And this is the last author interview for the fantasy bundle. Stay tuned for more author interviews and more bundles. Ladies and gentlemen, last but not least, please welcome Lee French!
Where do you live and write from?
I live in Olympia, WA, the wacky heart of the Pacific Northwest. My workspace is a beanbag next to a coffee table and a large window with a view of the incessant rain. Sometimes, the sun comes out. It’s disturbing and distracting.
Why do you write?
I write because not writing is harder. After a few days without writing, unless I’ve been doing physically exhausting work, I get cranky and weird(er). At this point, I’m more or less unable to work at a regular job anymore because my writer brain muscles are so strong.
When did you start writing?
Shortly after I started reading. I was a late bloomer, not really grasping the whole letters make words thing until the later parts of first grade. Once I got it, though, I got it. In second grade, I won an honorable mention in the local Scholastic Book Fair for my entry Adventures in the Mean Old Man’s Backyard. In high school, I wrote a novel-length piece of crap that fortunately no longer survives, and I kept dabbling all over the place. In my early 30s, I started playing D&D online, in a message board format and really found my writing voice. After doing that for several years, I discovered NaNoWriMo and wrote a few horrible novels before finally producing something worth sharing about five years ago.
What genre(s) do you write?
I have trouble sticking to one subgenre and currently have over a dozen titles across epic fantasy, sword & sorcery fantasy, young adult urban fantasy, superhero science fiction, and cyberpunk. I enjoy writing all of them, and have plans for more subgenres in the future.
What is your goal as a writer and what are you doing to achieve it?
My goal when I started in this business was to become a member of SFWA. After achieving that as an indie last year, my new goal has become to make a decent living at this crazy job. The biggest challenge, as with any author, is marketing. So far, my path involves working conventions about half the weekends of every year. I have events scheduled for every weekend of May and October, plus 1-2 every other month of the year. It’s tiring and takes away from writing time, but it works decently well. In fact, I’ve done so much of that my booth partner and I wrote a book about how to hand-sell books at conventions, called Working the Table: An Indie Author’s Guide to Conventions.
What is the best piece of writing advice you’ve ever been given?
It’s a job. Treat it like one. Writing may be an art form, but earning a living from art works the same as earning a living from any other pursuit. Put in the hours, get things done, give your best effort, and treat your customers well.
Outliner or improviser? Fast or slow writer?
I like the term “plantser,” a portmanteau of planner and pantser. My process is generally to write up half an outline, settle on an end point, and start writing. Experience tells me I will almost always go far enough off the rails with cool ideas by the midpoint that outlining that deep into the book is worthless. My writing speed is on the faster end because I do it full time. Last year, I had 4 book releases, 1 novella release, 4 anthology appearances, plus a 3-in-1 release of a trilogy (with bonus material also written last year). This year will have less because I’m editing an anthology for the first time, along with having various personal issues in my real life.
Tell us more about your book in the bundle.
Al-Kabar is Mulan meets Arabian Knights for grown-ups. The story is one of a collection of standalone novels that will eventually have eleven. Each book follows a different woman in a different culture of my fantasy world, Ilauris, while she deals with problems common to women. The first book of this non-series series, Damsel in Distress, dealt with domestic violence, and this one delves into the strictures society places on women, especially regarding profession. The main character, Fakhira, pretends to be a man to accomplish her goals.
Tell us about your latest book.
My newest release is the fourth book of my young adult urban fantasy series, Spirit Knights. Ghost Is the New Normal continues the story of Claire, a teenage girl whose favorite way to solve problems is punching them in the face. She’s a veteran of foster care in modern Portland who wound up becoming the first female inducted in an ancient, secretive order of knights tasked with hunting ghosts.
Any other projects in the pipeline?
I’m currently working on book 5 of The Greatest Sin, a second cyberpunk novella, book 5 of Spirit Knights, the next Ilauris book, a new book for my superheroes universe, and a handful of short stories for various venues.
Yes, I really am working on all of them at once.