Q&A WITH BECCA
On Writing & Publishing | On Severxance | On Concepts | On Fans
ON WRITING AND PUBLISHING
Q: Have you always been a science fiction fan?
A: Yes. Star Trek and Space 1999 were probably the first shows I watched as a kid. I had a crush on Captain Kirk and an admiration for Dr. Helena Russell. Like most kids, I loved Batman and Spiderman too. I still do.
Q: Would you call yourself a born writer?
A: Yes. I used to crank out one page Nancy Drew inspired stories on my mom’s old typewriter at a very young age. I feel I have a natural talent for storytelling. I’ve always wanted a writing career.
Q: Finish the sentence. I write because:
It defines me.
Q: What themes do you like to explore in your writing?
A: Hard science, philosophy. I just got into a discussion on Facebook not long ago about how some scientists like Neil deGrasse Tyson have dismissed philosophy. I find that odd. Where would we be without Aristotle and Plato—two pioneers who showed us how philosophy and science work together? I like to look at ideas from as many perspectives as possible. I’m looking forward to having philosophical and scientific debates between characters on immortality in Book Two.
Q: Are you disciplined? Do you have any rituals? Describe a typical writing day—or night.
A: I’m disciplined. I write every day—holidays included. Some days I write more than others but I’m always writing something. When I’m in the zone (I call it the download), I can easily put in an eight to ten hour day. I’ve been known to pull all-day and –nighters if I’m really inspired. “Obey the download.” That’s sort of my mantra. When the ideas are coming I don’t stop until they’re all down. Otherwise, I’ll forget. And, if the download is slow, I peck away at the words until it speeds up. I rarely take breaks.
Night time is my favorite time to write. I like the quiet—dead quiet. The only thing I want to hear when I’m writing is my friend the owl outside or crickets or the elements beating against my window. Sometimes I’ll put on classical playlist like Chopin if I need to relax. But, I keep it very low. I can’t listen to music with words. It’s too distracting.
Q: Do you use a writing specific process?
A: 1. Be ready for the download. 2. Trust the characters to tell the story. 3. Write what comes. Ideas might start on chapter 11 then jump to chapter 22. From there, who knows? I’ll get to chapter one and everything in between eventually.
The Warren couldn’t have been more of a work of faith. It was like a puzzle I made up as pieces of inspiration hit me. I had the general plot down but I didn’t know exactly what message I wanted to get across until the very end. I’d never even heard of Ghost Chess and I wasn’t sure what was going to become of Ever. Once I let the characters take over, it all fell into place. They surprised me.
What ended up being a story about never giving up on one’s identity started out a simple love story. I was two and a half years and 39 chapters in before I knew exactly what the Template was or how it worked. When I put in Homer, Crystal Skullz, and named Dane’s band Severxance, I had no idea how it was all going to come together. I just knew it would. I’m still a bit awed at how the universe contrived all that.
I cringe when I hear “experts” advising authors to outline every plot detail before they write. I tried that. For me it was a creativity killer. My mind races in too many directions at once. My only real challenge is getting it all down before I forget.
Q: Who do you write for?
A: I’d like to say me, but at this point I’d say it’s for the characters in my head. They want their story told. I feel like a schizo most days—sort of their slave. I will say, I don’t write for the fans—not really. I want the fans to love the work, but I don’t write scenes worrying whether or not they’ll love it, hate it, or be offended by it. I can’t do that. It kills my creativity. I know I’m never going to please everyone.
Q: What do you love most about being an author?
A: Listening to the voices in my head. I love my characters.
Q: Do you have a favorite author or one whose work has influenced you?
A: Stephen King has been my biggest influence but not because of his popularity. The thing that makes him king, in my opinion, is his dedication to his writing voice. It’s honest. The words sound like things people would truly think or say, so they’re easy to relate to. He makes reading easy on his audience. And, he knows how to pace a book—what order to reveal things and when. Pace is so important. I found his book, On Writing, to be a great source of inspiration. No BS. I appreciate that.
I am also a huge Daniel Quinn fan. I cannot say enough good things about that man—what his books have given the world. Even if you don’t agree with him, you have to admit, he gets you thinking. And, he writes so beautifully. The Story of B is one of my favorite books.
