S Copperstone is a wordsmith working in the self-publishing mines. We’ve known each other online for… wow… a long time now. We met through the Zoetrope critique boards many moons ago. You can find her novel, The High King’s Embalmer at Amazon. Rumor has it, she’s got some new work brewing, and lest I forget, here is her wordpress blog.
Without further ado, the interview!
Q) So, let’s start at the beginning. What got you started as a fiction writer?
A) I don’t know. Honestly, I can’t remember. I’ve been writing since I was a teenager, off and on, and have no idea why. I do know I tend to write more when I am/was stressed so I suspect I use writing as a form of stress-relief. I put my characters through hell sometimes. Readers don’t see everything— I usually have another version of the novel where the poor characters are tortured (either physically or mentally), I tone it down for public consumption.
Normally, since I love history, I’ll immerse myself in anything obscure I can find about the particular era I’m writing about. Sometimes the most unusual (maybe unbelievable) events really had happened and I’ll find them in the most unusual places (i.e. a travel brochure, or a family history, anywhere really).
I’ve been submitting to agents and publishers for many years. I’ve got a file cabinet drawer full of responses. I keep them because it’s proof to me, that yeah, I tried.
Q) In your 2014 release, The High King’s Embalmer, the reader follows the numerous misadventures of Jibade, the title character, who is not only an embalmer but a jackal shape-shifter and heart-eater. I gotta ask, what did you do for research?
A) First of all, I’ve been interested in the ancient Egyptian culture for some time. They were so… different than other cultures of the day, or since, really. I had the idea of “what if the Anubis-creature was real and from another planet?” etc etc. I did a little research on the ancient Egyptian embalming techniques and mythology and added a paranormal element to it. I had thought about attending school to become an embalmer at one point, and had purchased a used book on embalming to prepare… I had to do something with it. 🙂
I feel sorry for Jibade. He was born into a tyrantical situation. He keeps going though and despite what he is (a heart-eating, assassin, mystical embalmer), he has some redeeming qualities and respects the dead. The next book—I’m debating about which book will be next—will be about Anna’s past and future, or, it will be the book about Jibade’s father’s past. Jibade will still be in both books, somewhere.
Q) Since choosing to self-publish, what surprised you about the process?
A) Self-publishing… if I had a choice, I probably wouldn’t do it again. I can’t say I won’t (because I don’t know the future), but I’m pretty jaded at the moment. It’s very time-consuming and a big let-down. I think the only way to make it as a self-published author would be to already be well-known somehow, or rich enough to really push the marketing aspect of it. The hardest part is marketing… it’s very frustrating finding an audience for a book. A few bad reviews can wipe out an unknown writer. Typos seem to appear from no where (those are corrected, by the way). It’s like sometimes a little gremlin walks in and plants a stray letter somewhere or transposes letters. Also, I write unusual things—not the usual mainstream apparently—it’s just how I am, and it seems I’m aways swimming upstream.
Q) On your blog there’s quite a bit about genealogy. What got you interested in the subject? Does it inform your fiction?
A) Genealogy… I got hooked after I worked on the genealogy of one of my characters in a book saga I wrote so long ago (prior to the movie, “Braveheart”!) haven’t published yet. (It’s about a Scottish medieval knight). I was working on his family history and thought , ‘why not do my own?’ I’ve been hooked for years now. I love history and love trying to fit my own ancestors into it, to see how they lived, where they lived, why they moved, etc. Most times, it just leaves more questions without solutions, but it’s still addictive just the same.
Q) When you approach writing a novel, are you a plotter or a pantser, or a combination of both?
A) I guess it depends. Most of the time, I’m a bit of both. Most times I’ll see something, or hear something and it only needs to be a single idea or a sentence that will get me to thinking. A novel can marinate in my mind for years. I’ll always write down the idea and whatever else I think of at the time and when I have the time to write it or the right moment when I feel inspired, I’ll then write the novel. I usually get an idea of the characters in my mind and then I’ll let them determine which direction they want to go it. I’ll have a general outline of where they should go, but most of the time, they end up doing their own thing and I can’t rein them in all the time.
Q) I heard a rumor that you have a novel coming out in August, Bittersweet Tavern. Can you tell us a little bit about that?
A) Yes! The rumor is true. My next soon-to-be-published novel will be out in August 2015 and available for pre-order before that. It was a novel I wrote the fastest (I think I had the basic story down in about a month). It’s a tale of a young widowed barmaid and a widower ship captain who become caught up in the beginning of the American Revolution. It’s called, “Bittersweet Tavern,” and the most of the events are true. The characters were just thrown into the mix. Most of the names are from my own genealogy of that time period: Kezia, Jerusha, Frost, Daniel Stanton, etc. Lovejoy is the name of a road in the area where I lived, but I found out, there was also a family who lived in the Falmouth (Portland) area of Maine during that time.
Q) Where will readers be able to find it?
A) Readers will be able to order Bittersweet Tavern at their local independent book store, or it will be available via the publisher at Bygone Era Books, LTD. (www.bygoneerabooks.com). It will be in e-book and paperback form.
Q) What’s the next project?
A) I’m working on finishing up a cute time-travel that takes place in my current hometown (in the past) and in Detroit, Michigan (present and past). It is similar to the movie, “Somewhere In Time,” sort of… When coming up with the character names for this, I was sitting up in bed with my notebook and asked out loud (thinking I was talking to my cat), “What should I call her?” And the first name that popped into my head was, “Rebecca.” So… the main character’s name is Rebecca. Come to find out, I guess I have a resident ghost in the house that is named Rebecca, so that was cool, and probably her influence. Perhaps she had visited the opera house (where most of my book takes place) herself back in the day.
I’m also going through my medieval saga again and thinking of giving that a try again, to be published. It’s a story about a Scottish knight, his family and friends and misadventures and battles… lots of battles and jousts. It spans the years of the mid 1200s up to current times. (And it’s not a time-travel piece). It was mentioned above briefly.
Q) What’s your favorite kind of butter?
A) Butter? Ha! I like Land-o-Lakes, but I want to try that Kerrygold… I do love their cheese. And, I’m partly Irish, so there’s that too…
Q) What is a piece of advice that you’d offer to a beginning writer that you wish you’d heard when you started?
A) Don’t try to please everyone… just write what you want to write.