Things are busy lately and I haven’t been able to write as much, which is annoying. But I did want to announce that I’ve finally started up a Facebook page here: https://www.facebook.com/judy.goodwin.9026 . I’ve also set up an author page for events like the upcoming release of Journey To Landaran. I’d appreciate some “likes” and comments!! https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judy-Goodwin/282580281866578
So today’s interview is with Sandra Barret, who lives in New England and loves science fiction, fantasy, and romance. You can learn more about Sandra on Goodreads here: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1152925.Sandra_Barret
1. What first interested you in writing?
The biggest interest for me was that I wanted to read stories that didn’t get published a lot. For me, that was science fiction and fantasy stories with strong female leads and a diverse ‘cast of characters’ that included people of color, sexuality, and cultural backgrounds that don’t feature in a lot of mainstream books.
2. I see a few older titles as well as new ones on Goodreads. What has your journey as a writer been like? What was it like working with different publishers?
I started out, oddly enough, in romance. It was a story based entirely on a dream I had, and given I was unemployed and it was NanoWriMo month, I sat down and wrote the draft in that month. It took me a lot longer to polish and get it published, but that’s what got me started. I ventured into fantasy next, but never got that one published. Science fiction came next, and that’s the one that I’m focusing on now, with two books in a series out and working on the third. I’d say I found my voice somewhat along that journey, and the rough edges of an SF military protagonist fits what I want to write these days. I’m sure I’ll stray back into fantasy at some point, because that story hasn’t stopped rattling around in my head.
As for the publishers, I feel lucky to have worked with some great small press publishers. They each have their strengths and are very helpful to the newbie writer. I’ve learned quite a lot from them and from some anthology editors I’ve worked with over the years.
3. Tell me about your latest book.
Blood of a Traitor is the second book in the Terrran-Novan series, though the books can be read out of order. Kay, the MC, is the lone Terran in a Novan military unit and a clone. She is property of the military, with limited rights and no future beyond the genetic experiment that produced her.
The Terrans and Novans are both transhuman branches of humanity, the former using neural implants and other technology to boost them beyond unaltered human capabilities, the latter using genetic manipulation to boost entire populations beyond the norm.
Kay is stuck in the middle, needing to prove her innocence when Terran conspirators derail her unit’s latest mission and threaten her commanding officer, a member of the highest Novan military caste, and her ‘owner’.
4. Who is your favorite writer, and why?
My favorites change over the years, but at the moment it’s a tie between Tanya Huff and C.J. Cherryh. Huff writes the stories I wish I could write, with wit, sarcasm, and a kickass protagonist. Her Valor series is my favorite. Cherryh is Cherryh, masterful in creating engaging stories that bring to life nonhuman species and cultures like no other. I’ve read her Cyteen book multiple times and will read it again soon because that story in particular is fascinating. Every time you think you have a grip on where she’s going, the story takes a sharp turn and it’s as if you are reading a different book. Somehow, she makes it all work!
5. What about science fiction appeals to you?
I love the action of a good science fiction space story, whether it’s military or space opera or something else. I’m especially enjoying stories that bring humans beyond current limitations. There’s a whole ‘what if’ of possibilities explored there that I enjoy.
6. What project are you working on now?
I’m currently writing the next book in the Terran-Novan series. This one will have somewhat less of a military/battle focus but will continue to explore ramifications from the first two books. So this one will likely be best if read in order.
7. What has been your experience with the wave of self-publishing and eBooks?
It’s a mixed bag. There are some great self (or indie) published books out there, and there are some real rotters. I’d say the good are as good as traditional published, and the bad are worse than traditional. That said, again for the stories I enjoy, there is benefit to self-publishing to break away from the mold that seems to hold so much of our mainstream books.
eBooks I love. I get most of my books on my Kindle now, and the ability to download a sample and ‘test the waters’ is fantasic. When I hear about an interesting book, I immediately download the sample and save it off. About half my purchases now come from those samples, where I decide I really do like the writing and the story.
8. What advice do you have for new writers?
Read read and read. And hate to say it, but read the top books in your genre, most of which will be traditionally published. One of the things I see a lot in new writers is a tendancy toward great stories, but weak writing. A lot of creative people get the workings of a fascinating premise, and a moving plot. It’s the characters that can end up cardboard, and the machinations of sentence structure and whatnot that weaken some otherwise great stories. And when you read, analyze it! Why did you enjoy that last chapter? What did the author do when setting that scene? Why is that particular character or side character interesting?
The other advice – write, write, write some more. Write more than I do, because I’m a slow lazy writer. There is a lot of practice involved in writing, and from my own experience, I can say each book I write is stronger than the one before.
Then, whether you try traditional or go for indie publishing, get a good editor. Editors can polish up a good story or tell you where the major rewrites are needed. And don’t skimp on the cover art. When I look online for books, one of the first things that catch my eye is the cover art. I’m sure there are some great books I’m passing by because the art doesn’t draw me in.