Interview: Megan Paasch

For the final interview in my ‘I’m not Blogging This Week’ series, I give you Megan Paasch, who has some stuff coming out shortly, so keep your eyes out:

Who the heck are you, anyway?

Seriously, crows are awesome

Me? I’m just me. Okay, let’s see… I’m Megan Paasch, a writer of modern fantasy, working on my first and second novels. I’m also a mom to two rowdy little boys, wife to a network engineer, and a huge geek. I have a B.A. in history from the University of Washington, with a focus on the Medieval and Elizabethan periods. I have a fascination for Celtic knots, abandoned buildings (though I’m too chicken to go into any), the wilderness (except bugs. I really don’t like bugs), and crows. If you don’t know how amazing crows are, I suggest you go look them up. I also draw, and knit, and sew, and stuff. And play the ukulele. And sing, but rarely in front of anyone. That probably sums me up pretty well.

You’re taking a break from writing over the summer, but when you are writing, what are you working on?

I’m not really taking a full-on break. I’m still writing occasionally when I have the opportunity. But I’m being more casual about it for the next couple of months and not stressing about trying to squeeze it in every day. At the moment, I’m revising/redrafting my first novel, “Charlotte Elemental.” It’s the first of a modern fantasy series dealing with Celtic mythology, elemental spirits, possession, and climate change. Whew, that’s a mouthful! The other book, currently sitting in its pre-revision chill-out period, is “Midas Touched,” an urban fantasy action thriller that puts a new twist on several Greek legends including, obviously, that of King Midas, as well as The Muse, and Gordian’s Knot. I pull it out now and then and add things to it when I get an idea, but it’s mostly on hold until I finish “Charlotte Elemental.”

Where can we read stuff from you right this very instant?

I don’t have much available right now, unfortunately. I have an excerpt from “Midas Touched,” that I adapted for a flash fiction submission over here (http://elisevalente.blogspot.com/2013/02/excerpt-from-midas-touched-by-megan.html) at the lovely Elise Valente’s blog. Of course, that excerpt may change a bit by the time I finish the book, but probably not too much. It’s one of my favorite scenes. Not sure what that says about me. Hmm.

I also have my very first short story about to go up on Carey Torgesen’s blog (http://seattletfiles.blogspot.com/) as a part of “The Memory Project.” It’s called “The Lake Monster,” and it will be available to read sometime towards the end of this month. I realize that doesn’t count as “right this very instant,” but it’s the closest I could get. Sorry! The short story project has already begun though, so you should go take a look.

Moreover, you can check out my own blog, “Rhymes With Smash,” over at http://meganpaasch.wordpress.com. I also randomly contribute to “Samurai Scribes:” http://samuraiscribes.wordpress.com.

What are your three favorite books?

“The Count of Monte Cristo,” by Alexandre Dumas (Bantam translation), “Jonathan Strange & Mr. Norrell,” by Susannah Clarke, and…this is hard. I can only pick one more? Hmm, I pick…“The Caves of Steel,” by Isaac Asimov.

Who are your three favorite authors?

Again, it’s difficult to pick just three! I think I’ll go with Alexandre Dumas, Jasper Fforde, and Terry Pratchett for the overall volume of books from them that I’ve enjoyed, but there are many more authors jostling for position as my top three – too many to list.

They really need to stop writing books about ______

I can’t answer this. I honestly don’t have anything that I’m sick of reading about yet. I hope it never happens.

Someone really needs to write a book about ______

Oh goodness, I can’t answer this either. That would be giving away all of my ideas!

What’s your drink of choice while writing?

Coffeecoffeecoffeecoffeeeeeee! (That’s wired talk for “coffee.”)

You get featured on a new show where you have an unlimited budget to design your ultimate writing space. Describe it here.

It would have to be a tree house in the middle of the forest. There would be lots of windows letting in all of the green, and lots of wood. One wall would be a huge chalkboard where I can manic-scribble plot ideas and rearrange scenes. There probably ought to be a desk, but I wouldn’t ever use it except to stack things on, preferring the overstuffed chair and footstool. Obviously there would also be a snack pantry and a coffee pot. And wifi. And books piled everywhere. Actually, forget writing space. Could that be my living space too?

