Author Interview with Sara Snider

Hi everyone! The lovely Sara Snider and I got together the other day (on Facebook – sadly Hong Kong to Sweden is not an easy distance to cross) to chat about her books and her writing, since she has just released A Shadowed Spirit, the sequel to The Thirteenth Tower. It made for a more relaxed, informal interview than what I normally do, which I actually really enjoyed – we talk about Sara’s books, but also about how she uses Myers-Brigg when working on her characters, genre hopping, and her awesome live-writing project, Hazel and Holly. Hope you enjoy!

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CJJ: Hey Sara, so this is fun – and different! Live chatting! Ok so can you give me a quick introduction on the Tree and Tower series, for anyone who’s not come across your stuff before?

SS: This is fun and different! Ok, the Tree and Tower series is basically about a young woman searching for answers. Her search invariably leads her into the forest, but her answers don’t always come in the way that she thinks.

CJJ: And book 2 in the series, A Shadowed Spirit, has recently come out, congratulations! That’s exciting. (I just finished it, for you guys reading this, and it was awesome, go check it out). So what pushed you to write a sequel to The Thirteenth Tower, as I know you hadn’t necessarily planned a sequel originally?

SS: Ok, first, I’m glad you enjoyed the story. That means a lot to me. As for why I wrote it, it’s because after the first one was done and people started to read it, they started saying things like, “I’m looking forward to the sequel.” Not, “Is there going to be a sequel?” So I figured I’d better get on that sooner rather than later.

I was always open to the possibility of a sequel, but I hadn’t actively planned on one until then. I do think the first book in the Tree and Tower series stands alone, but there are gaps, and I’m not sure how much of that was “I’ll leave that for a future sequel” and how much was just my own tendency to leave some things unexplained for readers to interpret on their own

CJJ: What about a third book, is that in the works? And how do you write books by the way, do you outline or do you pants?

SS: Yeah there’s going to be a third book – I’m currently working on the first draft. I’m struggling with it because I’m a total pantser. But… for this one, pantsing isn’t working, and I’m going need to plan a bit, and that’s hard for me. I’ve actually gone back and started re-writing the beginning (basically moving events I had late in the book happening sooner).

Part of me feels like I should leave rewriting for the editing process, but it was creating a wall for me in figuring out what happens next. As a pantser, what happened previously plays a big part in what happens next, and if that’s not right I feel like I’m in a weird limbo. So, yeah, doing some hefty re-writing right now.

CJJ: I definitely agree with that: I can’t continue on very far if I know the earlier part of the story is broken. (and I also really like re-writing, so I’m always up for a bit of editing.) Ok so let’s talk about your characters. What’s your process like when creating a new character?

SS: Characters kind of create themselves to a large extent. Addigan popped fully formed (full name and everything, which is really rare for me) into my head. Others sometimes take bit more work.

Jash, for example (he’s a bit of a rogue character who’s teamed up with Addigan), I developed his personality a bit more by putting him through the Myers-Briggs personality test, as his default personality was a bit flat for me.

Doing that illuminated some personality quirks I hadn’t considered, but it also didn’t change the personality he initially formed with in my head. It just further accentuated what someone like him might act like.

CJJ: That’s interesting, I think you’ve mentioned using Myers-Briggs before on your blog. Is it something you use regularly?

SS: I wrote a blog post about it, and this was the first time I had used the test. The blog post talks about Jash, and I also used it on Enon to see if his personality was believable (which it was, according to the test, which was pretty awesome to see).

CJJ: I bet! Would be a bit of a bummer if he hadn’t come out as believable. I really liked Enon by the way 🙂 I take it he’s an introvert? Actually, first could you quickly explain who he is for those who haven’t come across him yet?

Glad you liked him. For those who don’t know: Enon’s a rather quiet, sullen character who joins up with Siyan on team protagonist (with Addigan and Jash on the antagonist side). He’s not to everyone’s taste though, but I knew that when I wrote him (so it makes it extra special when people do like him). Yeah, he’s totally an introvert. ISTJ personality type, if I recall correctly. Which, interestingly, is the exact opposite of my type, other than the introversion part (which is definitely me). I think I’m an INFP.

And I’m not totally obsessed with personality types, but I do think it’s interesting. J

CJJ: Yeah I agree, I love analysing people and personalities! I actually have a little theory about characters, which I don’t think I’ve floated to another writer yet. For me, all my characters are me. I embellish, highlight, or add on aspects, so none of them are exact copies of me, but I can see myself in each and every one (even the not so flattering and not so nice ones – yeesh). Hence the theory, that I’m the sum of all my characters (of course I have many to come still). Do you think that about your characters too, or are they completely separate from you? Like different people?

SS: No, I actually do think that about my characters. I mean they’re not me, but I can totally see parts of myself in all of them. It’s like each one represents a particular aspect of myself in their own way. I talked about this with my sister-in-law and she just looked at me and said, “So, what you’re saying is you’re schizophrenic?” hehe. She was joking, but it was kind of funny. 🙂

CJJ: Haha, to be fair I think all of use writers are a little nuts. So, if you think back to The Thirteenth Tower and A Shadowed Spirit, in what order do ideas come to you? Do you start with a concept for a world, a character, a scene….

SS: I think it’s mostly premise based, if that makes sense. For The Thirteenth Tower, I had an idea for the beginning and end, and then the premise of the strange things happening and what was causing it. And so everything stemmed from that. For A Shadowed Spirit, almost all the ideas came for that one as I wrote it. I had a goal for Siyan, and I had Addigan and what she was trying to do. Everything else came as I wrote it.

The idea for book 3 is basically the consequence of events from the first two books. I looked at what happened in each one and thought, “What do the Magisters think about *that*?” And so that’s given me the premise. I’m still working on the events that follow it.

CJJ: I kind of wish I could start stories from a premise, I sometimes think it would make life a bit easier, or at least more straightforward. I always have to start with characters, though. I’ve tried to create a story from a premise and it never works. Not sure why!

SS: Which is probably why you have the best characters.

CJJ: aw thank you. I do think that’s also why so far my books don’t fit into a straight forward category. the one I finished recently is another mish-mash of genres, and I think I’m going to have to sift through Amazon categories to figure where it belongs! Do you think you’ll always write fantasy, or any plans to genre hop?

And what’s in store after Book 3 is finished? I know you have the Hazel and Holly story going on, any plans for after that?

SS: Genre mish-mashes are awesome in my opinion, but, yeah, a bit of a pain to market. 😉

I sometimes think about writing a science fiction story of some sort. The idea of it intimidates me, because science. But I find, for example, black holes terribly fascinating, and I think it would be fun to write a story that incorporates them somehow.

After book three, I have a vague idea for a creepy archivist I want to pursue. For this one, I don’t have a premise for a story, it’s the character, so that’s a first I guess. The character is pretty vague though. He’s an archivist and he does unsavory things like dig up bodies and collect bones. That’s all I have at the moment.

HazelHolly_FC_FNL_BNGCJJ: I’m liking the sound of this guy already – creeps and weirdoes are right up my street! Tell me also about your Hazel and Holly project (for those of you who haven’t come across this before, Sara is writing a serial ‘live’ on her blog, posting a new episode each week.)

SS: Hazel and Holly are basically two witch sisters trying to find their necromancer father who’s trapped their dead mother’s soul in a gaes. They’re trying to find him so he can undo it.

As for when it will be done, I have no idea. I was aiming to finish the first draft of it by the end of this month, but… it’s long. It doesn’t want to end! I’m at 90k words now, estimating (maybe) it’ll finish up around 130k (which will make it the longest story I’ve ever written). Maybe it’s the serialized nature of it, but I’m finding it difficult to wrap things up.

