First, let me congratulate you on the release of your new and very entertaining novel, Alone on the Edge. I know you're not new to writing, but if I'm not mistaken AOTE is your first novel. So, how does it feel to have your first novel 'in the can,' as they say, and out in the public eye? Was the experience what you thought it would be, or chalk-full of scary surprises?
Thank you! My first thought on my novel being published is, “It’s about time!” I started writing AotE back in 2009 and started looking to get it published since the latter part of 2010. I know that some people had tried for a lot longer than a year to get their book published. Despite all of that, I am glad to finally have the book out, so other people can read and hopefully enjoy it.
Making my first independent book available to the public was a bit scary. One never knows how people will accept it. Will they like it? Will they think I’m a hack and laugh me out of the business? These thoughts probably run through any new author’s head, but I know they were in mine. Needless to say, I was pleasantly surprised to find that the people that had read it actually liked it.
I just found out you are actually an award-winning writer (you won the ENnie Award for your work on the Star Wars: Clone Wars Campaign Guide Sourcebook). This is pretty cool on many counts; just the fact that you're involved with anything Star Wars, not to mention that you're listed in the Star Wars Wookiepedia. So, do tell, how did you get involved in writing guides for Star Wars gaming, and how does it feel to be an award-winning writer?
Dumb luck, to be perfectly honest! I went to Gen Con 2005 to whore myself to any gaming company that would take me as a freelance game designer. I was accepted into the freelance pool for Wizards of the Coast and The Game Mechanics. I found out later that the game lines produced by Wizards (d20 Modern, d20 Future) were not producing any more materials, so I started to lose hope. But, I received a call in May 2007 (Yes, I had to wait almost 2 years!) from my liaison stating that she had a new assignment for a new version of the Star Wars Roleplaying Game. I couldn’t accept it fast enough!
As for being an award-winning author, I don’t feel any different. The Clone Wars Campaign Guide was only my second book. And even though my name is on the cover, I was working along with game-designing superstar, JD Wiker. I am under the impression that the book won the award due to his talents, not mine.
AOTE has a very interesting premise - a lone woman, trapped on a space station for years with only a computer for company. What kind of challenges did this present to you as a writer?
The biggest challenge I faced with writing using that premise was making sure that she didn’t go insane from being by herself for an extended period of time. I had to make sure that the computer could provide enough social interaction for her to satisfy that basic psychological need for her. At the same time, I had to limit what the computer could do. I can’t make it too easy for her!
Well, we now know you've written for Star Wars, but have you ever written for any other mediums (film? TV? Comics)? If not, is this something you've ever considered?
To date, I have not written for film or TV. I have written a couple of plays in the past and took a workshop in writing screenplays for the Star Trek franchise, so writing screenplays shouldn’t be too much of a stretch. If the opportunity presents itself, I wouldn’t mind giving it a shot.
What was the first thing that drew you to Science Fiction? Have you ever considered writing in any other genres?
Like many science fiction writers/artists nowadays, my first exposure and attractor to the genre was Star Trek. You can blame James T. Kirk, Spock, McCoy and the entire crew of the Enterprise for getting me involved.
Funny that you should mention other genres! I have written some fantasy pieces in the past and wouldn’t mind doing so again. I also have a scifi/horror story waiting in the wings.
Now that you're writing your second novel, which did you find easier, writing the first or the second?
Technically speaking, I’m currently working on my third novel, but who’s counting? Comparing the first and second books, the second one was a little more difficult. My main character is out of her element, so I had to determine how she would react. Also, I introduced several characters in it, so I was juggling about a half dozen more personalities while writing it. Fortunately, I have experience as a dungeon master!
Last question. Like me, you've chosen to go the self-publishing route. Was there ever a time you considered releasing AOTE through a regular publishing house? I'm always curious about this, because I know, in my case, that I never even considered sending out my MS to anyone. Self-publishing just seemed like the best possible route.
In fact, my first choice was to try to release AotE through a regular publishing house via a literary agent. I wanted to try to get my story out to as many people as I possibly could and figured that going that route was my chance of doing so. Every agent and publisher to which I presented my book rejected it, which was odd to me since everyone I know that had read it absolutely loved it. With no other option beside shelving it and running the risk of it never getting public exposure, I decided to self-publish.
Looking back and knowing what I know now about the publishing houses, I wonder why I didn’t consider self-publishing sooner. Sure, I don’t have a lot of exposure, but that may come with time and a little more PR work.
Blurb about the book: Alone On The Edge
After accepting a job as a robotic engineer that sends her to a mining station at the edge of explored space, Anna Foster finds that her position is not what she expects and must adjust to life as the only living being aboard, struggling to keep her sanity while a relentless computer lords over her existence. Through all this, she discovers a secret that could prove to be the key to her freedom.