Hello! I go by Nina Castle, and I write mostly YA urban fantasy (always with a focus on amour.) I am working on my BOUND BY BLOOD series, in which the love between a fairy girl and human Hunter forces them to reevaluate the legal system which subjugates the fay—and their roles within it. Think Romeo & Juliet with racial tensions between fairies and humans.
From Planning to Published
When did you start writing and why?
Author: Like many authors, I fell in love with writing as a child. Much like an artist adds paint to a blank canvas, the euphoria of creating a new world or person on paper with all the complexity of reality was a challenge that enamored me. For years, I never dreamt of publishing. It was purely for the pleasure of writing.
How long did it take you to finish your first book?
Author: In high school, I began my first attempts at writing a complete book. Since then, I’d started a ton of stories but never worked one from beginning to end. I often wrote only the scenes that interested me most, leaving gaping holes for transitions with little inspiration to fill them. When I started BOUND BY BLOOD, I forced myself to write chronologically, and ninety percent of the book flowed out in about two months. After that time, I returned to my full-time teaching position, and it took me the rest of the year to squeeze out the last couple chapters.
How did you determine your target audience?
Author: I wrote the story as it came to me, and I wrote the story that I enjoyed reading. Like I said before, I didn’t start off writing to be published. So, for better or for worse the book follows my personal tastes.
How do you get critiques, betas, feedback, and edits?
Author: I met many of my critique partners through twitter contest communities, and I hired a couple beta readers from Goodreads. The latest stage of BOUND BY BLOOD is awaiting edits from an editor I found through recommendations on Twitter.
How do you define success as an author?
Author: As an unpublished author, I am hoping to get published through traditional means…So, getting picked up by an agent and obtaining a book deal would ideally equal success. Though sales are extremely important and easy to quantify, I think the most rewarding feeling is knowing your story was lived and enjoyed by other people.
About Your Work
What type of content do you write and why? Fiction Novels? Poems? Songs? Screenplays? Short Stories? Epic?
Author: I have found I most enjoy writing fictional stories containing a measure of fantasy. Reading as a form of escapism has culminated for me with worlds that have a magical element we can’t see or experience in our own reality.
Name some common elements in your writing: villains, magic, red-herring twists, the unfortunate ensign, mysterious phenomena, asyndeton, sentence fragments etc.
Author: I will always and forever have romance in my books. I can remember playing with my barbies as a child and making up love stories for them. While I recognize the vitality and impact of love in our lives through other types of relationships, the intrigue of romantic love has followed me into adulthood.
What was your first goal when you started your journey to becoming an author? Has that changed?
Author: My first goal was just to translate the story playing in my head on paper. I never imagined anyone would read it! Obviously, that goal has changed. I hope not just to be successfully published, but to have a book worth publishing. I desire the honor – and like Thor, hope to be worthy – of having reached people with my words.
What do you want your readers to get out of your works?
Author: I hope that readers are not only entertained by my work, but also feel and grow through the lives of my characters. I’ve always believed that good art evokes emotion. The music we connect with most are songs that either strike the same chord as an emotional experience we’ve endured, or send us staring through the eyes of another. The same is true of a good book.
What part of the author process are you working on or studying most now?
Author: As I said before, the first book of BOUND BY BLOOD is hanging out with the editor. I read the best thing to do when you are waiting (and that goes for during edits, critiques, queries, etc.) is to put your time and energy toward another project. At the moment, I am working on completing the first draft of the second book in the BBB series.
What has been your favorite part of the writing and querying or publishing process?
Author: I have to say, connecting with other writers who share your hopes, dreams, fears, successes, and failures, has been my favorite part of the process (minus the actual joy of writing.) It inspires me to see so many people from different parts of the world and walks of life coming together to support one another and sharing their experiences.
You didn’t ask this, but editing is my least favorite part of the process…though once I start querying seriously, I’m sure getting rejections will trump that.
Have you always read in the genre you wanted to write in? Do you think that’s made it easier or harder to create new stories?
Author: I used to read a lot more literary fiction, which I believe impacts my intentions to instill deeper meaning into my stories. However, when the affliction of adulthood hit, my free time became more limited. This forced me to narrow my scope of books I read for enjoyment, which led me to my niche. Before writing BOUND BY BLOOD, I altogether stopped reading in that genre with the fear that I might accidentally take on elements of other author’s stories in my own. I’ve since learned that is the opposite of what you should do, according to agents and published authors. They say to read widely and often, which is a goal I’m bringing with me into this new year.
