Yawatta would like to welcome her special guest Sandra Giles, author of Plead Insanity. Please enjoy her insightful interview.
Don’t take the rejections to heart (easier said than done, I know) but take any criticism on-board. If you’re taking the traditional route, criticism is good as it means they think you have the potential to get somewhere, and you’re worth the time. If you’re going to self-publish, bear in mind that out of the many people to give their opinion, not everyone will be clued up enough to actually help. If you’re going to take advice regarding your novels, make sure the person giving it is worth listening to. It can be hard, but if you look at their novel and find massive flaws, chances are they can’t help you.
2. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you. What more can I say? You can be the most talented writer in the world and never get anywhere if no one gives you the time of day, so every download/sale means a lot. I’m not saying I’m the most talented writer in the world, far from it, but that just makes readers all the more valued.
3. What are your thoughts on the fact that both trade and self-published authors have to promote their own work?
I haven’t really thought about it, to be honest. I don’t promote anywhere near as much as I should, but I think all writers should have some kind of blog or social networking site to help interact with readers. Why should we give our characters more presence than we do ourselves? People need to see the mind behind the characters, so it’s only right that writers have some part in it all.
4. What genre do you write for? Your favorite aspect? Your least favorite aspect?
I write fantasy, and love that just about every other genre can fall within it. My least favourite aspect is probably the fact there are certain expectations regarding legends. My vampires don’t sleep in coffins or only come out at night. My werewolves aren’t tied to the full moon. People sometimes question that kind of thing, as though straying from the legend is unacceptable on some level. Look at Twilight. How many people are outraged by the very idea of a vampire sparkling?
5. What are your current/next projects?
The project I’m always working on is my series, Collision Of Worlds. I have a double release coming up at the end of March, which will see the arrival of the fourth novel from my vampire, Jared, and the first from Aled. The novels cross over with one another, which inspired this double release. All going well, I also have a short story coming out in the same month. An anthology is being complied with a mix of authors from the Amazon forums. The end result promises to be interesting! I’m certainly intrigued by it all.
6. Do you prefer to work alone or with critique partners/beta-readers?
I am very much a lone soldier, which really isn’t a good thing. I wrote about ten or eleven novels before self-publishing, and I hadn’t known about all of the help that people offer online. I just wrote, and wrote, and wrote, and now I have my own ways and prefer not to share my work with other writers. I have someone who acts as editor for me, but other than that it’s just me. Saying that, there is a group of authors who I’ve recently started asking for advice. They’re a great bunch, and we’ve even gone as far as to make a Guild. It’s called The Gumbee Fantasy Writer’s Guild, and they really are an interesting lot!
7. How do you find time to write?
It’s not so much an issue of finding time as it is forcing myself to get to it. I’m a massive fan of procrastination. I design covers, talk to writers, and blog about my procrastination more than I actually write. I love writing, and once I start I can’t tear myself away, but by that point it’s usually time to go to work. So I have time, I just don’t use it right!
8. Did you always want to become an author?
No. I only discovered the passion for writing a few years ago, and before that didn’t really have any clue as to what I wanted to do. For a while I wanted to work with animals, and when that faded I decided to take courses that were of interest to me. I took psychology, media studies and photography, and through them was told I’m good at writing. Then I started writing, and the dream grew.
9. Are there any writing rituals you complete before creating your manuscripts/drafts?
Unless procrastinating is a ritual, no. I just go for it, really.
10. Do you write the beginning/opening first or do you tend to write out of order (with whatever scenes interest you the most)?
The hardest part of any novel for me is the opening. Once I’ve started, I’m usually okay to continue, but I do have a habit of jumping ahead and writing whatever scenes come to mind. I do the same with novels as a whole. I’ll be partway through a novel, or even near the end, and then another narrator will demand my attention. I recently left the seventh novel of Jared’s in order to concentrate on the second from Aled, which was already two thirds of the way through. I don’t know what I’ll jump to next. It’s quite unpredictable.
11. Have you ever hated something you wrote?
I generally hate everything I write once I’ve had some time away from it, because I only remember the basic storyline and not much else. I’ll then read the novel in question and won’t be able to put it down. My novels were initially designed for me, so I really like reading them, but I can’t help disliking the ones I’ve neglected for some time. It’s really quite annoying!
12. Which is the easiest for you to write–novel, novella, or short story? Why?
I never used to write anything other than novels, and only started to last August. It just never occurred to me before then. I’m terrible at keeping a short story short, but I don’t think any of them can be called novellas. Short stories are probably easier to write as they’re over with so fast, but I prefer novels. I’ve only read one short story that I liked. They’re just too short. I love series, and getting used to characters. A short story doesn’t allow for that.
13. While you were writing, did you ever feel like you were one of your characters?
No, but they have a very real presence in my mind. They’re like real people. So much so, in fact, that I’m pretty sure I’ll be in an asylum by the time I’m forty. No doubt I’ll start talking to thin air, believing my characters are really there. Just as long as they don’t get me to kill anyone or anything, it should be okay.
14. How did you come up with the title?
Plead Insanity was the name me and my sister came up with for a band. We’re not in a band, but figured it would be a fun name for one. I don’t know how that particular conversation started, but I later decided to use it for my novel. Since then I fell into something of a theme when it comes to titles. For Jared my titles are always two words, with a type of court/criminal theme. Minority Rules was accidentally similar, but after that I decided to stick with it. My other narrators have themes to their titles, too. Aled’s novels have ones that are always three words, starting with ‘A’ and ending with something that sounds attractive. That may sound strange, but some words are appealing to certain people. Two of my titles for him are A Lost Fantasy and A Beautiful Curse. For Sebastin (another narrator) I use two words, the first always being ‘The’. For Torin, his brother, I use one word. Spirits, for example, is his first novel. And then there’s Michael. I don’t have a specific word count for his titles, but I like to use homonyms to give the title a double meaning. Scene And Not Heard. Early Mourning. I use typical phrases and then change a word to give it a new meaning. The title of the series as a whole, Collision Of Worlds, simply came to me about a year ago and just seemed to fit. And if anyone has read my last interview, they might notice this exact answer was given then. Lazy, I know.
15. What inspired you to write your latest book? What is the book about?
My characters. They don’t so much inspire me as push me into it, but there you go. I never know what novel to apply questions like this to. Do I focus on the next to be released, or the one I’m currently writing? I think this time I’ll go for one of my next releases. Everyone who has read my novels will know what Jared’s world is about, and his next novel sees him fighting with an unknown entity that he starts to believe is actually him. His dreams are becoming tangled with reality, and things are happening that he can’t control. People are dying, and he fears it’s at his hands. The novel is called Proving Negatives, a title inspired by his struggle to prove his own innocence. It’s something he doesn’t think possible, somehow.
16. Any blogs, websites, social media you’d like to share?
I can be found in various corners of the Internet, including: