Author Interview Questions
1: Hi, and thanks for joining today. In your own words tell us about yourself, not you the author, but just you!
A: I am a 50-year-old magical girl masquerading as a functioning adult. I am single. Have one adult child and three German Shepherds. We have one cat. My paying job is a telecom mercenary. I find places to hang antenna for wireless companies. I have worked for Sprint, Clearwire, Cricket, Verizon, and am now working “turf” projects on behalf of AT&T. That is upgrading existing cell sites to new technology. I do leasing, zoning, and permitting. I don’t watch much television; I revel in silence, and feel like there is nothing better than a good snuggle from a creature who loves you.
2: Why did you decide to become an author and what’s the best part? Yeah, it’s a double-whammy of a question. So unexpected!
A: That’s sort of a tricky question, because I don’t think I ever “decided.” I started writing stories when I was around twelve. I was an avid reader and comic book collector. My first job was in a used book and comic store. I grew up on animation and science fiction. I have a lot of those early stories still buried up in my storage trunk. In high school I knew I wanted to be a writer, and I hoped to be a comic book writer. But real life got in the way, I graduated from college, got married, started a graphic design business, had a child… but I was still writing. For many, many years I wrote with my “elf ladies” who I met on the Internet when it was young and before the World Wide Web. We did round robin type writing together and forged worlds and honed our skills.
And that brings me to the “best part” – the people I meet and bring into my life. I have wonderful, talented, diverse friends— because I write.
3: So, tell us about your work. Sell us on it! Why should we read it and why it will capture us?
A: I write character driven stories where bad things happen to good people, or even good things that happen to bad people. The story is in the conflict; but I believe you have to have a connection to the characters to make it worthwhile. Because I’ve been writing so long, I have a huge back log of things that need shining up for publication.
My flagship series is The Chronicles of the Garlon T’zen. It’s a space opera fantasy that I started writing around 1990ish. It’s a story that is heavily influenced on my love of Japanese anime and manga. My original idea was this to be a comic book. But, because I can’t draw, I wrote it. It follows the story of Kiku, the high princess of the empire, and her two love interests, Leader Dessalen and General Lysis. The empire has been cursed by a race of beings known as “the Celestials” for a misdeed of Dessalen’s mother, the former High Queen. The key to breaking the curse is the earth and people themselves. It’s very rich with layers of stories and multiple characters who all have their own agenda. I have probably close to 15 novels that are written. The first book, Manor Town, is out now and I’m hoping to have the second book out by April of this year.
My next series is more fantasy, with a shifter vibe. There are two realms of existence, the Thaumaturgic Realm, and the Geotic. One is where we live in modern times, and the others where magical creatures, fairies, unicorns, elves and dragons hail from. A young dragon falls in love with young human, and it triggers a war that has been brewing for hundreds of years in the Thaumaturgic Realm. The story itself takes place in both realms with enemies in both and the very survival of the dragon race is at stake. The first book in this series is in the final stages of editing and my projected publication date is the end of January. The series name is “Dragons of the Thaumaturgic Realm” and the first novel is called “Revolt.”
4: Why did you choose the genre you write in over others to start your publishing career? Did others appeal to you more and you chose this? Was there a bit of choice weighing or was it rather simple?
A: I am terrible at genres. I write all over the place and then try to figure out where it should fit. I really don’t write for the market, but rather, for what I want to write. I’ve even got a smutty romantic comedy that I’m going to be publishing this year as well. It’s the story about a male writer who is over a year behind on his deadline. His editor gets her revenge by hiring a nanny for him. It’s a happily ever after story, with a lot of steamy scenes as well as ones that make you laugh out loud. That one is called “Nanny Business” and I just ordered the cover art for it a few weeks ago.
5: So far, what would you say has been the hardest part of being an author?
A: Real life. And it’s not just my paying job that gets in the way. Lately it had been one crisis after another. There are so many stories and projects I need to be working on, but things that need my urgent attention pop up. Important things, like a sick parent. Things you can’t say “my writing is more important” for. But the takeaway is this. You don’t give up on writing, but rather, push the deadlines out and know you’ll get to them. Pausing and delaying, is not failure. It’s part of life.
6: Now for the ever-so-shocking follow-up question. What’s the best/easiest part, if there is one?
A: Coming up with stories! I can plot all day! Simple things will trigger a story idea. I try to jot them down and then let them cook in my head for a bit. Sometimes things will end up as elements in something or their own stand alone work.
7: Tell us about what your experiences in the author life have been like. I don’t mean the writing aspects. I mean the daily human life. Tell us what it’s like to live the day life you do and be an author at the same time. What’s it like when people in your life and, the people you come across, find out you’re an author?
A: People who find out I’m a writer are often disappointed in what I write. They seem to expect something more literary from me. When I explain it’s for fun with no real socially redeeming value, they are surprised.
8: Writing is a hard craft and a harder career. What are the things that keep you going, both in improving the craft and enduring the downs/lows of the career?
