Welcome to the fifty-second of my blog interviews with novelists, poets, short story authors, bloggers, autobiographers and more. Today’s is with urban fantasy and paranormal romance writer Rebecca Little. If you like what you read, please do go and investigate the author further. A list of interviewees (blogged and scheduled) can be found here.
Morgen: Hello, Rebecca. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer.
Rebecca: Writing has always been a part of me. I can remember making “books” when I was around five years old.
Morgen: Wow. I’m so jealous. I was late 30s.
Rebecca: My mom would use her sewing machine to stitch together sheets of paper down the middle, fold them over and I would happily go fill them with words and drawings. Later, in high school, I discovered I had a knack for language. I loved Shakespeare when other kids detested the Bard.
Morgen: I’m not a fan, sorry.
Rebecca: I adored Agatha Christie and Daphne du Maurier.
Morgen: Ah, now you’re talking.
Rebecca: I read everything I could get my hands on. I still do. The love of words creates a hunger for them that will never be fully sated. I am a creative soul and when I’m not able to express myself via writing I end up channelling that creative energy into other outlets, be it theatre, cooking, photography or art. In addition to being a writer, I’m a Mom, wife, friend, Episcopalian, runner, cook and pet-wrangler who loves vampires, books, sushi, music, roller coasters, coffee, high heels, absinthe, science, movies, fishing and shiny things.
Morgen: That’s quite a list. What genre do you generally write and have you considered other genres?
Rebecca: Generally, urban fantasy and paranormal romance are what I enjoy writing. I love the escapism they provide the reader and I’ve been told I “do dark well”. I won’t promise to stay with one genre though.
Morgen: I don’t think you should. An agent told me the other day that I should write crime and I read it so that’s entirely feasible but agents do seem to be short on crime (especially by female authors) and historical fiction.
Rebecca: I enjoy mystery and historical fiction as well.
Morgen: Ah! There we are. Just what they’re looking for. Do you have an agent? Do you think they’re vital to an author’s success?
Rebecca: I’m looking for an agent currently. I know that self-publishing seems to be the current trend right now, but there are things an agent can get done that most authors have little to no hope of succeeding at on their own. I think the future of publishing is going to be quite different from what it is right now. The e-book market is flooding with junk books that aren’t worth the 99 cents they’re charging. There are even scam artists out there selling info on how to create an e-book by plagiarizing the work of others. That will have to be counteracted. People like J. K. Rowling can self-publish (as she is doing with the Pottermore site) and not worry about it, but for the less well-known authors it is ever-shifting, hazardous, territory right now. Sure you have the Amanda Hockings of the world, but I think that is the exception rather than the rule.
Morgen: I agree but it’s early days. Are your books available as eBooks? If so what was your experience of that process? And do you read eBooks?
Rebecca: I don’t have any e-books out there yet, but I do read them. My phone has a Kindle app on it and I do use it, though it will never totally replace printed books for me. I love the traditional book too much, plus I can’t accidentally erase them!
Morgen: Most people I speak to want a bit of both formats. Have you had any rejections? If so, how do you deal with them?
Rebecca: The rejections I have had have been quite polite. All of them have said, in essence, it isn’t what we are looking for right now, but we wish you the best in your career. None have been disparaging, so dealing with them is a non-issue. Par for the course and on to the next! What really irks me is the non-reply though. I realize agents are incredibly busy, often overwhelmed, but a form letter takes all of a minute to send. I think it is a sad trend, not just in this industry but in all of business, that it has become acceptable to just ignore people.
Morgen: Like job applicants. Sadly it seems that fewer people are covering more jobs, although that’s not an excuse. What are you working on at the moment / next?
Rebecca: I’m working on two projects actually. The first is the follow-up to BLOOD THIEF and the second is a joint project with another author (which currently lacks a title). Both have vampires, but the vampires differ in their mythos.
Morgen: Do you manage to write every day? What’s the most you’ve written in a day?
Rebecca: No, I don’t write daily. I write in spurts. I tend to think things over for a bit, mull on it, then dash back to the computer and type furiously for a while when it clicks. I think the most I’ve written in a day is probably about 10k…
Morgen: Wow! I did 9-somethingK for NaNo but nothing like that since.
Rebecca: …about half of which I promptly deleted.
Morgen: Ouch. What is your opinion of writer’s block? Do you ever suffer from it? If so, how do you ‘cure’ it?
Rebecca: This ties in to the previous question for me. I think if I tried to write every day, on a schedule, then yes, I’d have writer’s block. I don’t suffer from it currently because I don’t try to put the muse on a schedule. Creativity isn’t something you can put in a box on a shelf and take down every morning at 8 a.m. I do sometimes get stuck for a word or phrase, but I walk away, go do the dishes or cook dinner or walk the dog. Inevitably, the words or notion will come when I’m not struggling so hard with it.
Morgen: Do you plot your stories or do you just get an idea and run with it?
Rebecca: A little of both. I begin with characters. Who is on the playing field? Once I know the major players, I mull over how they will interact. Then I chart out the main course of action. What is the major goal of the main character and how does it get resolved. All this gets jotted on my whiteboard. If a scene comes to me before I’m done with the plotting process, I go ahead and write it before I lose it. I’ll either work it in later or alter it. I ask myself questions and make notes like mad. What if, why, when, where, how…I poke and prod at things until I find what I like and then I write toward the goal. Sometimes while writing I find things I overlooked and I change portions of my original outline. Nothing is set in stone until “The End” is typed, if even then.