What was the best piece of writing advice you ever received?

Allow your first draft to be crappy. Just get the words down and fix them later. I’d quote a source, but I think everyone says this. They say it because it’s true.

If you could go back in time and give your younger self one piece of advice, what would it be?

Don’t wait for the time to be right to do what you want to do. It will never be exactly right. Just find a way to do it.

Write about anything at all for two minutes:

Write something for two minutes, huh? Okay, but keep in mind I’m doing this on three hours of sleep because my brain and my children are co-conspiring to kill me. How about I write about sleep? I love it, but only in the morning when it’s time to get up. At night when I should be going to bed, my brain decides that it would be fun to come up with all kinds of new ideas. It wants to read everything, write everything, draw everything, watch everything…so I stay up too late. Then when morning comes – far too early because I have a toddler – my brain chides me for giving in and listening to it the night before. There goes my two minute alarm. The end.

Interview: S.C. Barrus

As part of my week away from the internet, I am interviewing a couple authors. Today, it’s fellow Washingtonian S.C. Barrus. He has a Kickstarter going now for his Steampunk adventure novel. I’ll save you some reading time and tell you to go back it now. Also, if you are in the Seattle area, I will be doing a reading with him at the Pioneer Cafe in North Bend, WA. Deets HERE.

On to the interview:

First off, give us a quick synopsis of your book:

Discovering Aberration takes place in the era of budding steam technology. We follow Freddy Fitzgerald, an adventurer/travel writer/Professor of literature, and Thaddeus Lumpen, archaeologist and failed inventor. After they come into possession of a map of an ancient lost civilization, they set out on an expedition to discover what they can.
Trouble is, they aren’t the only ones interested in making this discovery as they find themselves up against a small army of violent archaeologists, notorious gangsters, manipulative scarlets, and maniac scuttlers.
But when they arrive at the island, the situation is worse than they expected. The island has its own secrets which begin to drive each member of the expedition to the brink of insanity.

Fiction is one of the tougher nuts to crack on Kickstarter- what sets your work apart?

Go, back it now. I said so.

Go, back it now. I said so.

Fiction is a though nut to crack not only on Kickstarter, but just about everywhere else. I think there are a few things that set my project apart from the average Kickstarter novel, but I’ll share one.

The novel itself is a great read. It takes your favorite elements from many genre’s and distills them into an exhilarating reading experience that you will want to share with your friends.
Of course anybody can say that, and they may have written a masterpiece, but they tend to ask you to invest in blind faith, sharing little more than a sample chapter. On the other hand, I offer my novel free to read on Wattpad, so you can see for yourself whether its something you want to stand behind before you invest. (you can find it here)
This is a bit of a risky move because readers might think, “I’m reading it here, why do I need to invest?” I’m of the mindset that most readers want to support the work they enjoy, and this will be their opportunity to do just that. They’ll also get the cleaned up, edited and fully designed version of the book and other goodies for their investment.

If this book had a soundtrack, what would three tracks off it be?

Hmm, that’s a toughy. Maybe”Rhapsody in Blue” when the city is introduced, “The Island” by The Deceberists when they arrive at the island, and throughout some of the more crazy scenes, and the album “Von” by Sigur Ros.
Name three books and three authors that influenced you the most:
I could list inspiration all day, but I’ll boil it down to thee who’s work mixed together might equate something like Discovering Aberration.
 
