What book shaped your childhood most?
The most obvious that springs to life is Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are. It’s a work of pure imagination, both charming and terrifying in some aspects, and the spareness of the language (and even context) makes it all the more powerful. Whatever my great love of words, picture books have always been an equal, if not greater inspiration.
What made you want to write? Does it still hold true?
As a child, I saw an animated adaptation of Jules Verne’s A Journey to the Center of the Earth. One of the key elements in that story is a mysterious diary full of arcane knowledge and hidden codes. I became obsessed with the idea that books were powerful and mysterious and that people who read could unlock the secrets of the universe.
Before I could even properly string sentences together, I was writing long manuscripts of gibberish (that only I could decipher). My love of books lives both in the artifacts themselves as much as the stories they tell ~ and that’s still true today.
Do you do research for your writing or is it all in your head?
I used to exclusively write historical fiction, so I also used to be deeply entrenched in research all the time. Now it mostly just lives in my head. I still have to look up things, of course, and I like to read about all kinds of subjects and learn new information.
Writing a made-up world there is definitely a sense of liberation from adherence to strict language, technology, and world events (about which I was very conscientious), but if one looks closely enough, all of the underpinnings of my Afterlands series are historically based ~ not in terms of specific events, but in aspects of scientific and cultural evolution that might be somewhat familiar to us.
What route of publishing have you chosen? Do you plan to stick with it?
Currently self-publishing the Afterlands series because I am not interested in making any compromises about it, especially with regard to the format and its availability. This is my comfort series, which I wrote to console myself through a grieving process I’m still struggling with. I had no desire to expose those raw nerves to an editor or put myself through the strain of trying to articulate why it’s important for me for this to be exactly as it is. So yes, for the long haul, it will be available through KDP and on my website.
Do you currently have a WIP?
My work in progress right now is “Phase Two” of the Afterlands series, which will include more short stories and a second novella, all to be released by July of 2022. The novella is already drafted, though needs revisions, and I am right now starting to write the short stories. The first of the short stories is tentatively titled “Best Foot Forward” and is about post-traumatic triggers, reconciliation, and the challenging aesthetics of a prosthetic foot.
Tell me about the character you’ve created who is dearest to your heart.
I love all of my characters dearly, of course, and started writing this story around the character of Juba, the Harrower. But I would be lying if I didn’t admit that I love the marsupial Nix just as much or more sometimes. All of the characters have their problems but Nix is in some ways the most problematic.
Other characters step up to defend Juba, so I don’t worry about him so much, but Nix is so self-destructive in his contempt for others that I feel a strong need to defend him. Until you know his story, it’s easy to dismiss him as a nasty-spirited enigma, but under all of that is someone who desperately wants and deserves nice things, a better life, and, of course, just to be loved.
Do you have any character art for your books, whether by you or another artist? (Be sure to credit/link if you can!)
All of the Afterlands books will be illustrated. There is some art to accompany the short stories as well. I am thinking of making at least one of the short stories in Phase Two a picture book. You can see the story covers (and eventually I will post more art) on my website here.
If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
You’ll never stand out if you worry about fitting in—take the risk to be truly original.
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