Please join me in welcoming Ann Christy for the author spotlight on THE KATY today!
Ann is an awesome writer of such novels as Strikers, The Between Life and Death Series, and many short stories in many wonderful anthologies.
(Check out a few of my reviews of Ann’s books here!)
Thank you for joining me today, Ann!
Ann Christy is a recently retired Navy Commander and secret science-fiction writer. She lives by the sea under the benevolent rule of her canine overlords and assorted family members. You can find her running about the house in her pajamas and taking great glee in creating terrible situations for her characters to find their way out of…or not.
What point in your life did the dream of being an author pop into your head? Any inspirational people or books that helped you take that first step?
I’ll be honest, it never did. I had never once considered this as a profession before I actually put that first cover on that first book. Seriously. I was a scientist and a naval officer and that’s who I was. Hugh’s first tiny volume of WOOL changed that. I wrote the Silo 49 series set in his world without knowing anything at all about writing. But it’s like all the other things people warn you about that will get you addicted…I was hooked from the first bite. Now, instead of working like crazy at my former profession, I spent up to 16 hours a day writing and I rarely take a day off and I love it. It’s the hardest and most awesome job I never thought I’d have.
What are the pros and cons about being an Indie published author?
The list of pros is far longer than the list of cons, so I’ll start there. Freedom is first on that list because it’s a factor in every single part of the writing/publishing process. From finding that story in your head to advertising long after the book is out, all of it is *more* possible…or possible at all…when the author is Indie.
I’m free to publish on my schedule and work on the projects I want to. I adore my editor and he is my choice. The cover artists I work with are my choice, not a publisher’s. I keep all my money! I advertise and put on specials in terms of pricing as I want to and I don’t have to beg anyone to do it for me. I make sure my VIP list can buy every new release at $0.99 for the first few days after release and no publisher would go for that. Really, the list is endless.
Cons? Well, I suppose the main one is that I’m not in physical bookstores. While I could probably work very hard to get a few copies into bookstores on my own, it’s a labor intensive process that takes time away from writing and publishing, so I have to pick and choose my battles when it comes to time. The only other con I can think of is that there are still a whole lot of people who see me as a wannabe because I haven’t signed away all my potential profit by signing on the dotted line.
The truth is, I was offered contracts twice. I turned down both. The terms were egregious and none of the books I’ve published since those offers were made would have been published. *Not one book.* Primarily because of non-compete and first-refusal clauses. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s very hard to understand why anyone like me…solidly midlist because I’ve not yet had any breakout hits (::weeps silently::)…would ever sign a contract like the ones we’re traditionally offered.
What is your favorite experience as an author so far?
From the perspective of being a writer, it would be publishing that first book. It was amazing to click on Amazon and then see my book come up. I squealed.
From a public response point of view, it’s a tie. The first was being asked for my autograph for the first time. True, it was awkward because I was in Wegman’s near DC and was standing at the meat counter, but even though I was a bit flustered, I was also secretly delighted. The other was getting that first piece of reader email telling me how much they liked the book. I freaked in happiness. I still have it. I’m going to save it forever!
Are you a plotter or a panster?
Pantser! But that’s sort of not a good description because I have a really good memory, so the story is laid out in my head and I write it from that. So, I pants from the outside looking in, but often it’s from a well-thought out plot already in my head.
The downside of doing it that way is that there is often a great deal of cutting involved in my editing process because something that takes one second in my head might actually drag on for a bit on the page. I’m trying to be more methodical because it’s more efficient, but I don’t want to lose what’s working for me either.
I loved your Between Life and Death series, which had such an interesting and unique take on the zombie apocalypse. How did you come up with that awesome and terrible world?
Science! (Use a teen titan voice there.) I’m a huge zombie fan and always have been, but as a working scientist in more than one field, it bothered me a great deal when there was never any logic involved in how it happened. I know how viruses and bacteria will work in terms of spread and no, it won’t happen like “that.”
While I enjoyed many of those books and could rattle off a list as long as my arm of books I loved, I wanted to feel that sense of looming terror while reading because it could happen or something. (Not that I want it to, but part of that tension comes from that feeling.) Suddenly, after reading some papers on nanotech in the course of regular life, I had a sort of bingo moment.