A: I don’t see a lot of lows with it. Because I am fortunate enough to have a “day job” I don’t rely on my writing to be my only income. I know that building your audience is slow going and I know I need to be patient. I pretty much believe in a “five year” plan. But even then, if I’m not making enough money to live on, I’ll be sharing my stories. That’s really what I’m in it for, to be honest. I have stories. Let me tell them to you.
9: What do you love about the genre you write and what others appeal to you?
A: I think I’ve written something in nearly every genre. I keep being drawn back to fantasy stories though. I believe in real magic. I do. And I think that we can grasp and see that magic through the words of a story.
10: What can we expect from you next? Tell us about the plans for your series and body of work.
A: Dragons of the Thaumatrugic Realm is a great story. So far, there are two novels, and two associated novels, written in that world. The first two books are really part of one over reaching arc, about Maug and his human mate Bobby. They are going to be published in the first half of 2017. I have a plan for a hardcover omnibus of the two novels planned for Awesome Con in June. It will be very limited and won’t be available via normal retail outlets. You’ll either have to come to the con to buy it, or preorder from me direct.
And, of course, we have a lot more adventures of Kiku and the Garlon T’zen empire ready, but needing some shine and editing work. I would like to try for two novels a year for that series.
11: The writing and publishing world has changed a lot. Self-publishing, small to medium presses popping up, and things like becoming a hybrid between indie pubbing and traditional. What are your thoughts on that? Any predictions on what the future might hold? What would you like to see, both as an author yourself, and, as a consumer/reader?
A: I don’t honestly believe that the average reader cares where their book comes from. I don’t think they look at “publisher” when deciding to buy a book or not. An engaging cover, and blurb, is the hook. Given that, if you put out a good product, people will buy it. Traditional publishers are even asking writers to do most of their own marketing.
Traditional publishers are getting lazy. They really aren’t interested in a good story, but what is going to make them money. I think the future is going to be publishers looking at Indies and approaching them, rather then the other way around. They expect you to come with an audience, and if you don’t, they aren’t going to publish your work.
We are in the midst of upheaval in the industry. My best advise, put the best possible work out there, publish for yourself, and if you want a book deal, they’ll come courting you.
12: The always done and asked question. Who are your favorite authors? What are you favorite books? What are you reading now? Tell us. Tell us!
A: Growing up, I was a Robert Heinlein girl. I LOVED his books. Anne McCraffery was also a favorite; the Dragonrider books have been a strong influence. But then, I love classical literature. (I have a B.S. in English – long story, but I’ve read a LOT of really good shit). My favorite poet is a toss up between Robert Frost and Walt Whitman. And I come by all of this honestly- my mom is heavy into genealogy and I’ve got a pretty straight line back to Geoffrey Chaucer.
What am I reading now? Well, I’ve got your book Grave Measures open and reading when I get a moment. I have a whole stack of other Indies waiting too. I do review and folks can follow that on my Goodreads profile.
13: I’ve got to know…what’s your favorite word to use. Every author has one. What’s the word you catch yourself using a lot? We’ve all got those as well. What’s your favorite word just to say? Something where you like the way it sounds. What’s your favorite curse worse, if you’ve got one and or use them?
A: I know this one! I do! Because my editor is beating me up about it. I way over use “eyes” and the various descriptors of them. And here’s the thing. The first thing I notice about people is their eyes. I meet your eyes, I watch your eyes, and I try to look into your soul. Eyes are the most attractive thing about other people to me. So, I over use them in my writing.
14: You’re going to have a release this month. Tell us about it!
A: That is the first dragon book! Let me tell you about this one. The first draft of this novel was written in 2006. It was terrible. I thought I was going to have a nice YA story about a ghost boy. I introduce a dragon, and he took it over. Three rewrites later, I have a really good story.
Maug is a red dragon. He is also the Lord of the West. He is, in fact, the youngest dragon ever to claim his title and hold it. He happens to meet a young human woman and completely falls for her. Bobby Parks is the granddaughter of the Advocate of Spoons Forge and has a good deal of magical talent herself. When she meets Maug, she didn’t have any idea that this dragon would become the one that she would want to spend the rest of her life with, it just worked out that way.
What wasn’t expected was the interference of the Fairy King and Queen, and that their love for one another would trigger a full Revolt of the dragons against the Crown.
Dragons of the Thaumaturgic Realm: Revolt will be available on January 30, 2017.
15: Lastly, where can we find you? Facebook? Twitter? Website? Links to your material. Go on, don’t be shy. Share!
A: Website: http://garlontzcomen
Bio: Kyleen Valleaux writes because it’s cheaper than therapy. She works as a telecom mercenary and takes the stress out on fictional characters. Never one to back down from a writing challenge, she will go without food or sleep to get the stories written. Her family and friends have adjusted to her complete withdrawal from the human race each year during the month of November. She resides in Michigan with three big German Shepherd Dogs, and a millennial.