Welcome back to Tag Line Tuesday, a chance to meet and greet some new authors. It is “long-form” interview style, as I do tend toward verbosity. Call it a pitfall of writing in the “epic” genre. 😉
This week’s guest is the crimson-headed Queen of Fire & Darkness, who makes everyone she knows call her that, all the time. Not really, but it does have a ring to it, right?
SM: Shéa MacLeod. Petunia Butterfinger
Ed: Where you from, Petunia?
SM: The Planet Xircon 5. Portland, Oregon, USA.
Ed: Day job?
SM: Writer, Dragon Wrangler.
Ed: How ‘bout a Dream job?
SM: Writer, Zombie Hunter.
Ed: Well if the same answer appears on Day Job and Dream Job, things ain’t all bad. 😉 So why do you write?
SM: The voices tell me to. I can’t NOT write.
Ed: Somehow I feel like those both were true. And now, since what people read can say a lot about them (or maybe even make them what they are), let’s talk about OPB (Other People’s Books). Feel free to go back to full honesty.
SM: Phew! Thanks.
Ed: What’s the biggest consideration when you are deciding on a book to read?
SM: Definitely my mood. I’ll buy a book based on the blurb or an interaction with the author or even a recommendation from a friend, but I read based on the whims of my inner voices.
Ed: When looking at a blurb, what sort of thing makes you say “yes?” What sort of things makes you say “pass?”
SM: If it makes me laugh, it’s a “yes.” If it gets my imagination fired up, it’s a “yes.” If it’s preachy, gory, or flowery, it’s a “no.”
Ed: What genre do you enjoy most?
SM: It’s a toss-up between urban fantasy and anything post-apocalyptic. Though I do love some paranormal romance, steampunk, or a good murder mystery. Thrillers, too.
Ed: What genre would you read only if you lost a bet?
SM: Probably “inspirational.” I used to read it all the time, but I just find it all a little “preachy” now.
Ed: Do you have a favorite author, and do you think they influence your own writing?
SM: Agatha Christie. And yes, definitely. Agatha Christie was something of a pioneer. When she first began writing, there was a certain style of fiction that was acceptable. This usually involved lots of flowery language and fancy words. Christie wrote more along the lines of how people actually spoke. Simple language. Not a lot of description. Simple. Effective.
Having spent most of my childhood reading Christie, this definitely rubbed off. I write as people speak. I rarely use snazzy words, and I don’t like getting to bogged down in description. I want the reader to have his/her own image of how things look without me getting in the way. Flowery words are nice, but I’m trying to tell a story, not win an award. Simple.
Ed: 🙂 My Mom had a full set of Christie’s books in paperback when I was a kid, some of the first things I remember reading. Out of curiosity, what’s the first book you remember buying with your own money?
SM: Oh, boy, I don’t actually remember. Probably back to that inspirational thing. We were only allowed to shop at the Christian bookstore or in the Christian fiction section of Powell’s (in Portland). I know I bought several of these books when I was in my teens. The book that sticks out for me, though, was one I bought on poisons. It was research, you know. 😉
Ed: Um, I’ll just leave that cheese dip on the table alone the rest of the way. How about a favorite book? Do you have one, and how many times have you read it?
SM: It’s rare that I re-read a book, though I consider Stephen King’s The Stand to be my favorite. I’ve read it probably three times.
Ed: Any books you have been told you should read, and know you probably never will?
SM: Lots! I was told I absolutely must read Brick Lane. In my opinion it was the biggest waste of time ever. I ended up skimming it (as it was for a book club), but I was so bored I wanted to poke my eye out with a spork. Pretty much any “award-winning fiction” is suspect in my book. About the only “must read” book I ever sat down and read and actually enjoyed with Justin Cronin’s The Passage.
Ed: Apart from skimming, have you ever out-and-out lied about reading, or not reading, a book?
