What do you like best about being a writer? What do you like the least? I love the act of creation. I love that there are no limitations in writing except for your own knowledge and imagination. I love being able to imagine entire universes and the interesting people that populate them. It’s intoxicating, honestly. I hate editing. I hate the fact that I have constant crushing self-doubt about every book that I write. I hate it when I run into a brick wall because something in the story isn’t right and I have to sit there and figure out how to climb over that wall and continue writing.
How do you think your life experiences have prepared you for writing? I’m an extremely awkward person in real life. People who know me can vouch for this, and it’s so hard for me to make friends because I have near-crippling social anxiety. Writing is the act of exposing yourself. It forces you to be honest and to share yourself with other people, but in a less stressful environment and in a more veiled sort of way. Life has shown me what really matters in my writing. For instance, I usually find common themes in my books like the importance of cobbling together a support system, or how the biggest monsters of all aren’t always dragons and demons, but awful human beings instead. I’ve also learned how to discipline myself thanks to a rigorous college education and to know when I have time to goof off and when I have to be serious and hit my deadlines.
Have you ever felt as if you were being dictated to while you wrote a book--as if the words came of their own accord? If yes, which book did that happen with? Definitely. Often when I start a writing session, the goal is to simply finish the scene or the chapter. I start at Point A and by the end of the session, I need to be at Point B. Sometimes I have a rough idea of what will happen, but most of the time, the words gush out of me and things spring out of my brain and onto the page before I even comprehend them. It happened just the other day while I was working on the sequel to Of Cinder and Bone, as a matter of fact. I was having a good old time writing some banter and then some guy with an Uzi just waltzed into the story and I was just as surprised as my protagonists.
You’ve written four novels and are working on a 5th novel. What’s your favorite time management tip? Know what your “alert” hours are. When I was in college, I used to write at night, since I was in class all day long. Now that I’m a working adult, I do evening shifts at my day job, so now I always write in the morning or before sundown because my body shuts down for relax mode once the sun goes down. If you know your own rhythms, writing becomes much easier and much more productive.
Are you a plotter or a pantser, i.e., do you outline your books ahead of time or are you an “organic” writer? I am half-and-half. For instance, I always know where the novel will start and where it will end. I also know large plot points and character development moments that will happen. Everything between start to finish, however, is by the seat of my pants. My brain doesn’t seem to work in outlines. I actually don’t outline until the halfway point of the novel and that’s only to start a timeline so that I know the sequence of events.
If you had one take away piece of advice for authors, what would it be? Don’t quit. It’s so enticing to give up, especially if you’re a newbie author in the self-publishing world. It feels like no one cares about you and no one’s willing to help you and there are no readers out there interested in your work. Push through it. Learn everything you can that works and listen to the advice of the authors who are genuinely trying to help you out. That’s the only way you’ll make it in the long run.
Did music help you find your muse with this book? If yes, which song did you find yourself going back to over and over again as you wrote? Absolutely. Every book I write has its own soundtrack. Of Cinder and Bone was one of the first where I actually went on Youtube and created a little playlist to put me in the mindset of my characters. I’d say the main songs would be “Silly” by Deniece Williams, “S.O.B” by Nathaniel Ratecliff and the Night Sweats, and “I Wanna Get Better” by The Bleachers.
Someone stole it.
Caught between two ruthless yakuza clans who want to clone the dragon, Jack and Kamala brave the dangerous streets of Tokyo to steal their dragon back in a race against time before the world is taken over by mutated, bloodthirsty monsters that will raze it to ashes.
Buy link for Of Cinder and Bone https://www.smashwords.com/booExcerpt:
“They’re gone,” Jack whispered. “I don’t…I don’t understand. They were right here, Kam. What did I miss?”
She squeezed his hand. “Jack, this isn’t your fault. Maybe something went wrong and their health destabilized while we were out.”
“All that work,” he said hoarsely. “Years’ worth. Just like that. Gone.”
He shook his head again. “I shouldn’t have dragged you into this.”