CJJ: Wow, that is HUGE! How have you found the experience of writing in public like that, basically letting people see your first draft?

SS: It’s pretty scary, actually, and it wouldn’t work at all for me for some stories (like the Tree and Tower series, that just wouldn’t work). I think what’s made it work for me with this one was I went into it thinking it was just a story I’d have fun with. Yes, there will be small errors, and potentially crappy writing, but I accepted that and figured just write to have fun!

For the most part, I think it’s worked fairly well. Those who read it seem to be enjoying it, so I suppose that’s something.

CJJ: Absolutely! Well this is all great, thank you so much for the chat Sara!

SS: Thank you, Celine!

A Shadowed Spirit:

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She used to be called Emelyn. She used to be nobody. Now she is Siyan—a creature of magic known as an And’estar. But Siyan doesn’t understand what that means, just as she can’t control the power that has woken within her.

Addigan worked her entire life to master the Art of magic and become a respected Magister, only to fail her final test. Scarred and desperate to prove her worth, Addigan pursues rumors of trees of power and a mysterious people called And’estar.

When Siyan heads into the dense and dangerous forest searching for answers, she doesn’t realize Addigan is coming for her. In this twisting chase of hunter against hunted, Addigan must choose how far she is willing to go to prove herself. And Siyan must let go of everything she knows—and everything she loves—if she is to gain control over her power. Even if it kills her.

In a journey that follows the intertwined lives of two women, A Shadowed Spirit is a mystical tale that redefines the boundaries between life and death, dreams and reality, and what one is willing to sacrifice to achieve the happiness she seeks.

A Shadowed Spirit is now available to buy at the following places:

Amazon US     Amazon UK    Apple    Kobo

About the Author:

Sara-headshotSara C. Snider was born and raised in northern California before making the move to Sweden at age 25. She is a published author of two fantasy novels—The Thirteenth Tower and A Shadowed Spirit—and the dark fantasy novella, The Forgotten Web, which won best novella in the 2015 Lyra Contest. She has a bachelor’s degree in Archives and Information Science that is largely being ignored as she pursues writing full-time.

Sara’s writing is heavily influenced by nature where she likes to explore the relationship between man and a greater wild world. Her stories sometimes venture into the surreal and metaphysical, while other times remaining quirky and light-hearted.

Website: http://saracsnider.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SaraCSnider

Twitter: https://twitter.com/SaraCSnider

Author Interview with C.D Gallant-King

Hi guys, today I’m delighted to have C.D. Gallant-King over on the blog, in honour of his newly released book Hell Comes to Hogtown. Take it away, C.D.!

A comic book nerd and a pro-wrestler try to clear their names in a kidnapping while evading a bloodthirsty demon hobo

THE TRAILER
THE INTERVIEW

Tell us a little about yourself. When did you first start writing?
I’m a dad and a husband and a gamer and oh, yeah, a writer. I currently reside in Ottawa, the scenic capital of Canada, but I’m originally from Newfoundland and spent many years in Toronto. I have a degree in Theatre and I’ve been an actor, a stage manager, a lighting technician, a printer, a retail manager, a secretary and a public servant in addition to being a writer, which is probably the reason you’re reading this. I doubt you have an interest in stage lighting design. I also briefly wanted to be a rock star, but that’s a story for another time.The first story I ever remember writing was a sci-fi piece about an alien invasion. I was probably about five years old and I made my babysitter to look up how to spell ìextra-terrestrialî in the dictionary. I’ve been writing genre fiction ever since.Tell us your latest book, Hell Comes to Hogtown.
Hogtown is about a hapless loser named Fitz who works at a comic shop and can’t get a date to save his life. When a beautiful woman walks into his shop by accident one rainy night he thinks his luck might actually be changing… until she gets him implicated in a murder and kidnapping case involving the prime minister’s family. Fitz and his best friend – a womanizing, drug-addicted professional wrestler named Dee – go on the run from the cops trying to clear their name only to discover there’s something way worse than the cops on their tail. A creepy, murderous hobo hounds them at every step… and he may be some kind of demon.