Q: The Warren is a big novel. How long did it take you to complete it?
A: I feel like I’ve been writing it since I was a teenager but I’ll say two and a half years. The thing with The Warren is, given the nature of the book, a lot of backstory has to come out. And, since it’s a saga, I had to decide where Book Two, The Fray, was headed. So, in addition to settling into my writing voice and plotting out The Warren, I laid the groundwork for a prequel and a sequel. I really was writing three books at once. I expect the next two to go a lot faster, but plots seem to grow in complexity as they unfold.
Q: Were there any scenes cut during the editing process that you were sad to see go?
A: No. One advantage of writing a saga is that you can save cuts for a future book—repurpose them. Eventually I’ll get all Foster’s clever one-liners in there somewhere.
Q: What was the publishing process like and are you happy with your decision?
A: I decided to go Indie—and yes—I’m glad I did. The idea of waiting around for a year to hear back from a publisher who may send me a rejection letter didn’t thrill me. Neither did giving away my rights. Profits from big publishing houses would be nice but I knew I was going to have to do a lot of marketing on my own anyway. I was most focused on getting the story out. And, I knew I could do it. I’d been assisting authors for 14 years.
Q: How does your work differ from others in your genre?
I have no idea. I don’t try to compare myself to others. If I had to pick something I’d say it’s probably got more humor than most—maybe more expletives.
Q: Once the second book is published, will you continue writing science fiction or you are ready to explore other genres?
A: Severxance is a lifetime gig—no different than what Marvel and DC have done with their empires. I have so many characters in my head—ideas for spin off books for different teams and villains … I can’t imagine doing anything else right now. I’m worried if I don’t become immortal I won’t live long enough to get them all into print.
I do love poetry. If I do any novel other than Severxance, I think it will be another work of fiction—probably a thriller or something philosophical.
Q: What motivated you to write a hard science story?
A: I love physics and engineering. (Says the gal who flunked algebra.) But I do. I find it all fascinating—the mechanics of the universe. Trying to wrap my brain around things like quantum entanglement and string theory is a chore, but I get swept up in those sorts of big ideas.
Q: What inspired the Severxance saga?
A: For a long time I was fascinated with the idea of soul mates and sacred geometry but I knew it was too new-agey to come across the way I wanted it to. I didn’t want a fantasy novel. So, I started looking at hard science. First it was fractal water and biophotons, then the idea of a holographic universe. Then I looked into remote viewing. Most of my inspiration comes from cutting edge science articles.
Q: Why a book on how memory shapes our reality for The Warren?
A: I always thought it was funny how most people are fascinated by time—as it was the most important thing shaping our reality. Memories, to me, seem more important. After all, if we can’t remember anything, what good is the timeline? New Agers urge you to live in ‘the now’—urge you to consider that the past doesn’t matter. But, what sort of guidance system do we have for our present and future if we can’t look to our past? I think our past plays a critical role in helping us define ourselves as we move forward.
The other interesting thing about memory is that if you buy into the idea that our reality is based on a hyper-holographic universe, objects are considered a collective memory of data rather than a purely physical thing. In other words: a construct of what we perceive to be an object. This goes along with the theory for non-locality as well—that on the sub-quantum level, all points in space become equal and location ceases to exist.
For me, both ways of looking at how memories shape our reality is fascinating.
Q: Can you tell the readers a little about Quinn and Ever?
A: They’re very stubborn and headstrong—also very dedicated and loyal—natural leaders. Quinn’s somewhat of a modern-day Tesla with a pigeon to prove it. I don’t know who I’d compare Ever to. The Warren really doesn’t do justice to either character. Book Two, The Fray, will. Readers will find out what they’re truly capable of. I expect they’ll often scare everyone as much as they surprise them—not so much because they’re powerful, but because they have big ideas. Expect a lot more banter between these two in the books to come. It will be a lot of fun seeing the scientist and the new-ager go head to head on some big projects while committing themselves to their relationship.
Q: What was your favorite scene to write?
