I'm winding down these interviews, with only a couple more to go after this one. They've been fun and educational, but all good things must come to an end. That's just how it is.
But, for this week, we Trystan Viker, author of Devotion. Let's check out what she has to say.
1. Please tell us about yourself.
I'm an ex-fashion and lifestyle writer changing my career to write Dark Fiction and Paranormal stories. I live in Canada, where most of my writing takes place. I studied English Literature at the University of Regina where I devoured classical Gothic literature whenever I could.
2. What's the name of your newest or latest book and what's it about?
My latest release is called DEVOTION. It's about Alice, a strange young woman as she breaks away from the violent, fanatic cult she was raised in after the death of her brother. Desperate to save the only human family she had, she risks discovery by the cult and other paranormal monsters in order to find some way to rescue her brother from death.
It's also about Dorian, a 200 year old man who might be going through a mid-death crisis. As he struggles with a cloying restlessness about himself, he finds himself trapped in the plans of the despairing Alice as she sees some possible cure for death in his veins.
3. Is this book part of a series or standalone?
Devotion is the first in a series of books called Wonderland that takes place in the dark and paranormal worlds of Saskatchewan, Canada. The second book is slated for release in July/August of 2013.
4. How long have you been writing?
I've been writing for publication for over a decade now.
5. From where or whom do you draw inspiration?
My writing form is likely most inspired from classical Gothic/Victorian era literature. Writers like Le Fanu, Rossetti, Faulkner and Shelley are really pivotal to my form and concept development I think
As for material inspiration, much of the topics I deal with are reactionary pieces to various real life situations. It could come from watching the news, people I meet, etc. There is usually something in my work that is meant to criticize society on a larger scale. It's our flaws as a people that help me create the monsters in my books.
6. What advice would you give new or aspiring writers?
Find a different career. That doesn't mean “don't be a writer”, that means you shouldn't let your one professional goal be “writer”. For starters, it's nearly impossible to guarantee any sort of living wage right off the bat.
But I think the most important reason for that advice is that the experiences you obtain in the “non-writing” portion of your life will give you the experience you need to write. Don't live in a vacuum. It's easy to make your life all about writing and reading, but your writing will suck if you don't have some outside experiences to shape your words. You don't have to write about your day job, but everything you encounter in life is something you can use and transform in your work. And writing is much easier when your bills are paid and you can afford the freedom to explore life for new fodder in your writing.
I encountered more than a few English students who expect to simply become writers. They hopped from part time job to part time job, never worrying about making a primary career. Now ten or more years later, they're still saddled with student debt, working jobs they're over qualified for and under paid at, and still not making anything as writers. So even if writing is your dream job, don't bank your entire future on -just- that. Writing will always be an option.
7. Who do you see as your ideal reader?
I honestly have no idea. It always surprises me when I let someone read a book and I think at the start “You're not going to like this. There's too much creepy/violence/sex/darkness.” only to find out that they did in fact enjoy the whole thing. I'm a horrible judge of who might enjoy my work. So I simply don't know who my ideal reader is.
I guess if I had to speculate, my ideal reader would be someone who appreciates a less glamourous take on the supernatural and paranormal. My books are for people who look beyond the action on the paper and look for the meaning behind the literature. I write about monsters both in human form and not, so my characters are very flawed and complex creatures which might better appeal to someone who is reading the book for the characters instead of simply the plot.
I like to think it's a piece for more literary readers than someone who is looking for a “guilty pleasure”.
8. Tell us about your writing process. Are you a planner or outliner?
I'm both a detailed planner and a “seat of the pants” writer. I like to plan, but I often abandon the whole process once the story takes off. When you compare the early planning of Devotion to what it is now it's a completely different story.
9. Some book reviewers won't accept independently authored books for review. What are your thoughts on that? Are they missing out?
I think it's unfortunate, but I also understand why. In indie publishing there isn't the same gatekeeper system as with the traditional form. When I was a journalist I would get countless “review my book please!” emails. I would give them a read and most of them were really bad. It was a huge waste of my time to open them. That's not to say that indie publishing is mostly garbage; it's important to note that I was a fashion and lifestyle journalist so I wasn't a book reviewer at all. Most of these requests came from newbie writers who hadn't bothered to look up what my areas of work even were. I think there was an obvious correlation between “bad writers” and spamming the wrong type of journalist with their work. I know there is good work out there, but there are also a lot of bad writers screaming at the top of their lungs for attention as well. It would be overwhelming to have such a quantity pouring in.
So I sympathize with book reviewers stuck in such a position.
10. 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?
I think that used to be the case. Vanity presses constantly preyed on individuals who were submitting sub-par work and made the whole thing a huge black smear on publishing as a whole. However, now that we have authentic self publishing services that aren't predatory, we can see more writers avoiding the hassles of the traditional model and going direct. That doesn't mean the traditional model is flawed in any way, it simply means were have a new avenue of fresh writing to explore.
I will argue though that it will often lack the “polish” of the traditional publishing models process. Indie publishing will have less editors involved, less changes made to the story to make it more “marketable” and much, much less marketing hype than we used to see. But I think that's wonderful. I think we will see people much more invested in an organic method of writing in exchange for the diversity and quality of story that comes with it.
11. R.S. Guthrie wrote a hard-hitting post on reviewers and the veil of anonymity some of them hide behind. Your thoughts on this subject?
I think it's silly to even give it a second thought. It's like we're taught in school when someone is teasing you, they're only a brief moment of agitation and it's best to move on. It turns me off from a writer a great deal when I see them harping about “unfair reviews”. Yes, there's trolls out there. Yes, there's jerks who might just be sour people looking to be a nuisance. Everyone must know that by now. If I see glowing reviews for a book peppered by a bunch of “This book stinks for no real explored reason at all”, then I know it's someone being a jerk.
I am also smart enough to know that not everyone will have the same tastes. One person's dislike might be something I'm keen about. I think most readers can judge for themselves and when writers get publicly distressed over these negative responses it's an insult to their fans and it shows a very unattractive insecurity in the author to even react to them.
I fully expect a few bad reviews of my own. My books are simply not to everyone's tastes. I'm okay with that. When the day comes that someone says “This writing is garbage! 1 star is too much for this!” I will survive it. I will put on my “big boy pants” and keep writing.
12. Which retailers or others sites can readers find your work at?
Kobo is my primary e-retailer.
13. Where can readers find out more about you?
I have a website and I can also be found on GoodReads .
I'm an ex-fashion and lifestyle journalist taking a kick at being a fiction writer. I like monsters, 19th C Gothic lit and Hello Kitty. Oh, and Bats. I love bats.
I also lie to my parents about my career choices so they think I’m a responsible adult.