Morgen: That’s funny. I interviewed Adrian Magson (http://adrianmagson.com) on my podcast recently and he said exactly the same thing. How do you come up with the names of your characters?
Rebecca: I don’t have one set method for this, but I use several tools to help me. I have a few baby name books, a random name generator app on my phone, and quite a few reference books at hand. Sometimes the name is indicative of the character’s personality. Other times they are named because of a similarity to a particular myth or maybe just because I like the sound of the name.
Morgen: Do you have pieces of work that you think will never see light of day?
Rebecca: Yes, of course. If I come up with a story that just doesn’t click for me, it stays on the computer until I can make it work out the way I want. Some probably never will.
Morgen: What’s your favourite / least favourite aspect of your writing life?
Rebecca: Favourite aspect is positive feedback. I love it when people read what I’ve written and tell me how much they like it. I first tasted that while writing fan-fiction. That absolutely rocks my world. The least favourite aspect is editing. The problem is that for the first couple of pages I make corrections, but then I get caught up in reading it and forget to fix things. That probably sounds quite egotistical, but it isn’t meant to be. It is just that I love to read as much as I love to write and find it very easy to just be pulled along by the action.
Morgen: How a good book should be. If anything, what has been your biggest surprise about writing?
Rebecca: I knew zero about agents and publishing processes when I began. I made an effort to educate myself though. I’m stunned at how many people out there don’t make that effort. They just assume that they’ve written a book and that they will be able to just give it to someone and it will be published. They jump online and ask to whom they should send it. They don’t know what the query process is or even what a query letter is. Query letters were my biggest surprise. Writing the query letter, for me, is harder than writing the novel! It’s a whole different set of skills, as a friend put it.
Morgen: What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Rebecca: Educate yourself. Know the process, at least somewhat, before you begin it. Join Twitter and listen to what agents, publishers and authors are saying. Read books on writing. Read books about publishing your novel. Read, read, read. And don’t be afraid to ask questions or introduce yourself to people.
Morgen: What do you like to read?
Rebecca: Words! No, seriously, I’ll read just about anything. My tastes are eclectic and voracious. As long as a book is well-written I will typically read it. My pet peeve is the incorrect use of homophones (then/than, especially). If I see that, it is a huge turn-off. Urban fantasy, paranormal romance, mysteries (was so sad to see that Lillian Jackson Braun passed recently), historical fiction, high fantasy, travel guides, the classics, thrillers, biology text books, art books . . . all have a place on my bookshelves. Newspapers, magazines, the back of the cereal box . . . anything will do.
Morgen: Me too… we’ve had the cereal boxes mentioned before and even toothpaste tubes. Maybe fiction on the sides of cereal boxes and the like is an untapped market. Are there any writing-related websites and/or books that you find useful and would recommend?
Rebecca: Some time back I made a list of the books I think every author should have and posted it on my blog (along with the ISBN #s for quick reference). Here’s the link: (http://rebeccatlittle.blogspot.com/2011/01/thursday-13-13-books-writers-really.html). There’s also a guide for using Twitter that holds something for the Twitter newbie and seasoned users alike (http://rebeccatlittle.blogspot.com/2011/01/what-ive-learned-about-twitter.html).
Morgen: Ooh great, thank you for those. In which country are you based and do you find this a help or hindrance with letting people know about your work?
Rebecca: I live in the U.S. I think it is both help and hindrance. It is a help in that the publishing industry here is well established. It is a hindrance in that I am one in a million authors seeking publication. Perhaps if I were from a smaller country my odds would improve. That may not always be the case though, with the changing face of publishing in the electronic age.
Morgen: Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how invaluable do you find them?
Rebecca: Yes, I am a member of the Writer’s Digest Community, a member of DarkMediaCity, a member of the #amwriting community and several other sites. I think they are very valuable as they allow me to feel the pulse of the writing community. Places like Writer Beware are wonderful, as they help you steer clear of pitfalls. I also like She Writes and I’m fairly active on Twitter. I have a Facebook page, but it is restricted to close friends and family only. I will probably create an author’s page on Facebook at some point in the future though.
Morgen: You’re definitely ‘out there’. Where’s the best place to find out about you and your work?
Rebecca: You can visit my blog (http://rebeccatlittle.blogspot.com) and find out what I’m working on, what music is inspiring me, or read about interesting things I’ve found along my journey. I don’t have a schedule for posting, but I try to update it fairly frequently. I enjoy interaction, so don’t hesitate to say hi!
Morgen: I won’t (hesitate, that is). What do you think the future holds for a writer?
Rebecca: Possibility. I think in the future that writers will have a better chance at becoming published. The industry is in a state of flux, changing rapidly right now. I don’t think we’re even close to where we’ll wind up though.
Morgen: Mmm, it’s interesting you say that. We will definitely have to watch this space.
Rebecca: Writers, good writers, will always be cherished though for the gifts they give to mankind. I also think we may see more subgenres crop up, like the recent Steampunk genre.
Morgen: Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
Rebecca: Sure! I’d like to ask that those interested in my work visit my blog (http://rebeccatlittle.blogspot.com), follow me on Twitter (@rebeccatlittle) and keep an eye out for the publication of BLOOD THIEF. I’m not sure of a time-frame yet, but good wishes/prayers/crossed fingers accepted! I’d also like to thank you for the opportunity to introduce myself to your readers.
Morgen: You’re so welcome. I’ve loved having you take part.
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