A lot of research followed that included many papers and reports on current research and testing, but in the end, I thought I had something that resonated with our technological trends in a way that might enhance that sensation for the reader. It’s still a huge stretch, but there is workability there. After the science part, it was all just my naturally diabolical nature having a good time romping through the wasteland.
Another of my favorites Is Strikers. The main character, Karas, is a tough girl in a brutal dystopian society. Is Karas (or any other of your characters actually) created after yourself or someone you know?
Not really, but always. There is strength and resilience everywhere you look in the world, and I think I take something of everyone I’ve ever met and put them into my characters. In particular, I’ve known thousands of sailors in my life, and almost every single one of them is a tower of strength. That gives me a whole lot of material to work with.
How did you get involved with Samuel Perelta’s amazing anthologies? I loved your story, Vindicia, which was set in The In-Betweener world.
I was right there at the beginning and had a story in the very first volume, The Robot Chronicles. I think it sort of happened by him saying something about putting together an anthology and asking if I felt like being in it. No one knew the Chronicles series was going to be a juggernaut that raised the bar for anthologies. If I would have known that, I probably wouldn’t have been asked to be in it. 😉 Just kidding. Well, hmm, maybe I shouldn’t think too much about that now that I come to think of it.
Since then, I’ve been in a few of them and will be in the upcoming Time Chronicles and Doomsday Chronicles. My story for Doomsday is called A Mother So Beautiful and I love that story. It’s just freaking creepy. Sam was very enthused about it after reading the draft and that made me do the happy dance.
If you had to spend a week in any fictional world (yours or otherwise), which one would you pick and why?
No way would I want to go into one of mine! Are you kidding? Those places are way too dangerous. I’d be dead in a heartbeat. If I had to pick one, I’d pick something nice and relaxing and far into the future so I could get a peek at the future I won’t live to see. ::pause:: I just went to look through my bookshelves and pretty much every world has far too much craptasticness in it, so I’ll just stay here.
Can you give us a hint for future projects? 😀
Hints, eh? Well, I had to push back Strikers: The Eastlands because of reader response and requests for “origins” stories for characters in the Between Life and Death world. So, The Book of Sam is coming out at the end of October since he got the most email. I really liked writing that book and I feel so bad for Sam. Such a nice guy.
Once I’m done with the wrap-up and launch of that, I’ve got my stories for the Chronicles to polish off, plus more to write for another anthology. Then it’s back to work on Eastlands and possibly another Between Life and Death Origins book, this one with my personal working title: Savannah Slays. I’m not sure what the real title will be, but that’s my own fun one.
Any advice for aspiring authors?
I say this all the time and it’s probably the biggest lesson I learned. Once we put words down with the intention of publishing them, we’re no longer objective about them. A good editor is an absolute must. If that’s not at all possible due to finances, then get as many other eyes as you can on it. Also, use the four views method to find errors and improve writing.
Four Views Method:
1) Regular read-through in your word processing program. Edit there.
2) Have the program read it to you using text-to-speech. Word can do this very well. Edit again.
3) Read it on kindle like a regular book. (This one you might have to do more than once, but put it in Kindle format and read it like a regular book.) Highlight what you don’t like plus errors, then edit again.
4) Print it out and read it aloud to yourself in a room. This is seriously important. Our brains process words on a page slightly differently than we do on a screen. We’re less efficient at it and that means you’ll see things you didn’t see before. Also, our brains translate written words to verbal utterances in a radically different way than simply reading silently, so you’ll be amazed at the things you find when you do it like this. Not just errors, but awkward phrasing, habitual words, sentences that don’t work…etc.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I absolutely love books, movies, and pretty much everything entertainment, (which includes cute animal videos), so find me on Facebook or what-not and let’s be friends! I also love Goodreads as a reader, though I’m very quiet on there because I’m now an author, so if you’re also a Goodreader, hit me up as a friend so I can find more great books to read too. I’m a habitual shelf-peruser and I find loads of books that way.
Thank you for joining me today, Ann! It was great to have a chance to chat with you.
And you, as always, are awesome, Katy!
GIVEAWAY ALERT! (CLOSED)
Visit bandofdystopian.com to check out their second annual Zombie Blog Crawl, which begins TODAY! My crawl day is this coming Sunday (October 25th), so stay tuned for my own (amazing) giveaway.