Seems like I’m finding some guests to honor this blog at last! This second September guest is also from the SFF Kindle event of last July. I read her book, The Lost Gateway, and enjoyed the mix of fantasy clichés (twisted, mostly) and originality that made for a very entertaining read. So I contacted the author and she kindly replied to my usual writerly interview. Ladies and gentlemen, please welcome Josephine L. Brooks! 🙂
Where do you live and write from?
Currently I live in Idaho, just outside of Moscow. The University of Idaho and neighboring Washington State University in Pullman give the small town an urban feel. Outside of town wheat fields give way to wilderness. The summers are idyllic, but the winters are deep with snow and very dark.
I’m a city girl at heart, but I’m fine writing wherever I happen to be. I tend to take my laptop all over the place. At home I have a desk in front of a window with a view of Moscow Mountain, and I can watch the storms stack up over my house. But when I need to feel the buzz of people I will go write in some of the neat little coffee shops in Moscow. When I go to the Washington or Oregon coast I usually bring my laptop as well.
When did you start writing?
I was 13 when I started. I wrote off and on for years, but never seriously. I was too concerned with survival to worry about frivolous things like writing. Scholarships weren’t enough and I worked to put myself through college. My sole focus was on my career. I didn’t slow down until I had my child. It was at that point my priorities shifted. Long work weeks, travel, late nights, and tons of stress didn’t make much sense when I had a little human needing love and attention. I quit, but I’m not much of a homemaker. Within a week I was going crazy.
I started writing fiction again, but by then my mind had been trained along a different path. I was used to business writing, and the focus in business is clarity and brevity. I still write that way. If something isn’t moving my story forward, I delete it.
What genre(s) do you write?
I write fantasy and occasionally some science fiction. I will read just about anything. I’ve tried to write other things but something odd always happens and it inevitably turns into some form of speculative fiction in spite of my intentions. I guess that’s just how my mind works.
Where do you find your inspiration? Do you put yourself in your stories?
Inspiration comes from movies, TV, books, news, a passing comment or an interesting person. Moscow has more than its fair share of interesting individuals. Sometimes I’ll just sit in a coffee shop and watch. It’s sort of amazing. I think that once you are open to story possibilities, it’s hard to not be inspired by everything. Sometimes it’s difficult to shut it out.
It would be difficult to not put myself into my stories. I show up in various aspects of different characters. In The Lost Gateway, I’m most strongly present in the three witches. Sabine’s romance with Enyeto is drawn from my own relationship with my husband. Granny Fog is my own sarcastic internal voice. Ronat is either my mother or me in about twenty more years. I don’t want to analyze that one too closely.
Do you have a specific writing routine?
I write Monday through Friday. Some days are better than others, but as long as I’m consistent things seem to flow well.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
Within the structure of the story I tend to be a plotter. I know what the beginning and ending will be along with the various character arcs and several critical points of conflict. But in the details I tend to be an improviser. This way I’m free to flow with the story and it doesn’t fall apart after a few chapters because it didn’t have a good foundation. This also means that I’m not wasting a lot of time writing sequences that don’t move the story forward. It still happens, but not that often. Beginning to end, The Lost Gateway was written and edited within six months.
The Lost Gateway is an epic fantasy adventure.
Enyeto’s world has been invaded by monsters. The wizard who agreed to help has betrayed him. Only two back-country witches are willing to stand between his tribe and total annihilation.
The Lost Gateway is a stand-alone novel, but I’m working in the same world with some of the same characters for my next book, The Warlock of Ravenswatch. I hadn’t planned to do this, but the response to The Lost Gateway was positive, and I hate to disappoint people who have become attached to the characters. It should be out some time in November.
Indie publishing or traditional publishing – and why?
Indie. I claim that The Lost Gateway is my first novel, but that’s not true. It’s my second novel. My first novel was written prior to the current indie boom. I shopped it around to various agents and publishers. People were interested in it, and then they weren’t. It was exhausting. In fact, I have a hard time even looking at that first book. It’s probably best that it remains stored somewhere on my computer never to see the light of day. But it had to have some promise or there wouldn’t have been any interest in it whatsoever.
When I wrote The Lost Gateway I was determined to not go through that again. I have full creative control and none of the waiting or frustration associated with traditional publishing.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
The Warlock of Ravenswatch is due out in November. I’m also working on an urban fantasy novel.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal is to get as many of these crazy stories out of my head as I can before I give up my last breath. I’m working on it one story at a time.