SM: Don’t think so. I’m pretty honest about saying I think a book is crap and that I couldn’t (or wouldn’t) finish it.
Ed: Ever read a book you were sure you were going to like, and not liked it?
SM: Many times.
Ed: Ever grudgingly read a book, and loved it?
SM: The aforementioned The Passage. There was so much hype about it I was convinced it was going to be like all the other over-hyped garbage out there. A friend practically begged me to read it. I got it from the library and couldn’t put it down, so I bought my own copy. It’s one I plan on re-reading.
Ed: What’s your favorite line from a book? (not your own)
SM: “Call me Ishmael.” It’s the only line I can remember. Lol Also it’s about the dopiest line ever. What do you mean “Call me Ishmael?” Isn’t that your name? Do you think I’m going to call you Bob?
Band – Loreena McKennitt (not really a band, but what the heck)
Food – Uhhh … chocolate?
Game (any kind) – Civilization
Album – Wednesday Morning 3am by Simon and Garfunkle (I know, it’s weird, but my dad had it when I was a kid and I’d listen to it over and over and over. I think I wore out the vinyl.)
Word – Supercalifragilisticexpealidocious. What? That’s a word. FINE! Antidisestablishmentarianism.
Color – Purple
Animal – White Siberian Tiger
Piece of clothing – Pajamas
Movie – Pitch Black
TV show – Currently Terra Nova. Of all time it’s a toss-up between Firefly and Farscape. Oh, and SG1.
Drink – Alcoholically speaking, a caipirinha. Non-alcoholically speaking, apricot nectar.
Song – I don’t really have just one, but “I Am What I Am” by Gloria Gaynor is way up there. Mostly for the message.
Line from a song – “I am what I am and what I am needs no excuses.”
Pizza topping – Mushrooms. Lots of mushrooms. And extra cheese.
Crime – Um? What? My favorite crime? Murder, I guess. 😉
Place – Hawaii.
Quote – “Take the first step in faith. You don’t have to see the whole staircase, just take the first step.”
– Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr
Ed: Three random things about yourself, please.
SM: I trained as a massage therapist and was licensed in Oregon for 4 years before moving to the
I’m violently allergic to lilies, but adore irises.
I can milk a goat.
Ed: A better question than “can you milk a goat?” might be “should you milk a goat?” But I digress. Let’s talk the talk of the scribblers for a bit. In your own writing, are you more Plotter or Pantser?
SM: Combo platter. I’ve figured out the best way for me to write is to have a general outline with a few specific scenes. The rest, I wing it. It keeps me focused while allowing the muses free reign to go nuts. And they generally do.
Ed: Worst advice you ever got as a writer?
SM: “Write what you know.” If writers did that, we’d never have Jules Verne’s marvelous Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea or Tolkien’s epic fantasy or anything Stephen King.
Ed: Best/Worst thing about being a writer?
SM: The best thing about being a writer is creating these wonderful worlds and sharing them with my readers. There is no worst thing.
Ed: Why Indie?
SM: Why not? The traditional world said no. What did I have to lose? Nothing. In fact, I’m proving all
those agents who turned me down don’t know what they’re doing, because my books ARE selling. People DO like them. And now I’ve gone indie, I love the absolute freedom of creating what I want, how I want.
Ed: Is being a writer what you expected? How so, or how not?
SM: It’s better. To be honest, I was always a little afraid I couldn’t do it. That I wouldn’t be good enough to sell. Or I wouldn’t have the self-discipline to do this full-time. Or that I could write one book, but not a second. With my third book out now, I’ve proven to myself that I can do this. I do have the self-discipline. Even more, there’s nothing else I want to do.
Ed: Have you, or would you ever, collaborate on a story?
SM: Absolutely. I’ve got a couple projects in the works that are collaborations with other authors. They’re just in the baby stages, though, so I’ll spill the beans another time.
Ed: If you were starting to write for the first time, what would you do different?
