Author Interviews, Blog, Sci-Fi Fantasy Blog

Author Interview: Erin Simpson, YA Science Fiction Fantasy

  Erin is currently on submission with The Blood Farm and working on a new book called The Blinder.

From Planning to Published

When did you start writing and why?

Author:      Like many writers, I’ve been interested in stories since childhood, but I started “seriously” writing about eight years ago

How long did it take you to finish your first book?

Author:      My first completed manuscript, a Tower of Babel retelling, took several years (I’ve lost count of how many) but I never queried it. My second novel, The Blood Farm, took three years from conception to when I signed with my agent.

Are you indie, traditional, hybrid, or vanity, and why?

Author:      Traditional, all the way. I’m not gifted in the areas of graphic design or marketing; I would so much rather leave those projects to people better equipped to handle them and focus on the areas I am gifted in: writing.

How did you determine your target audience?

Author:      I write the kind of books I like to read and, for me, that means YA. Because I spend so much time in that age category, I think my writing naturally takes on the characteristics of that group.

What is your publishing process?

Author:      Because I have my eye trained on trad pub, I’m pretty much forced to follow the basic model: querying, submission, acquisitions, print.

How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?

Author:      I’ve been very fortunate to have found several wonderful critique partners by putting out calls on social media. Twitter, in particular, has a very vibrant #Writing Community filled with thousands of writers looking to connect. Sometimes it takes a while to find people who truly connect with you and your work, but when you find them, it’s magic.

After I’ve completed a manuscript and put it through rough edits, I send it out in batches of 2-3 readers at a time. I would strongly recommend multiple readers to anyone relying on beta feedback as it helps identify areas that are “issues” as opposed to what might be personal preference. As a rule, if more than one reader comments on something, I take an extra look at it.

With edits, each batch takes about a month. After two or three editing rounds, I send it on to my agent, who responds with her own list of edit suggestions.

Marketing

Do you have a platform? What does it consist of?

Author:      As an unpublished writer, I’m still working to develop my platform. Currently, I maintain a twitter account (@Ekaylasimpson) and an author website (eksimpson.com)

Struggles

What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?

Author:      I think it’s very difficult to be objective about your own writing. You develop such an emotional attachment to what you’re writing that sometimes you’d blind to the problems within it or, vice-versa, overly harsh. This is why having beta readers is so important.

How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?

Author:      The first time I submitted a story for critique I was emotionally unprepared for the feedback. Whether it’s a critique group, a literary agent, or an editor, you really have to develop a thick skin.

If you could do it all over again, what would you change?

Author:      I would have written more when I was younger. Plenty of writers put out books while juggling day jobs and families, but I regret all the free time I had in my early twenties that could have been used to hone the craft.

How do you keep yourself motivated?

Author:      Accountability partners. Having someone check in just to ask how things are going makes a huge difference.

How do you combat writer’s block?

Author:      Sometimes it’s about being patient. So often writers want to “push through” by sheer force of will and, while that can work, other times you need to give yourself time to consider the story from different angles.

What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?

Author:      So many non-writers don’t realize how difficult it is to actually write a book. It’s one of those things that look straightforward on the surface, but only because you don’t see all the layers that are built up underneath; it’s those layers that make an engaging story.

Fun Stuff

What do you listen to while you write?

Author:      It depends on the story. The playlist for my current WIP is a mixture of Norwegian folk songs and Imagine Dragons.

Where do you write your stories? A tiny office? A loft? The kitchen table? In the bushes while you secretly people-watch like a total creeper? Or a warm café with mocha in hand and feet up on an ottoman?

Author:      Sitting in bed is my favorite place (we live in the country and there are windows on three walls so the views are fantastic) but we have three kids so more often than not I’m writing at the kitchen table or in the car while I wait for someone to finish piano lessons.

What book are you reading at the moment?

Author:      Sawkill Girls and The Ghost Bride

What is your favorite literary trope?

Author:      I love a good enemies-to-lovers plotline but I haven’t had the opportunity to use it myself.

How do you try to “break the mold” and be unique?

Author:      I read a lot of book blurbs and I’ve found there are a surprising number that have basically the same plot (oppressed magical people fight to overthrow non-magical ruling class etc). I’ve found that focusing in on day-to-day activities not only opens up unique stories (maybe the main character doesn’t care about overthrowing the government, she just wants to open a magical bakery), but makes character struggles more relatable. Not everyone wants to upend the monarchy, after all.

What have you learned about yourself from the writing and/or authorship process?

Author:      I’m a terrible procrastinator

What is your favorite writing snack and drink?

Author:      Coffee

Do you have a writing companion?

Author:    Usually at least one child, asking for a snack

Book Reviews

Book Review: Edge of the Flame by James Aichinger

Book Review: Edge of the Flame by James Aichinger

4 Stars

“…A tense, intricately woven story challenging the ideas of freedom and fate.”

I love books that start off in media res. Edge of the Flame drops you right down into a source of trauma for our main character, Adanis. There are lots of great action sequences. Edge of the Flame features: cyber hacking, spaceships, magical powers, holographic weapons, mind games, mysterious yet justified villains, insane twists, and a main character who experiences a fate-altering transformation by the end. Tension builds and fades in dramatic crescendos while continuously building up to the last pages.

Aichinger does wonders in his descriptions with relatable similes and metaphors to explain new concepts to his readers. His first book tackles many intense concepts of psychological theory, primarily fear, but also the intricate—and often deliberated—concepts of reality, connection to the universe, and how humans are linked to other life forms.

It features some creative magical powers and traditional ones and delves into the development of them—everything from pyrotelekinesis to gravity manipulation. There are characters with controlled telepathy reminiscent of the dark force from Star Wars. I enjoyed the way magic’s expenditure is explained—how it is a limited force that must be regenerated, much akin to health. There are always stakes and obstacles and reminders of mortality.

There’s a steady amount of information on the species and historical battles without being too concentrated or lacking in description. Edge of the Flame includes tons of backstabbing alliances, personal agendas, and physical/mental/political battles for power, to the point where you can’t figure out what’s going to happen next. Aichinger then tops off the delightful madness by throwing in several mysterious conversations between the antagonist and others which adds a nice element of tension to the enigma of Adanis’s situation.

Edge of the Flame quickly becomes a tense, intricately woven story challenging the ideas of freedom and fate. At the end is an unpredictably sharp turn but leaves the reader with a balance of resolution and questions, calling us on to the second book.

It is definitely a unique read. There aren’t any chapters, more like phases/scenes of the story. Aichinger narrates from multiple character perspectives, which adds an element reminiscent of the big screen, but at times (for me) was distracting because some scenes are short-lived.

Edge of the Flame is dialogue-heavy and full of formalities and explanations, which helps with understanding all of the wars and other past events. The story takes a bit of time to build speed, but when it kicks off, it doesn’t stop.

There are lots of characters in a wide variety of personalities and species from humans to lizard-like Hadraaks and feline sorts. My personal favorite was the robot, Op-Tech, because I’m a sucker for the comedian character and for adorable robots. Edge of the flame is a lot to read, but very rewarding in the end. I look forward to reading book 2 when it’s out!

Amazon:

$2.99 US eBook: Edge of the Flame

£1.99 UK eBook: Edge of the Flame

Website: https://www.edgeoftheflame.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/JamesAichinger