Interviews are not easy for me; I don’t seem to know what to say. Oh, I enjoy very much talking to others despite a social awkwardness which reveals itself quickly. I think, because of social media, I could manage a book signing.
As an author, I observe life. I read others’ observations on life. Fiction or non-fiction doesn’t matter–not any more to me.
So, I’m an author. These are my published works:
The Dome Trilogy (Dystopian Earth Future Science Fiction)
- Nightmare Specters (2012)
- Solaray Dawn (2014)
Available in print and ebook formats.
The Cryptid Series (Paranormal Science Fiction/Fantasy)
- ‘Til Undeath Do Us Part (Release Date: April 1, 2015)
Available in ebook formats.
More novels in the Cryptid Series are on the way, all of which I hope will delight readers.
There, that’s done. Let’s see what Elisabeth Barette had for us this round.
The (Practice) Interview, Part Two
Why did you choose to write in your particular field or genre? If you write more than one, how do you balance them?
That’s a challenging question.
I write in multiple fiction genres. The stories settle into genres on their own. I don’t select the genre; the stories do. So far, I have published science fiction. Those were the stories I felt most passionate about or which inspired others to encourage me to work the drafts until they were good enough for publication. So, I am a science fiction author according to what I’ve published.
I don’t balance genre-writing. I’ve written fantasy, science fiction, women’s literature, chick lit, and even erotica. Without consciously choosing a genre in which I belong, I don’t believe I need to balance them.
How does your book relate to your spiritual practice or other life path?
I don’t have a spiritual practice, and writing is my life path. I have practiced a few organized (and disorganized) religions. I even belonged to a cult for a short time. Currently, I don’t believe in deities or paranormal phenomena. Does it mean they don’t exist? No. By choosing to bring fabled beings into a fictional world’s reality–which starts in a familiar setting of the modern world–I found myself in a thought experiment: How would I react if these things were suddenly real? How might others react?
Part of my enjoyment as I write the Cryptid Series is that I get to dive into science and philosophy and the history of both. It’s exciting work.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Editing and redrafting are the hardest parts of writing every book. The story comes to me like a revelation, so I write it down. Afterward, I have to pull out unnecessary elements and repetition, add or identify character motivations, and set a chronology of events. My first drafts are more like notes to myself with action and a story arc; they’re filled with back story.
Some stories can’t be polished enough or will take years to polish. Those, I set aside.
What is the biggest thing that people THINK they know about your subject/genre, that isn’t so?
I haven’t argued with anyone over the finer points of genres in a very long time, and I could be wrong. I have bickered a bit over whether or not the presence of cryptid beings in a science fiction novel makes it fantasy. I thought it makes it fantasy just for having them present, but it was explained to me that how I treat the subject holds the Cryptid Series in the science fiction genre. I definitely think that when a spaceship travels to a distant location and science is suspended not long after landing, that’s fantasy and not science fiction. However, others have different opinions and will disagree.
My answers aren’t fact; they’re only my opinion.
What did you find most useful in learning to write? What was least useful or most destructive?
To me, reading as much as possible and as often as possible is the most useful skill when learning to write. I learned the art of storytelling, itself; I expanded my vocabulary from well-written prose. My imagination was fired up by my forays into the imaginations of writers, and I was inspired to read more.
The most destructive part of learning to write was learning the ever-shifting rules of writing properly. I agree authors must know the mechanics of writing, but those lessons can come primarily from reading centuries of non-fiction and fiction works. A future writer can absorb how thought and the written word have evolved. Adhering to grammar rules too strictly can siphon the life of the story out of the words. A difference exists between writing well and writing properly. That said, abysmal writing is still grating to read. A working knowledge of sentence styling and grammar is necessary, though obsession with both can kill a good story by obscuring it from the reader.
What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
Every time I worry when I hear a person proclaim proudly that he or she does not read, I learn that books are being sold in massive quantities, still. The paper format may be losing ground, yet the digital format is expanding dramatically. That’s fantastic news for writers, especially we indie writers.
I recall that Ray Bradbury feared technology’s potential to destroy literacy, a subject he addressed in Fahrenheit 451. Before he died, he opposed the digital release of his books. I’m on the opposite end of that spectrum. The rise of the ebook platform has created a portable home library, the potential of which can rival public libraries. While I still believe that the mechanics of the ebook platform need massive retooling to improve the reading experience (it’s XHTML with CSS files included–they could look as good as any modern website), I think the digital dissemination of the written word is already driving a boom in literacy.
What are some ways in which you promote your work? Do you find that these add to or detract from your writing time?
Promotion. I honestly hate that word, and I have to be dragged into doing it by my publisher, IndieImprint.
Though I can be found on Goodreads, I use Twitter (I’m @Jess_Alter) as my primary communication venue. I don’t often discuss my books there, yet I do use the Pinned Tweet as a promotional tool for the Dome Trilogy. Sometimes, my publisher will put together something which is so exciting that I have to tell everyone. The problem with promotion is that I see it as a broadcast advertising blitz. I don’t like being advertised at, and my work would be jumping into the white noise of incessant broadcast to buy this instead of that. I feel like I’m invading another’s space when I do that, which I know is the precise opposite of what to do in advertising/promotion.
On Twitter, I engage people. If I’m not there, then I am not there. I am delighted to engage with others as an author. I enjoy making friends within the writing community, and I seek out individuals who want to engage–be it social debates, philosophical discussions, or light-hearted chats. So, I leave promotion to promoters, and I engage as an individual. Though, if others promote my work, then I am humbly grateful and work to acknowledge that kindness given to me. They didn’t have to do it, yet they extended themselves anyway.
I am grateful for every reader, every generous person who has allowed my books and me to be part of their lives. Words fail me; I feel a thankfulness which is ineffable. Thank you is not enough to express it, but those are most often the only words I have. It’s why every Dome Trilogy book has a special dedication to my readers:
Without you, I am only a writer; with you, I am a storyteller.