A: Oh, I loved them all. Some I laughed out loud over. Others, I sobbed. For whatever reason, the scene at Warren’s grave in Chapter 32: Legends, just flowed beautifully. I love that scene—so touching. I found the sniper scene in Chapter 34: Airborne, tons of fun—very exciting with the back and forth action. The scene between Quinn and Little Ever at the well in Chapter: 43: Warrens, makes my heart race. It’s hard to choose one. I tried to give as many of the main characters as possible a shining moment.
Q: What did you find most challenging about writing The Warren?
A: After I nailed my writing voice—the timelines. As I said above, I was plotting out three books at once—The Warren, the prequel, and the sequel. I had to do all that front- and back-story to make future books make sense. Sagas are complex.
Q: What was your most difficult scene to write?
A: Chapter 1: Homer—with Quinn on the roof. I had to skip over it for a year and come back to it. Quinn is such a stubborn guy—such a unique character. Almost everything I came up with in the beginning for him felt wrong. I kept hearing him say, “Don’t be stupid. I would never say that … I would never do that.” And, he was right, of course. Quinn’s always right.
Q: Are you working on any other projects right now?
A: Yes, a poem to accompany The Warren. Fans who’ve read the book will remember a poem mentioned at the end of Chapter 40: Ghost Chess, and the beginning of Chapter 41: Avatar. I’ll pay tribute to that. Once that’s done I’ll get back to Book Two, The Fray.
Q: If you could have coffee, dinner, or drinks with one of your characters, who would you choose and where would you go?
A: I feel like I already have. There are lots of dinner and drinks scenes in The Warren—definitely plenty of drinks. But, if it were real, I’d say I’d skip the dinner and drinks and head to a metal show with Dane Price. That would be awesome! \m/
Q: Tell us about the concept of Severxance. Where does the word originate? And what’s up with the X?
A: I’ve had Severxance in my mind since I was a teenager. I always thought it would be interesting to have a character completely autonomous from our idea of god and the universe—someone severed from all that.
At first, adding in the X was just a cooler way to write the word. It looks cool. Lots of science fiction brands have big X’s. And, the X is silent, so it doesn’t affect the way the word sounds.
In writing The Warren, I knew I had to give it more meaning that that. If you read The Warren through to the end, you know where the big icy X comes in. I’ll just say it’s more than a cool logo for a heavy metal band. I’d rather not spoil it here for fans who haven’t read it yet.
Q: You write about the concepts of living in a hologram and moving objects like memories. Do these sorts of things blow your mind?
A: When I first learn about them—yes. Then, it all just sinks in and I’m on the lookout for a new scientific discovery. Keep the physics coming!
Q: What do readers like most about your writing?
A: The camaraderie of the characters, the humor, and the banter. The characters sell the story. And, for as many words as I put down, fans often tell me I’m not too wordy—that I don’t overdo the descriptions. That’s a big compliment. I’m often told my writing style is unique and easy on the reader–similar to a movie script. And, I think everyone would agree you get your money’s worth. I get compliments on the cover art too.
Q: Which characters do you find your fans relating to the most?
A: Frye. He’s the guy you root for—the nerd who starts standing up for himself and blowing everyone away. He’s likable, approachable, adorable, funny, brilliant—just a very sweet guy who wears his heart on his sleeve. Everyone loves a good Wingman.
As for the Fur Balls, it’s usually Homer. Everyone adores Homer. He’s got a surprising role to play. Alice gets a lot of love too. As does Bernie. I’m often asked to add more animal scenes, and there are many more to come.
Q: Where is your favorite place to mingle with readers?
A: Right now—Facebook. People get very clever with their responses sometimes. It’s fun.
Q: How does it feel to read your first reviews? Have they changed you views at all?
A: It’s funny to see the book through someone else’s eyes. Someone will say, “I like what you did with this idea …” And, I’ll say, “OK, that wasn’t what I was thinking at the time, but it fits too.” Sometimes I don’t always see an alternate meaning in my work.
Q: Where can we find you on the web?
A: Lots of places. Start at severxance.com. From there people can find out where to buy books, write reviews, and get more involved as a fan.