In 2016, I launched the 20 Questions author interview series. It was great fun and gave me the opportunity to help nearly 90 authors spread the word about themselves and their work.
I wanted to do this again in 2017, but I wanted to also change it up a bit. The questions have been cut down to 10 and they are a bit different. Some are about writing. Others give us a glimpse into the personalities of the authors. Other still are just fun.
The authors also have a chance to promote themselves and whatever work they choose.
I’d like to thank A.C. Flory for being the first victim…I mean guest…for this year’s interviewing endeavor that I’m calling ‘A Perfect 10’.
If you are an author and would like to participate, just drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and I will send you the information.
1) Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I’ve learned to write first thing in the morning, when my brain is at its most creative, so in that sense, writing energizes me. Once I’m in the ‘zone’ however, I become so involved in the story that I dream about it every night. Unfortunately, those dreams feel like ‘work’ without providing any ‘ah hah’ moments. As a result, I wake feeling exhausted.
2) Do you ever write under a pseudonym? If not have you considered it? Why or why not?
I guess the answer to this question depends upon how you define ‘pseudonym’? A.C. Flory is my real name, but I deliberately chose to make my gender ambiguous in order to be taken more seriously in my chosen genre. Most science fiction is still, sadly, written by men, and there is a definite bias against female writers. Things are changing thanks to the success of authors such as C.J. Cherryh and M.C.A. Hogarth [to name just two], but progress is slow.
3) Does a big ego help or hurt writers? Why or why not?
I’m not sure a big ego ever helps anyone, but confidence is an absolute must. Without it, no one would ever write anything. That almost happened to me. I wrote for many years as a technical writer, but I was 48 before I dared to think about writing fiction. I was confident in my writing skills, but fiction required creativity and imagination, two traits I was sure I lacked.
It’s only now, as I approach 64, that I have the confidence to say ‘I am a writer’. I wish I’d had that confidence twenty years ago!
4) What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Am I allowed to nominate two things?
The first money I ever invested in my writing went to pay an excellent editor. Her comments taught me some very valuable lessons about the craft of writing fiction. I emphasize the word fiction because it involves more than just ideas, or clarity of expression; the ‘music’ of the prose is part and parcel of the story. For that story to truly connect with readers at a ‘gut’ level, there has to be beauty in the sound of the words, almost like music. I believe that holds true for all genres, even science fiction.
The second investment involved the purchase of dedicated, novel-writing software. That $35 [back then] was money well spent because it gave me a tool that made my writing sharper, more focused and less waffle-y. The software is StoryBox, and it is similar to Scrivener, another dedicated writing package. I honestly cannot imagine going back and using a simple word-processor like Word again.
5) What does writing success look like to you? Have you achieved it?
Have I achieved writing success? No. Not if success is defined in dollar terms, but I am beginning to earn a readership, and that is how I have always defined success.
I would be lying if I said I’m not interested in fame and fortune. I would love to be able to pay off my mortgage and not have to worry about my old age! But money isn’t why I write. I write because I have stories to tell and because I want to leave a legacy behind for future generations. That, to me, is immortality.
6) What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book? What sources do you use?
I’m a science fiction writer with a passion for biology, genetics and language, so I literally spent years developing the alien species in my first book, Vokhtah. More recently, when I began writing Innerscape, I had to research emerging technologies such as 3D printing, holograms, virtual reality, intelligent systems, nano technology and medicine. Of those, medicine took the longest as I knew very little about the subject when I began.
My research tool of choice is Papa Google, but internet sources do have to be treated with a grain of salt. I try to source original scientific articles to ensure my ideas are at least possible, even if they’re not ‘probable’.
7) How do you select the names of your characters? Have you ever regretted choosing a particular name? Why?
I grew up speaking Hungarian and English. Later I learned French, Japanese, a smattering of Spanish and a hint of Mandarin, so I love language in all its forms. Perhaps that’s why names have always come easy to me. First, they have to ‘sound’ right, then they have to suit the life of the character in the story, and finally, they must be ‘distinct’.
I recently had to comb through about 10,000 words of my manuscript to change the names of two minor characters that sounded similar and could have confused readers. I really regret not paying more attention to those two!
8) What is the hardest type of scene to write?
As a Pantster/Plotter hybrid, I find plot-heavy scenes the hardest to write because they’re so cerebral. I’m painfully aware of having to get information across to the reader in a way that is both easy to digest and in keeping with the mood of the story.
I call these plot-heavy parts of the story key scenes because so much depends on them. Not surprisingly, I will often re-write them again and again until I’m sure I’ve got the balance right. After that, I cross my fingers and hope that readers breeze through without going “What the…?”
9) If you could have dinner with four people, living or dead, who would they be and what would you want to ask them?
Oh…Frank Herbert [Dune] would be at the top of my list, followed by Fyodor Dostoyevsky [Crime and Punishment], C.J. Cherryh [Cyteen] and Ursula K. LeGuin [The Left Hand of Darkness].
Once they were all seated around my dining table, I’d feed them until they popped, and then I’d ask them what triggered The Idea. Was it the culmination of a lifetime of thought? Or was it a simple spark that grew and grew?
10) What platform has brought you the most success in marketing your books?
I’m actually very bad at marketing, so I’m not sure how helpful my answer will be. I have a Facebook account but have never been comfortable with the medium, so rarely spend any time on it. Not surprisingly, it has not brought me many followers.
Neither my blog nor Twitter have led to astronomical sales either, but I do enjoy them, so I’d have to say blog first, then Twitter. Both help me build my ‘brand’, plus they allow me to connect with like-minded people, many of whom have become good friends. My hope is that, long term, those connections will eventually lead to sales. In the meantime, I’m making new friends and discovering interesting people in areas ranging from music to crafts! It really is a win-win situation.
You can find me on my blog, Meeka’s Mind, at:
On Twitter @acflory
Or on my Author Page on Amazon. There you’ll find all my published works together with recent blog posts and some unique graphics.
My latest story, Innerscape, is a sprawling, science fiction novel told in five, novella length episodes. The shortest is about 30,000 words, the longest almost 60,000.
Innerscape is set in the not-so-distant future, and follows the life of Miira Tahn, a fifty-two year old woman dying from the effects of Bountiful, a synthetic food supplement she was fed as a child. When her many illnesses threaten the last of her independence, Miira decides to enter the virtual world of Innerscape, to escape the pain. Once inside, however, she discovers that she has been given a second chance at life…in an avatar that feels the way she used to feel at twenty-nine, when she was young and healthy.
But Miira soon discovers that all is not well in paradise. The ‘wolves’ are out to get her, both inside Innerscape, and outside in the real world.
Meanwhile, circling them all like a shark amongst minnows, is the assassin sent to find James Milgrove, the whistleblower capable of bringing the makers of Bountiful to justice.
Used as pawns in the assassin’s search for the whistleblower, Miira and her friends are forced to fight for survival in a game where the odds have been stacked against them from the start.