First would be a combination of Jules Verne and Robert Louis Stevenson (cheating already, I know) . Around the World in 80 Days heavily inspired the writing style and some of the humor, while Treasure Island and Dr Jekyll and Mr Hyde together really inspired the tone.
Number two would be The Road by Cormac McCarthy. This was an intense book where the survival of the main characters felt like it depended on you reading the novel. It’s a feeling I try to capture in the later chapters.
And three would be the Korean film, The Good, The Bad, The Weird (cheating again…) which is a stylized remake of The Good, The Bad and the Ugly. I love pacing especially, but everything about that movie is great. For Discovering Aberration, I was trying to capture a quality action movie’s sense of pacing.
What’s the best piece of writing advice you’ve received?
My greatest teacher I ever had was author David Shields who teaches at the University of Washington. I don’t know if I could boil down a single piece of advice he gave, but I learned so much from him that I couldn’t learn anywhere else.
It’s funny because back then he hated fiction. Non-sequential creative non-fiction was what he touted as the future of literature, so he really got me to think outside the normal ways of telling a story.
If you could go back and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
scbarrusvintageWhen I was young, I thought I could write a masterpiece, get it published, and simply become an author.
I learned that masterpieces cannot just be written, they are crafted not by themselves, but over the course of multiple novels where you build all the skills and talents you need to craft that master work.
I also learned that publishing is not a straight forward process, nor is it the end game. It’s just another step along the way, albeit a complicated one.
I wouldn’t tell myself either of those things though, because I needed to learn them as part of the process. Maybe I would have told myself, “When you feel low, when you feel down and depressed, when you think your work is no good and your drinking and your mouse is hovering over the delete key, know that those are the worst of times, and those times pass if you let them. Don’t delete, create.”
Write about anything at all for two minutes:
I’ll use this opportunity to invite your readers to stop by my kickstarter and contribute to both a piece of literature and a dream of mine. Stop by, take a look at the novel and see if it’s something you can get behind. I’m looking forward to talking to everyone who is gracious enough to support my work. Cheers.

Interview: E Cathrine Tobler

As part of my week away from the internet, I am interviewing a couple authors. First up is E Cathrine Tobler, who is a fantastic author with a brand-new release, Rings of Anubis: Gold & Glass, which you need to read right this instant. I’ll let her tell you more about it:

Gold & Glass is out now!

Every Writers favorite question: What is Gold & Glass about?

Once upon a time, in the deserts of Egypt, something remarkable happened. Our Heroine, Eleanor Folley, tries to determine exactly what that something was, even though her family doesn’t want her to pursue it. She is aided by the theft of a ring, a man who seems more beast than gentleman, and strangely, the past that has always haunted her.
What was your favorite part of writing it?
My favorite part was “the end”! Beyond that, I had a great time playing with time travel and putting together lives the way you might a book; scene by scene, your life adds up to an extraordinary story. How would you react if you found yourself confronted by that book? Judged by it?
What was the hardest part?
The hardest part was probably getting into viewpoints that were highly unlike my own. The book deals with shape shifters and ancient gods and an opium addict, and while every person who isn’t US is going to be vastly different inside, I found writing The Other a definite challenge in this case.
I’m totally stealing your soundtrack question. Go.
The first three tracks of my soundtrack would be:
1. Twilight Galaxy, Metric –
2. Silk Pajamas, Thomas Dolby –
3. Howl, Florence and the Machine –
What’s next for you?
Silver & Steam, which wraps up the adventures in Gold & Glass, will be out in August!  I have a handful of short stories that will be out later this year, and next year…I’m not sure I can talk about that yet. 😀
If you could go back in time and tell your younger self one thing, what would it be?
I actually wrote my younger self a letter some time ago, which you can find here: http://www.shimmerzine.com/2011/05/04/letter-to-a-young-writer/ And mostly that holds true: stick with it, younger self. Sometimes, you don’t see the path, but it’s there. I promise.
Take two minutes to write about anything at all:

I haven’t felt like writing this week, I even protest this prompt (how dare he! I just finished a new short and a new novella and I am empty, drained, a husk!), though I know the myth (and the sage advice is) “write every day.” Some days, it’s not there. I’m empty of words, but then I’ll sit quietly, or read, or do something else, and the words will start up again. Perhaps it is strange if you’re not a writer to explain this. I’m not sure what kicks the imagination into overdrive, if it’s just something writers naturally do. I don’t write every day, I don’t submit everything I write, but I finish everything I start, even if it’s a good many years later (as with one recent story). I’m thinking now about stories I want to write, stories I want to revise and expand, and I think too about another story involving the crew from Rings of Anubis. I think about deserts and a solitary patch of shade, and who is working within that scant respite from the heat, and what she’s about to find. I can see it–she’s not pleased, but I am.