Mythic Tales: Author Interview

Alex Butcher, the curator of the Mythic Tales bundle, has been doing interviews of the characters that appear in the bundled stories, as well as conducting Q&As with several of the contributing authors. Recently, she posted her interview with me on her website.

She asked some great questions, so I’m sharing her first few questions, along with my answers, in this post on my own blog.

What first prompted you to publish your work?

In 2007, I re-discovered Maddy Prior’s amazing song ‘The Fabled Hare.’

Listening to her powerful lyrics and expressive voice, I grew suddenly aware that time was passing, I was getting older, and I didn’t have forever.

The imagery of the hunter and hounds closing in on the hare made me feel as though death were snapping at my heels.

If there was something I really wanted to do, something I had not done yet, I’d better get going or I might miss my chance entirely.

I didn’t ‘click the publish button’ in 2007, but that year and that song were the beginning of my publishing journey.

Are you a ‘pantser’ or a ‘plotter’?

I do some of each.

I prefer having a skeletal outline at the start of a story. Doing without —pure ‘pantsing’—feels like walking a tightrope over Niagara without a safety net. Very uncomfortable! And yet . . . I’ve done it.

Once I awoke in the middle of the night, so afire with inspiration that I got up out of my bed to write the first scene of what would become the novel Caught in Amber (my title in the Mythic Tales bundle). I didn’t work out an outline until I was a third of the way through the book!

More usually, I sort out the foundational plot line before I start writing. I need to know what happens, but (oddly) I need to not know how it happens. I discover the how as I write, and that keeps the story feeling fresh to me.

Even when I follow an outline, I always feel free to ‘have a better idea.’ Sometimes my outline writhes like a river in flood!

What piece of advice do you wish you’d had when you started your publishing journey?

I’m going to pretend you asked me about my writing journey. 😉 Because there’s a piece of advice that I really, really needed and didn’t get, way back when.

For some reason, I thought that the process of writing was much more cut-and-dried than it ever could be. Why I thought this, I don’t know. Perhaps because I formed the impression when I was very young, at age ten or eleven.

But the result was that, when I sat down in my early twenties to write my great fantasy novel, and didn’t get anywhere with it, I concluded that I must not be made of such stuff as goes into the bones of real writers.

I longed to write novels, and believed I could not. I spent more than two decades believing this and writing poetry and story vignettes and gaming adventures instead.

And then I listened to Maddy Prior’s ‘The Fabled Hare’ and got serious about my creative aspirations. I read Julia Cameron’s The Artist’s Way, did every last one of the written assignments in the book, and read several of the titles in its bibliography.

That’s when I encountered Becoming a Writer by Dorothea Brande, and one of her suggestions set me free.

So the advice I wish I’d gotten? Find out how other writers do it! Not just one or two, but dozens. Ask them. Read biographies. Whatever it takes, find out.

Because if I’d learned that there are as many ways as there are writers, I might not have concluded so wrongly that I was not a writer. I might have been writing novellas and novels (as well as poetry and vignettes and gaming adventures) between 1980 and 2007. I might not have been so unhappy in my creative desert.

What are your views on authors commenting on reviews?

Do not go there! Reviews are a reader space. What reader wants to write his or her honest opinion and then discover that the author of the book has been peering over his or her shoulder the whole while?

Sort these into order of importance: Great characters. Good plot. Awesome world-building. Technically perfect.

As a reader (not a writer), I want them all. If the characters aren’t great, I have no interest. If the plot is stupid, I get cranky. If the world-building is unconvincing, I get thrown out of the story. If there are grammar errors, I’m tempted to email the author with the necessary fix. ‘Lay’ when it should be ‘lie’ makes me wild, unless it’s in dialogue, of course. Gah! 😉

I believe I’m known as what one writer calls a ‘fussy reader.’ That’s being kind!

As a writer…what can I say? I go for all four.

For the rest of the interview, I urge you to visit Alex’s site. She asks about my views on research, what my writing space is like, and whether my stories contain a message, as well as prompting me to tell her a little about the novel that I am smack in the middle of writing!

Library of Erana

Bundles remain available for a short time only, usually for about 6 weeks, sometimes a bit longer.

The Mythic Tales bundle is now gone, but the stories that were in it remain available separately. A few are so good that each was worth the price of the bundle all on its own.

I urge you to check out the individual titles with an eye to purchasing the ones that particularly appeal to you.

For reviews of the stories and novels from the Mythic Tales bundle
(plus the odd character interview), see:

Mythic Tales: Beneath the Knowe
Mythic Tales: Caught in Amber, Character Interview – Fae
Mythic Tales: A Sword’s Poem
Mythic Tales: Tales of Erana
Mythic Tales: Tempus
Mythic Tales: Raziel’s Shadow
Mythic Tales: Magic for a Rainy Day

For another author interview of me, see:
5 Quirky Questions from Shantnu Tiwari

For more about my writing epiphany of 2007, see:
Writer’s Journey



5 Quirky Questions from Shantnu Tiwari

Shantnu Tiwari writes quirky humor featuring air conditioned burkas, super villains, and zombies – with an underlayer of satire, skewering the faults and foibles of modern homo sapiens within modern society.

Naturally, when he decided to offer author interviews on his blog, he would do nothing so prosaic as ask a writer what her favorite book was or what influenced her writing. No, he’d find a way insert zombies or super villains into his questions.

Clown Alley Group

I was his first guinea pig to be interviewed, and I can safely report that my experience under his grilling was . . . different!

His first question?

1. You are given a machine that allows you to enter your favorite book as a character. Which book would you choose and why?

My answer?

The first thought that blares in my mind? “Caution! Caution! Caution!” There’s a siren and flashing lights accompanying the warning. Why? My favorite books are dangerous! Okay, the books aren’t dangerous, but their settings are.

If I were to choose The Curse of Chalion by Lois McMaster Bujold (a top favorite of mine), I’d be coping with a country much like medieval Spain, but with demons and gods trolling their ephemeral fingers through my mind and my life. No. Just . . . no!

What if I chose one of my own books?

Not much better. The age of steam in my North-lands is a little more civilized than the Spanish medieval period: flush toilets and regular bathing and respect for women. But insane incantors with powerful magic erupt unexpectedly in the midst of . . . anywhere at all, and wreak destruction on all in their path toward the wastelands and safety.

Gregor and Laisa dance on their wedding dayI think I’d best choose A Civil Campaign, also by Bujold. It’s another favorite book, and the setting includes amenities such as galactic medicine and anti-grav tech.

Which character? Kareen Koudelka. She grows up in a stable and happy family. She is able to claim her own autonomy without the violence of war and terror that seems to dog the footsteps of so many Bujold heroes and heroines. She gets to see Roic – a handsome, young armsman – naked (or almost naked) and coated in “bug butter”! (Read the book!) She becomes a powerful and successful business woman. She gets to have Mark – the more self-aware Vorkosigan brother who manages to learn how to be a real partner to the love of his life. Yes! Kareen.

The other 4 questions posed by Shantnu are equally unique, and my answers . . . ? Well, let’s just say that you are unlikely to find me talking about superheroes and the President of Uzbekistan anywhere else!

Plus, at the close of the interview, there’s a sneak preview of the opening to my upcoming novel Fate’s Door!

Go check it out on Shantnu’s blog.

For more about Shantnu on my blog, check out his zany book covers:
Cover Makeovers