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: Hi! I’m afraid I’m not that interesting. I’m a mom of three, a big movie buff, and an active member of the Society for Creative Anachronisms, which is a historical re-creationist group.
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: I became an author after failing at a lot of other things first. I published some poetry when I was 7 and got selected to go to a young writer’s retreat. The guest author was Brian Selznick who wrote a book called The Houdini Box, which is about a kid who met Harry Houdini and became a magician himself. After trying to become a magician and failing, I thought maybe I just loved stories and pursued my next obsession, which became film. I flunked out of film school after figuring out I hated it and spent a long time working retail, trying to figure out where I went wrong. All that time, I never stopped writing. In college, I fell into a creative writing workshop to fill an empty slot. I literally added it last minute because nothing else was open. The class changed everything for me and the professor convinced me to change my major to creative writing. I proceeded to hate every minute of it but finished out, convinced I was going to go to grad school and become a professor. That didn’t happen and I almost gave up after receiving a number of rejections. I only decided to self-publish as a sort of dare to myself. I was seeing other people do it and thought, if they can do it, so can I. What’ve I got left to lose?
Publishing was the best decision of my life. And the best part of it has been the people you met. Other authors, fans…It’s like walking into a new world. Really changed my outlook on life.
3: So, tell us about your work. Sell us on it! Why should we read it (for those of us that haven’t, 😉 ) and why it will capture us?
A: I primarily write about women, parents specifically. There are a lot of women heroines in the urban fantasy genre, but so few who have to balance a career with family. Judah Black still has to worry about what to make for dinner and watch out for her rebellious teenage son while trying to figure out how to kill monsters. She’s got a jerk boss. She’s got male co-workers who thinks she can’t do her job. She’s an everywoman in a crazy world, just trying to make it through life like the rest of us. Her life just happens to include wendigos, ice giants, zombies and ghosts.
4: Now, you write primarily under the urban fantasy umbrella of genres. Why did you choose this 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: My pre-teen daughter was obsessed with Twilight back in 2009 and I used to joke I could write a better vampire story. So, one day, I gave it a try. It was a lot harder than I thought and I wound up shelving it. A couple years later, I found The Dresden Files and fell in love. Wizards in modern day? What in the world? This is a thing? I kind of stumbled into the genre and realized I could revamp (pun intended) my old 2009 book with urban fantasy in mind. I jumped into it because I liked it and because it was the first one I had finished.
5: So far, what would you say has been the hardest part of being an author?
A: The hardest part for me has always been talking to people. I’m very shy and quiet. I don’t like to be the center of attention and would much rather hide behind my books. Publishing has forced me out of a very comfortable hiding place and sort of into the public eye. It’s scary, but exciting.
6: Now for the ever-so-shocking follow-up question. What’s the best/easiest part, if there is one?
A: Of course there is one! The best part has been all the people I’ve met and the new opportunities. It goes hand in hand with the scariest part. A year ago, if you’d asked me if I would ever dream of attending a pop culture convention, I would have laughed and then had to go breathe into a paper bag just thinking about it. Now, I’m planning on going to several and looking forward to it.
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 ask if I’ve ever killed them in one of my books. It’s usually the first question they always ask. You have to learn really quickly how to answer the other most common question. “Oh, you’re a writer? What do you write?” After a few months, the answer is automatic. It’s hard finding that balance between casual conversation and salesman. Being an author means getting on a strict schedule for me. I have working hours posted on my door. I have special headphones I wear when I’m working that are soundproof. It’s a necessity when you have kids. My family always knows when I get close to publishing, even if I don’t tell them. We order a lot of pizza so mommy can meet her deadlines. I’m very blessed to have a husband who supports me and picks up the slack when I can’t get to all the housework. I couldn’t do this without support from my family.
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: A lot of times, it’s the small things like a mention on Facebook from a fan, an e-mail from someone, a new review. One of those things always seems to roll in when I need it most. As for improving my writing, it’s like any other skill. It gets better with practice. I pull out my old writing books from college and try the exercises or get a new book on the craft. Believe it or not, writing poetry helps a lot. It teaches you to be more selective with your words.
9: What do you love about the genre you write and what others appeal to you?
A: The little kid in me has always loved magic. Magic is all about tricking the audience, making them believe something that isn’t true. Once your audience has figured out they’ve been duped, that it’s just a trick, they try to figure out how the trick was performed. Awe turns into mystery. Urban fantasy is a place where magic and mystery are so flawlessly married that you can’t have one without the other. It’s fantastic without being unrealistic, but also totally ridiculous at the same time. I think that’s what I like about it.
I like other genres where characters can be larger than life. Weird West, which is kind of a sister genre to urban fantasy in some ways, is a lot of fun. And science fiction just replaces magic with technology. Anywhere that you can blend reality with fantasy is a place I want to be.
10: What can we expect from you next? Tell us about the plans for your series and body of work.
A: I’ve called the Judah Black series a paranormal dystopia. I don’t know if that’s a real genre or not, but the term will apply more and more as that series goes on. It was originally conceived to be a sort of X-Files meets X-Men with magic and evolved from there. Things are going to get worse before they get better.
I also have a weird west series in the works. The main character in that, Anastasia Thorne, is my answer to Eastwood’s Man With No Name, except female. Expect anti-heroes and for monsters in that series to be the bad guys. I also have a science fiction epic that’s sort of Star Wars meets Game of Thrones with a slower burning, heavily political plot. All the stories focus on underdogs pushed to their limits and forced to evolve and change when given power and fame.
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 think traditional publishing will ever go away. I do think that indie authors will drive the market in a lot of important ways over the next decade. Consumers consume and traditional publishers and authors can only produce so fast. Big publishers can’t afford to take the risks that indie authors take, which means they inevitably pass on good manuscripts just because they’re risky. Those risky manuscripts get self-published and they’re what’s going to change the industry. People are hungry for something different, the next thing. I believe indie authors can offer that, but there has to be a strong focus on quality over quantity. I expect that indie publishing is only going to get stronger over the next decade or so.
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: Favorites are always difficult. How about a top five? Patricia Briggs, Jim Butcher, R.R. Virdi (you), James Baldwin, Stephen King, Ray Bradbury, Margaret Atwood…That’s more than five, isn’t it?
I’m currently reading the Alpha and Omega series by Patricia Briggs.
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 words, if you’ve got one and or use them?
A: Well, fuck is an all-purpose word. It’s especially fun if you say it with different accents. I’m bad about writing like I speak, using phrases like “of course” and “pretty much” or “sort of”. I try to leave out the ya’ll I get from being from southern Ohio.
My favorite word isn’t in English. It’s the Latin verb facere. Means to make or do. You can get a lot of grade school chuckles throwing it around and, if you know how to use it right, you can always tell who the Latin and classical scholars are in the room.
14: Lastly, where can we find you? Facebook? Twitter? Website? Links to your material. Go on, don’t be shy. Share!
A: My website: http://www.ea-copen.com/
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E.A. Copen is the author of the Judah Black novels and the forthcoming space opera, Broken Empire. She’s an avid reader of science fiction, fantasy and other genre fiction. When she’s not chained to her keyboard, she may be found time traveling on the weekends with her SCA friends. She lives in beautiful southeast Ohio with her husband and two kids, at least until she saves up enough to leave the shire and become a Jedi.