What is your writing process, from idea to polished work? Pantster? Plotter? How long does that typically take you?
Author: Ironically, in every other area of life I am a hardcore planner. But when it comes to writing, I begrudgingly fall into the pantster category. For the most part when a story comes to me, it’s like I’m watching a movie in my head in small spurts over the course of many months…sometimes years. While I’d like to think some inner genius lurks beneath the surface, the truth is that the stories seem to come from outside of me. It is my job to translate them to the page. How well or not well that is done is on me. Since I’m still working on polishing BBB, I don’t really know how long the process will take. Years, I guess!
Where do you network most with other writers, authors, and creative types? LinkedIn? Wattpad? Twitter? Facebook? Somewhere else?
Author: Twitter, for sure. I’ve joined a couple writers leagues, but those are so large and impersonal (not to mention, pricey). Social media can be an amazing and free resource for writers to connect with one another.
What has been the hardest thing to overcome on your journey to authorship?
Author: The hardest things to overcome are the concepts of time and uncertainty. Time in that it is not the quick rise to fame or fortune we all daydream about (admit it, you do it, too.) It can take years and years of work to write, polish, pitch, edit again, and then several more years publish. And if you go the traditional route, there’s no guarantee you will be published after all those years of hard work and investment, even if you get an agent. And then again if you’re published, there’s no guarantee your book will be bought or read. I’ve heard it likened to winning the lottery. Even with a streak of gamblers blood running through my family, I still find it hard to wrestle with those odds. That’s why you have to love it. Love your book and love the process because that may be the only reward.
How has the writing and querying or publishing process affected you emotionally? Do you have any tips for budding writers?
Author: As a currently unagented and unpublished author, my tip is to persevere. While a support system is essential, no one else in the world is going to write your book for you or care more than you do about its success. If you give up, no one is going to stop you. So, cry at your failures, take breaks when you need them, and work at your own pace. But at the end of the day, it is you who must decide to persevere.
What literary/writer-based term did you not know when you started that has become important and relevant to you?
Author: On the technical side, I learned about “comps” or “comparable titles.” For those who don’t know, a comp is a book/movie/show that is comparable to your own book in some way. This alone helped me to understand the flaw in not reading in my genre, like I mentioned before. Agents need to quickly know the feel of your book and how they would market it. Saying, “My book is unlike anything else out there,” translates to “There is no proven market for my book. I am a major risk (and likely haven’t done enough reading to know the market, anyway).”
On the social side, “imposter syndrome” is a term that I quickly learned. At some point, we all feel undeserving of the title of “writer” for one reason or another. Can you imagine doing a writer’s interview as an unpublished author? *cough cough* But if anything, knowing we all feel that way is just another reason to persevere. Your favorite author felt that way at some point, and if you keep going, you may get to be someone’s favorite author, too.
How did your family and friends react to your writing? Was it what you expected from them?
Author: At my core, I am as shy and introverted as they come. Sharing something as personal as my writing doesn’t come easy for me, so my husband is the only member of my family to have read BBB so far. If I ever become successfully published, I will owe it to his continued love and support.
What assumptions about writers and authors do you think are myths?
Author: That we pumped out our dream book in a month, get published within the year, and are then able to jet around the world on tours with our instant millions. I see this happen in movies and shows all the time and it makes me green with fictional envy.
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: Confession time – I must be completely comfortable to write, so I write laying in my bed. I can’t have a lot of distractions, so it’s just me in front of my laptop living in my head for hours at a time.
Do you have a writing companion?
Author: My pups sometimes lay with me, and my writer friend Cristina Meraki also motivates and supports me in the process!
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Author: I don’t know about one piece of advice, but I will say experience has been the best teacher for me. Jump into writing contests and communities. Ask questions, even if you think they’re dumb. Swap writing samples with people who are both stronger and weaker than you. Write that query letter. Odds are, you aren’t going to be immediately successful, but by doing these things you can only improve. Here’s wishing you the best of luck within your own writing journey!
Nina Castle on Twitter @timsheloquence!