Join me as author Naomi Eccles-Smith drops by to answer my questions.
1 - When did you first start writing?
I’ve always been a day-dreamer and story-teller, but I only began tapping into my writing potential with serious intent when I was sixteen.
2 - Do you read much? If yes, have you always loved reading?
I read fairly regularly, although probably not as much as people might think (and certainly not as much as I’d like).
As for my love of reading, I actually had very little interest in reading as a child (*gasp!* oh shock of shocks, right?). But that didn’t mean I had no interest in stories. I loved listening to books done to audio (which back then was on cassette tapes), and I adored listening to my Dad tell stories (he was a brilliant story-teller). I also enjoyed looking through picture books–as in really look. I absorbed the colours, the details, the expressions of each character–imagining what it must be like in their ‘world’. I had a love for drawing long before I developed a love for writing.
3 - Who’s your favorite author? What’s your favorite book?
In all fairness I could never truly put one favourite above another, but to keep things simple I’ll stick to the fantasy genre and pick C.S. Lewis for the author, and The Last Unicorn for the book.
4 - What writers have influenced you the most?
C.S. Lewis, Emily Rodda, J.R.R Tolkien, and J.K. Rowling. That list probably looks very cliché, but it’s honest. Lewis–for filling my mind with wonder as a child. Tolkien–for giving me my love for fantasy and world-building. Rodda–for inspiring my admiration for quests and monsters and heroes that come in all shapes and sizes. And Rowling–for renewing my love of reading and igniting my own passion for writing.
5 - Do you have a favorite fictional character? Either from a book or movie or a tv show?
Again, I have numerous favourites, so this question is a tough one. Can I pick a character from each? If so, I’d say Ashitaka from Princess Mononoke (movie), Aragorn from the Lord of the Rings Triology (book), and Sokka from Avatar: The Legend of Aang (TV series).
6 - What are you working on right now? Can you tell us something about it?
I’m currently working on promoting my book, Kin Seeker, which is the first in a five-part fantasy series called Dragon Calling. The story follows the adventures of a young dragon in his quest to find the others of his kind. I am also working on the next round of edits for the second book.
7 - Is there anything in particular that you do to get in the mood to write, or to get in the ‘zone’? Any particular pre-writing routines?
If I’m sitting down to work on a new chapter, I always go back and read the previous chapter or two to help my mind settle into the situation the characters are facing.
Depending on the scene, or the level of writing I plan on working on (whether a new chapter, an action scene, dialogue section, or editing), I will sometimes listen to music.
If I’m stuck with the story at any point, I will divert and work on world-building (character profiles/ backstories, creature quirks/ habitats/ abilities, cultures of different races etc.) until my mind finds what it needs to continue on the actual story.
8 - Where do you do your writing?
At home. A part of my bedroom has been converted to accommodate everything I need for my writing and illustration work.
9 - How do you approach your writing? i.e. - Do you do outlines? Character bios? Etc.?
I do a lot of story outlining in my head, and usually write/ draw/ brainstorm a massive amount of world-building extras and character bios (which I love working on!). But when I get started, I don’t try to dictate the story too much. I ease up on the reins–so to speak– and allow the story to move where it wills. I never let go of the reins, though, and sometimes have to give them a sharp pull, but more often than not it is the story that is stepping ahead, holding firm my hand, showing me the path it knows it must take. I find myself a spectator–awe-struck and humbled by the experience.
10 - Do you have any advice for other writers?
Never be too afraid or too stubborn to ask for help and advice from those in the industry who have gone before you. Be ever-ready to sharpen your skills and improve your knowledge, but never doubt yourself, and never ever give-in to the temptation of comparing your creative style with another.
11 - Are you a morning person or evening person? Day or night?
I’m definitely a Night Owl. Although I usually do my writing during the day, it’s at night that my creative mind re-fuels. Once topped up, it thrums along impatiently through dreams, ready and raring to go come the new day.
12 - Do you have any pets?
I do! Two cats, named Kyo and Yuki (both names were inspired by characters from the anime series Fruits Basket)
13 - What’s your favorite ‘I need a break from writing’ activity?
Playing console games. Yep, I’m a gamer chick.
14 - How do you approach writing sex scenes? They can range from mild to wild. Where are you on the mild to wild meter?
I write books for children, and the stories in my YA basket don’t broach that subject matter, so it’s something I don’t have to worry about.
15 - Do you write in one genre? Or more than one?
I focus primarily in the Fantasy genre, but that’s not to say I won’t dip into others in the future.
16 - Are you self-published or with a publishing house?
I’m an Independent publisher under the name, Starsea Press. Has a nice ring to it, don’t you think?
17 - What are your thoughts on getting a literary agent?
Before I decided the independent road was for me, I always wanted a literary agent. I’ve done a lot of research into the publishing industry, and know how valuable agents can be. But having an agent is not for everyone. The query process is certainly not easy, and the whole system is very subjective. You could have a brilliant story, and still get rejections from agents. But to those who are set on finding an agent, the two most important things are: 1–make sure your query/ story is as sharp and polished as it can be, and 2– keep on trying!
18 - What about marketing? How do you approach that area?
Marketing is very important for every author (even those who are traditionally published). I stared building my marketing platform well over a year before my first novel was even published. I have a website and a blog, which I update on a monthly basis. I also actively use my Goodreads, Pinterest, and Facebook accounts.
19 - What about beta readers? Do you use them? How many do you have? Where do you find them?
I didn’t use any beta readers for my first book, even though I knew the value in them (for shame, I know). It just meant more work for me and my editor in the long run. I think I’ll use a beta reader for my other books, though. I know that AQC (Agent Query Connect) is a great place to look for beta readers.
20 - What’s your favorite food?
Sushi is definitely one of my favourite foods.
21 - What’s your favorite color?
22 - Is there a particular website or facebook page or blog that you, as a writer, find very helpful?
I find Rachelle Gardner and Nathan Bradford’s blogs very enjoyable and insightful, and I highly recommend the Agent Query Connect site for both new and established authors (it’s a wonderful place to connect with other writers, ask questions, glean information, and exchange experiences).
23 - What’s your favorite time of the year?
Autumn, hands down. Love the weather, and the fashions, and I have fond memories of the autumn season as a child.
24 - What’s your most recent book about? And where can people buy it?
Kin Seeker was launched in August, and is the first book in the five-part series called Dragon Calling. Here’s a short blurb:
“When Laeka’Draeon learns he is the last dragon left after the mysterious disappearance of his kin, he begins the daunting quest to find them, knowing their prolonged absence could ultimately destroy the balance of peace in the world.”
The eBook is available at nearly all the big retailers, including Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble. Plans are being made for the paperback and audio versions to be available in the not-too-distant future.
25 - As a writer, what do you feel is your strongest gift or talent or skill that you have, that helps you the most as a writer?
My imagination. Sure I can write, and sure I can draw, but those are just the canvas and the brushes. Without the paint, there can be no painting.
26 - Please share some of your links with us - facebook author page, website, where people can find your books --
For Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7201221.N_R_Eccles_Smith
For the Dragon Calling Facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Dragon-Calling/1403886873156200
For my website: http://dragoncalling.wordpress.com/
For Pinterest: http://pinterest.com/thewhimwerecat/boards/
For Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/profile/view/WhimWerecat
For Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Kin-Seeker-Dragon-Calling-ebook/dp/B00EP7E7HQ/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1378095768&sr=8-1&keywords=kin+seeker
For iTunes: https://itunes.apple.com/au/book/kin-seeker-book-one-dragon/id682922049?mt=11