SM: Nothing. I’d like to say I’d do this or that differently, but the truth is, I wasn’t ready until now. My writing
wasn’t ready until now. My self-confidence wasn’t ready until now. This is the perfect time for me and all the steps I’ve taken, good or bad, brought me here, now. And here and now is a very good place to be.
Ed: What is the most important thing you have learned about writing?
SM: To keep doing it. Just write that next book. And the next. Don’t faff about waiting to get something “perfect”. It will never be perfect, but it can be a wonderful story, well-edited, and enjoyable.
Ed: What’s the moral of the story?
SM: Write what you love.
Ed: Next up, let’s pontificate a bit more directly about your own books. How, and when, do you tend to come up with titles?
Ed: How about your characters, how do they get their names?
SM: Sometimes it’s easy. They just come to me (the voices again). Other times it takes awhile. If I’m having trouble I’ll hunt through some of the name etymology websites to find one with a meaning I like.
Ed: If you could live in the world / with the people of one of your stories, which one would it be and why?
SM: One of my WIPs which is a blend of urban fantasy, paranormal romance, sci-fi, post-apocalypse and steampunk. Mostly because it’s a wickedly cool place filled with magic and mayhem and ALIENS!
Ed: What do you think your books say about you?
SM: That I quite possibly need to be locked away in a padded room.
Ed: Is there anything you have written which you would now like to change or revise, wish you had written differently, etc.?
SM: Nothing that’s published, no. It’s as I want it to be. There are things I’ve written which will never see the light of day, though!
Ed: Tell me about…your favorite character.
SM: Hands down, it’s Morgan Bailey (from the Sunwalker Series, see below). She’s incredibly tough and kick-ass, but she had to go through hell to get there, and even though she’s got these superpowers, she’s still incredibly humble and human. She’s very flawed, just like we all are.
Ed: What would Morgan say about herself?
MB: Excuse me? You think I got time to sit here yammering about myself? I’ve got demons to slay, vampires to dust, and … stuff … to do. Yeah, I got stuff.
Ed: Anything to say about Shéa, Morgan?
MB: <rolls eyes> She totally wants to be me.
Ed: Shéa again, what’s your favorite line you have written?
SM: “So you moved to Portland. How’s that working out for you?” (In reference to Jack needing sun to survive yet moving to one of the non-sunniest parts of the US.)
Ed: Quipperific. 😉 And now, some HYPOTHETICALS
SM: Ha! I back up EVERYTHING (especially my writing) on multiple memory sticks. But hypothetically, my current WIP.
Ed: You have one perfect day of free time, no obligations, needs, or responsibilities.
What do you do?
SM: Nothing. LOL. I might write a little, read a little, watch telly a little, but mostly, nothing.
Ed: Someone “in the business” suggests you change something you feel is a critical part of one of your books, and guarantees it will increase sales. What do you do?
SM: I will seriously think about it, but most likely I will go with my gut. Which means, stick with what I’ve got. It’s been proven that those “in the business” rarely know what sells and there’s no such thing as a guarantee.
Ed: You are offered just enough money to live comfortably for the rest of your life, if you will just stop writing. What do you do?
SM: Tell whoever it is to eff off. There’s no point in making a comfortable living if I can’t write.
Ed: What question do you wish I had asked?
SM: You never asked about DRAGONS!!!! And you know how I feel about that …
Everything’s better with dragons!
And now, Shéa’s books. The links will let you find the bona fides for each, for my purposes here, I just asked for a FIVE WORD SYNOPSIS (because authors absolutely hate doing that, and I’m a bit of a jerk) 😉
Shéa’s book page (on her blog): http://sheamacleod.wordpress.com/books/
“Post-apocalyptic romance, with Dragons!”
“You’re dripping blood on my carpet.”
SM: Okay, so that’s six. Sue me.
Ed: Sorry, but I have to crop it to
five, so your blurb is now “You’re dripping blood on my…”
“Fire burns. So do Dragons.”