So nice to meet you Betty. I’m glad we could do this interview. Looking over your Goodreads profile I see that you’ve published three books: Discarded Faces, Mistress of the Topaz, and Mistress of the Land and Sea. Which one of your books is your favorite and why? Tell us a bit about that one.
I don’t have a favorite, so I’ll summarize all three. Discarded Faces is a YA dystopia centered in a viciously homophobic police state where if you’re gay, they send you on a one-way trip to a concentration camp. The heroine is a Lesbian teenager from a family that’s always supported the government, for a different set of reasons. When she finds out about the underground resistance movement that some of her friends are in, she joins.
The other two are Mistress of the Topaz, and Mistress of the Land and Sea, which form a two-book fantasy series. The mistress in question is a 19 year old Queen whose father used to govern most of the planet, but there was a rebellion and he died with only one odd corner as his domain. The Topaz in question is a magical gem that answers her questions. Her opponent is a 30-something woman who belongs to the ruling council of the kingdom that is now dominant. The young queen is fighting to restore the Hegemony (her father’s global empire), but the older woman counselor has the power to manipulate other people’s thoughts. Both magical powers have limits, and the two novels show how two ambitious women might use them. At the end of Land and Sea, the battle has been resolved.
The books you’ve written are science fiction/fantasy for young adults. What draws you to this genre you write in?
It’s what I like to do. I developed a taste for science fiction from watching the original Star Trek series when I was a teenager–because, yeah, I’m that old. Before that, I was very interested in science but turned up my nose at science fiction. “The future won’t be like that,” was my attitude. Since then I’ve realized that sci-fi isn’t really about predicting the future. It’s about present possible futures and asking us how we would respond to those altered conditions, both as individuals and as a society.
The Lord of the Rings introduced me to fantasy, although before reading it I was wishing such a genre of fiction existed. Fantasy takes the settings of traditional folklore–elves, dwarves, magic rings, dragons, and kings who actually do something–and presents us with a world that never existed and probably won’t, but forces us to consider the uses and misuse of the magical powers that the characters we have, but we have not and never will.
I don’t think I’ll ever write so-called “realistic fiction.” It’s just not my calling.
Having published three books, you must have some advice for writers just starting out? Give us a few tips or pointers that you’ve learned along the way.
Don’t lose the momentum. Write every day. Don’t worry about inspiration. That will come to you in the course of your work.
Write in the format you’re most comfortable with. You don’t have to write short stories first. That might help, but results vary. I find my stories are by definition novel length.
If you have writer’s block, try writing two stories at once, alternating between them.
Write the kind of stories you’d love to read if somebody else wrote them. Don’t just imitate what’s selling right now.
I’ve read on Goodreads that you’ve ‘weaned your TV watching habit’. I myself read more than I watch TV but I’m always curious… If one of your books became a TV show or movie, who would you cast as the main characters?
First of all, a book with complex world-building, like all of mine, works best as a TV miniseries. A single two-hour movie isn’t long enough. Eight or ten hours of television programming would work fine. Then you could put them on DVD and rent them out through Netflix.
Characters? That’s tough for me, because I’m 65 and don’t get little exposure to up-and-coming young actors. I know who I’d cast for the young Queen in my fantasy books–Jennifer Lawrence. She can already ride a horse and use the bow and arrow. Just die her hair red, give her some hand-to-hand combat training, and she’s good to go.
How can readers discover more about you and you work?
As an indie author, what’s your best marketing tip?
Social media. It’s never been easier and cheaper to publicize your books.
Are you working on anything right now? Can you tell us about it?
Yes, Discarded Faces is now officially a trilogy. The second volume, already submitted, is Dispelled Illusions. The third is the one I’m writing now. It’s called Unleashed Hopes. I call the whole set The Danallo Chronicles.
TLDR: After the dictatorship is overthrown, the rebel alliance (not its real name, of course) breaks down. Everybody has their own agenda and nobody trusts anybody else. The rival factions contend with each other. Sometimes they settle their differences through elections. Other times, not.
Tell us a bit about your cover art. Who designed it? Why did you go with that image? (Just pick one cover to describe)
Okay, let’s pick the cover of Mistress of the Topaz. I found my own artist, and sent her some jpg’s showing her how the Queen’s armor looked, what her face looked like, and the shape of the window I wanted in the background. I described her magical gem, the Oracular Topaz, and described the scene in a general sort of way. She did the rest. There was some feedback along the way. I forgot to mention at first that the Queen has six fingers on each hand. Also, it took us a while between us to figure out where and how she hung her sword. We succeeded in avoiding the sword-hanging-down-the-back cliché. I’ve had many complements on the result.
Other than writing, do you have any unique talents or hobbies?
I read a lot–mostly YA these days since that’s what I write. I like to watch movies, but I prefer to do that through Netflix or buying the DVD.
Who is your favorite character from one of your books, and why?
Hard to say. I really like Peb, Balk, and Kanath from The Danallo Chronicles. I like the World Queen from my fantasy books too. Underneath her boundless ambition, there’s a lonely, but humanitarian, heart.
Is there anything else you’d like to say?
You’ll never know whether your good at something or not until you try.