title, the content, and however many subsequent novels there are left to tell in the story. This particular story that I have written, "The Turning", is the first novel in a completed ten-book vampire series. Whether the first book or the fifth or any of them sell at all, my main goal is to be able to share this wonderful and crazy story with the world. That's what I'm after: to be able to share my great love for these characters and their lives with other people around the world.
How has Smashwords contributed to your success?
Smashwords has made it possible for me to have complete creative reign over my work. I get to choose how I want my cover to look to what is written on the inside of the pages to when I want my work published and available instead of waiting for the next ten years to be able to have the completed story in print. Smashwords has been amazing because through their easy online directions and wizards, I've been able to complete my story and upload without any degree of difficulty. There's also no deadlines which means that I'm able to set my own pace without feeling pressured to get something completed by a certain time frame. Their retail distribution also helps me to reach people all over the world and from different countries. It's been a blast working with Smashwords and I will continue to use Smashwords to publish the rest of the books in the vampire series.
What is the greatest joy of writing for you?
The greatest joy of writing for me is to be able to have people read my books. I love the stories. It would be nice to have people fall in love with them too. Each character is different and each person is unique. I like that about writing. I get to be a part of so many lives and I can change lives.
What do your fans mean to you?
My fans mean everything to me! Writing is this passion that's all wrapped up inside of me, just bubbling and ready to burst out. And not many people can understand what that's like...it's like me wanting to talk about the characters and the story and their lives and sharing it with everyone I come across--stranger and friend.

My fans are the people that I can geek out with and talk non-stop about everything that has to do with the book. I get to experience some of their love and joy (and dislike and objections) to the different characters and their actions, their choices. I get feedback on what my fans want and to have both of our wants for the story to follow the same path (the direction that I want things to happen and the direction that my fans want things to happen) is like magic. It makes me super excited to know that my fans care about the characters and their lives as much as I do and most of all, my fans want to be a part of that life that now, we are both creating together. I love my fans! They're the best!
Who are your favorite authors?
I have a lot of them! Right now, I really like Garth Nix and his "The Keys to the Kingdom" series which is a seven books named after the days of the week. The first book is called "Mister Monday"and it starts with a fourteen year old boy name Arthur Penhaligon who was supposed to die but is saved by a magic wand in the shape of the minute hand of a clock. It's an amazing tale and I would recommend this series for anyone who loves fantasy novels.

I adore Robin Hobb's "The Rain Wilds Chronicles" which is a series of books about dragons. And these aren't your average beasts that get killed by knights. No, these are amazing creatures of magnificent beauty and majesty--or at least, they're supposed to be. "Dragon Keeper", the first book, starts off with the birth of these awesome creatures except, something went wrong and the dragons all come out deformed and pitiful looking. They become a burden on the people instead of help the people prevent and fight wars so now that the badly misshapen dragons are eating up all the people's food, they have to find a way to send the dragons off somewhere else. The people hire these "keepers", people who are touched by the Rain Wilds and are themselves, no longer human. The books are very well written and I've read every book that is published. My only complaint with the last book, "City of Dragons" is that I wanted the story to keep going and never end. I wanted to keep reading. I recommend these books as well to everyone who loves detail and an elaborate story that will make you cheer on the dragons and their keepers.

Catherine Fisher, author of many wonderful stories, has written a duo of books that are as amazing as they are original. "Incarceron" and "Sapphique" is about a living prison that breathes and moves. "Incarceron" starts off with the story of a boy who is born into that living prison, a boy named Finn who has no memories of who he is or why he is there. In order for him to find out who he is and learn of his past, he must escape the prison. Following the clues that were left behind by a man named Sapphique, Finn tries to escape the prison. Sapphique is the only prisoner who ever successfully escaped from the living prison. The only problem is that no one has ever seen Sapphique and no one remembers him at all. Did this person even exist? Is Finn only following a dead end? The story is wonderful in its originality and creativity. I recommend these two books to anyone and everyone who loves fantasy. "Incarceron" and "Sapphique" is sure not to disappoint!
What inspires you to get out of bed each day?
A story waiting to be written is what inspires me to get out of bed each day--and all the people who will be mad at me if I stop writing!
When you're not writing, how do you spend your time?
I love art. I love to draw. If I'm not writing, I'm working on some kind of artwork. And if I'm not doing that, then I am watching movies. I love movies too. Both things help me to gain ideas and to work on writing more the next time I pick up a pen and paper.
Do you remember the first story you ever wrote?
The first story I ever wrote was simply called, "The Dream". It was named that because I dreamed it. The story is about a woman named Kareena who lives at the edge of this kingdom. Her mother is a healer and has healed many of the people but when something bad happened, they blamed her mother and banished her to the outskirts of town. Kareena was still a child when her mother died. She was taken to the king's castle and employed there. All the years of her childhood in the castle, the king was ill. He died, leaving a sick son in his wake. Kareena befriended an older woman named Hazel. With quite a bit of healing skill learned from her mother, Kareena was able to heal the new king who married her. That sounds like a happy ending, but then, something tragic happens. Something dark and sinister arrives and the Southern Kingdom--where Kareena married king Ujine, must flee to the Northern Kingdom to ask for protection from this new and powerful invader. Unknown to Kareena, Hazel is actually the queen of the Northern Kingdom. It's a crazy story that I didn't finished because I was young at the time and I lost all that I wrote. It was the most I had ever written, over ninety pages single spaced and small font. I will need to rewrite it again one day and tell Kareena's story as well.
What are you working on next?
I am working on re-typing the second book in the series, "Blood Lust". It's a bit more darker and a bit more real because Marisa, the main character, is now a vampire princess and she has to learn to live like them, to eat like they do and participate in the things that they enjoy doing. She gets this shock because all of a sudden, she has inherited all this wealth with her brothers, but the life of a vampire princess is something that she'll soon understand why her brothers left that lifestyle behind.

