Rounding out my series of author interviews is this one with J.S. Riddle, author of Rise of a Queen. Let's see what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
A simple introduction as J.S. Riddle is a good start. I'm not old, but I'm far from young. I was born in the UK to military parents, I left there before I was able to attend primary school. I moved around a lot, so I was always meeting new people. I currently live in the Southeastern United States, it would be hard to pinpoint because I have moved quite a bit in the past few years alone. Aside from my love of literature and the history of it (I adore Mythology of all kinds) I have a big geek thing going on for me. I grew up on Trek and Wars never choosing either side. I'm obsessed with Doctor Who, I remember my first. The lovely Tom Baker. I like horror movies, action, comedies. I can't sit through a romantic one though. I also have realized how deep the Joss Whedon connection is to everything and have decided I live in the Whedonverse. My favorite is video gaming. See? A geek. But a lovely one from what I am told.
2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
Rise of a Queen.
Well I could go the shortest synopsis and say: Tessa became Queen of the Levé’s the moment she was turned vampire. By circumstances she is left to rule her clan alone. With gearing wars with a rival clan and human rebels, from a life she left behind, she had no choice but to fight back. with a whirlwind of deceit,and betrayal,interweaving,It is up to her to become the Queen she was meant to be.
But I would like to add that it is a lot more than that. Tessa is a very strong woman with so many choices to make she is constantly doubting herself. She has two sides to herself, I suppose like each of us; our dark and our light. You feel her plight but find yourself appalled at some of her harsher actions. She loves everything about being a vampire but she can't leave her human world behind. There is lot that happens that kind of makes that quite impossible anyway and the war with the human rebels pains her the most because she has a very personal connection. The fight with the Krone clan is something that had been going on for centuries and Tessa is the unfortunate recipient of finalizing that task once and for all. I would say there is a lot of personal growth, dark pasts, betrayal, retribution, all of which she handles in a way that I hope the reader enjoys.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
It was originally supposed to be a standalone book, but I just couldn't stop writing. There is so much story to be told, characters to grow, wars to be had, that I honestly could have gone on for a very long time. Then I looked at the word count. I realized that I probably wouldn't do good to make a book as thick as War and Peace. So A trilogy was born. What was just The Vampire Realm became a series. The first being Rise of a Queen, the second I'm having trouble naming it without giving away things from the first novel. Rise of a Queen is at just the perfect stopping point that people would be satisfied with it's ending and can easily make it a standalone book.
4. How long have you been writing?
I've been writing since just before I was a teenager. I suppose you could call it writing. Good story-lines I am sure, but lots of growth through that time. I did get my college English 101 teacher to read a novella of mine and said it would be great fleshed out or make a perfect screenplay. I took that as a sign I was at least on the right track.
5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
I'd hate to choose just one. I loved so many that opened up each and every realization that I had. I grew up reading Tolkien Bradbury, CS Lewis, Robin McKinley (my first introduction to how strong a woman could be), Anne Rice, Stephen King, Poe, and reading Shakespeare aloud. Of course as a teenager I enjoyed R.L. Stine's Fear Street before Stine went to more kid-friendly fare. I do believe if I could mash up the worlds Rice has written with the worlds of King, THAT would my my inspiration.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
I'm no expert but I will give my opinion. Edit and keep editing. Research also is the key and is kind of the fun part. I would think most people would already know that marketing is tough in this social-networking age, that is something definitely not to be overlooked whether they go Indie or through the Industry.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
My ideal reader is a tough one. I do not write Young Adult, if I feel awkward having my teenage nieces read my work then it's not YA. I don't write romance either so I suppose that just knocked the two of those right off the map. I think for someone to want to read my books they'd have to be ready for a change to a typical story, high intensity, my love for finding interesting ways to kill people off, and complex situations. I can't write about just one thing. There are a multitude of stories within the stories that all weave to make the tale even grander.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
What are those? I don't have a technical way of doing anything. No method to my maddness. I can't force myself to sit in my chair and write so many words a day, but I do have notebooks around the house filled with notes or sections I need to add to a book even if it's not the one I am currently working on. I have pictures on the walls to remind me what I think a character should look like, and I have time-lines scribbled everywhere. I do like things in their place, though. I suppose I contradict myself. Mood sets a real tone in what I write. If I'm mad then by George you can bet that is the day someone is probably going to be axed in a not-so-nice way.
