Get to know the author
Why did you become an Author?
It was all the fault of my 9th grade teacher, Bob Harrison, when he started the school year saying: “We’re going to do a lot of writing this year.” I remember sighing and rolling my eyes. He got us a picture of an attic bedroom. Something had gone wrong with the photograph and you could see the shadows of a meadow through the bedroom. When he told us to write about it, I wrote and post Apocalyptic story, and I was hooked on writing ever since. I knew then I wanted to be an Author.
How and when did you become an Author?
I quit my job and started writing. How I became one, was by publishing my first short story online with Babel-sf.
What cultural value do you see in writing/reading/storytelling/etc.?
It’s a very important aspect, the culture dictates what books are popular, but books can also shape a culture. Stories have always been important to humans. We use them as tools. Old stories were meant to explain things, or serve as warnings. Stories can also create understanding for people with different cultural backgrounds.
What inspired you to write your first book?
Coyote did. It sounds weird, but I had this character for a long time, and I was going to turn her into a short story for JWK publishing’s Indiana Science fiction. But she didn’t let me turn her into a short story, she had too much to tell. Before I knew it, Coyote was a novel. I was going to publish my Celestials novel first, but Coyote just happened somehow.
What do you think most characterizes your writing?
I am a sucker for a little twist in a story. I don’t like going ‘standard’. Not saying that all my stories are super original, but I try to at least give a different perspective on most of the things I write.
What makes Coyote The Outlander stand out from the crowd?
I feel very arrogant saying that Coyote stands out. That’s just not my style. But I do think Coyote brings her own flavor to the world. She is quite a colorful character, and she is a female bounty hunter in a Wild West setting, which is reasonably special. There are other things that make her stand out, but you will have to read those in the book.
What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
I don’t have a favorite genre. Horror is my ‘go to genre’ but not my favorite one. I get inspired by stories, and I don’t care what niche they belong in. I can tell you what I don’t like to write; I’m not very good with romance. I try to give my stories a bit of romance in them, but I couldn’t write a whole romance novel. I wouldn’t enjoy it if I tried.
How do you react to a bad review of one of your books?
What an evil question. My first reaction is to be crushed. Of course I want everyone to enjoy my books, even ‘love’ them. But I have had someone who is close to me, who doesn’t like my writing. It hurt at first, but then I took a step back and realized that it isn’t personal. People have different tastes, and you can’t write a story that pleases ‘everyone’. So I’m okay with bad reviews, I just need to step back, clear my throat and take it on the chin. As long as the bad reviews are respectful. It’s okay not to like my work, but it’s not okay to be cruel.
If you had to choose, which writer would you consider an inspiration, and why?
I might not write like Neil Gaiman, but he is my biggest inspiration. And next to him, Joss Whedon (yes I am aware he doesn’t write novels) I think I am more like the latter than the former. But I love good storytellers and intricate storylines.
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
Women can be tough and still have their weaknesses and judging a man by the color of his skin is narrow minded. I like to think Coyote is a strong female. I struggled writing in a time where both women and black people were seen as inferior. But at the same time, that was a nice challenge too.
What is the most demeaning thing said about you as a writer?
I think the worst thing anyone ever said to me was that I should spend my energy rewriting my book, because it wasn’t very good.
How did you get back in the saddle after that?
I got angry, then I got sad and in the end I talked it out with the person who said it to me. It made me very insecure, but I need to believe in my writing.
What genre do you consider your book(s)?
I’m totally slipstream. That means I slide in between genres and don’t pick just a single one 😉
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
No, I do experience writer’s frustration, writer’s ‘I can’t believe I’m rewriting this puppy again’, and writers ‘I am so slow today, a snail would type faster than me’, but never a real ‘block’. If I get stuck on one story, I move on to something else.
What book are you reading now?
NEMISIS by Suzi M, and OCEANS AT THE END OF THE LANE by Neil Gaiman.
What books/authors have influenced your writing?
NEVERWHERE, SANDMAN, THE GRAVEYARD BOOK (Gaiman), HUNGER GAMES (Collins), DISCWORLD (Pratchett), HITCHHIKER’S GUIDE TO THE GALAXY (Adams), GENERATION X (Couper), A CLOCKWORK ORANGE (Burgess), HARRY POTTER (Rowling) SONG OF ICE AND FIRE SERIES (Martin), BOOKS OF BLOOD (Barker), anything by Poe and many many more.
Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
Apple Ardent Scott, who is now my editor, but I tricked her into that because I admired her writing *grin* and Paula D. Ashe. There are some fantastic new upcoming writers out there, but these two are my absolute favorite.
What are your current projects?
Working on COYOTE 2: THE CLOCKWORK DRAGONFLY. On the first novel of my CELESTIALS series, and on my own horror collection of short stories. Otherwise I dabble in anthologies. I have a great many novel ideas, but Coyote will be the main priority for now.
Do you see writing as a career?
Yes, and I see it as hard work too. I don’t take it lightly, I spend many hours every day writing, editing, researching etc etc. It’s not easy, but it’s the thing I love doing most.
If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
I’d make it longer.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
The editing process. I loathe it, but it teaches me so much.
Who designed the cover?
Jonathan de Vries made the painting for my cover, and I love it. The rest of the design is by my publisher: Tip my Hat.
What was the hardest part of writing your book?
Taking the critique and rewriting large bits. Also getting everything together, the books, the second screen. It was a lot of very hard work, and it took many hours to pull it together.
Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
I learned a lot of little useless things about the Wild West. Even about horses and halters (don’t ask) What I learned most about was the writing process. Writing a novel is very different from writing a short story, and I learned that the hard way.
Do you have any advice for other writers?
Oh I’m full of advice. Take it serious, if you want to be a writer for your profession, act like a professional. Don’t put stuff on the market that just isn’t ready. It *will* make you look bad. Better to wait and mull it over than just put it out there. Get an editor. If you can’t afford one, try and see if you can make a deal with someone who knows editing. Find a student who is willing to edit your book for a school project, but get someone who is good, and always check it after. Don’t surround yourself with people who love everything you do. Getting critique sucks, but it will make you think harder about your book and make it the best it can be. Also, make sure you have reliable Beta readers.
Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Bless your hearts for reading my stories. I might not know you, but you mean the world to me.
Who should play coyote in the movie/series, would there ever be one?
So far my favorite actress for Coyote would be: Amanda Seyfried. But I am open to other options. She needs to be sassy and pretty.
I made up Coyote a long time ago, for a role play campaign. She is the exaggerated good parts of my personality. Coyote is far more self confident than I am, and she is braver too, but she still is a part of me. She inspired me, so I drew pictures of her, and put them on Elfwood, an amateur artist forum. People liked her and she inspired others too. A few people drew pictures of her, and I always saw that as a big compliment.
I haven’t ‘played’ her character in years (more than a decade) and yet she still stayed with me. When I read the requirements for the ‘Indiana Science fiction anthology’, I thought: Coyote would be a good fit. But ‘Weird West’, the place where she came from, wasn’t exactly science fiction. So I decided to have her hunt aliens.
The word ‘Aliens’ didn’t appeal to me, and I wanted to have a bit more variety than one species. Thus the ‘Outlanders’ were born. I would not bring them in with spaceships, I couldn’t see Coyote take on a spaceship, so I made up the rips. I liked the idea that there were tears in reality and that things could ‘come out’.
Coyote’s story was too long for the anthology, so I ended up writing a short story in the same setting, only a hundred years in the future, called ‘the Deal’. In the deal I used Ming’s emporium for the first time. Well, that’s not completely true, I used Ming in a Dutch story. She was called Sinkel then, because there is a Dutch rhyme about ‘de Winkel van Sinkel” (Sinkel’s shop) where you can buy anything. Sinkel wasn’t a good name for an English story, so Sinkel became Ming, and her shop changed a little too.
When I rewrote Coyote, I was going to hand her in for this competition. It was a 10.000 words or less, competition, and Coyote turned out to be too big for that too. So I added Ming, because I fell in love with her and her shop. And so the story grew… and it turned into a book.
I showed my first Beta Reader and he said: “I didn’t know you were into Steampunk?” I answered: “What is Steampunk.” He replied: “Google it.”
I did, and I fell in love instantly. In the next novel I intend to go further into the world of Steampunk and explore it. The clockwork dragonfly will be the perfect opportunity for that… but I will talk about that, much, much later.
And here she is, book one is finished and ready to be read. It is out of my hands now, all I can hope is that she finds a good home with readers who will love her as much as I do.