I'm planning for the second book to be ready for publication on May 15, 2014. I had fans and friends and readers help me with creating the cover of "The Turning" and it turned out wonderful! I would love to hear any ideas that anyone has in creating the cover of this upcoming book as well. I can't wait to hear everyone's thoughts! Please contact me and send me your thoughts and ideas on the cover or "The Turning" or what you would like to see in "Blood Lust" or any of the subsequent books. I want my fans to be a part of Marisa's life and her story also.
How do you approach cover design?
I had lots of help from fans and friends and readers and family that helped contribute to how the cover of, "The Turning" came out. I think it looks great! They did an awesome job of helping me to create a cool cover for my book. I ended up using a picture that my sister took of a butterfly on her hand. It fitted very well with Marisa and what happened in Paris.

And now, I am asking help again from my fans and from family and friends! I like people to be involved in my stories too. And I request any and all ideas for this new cover for the next book in the vampire series, "Blood Lust". I hope to hear from everyone soon!
Do you remember the first story you ever read, and the impact it had on you?
Yes. It was way before I can remember anything else important. This was over twenty years ago! I read this blue book that's really thin. It's about a little girl named Sue who likes everything blue. Then one day, she decided to change to pink. I don't know what it was about that book, but I remembered it and tried to find it for a long time. I would tell people that the title was, "Sue Likes Blue" even though I couldn't remember the name of the book. Well, I finally just found out recently that the book is actually called, "Sue Likes Blue" and it's still available. I'm going to get me a copy as soon as I can!
What do you read for pleasure?
I mostly read science fiction and fantasy. I do like horror and thrillers. My favorite are children's and young adult books. There's just something so wonderful about a children's book because of the vast imagination and creativity of a child. Books for kids are limitless.
When did you first start writing?
I don't remember a time when I didn't write. I remembered three years from 6th grade to 9th grade that I stopped drawing. I don't remember doing anything like that for writing. I have always written. It's in my blood. It's who I am. It's what I love. I don't ever believe I will ever stop writing.
What's the story behind your latest book?
The story behind "The Turning" is that God wrote all four novels. It's true. I couldn't have done it myself. For one whole month, all I did was eat, sleep,and write. I knocked out a complete 400+ page novel a week. I wrote the first four books to the vampire series that way. (It took me the next three years to complete the remaining six novels.) What happened was nothing but a miracle so I credit the entire Turning series (including my ability to write) to God Almighty Who has always had a hand in my life and Who is always first in my life. I love you, Lord. Thank you for your great gifts and your wonderful love.
Published 2013-12-09.
Smashwords Interviews are created by the profiled author, publisher or reader.

Books by This Author

Masquerade
Series: The Turning Vampire, Book 3. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 122,850. Language: English. Published: April 13, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
For millenniums, the Zjavankas have hunted the Streigos. Marisa, twice turned, is finally turning into a Streigos, a gigantic blue creature with wings. Her three brothers, the Arromanovokzjas, are trying to protect her secret from exposure, but when her Maker, the demon Streigos himself comes after her and declares war between the two vampire factions, there's no way to keep Marisa safe.
Blood Lust
Series: The Turning Vampire, Book 2. Price: $3.99 USD. Words: 120,170. Language: English. Published: March 3, 2014. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
Eighteen year old Marisa Arromanovokzja is a vampire princess who can stop time. Because she is twice turned, she is also a Streigos, a fearsome vampire that takes the physical form of a monster that could appear any day and expose her secret. Will Marisa and her three brothers be able to keep her secret safe in the Carpathians, their new home filled with vampires that hate the Streigos?
The Turning
Series: The Turning Vampire, Book 1. Price: $2.99 USD. Words: 126,230. Language: English. Published: December 11, 2013. Categories: Fiction » Romance » Paranormal, Fiction » Fantasy » Paranormal
(4.67)
Marisa James is unlucky. She survived a car accident that killed her parents. She has no friends. She has no relatives. She has no home. She is only seventeen. Moving away from her past, she hopes to have a better future in a new place: Sterling, South Dakota. But bad luck has followed her even there. What awaits Marisa in the Black Hills is worse than death. What awaits her are vampires.