9. Are you a "write every day of the week" sort of writer or do you take days off?
Everything is sporadic. There are days where I may get four hours sleep because I am writing so much and then when I just am exhausted I sleep and stop for a while. I switch to my geek mode to the tele, movies, or video games. Those are the easiest ways for me to relax, otherwise I would burn out.
Distract me with something sparkly (not the vampire kind please) and I may be gone a while.
10. What are your thoughts on writers paying for reviews as John Locke is reported to have done?
Having to pay for reviews is not something I am fond of. As unfortunate as it is, if a person would simply review what they've read nobody would have to pay for a review. Even if that happens why would a person want to review if it will be taken down anyway?
11. Do you think retailer rating/review systems are broken? If so, any suggestions on how to fix them?
As I mentioned in the last question I think the review system is broken. I am talking mostly on the web, because everything else has been easily understood that their blurb probably was pulled out of a hat of quotes. They take an incident that is so extreme that they hurt every innocent person in the process. Everything has become a huge combination of politics and capitalism at its finest. If someone's aunt that lives across the country really, truly loves a book, their review shouldn't be taken down just for that connection. They did buy the book from their site and they read it. I can tell you right now I probably would get a stern look from my aunts and uncle for what I write, so would I expect a glorious review? Ha. A simple fan from a webpage writes a review.....stricken. The whole time they're not looking at the broader picture and taking care of the issues at hand. They are so worried about the small things that they could care less that some bitter author (this has never happened to me, but I see it constantly) goes around giving hateful one star reviews because the person is their strict competition. The paid reviews stay on the pages miraculously and the trolls. It is the true fan that gets lost in all of it and that is sad.
I wish I could say there was an easy way to fix it, but it would take more than just a bot searching for relations or words. It would take people, real people that actually care about the products on the shelves, or virtual store, to make it shine brighter and make it more accurate in the process. With each incident comes a new restriction and at some point an author will get no reviews and a book at the bottom of a bin.
12. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?
I have had that and it stings. I admit it, I am an Indie writer. I think they are truly missing out. There are some great writers out there that may not have the means or finances to try it in the big publishing world. Their work could be the best creation, but because it's not what is "in" at the moment it gets thrown aside. Slush pile after slush pile. The Indie has just cut through that headache and has taken it directly to the fans. There will be a time that is all they will get a chance to review, you would think they would jump on the bandwagon.
13. Some people feel indie authored books are of lesser quality than those that go through the traditional publishers. Do you agree with them? If so, how can independent authors raise the bar and remove this stigmatism?
It is their misconception that blinds them the most. I think there is an assumption that all Indie writers are a bunch of "teenagers" or just nobody's that want to see their word in print. They assume they weren't good enough to be part of the big 6, or even a smaller publishing house. I have seen the argument back and forth on both sides, both quite bitter. People that are Traditionalists are in a circle that cannot be breached unless you went through as many channels as they did and were the lucky golden ticket to be picked. Not all of them are, but I have come across a few. I have also come across someone saying they planned on writing one day so she called herself a writer. Once the pen hits the paper and words flow; that is the moment a person becomes a writer. Every Indie has a chance for greatness, no matter how they start. Every lesson is learned and because they don't have a team, or circle, of people telling them how wonderful they are I think they try even harder and are the first to admit there is always room for improvement. Indie's don't do it for vanity, they do it because they get more control over their own work and don't have to wait until the planets align for their work to get discovered.
14. Any pets? If so, tell us what role they play in your writing, if any.
I have a miniature pincher, Ares. I'm really big into mythology and use it in my writing. With him being a tiny dog with a big personality, Ares was the perfect name.
I also have a cat. Wasn't my choice but I have one. The name is River. It started out as River Song (I'm a big Doctor Who fan) until the first vet check and a thermometer. Surprise, River Song became River Phoenix. The role he plays in my writing is the game of "Give me my pen and get away from my keyboard".
15. Assuming you have an active blog, point readers to a post of which you're especially proud or think will be of particular interest to them.
I think the one that probably would make my point on how the land of social media and attention spans have changed you'd want to check out :
Whata Fickle Pickle People are These Days
My favorite one, though, is how I go into detail about my first love.
For the love of a royal (typewriter that is)
16. I made some predictions for the ePublishing industry for 2013 (http://www.scottmarlowe.com/post/ePub...). Do you think any of them will come true?