And yes, it’s a comedy.

(It’s also got strong elements of horror and urban fantasy, with a touch of mystery/thriller thrown in. And lots of cuss words. Lots and lots of cuss words.)

So how did it come about? What’s the story behind the story?
Hogtown is the mixture of several threads I thought would be different books but somehow got blended together in one story. I had clear ideas for a few characters that I wanted to use somewhere (the wrestler, the pathetic comic store employee and the giant demon hobo in particular) so I decided to throw them in. Most of them were pretty comic, funny characters. I really wanted to write a supernatural mystery with a dark bent, with monsters and murder and horror. People are going to die. So armed with those ideas as well as a bunch of scenes that I wanted to write, it all coalesced into what you see now.

Horror and comedy may not seem to complement each other, but I believe it’s actually quite the opposite. I think the two go hand in hand. In order for tragedy to have the strongest impact, sometimes you need a lightness to come first, so that it catches you off guard. And you can’t have something that’s endlessly bleak, either (unless you’re Cormac McCarthy). You need moments of levity mixed into a dark story, otherwise it’s just sadistically pounding you in the heart with a hammer for no good reason. If done properly it’s a roller-coaster that keeps you constantly off guard and engaged, which I hope I pulled of successfully with this book.

What is your writing process?
It’s evolving. In the past, Iíve usually started with just a few scenes – usually the beginning and the end and a few points in the middle, and then started writing around them to so where it goes. While this is a free and fun way to do it, itís also time consuming and potentially frustrating. The scenes donít always fit together as well as I would like once you fill in the middle parts. For my next book Iím doing way more outlining and plotting in advance than Iíve ever done before – Iím hoping that with a better framework Iíll waste a lot less time and the book will come together faster and smoother. It may also be less fun, but that remains to be seen – Iíll let you know.

Who are your favourite authors?
Terry Pratchett, Kurt Vonnegut, Christopher Moore, Neil Gaiman, Stephen King, Cormac McCarthy, Ken Follett, Chuck Palahniuk. I’m currently really digging PG Wodehouse. My first book, Ten Thousand Days, was my take on Gaiman. Hell Comes to Hogtown is my Christopher Moore. I have other unpublished works that are takes on Pratchett and Palahniuk. I suspect (at least hope) my author voice will end up being some unholy combination of all of those, I’m still working on it.

THE BOOK

Title: Hell Comes to Hogtown
Author: C.D Gallant-King
Genre: Comic Horror
Length: 65,000 words
Cover Art: Jason Salvatori and C.D. Gallant-King
Editing: Amy Allen-MacLeod
Release Date: July 1, 2016

Fitz is a broke night manager for a grubby comic book store. His only friend Dee is a drugged-out, womanizing pro-wrestler. Together theyíre the most pathetic losers on the face of the planet. Their lives cannot possibly get any worse.

And then theyíre implicated in the kidnapping of the prime ministerís wife.

On the run from the cops, Fitz and Dee discover there is something far worse than the RCMP stalking the dark streets of Toronto. They are being hunted by an ancient demon of unspeakable evil with an insatiable taste for blood… or maybe itís just your run-of-the-mill giant murderous hobo?

Either way, life in prison might be better than whatever the creepy drifter has in store for themÖ

THE LINKS
You can purchase Hell Comes to Hogtown at any of the fine retailers below:

 

 

THE WRITER

 

Writer, tabletop gamer, pro-wrestling aficionado. Dad.

C.D. Gallant-King is an independent writer originally from Newfoundland, Canada, though he’s not fond of fishing and hates boats. He moved to Toronto to study theatre, and then later moved to Ottawa where he does absolutely nothing related to theatre.

He hangs out on Twitter and Facebook, and blogs at Stories I Found in the Closet and Rule of the Dice.