“You didn’t drag me into anything. I chose this. I chose you.” She caught his chin and made him face her. Fierce brown eyes blazed at him. “And I’d do it again in a heartbeat.”
“This kind of thing can end a career. Let me take the blame. Please.”
“It’s my career to end. We tell them together. End of story.”
He shut his eyes at her words, shuddering slightly. “I’m so sorry.”
“We’ll find our way again. I promise.” She stroked the side of his face before turning towards the increasingly uneasy spectators around them.
“Ladies and gentlemen,” Jack said after clearing his throat. “I’m afraid that something’s happened. Our hatchlings have flat-lined. They’re…they’re gone.”
A frigid hush fell over the room. The lead reporter stepped forward. “They’re dead?”
Kamala nodded grimly. “Stillborn. We’re not sure how, but we’ve tried everything to resuscitate them and nothing has worked. I’m afraid we’ve lost them.”
Edie’s hands rose to her mouth, and her eyes fell on her son. “Oh, honey.”
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” the reporter moaned. “I got pulled off a hot lead at the Mayor’s office for this crap and you’re telling me the whole thing’s off? Get a defibrillator and bring the little bastards back to life.”
“Watch it,” Jack said very quietly.
“No, you watch it, pal. Everyone’s been talking you up like you’re gonna save the world and yet here we are with nothing to show for it.”
Jack stepped forward, gritting his teeth. “No one put a gun to your head and told you to come here. That’s three years of my life lying on that table over there, dead. Cry me a fucking river.”
Kamala gripped his arm. “Jack.”
The reporter snorted, not backing down even though Jack practically towered over him. “This was just a publicity stunt, wasn’t it? Something to get MIT some attention, since that’s where all the washed up scientists go to spin their wheels and pretend like they’re making a difference. What’s the matter? The real world too much for you?”
“The real world?” Jack laughed bitterly. “You’re about to find out how real the world can get.”
“No, let him go, sweetheart. This’ll look good on the front page. I can see the headline now: ‘Failed Scientist Socks Award-Winning Reporter for Hurting His Feelings.’”
Jack grabbed two handfuls of the guy’s shirt and a couple of people darted between them, shouting for them to cool off and separate.
He craned his neck slowly towards the table.
The furthest egg to the left had a fracture running down the length of it.
The egg wiggled once, twice. The fracture widened.
Jack and Kamala stumbled towards the table together, their eyes transfixed on the tremors going through the lone egg. A moment later, a tiny green snout poked through a hole in the top and embryonic fluid oozed outward.
Jack snatched up a box of gloves and handed it to Kamala, snapping a pair on, and then reached a shaking hand towards the creature. He lifted the small piece of shell that the dragon had stuck on his snout and watched slack-jawed as it sneezed and pushed its glistening, spindly limbs out. It was the size of a large gecko. The scales were leafy-green over most of its body, with paler shades along its belly, and dark green splotches along its spine. It had four limbs like a normal lizard, but two thin yellow membrous wings stuck out from its shoulders. Its head bore similarities to a bird, with a triangular head with bright eyes, its pupils thin slits like a snake. Each foot ended in pinpricks of claws and it had a set of needle-like teeth just barely poking out of its gums.
“You’re seeing this, right?”
Jack let out a thready, borderline manic giggle as the young dragon wobbled on its legs and let out a needy chirp, its yellow eyes focusing on the two of them after a moment. Jack cupped one hand and brought it forward slowly, his deep voice soothing.
“Hey there, buddy. Welcome to the party. Nice timing.”
The dragon chirped a couple more times and sniffed his fingers one by one. It nipped them, coughed, and then crawled clumsily into his arms. Kamala handed him a small towel and cleaned the little reptile off, smiling as it nuzzled its head against her touch.
“She’s beautiful, Jack,” she whispered. “What should we call her?”
She choked on laugh. “You’re such a sap. Hello, Pete. Welcome to MIT.”
Buy link for Of Cinder and Bone https://www.smashwords.com/boo