1)I hear some vile things about KDP Select and I think it gives newcomers a grandiose idea that they will get a lot of money and attention by signing up for being exclusively their. They honestly could care less for those people once they've been enrolled. Now I have to say, some people are happy with it. I just see it as a way of controlling the market TOO much and there is a reason Barnes & Noble and other brick and mortar stores refuse to deal with people who even whisper the name Amazon. I'm on KDP, not select. I've also used Createspace and it saddens me the disdain toward the company that the innocent author gets thrown in the fire with the probability of having their books sitting on their shelves. Even Indie bookstores tend to boycott anything associated. I would not doubt that Select will drop the 70%. Their hand will have to be forced one way or another.
on 2) The big 6 have been panicking and finally have come to a wake up call to the e-world. They're behind the curve. They will end up doing what it takes to get the books out there, but I don't think they would ever go so low as to lose their grasp on the publishing world. It's hard strong pride, and it will ruin them.
on 3) I think the Indie boom is already slowing down. There are so many out there things are getting mixed in chaotic talents. I'm late to the game. I doubt it would disappear, but I believe that people will think it is a big waste of time to stick their life's work out there. The economics of it in general you are on the ball. People like me have no money. We think we have talent so we write. We don't write because we want to make a lot of money. I would hope for a decent wage but I know it is far and few. Line-item editors, publicists, book cover artists ALL of those are expensive and a person doesn't really get what they put into it. There are a few of us that put in those extra hours and have to do it ourselves. A little bit of money here and there is a lot of money not putting food on my table. I will always call myself a writer, never a hobbyist because I could not imagine anything else I want to do more.
4)I would love to have a free e-reader. Sign me up please. I own a Sony that was bought 5 years ago and i hardly use it. Something modern would be nice. If it goes that way, I think they would get a lot more sales through the e-books. Right now, people have a tough time buying them. So of course that idea doesn't flow with your #5 thought, but then I'm not really that savvy of things like that.
6) Smashwords revamping their site. I'm reading from Coker's blogs that he plans on doing exactly that, so I do hope that it happens. It is really tough to navigate around there. The erotica always flowing to the top makes it very very very hard to find something else. As they've stated the Adult Filter will filter out more than just erotica. I like the solution to stick it in its own section.
17. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post (http://robonwriting.com/2013/02/05/i-...) on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?
I think that if you give someone a computer and a hollow identity they could do some damage that is for sure. To find the right reviewer is like finding a diamond in the rough. I've mentioned already that I think the review system is flawed. If they WANT to pick up the book because it seemed like something they would like and THEN review it to their most honest breath a 1 star review is more than welcome. It was how they felt, and there was a legitimate reason. Just because you CAN review something doesn't mean you're good at it or really should. I think the mean spirited ones, the superficial ones, all of them are still playing on the playground. It takes meat, bone, grit, truth, and love for the written word to be able to write a review that means something. The others kind of kill that. That is how we get back to what I said before about every day people even attempting to write a review on a simple webpage.
18. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?
Everything is listed under Rise of a Queen if I am not mistaken.
I have a paperback out at Amazon, hoping that I can get it elsewhere soon enough. But my e-book is available at the Kindle store, nook store, Diesel, Kobo, the Indie's best friend Smashwords. Hopefully by the time this is read Sony and the iStore will have gone over everything long enough to have them up also.
19. Where can readers find out more about you?
My website has the best up to date information there is. There is even a blog attached to it that I tend to ramble on about how I have such a difficult time in this social networking world that we have. There were a lot of things I am still learning. Of course some days its just normal babble, nothing profound but it is me, nothing behind a mask. I do have a profile on Goodreads that shows how bad of a current reader I am. There are so many books I have read in the past I am still trying to review them.
J.S. Riddle was born in Oxford, England and currently resides in the Southeast United States. She's been writing since a teenager to hone her skills. The magic started on an old manual mint green typewriter from the 50's from a consignment shop for about $20.
She loves reading and enjoys Stephen King, Anne Rice, Edgar Allen Poe, William Shakespeare, J.R.R. Tolkien, Ray Bradbury, but credits Robin McKinley for her book The Hero & the Crown for her idea of woman empowerment and opened up a fantastical world for her.
Her first book (The Vampire Realm) Rise of a Queen made it to e-stores on Valentines Day of 2013. Print copies will be available soon.
Her style of writing tends to lead toward the supernatural and dark fantasy, but one never knows what the future may hold.