When I decided to write and publish my first book, I looked for other successful authors in my genre to emulate. In my research, one of the authors I found most interesting was Lindsay Buroker. She was doing this thing called Indie publishing. I was intrigued and read her wonderful blog on how to be a better writer and how to become an independent (Indie) author, in other words, how to successfully publish your books yourself.
I bought Lindsay’s books and fell in love with her characters and stories. I followed her electronic trail to Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, WattPad, and beyond. I watched what she did, and I began to follow her lead building my own brand. What was unexpected was how wonderful she was. She responded to her fans and even answered many of my questions directly. I’m not sure if she took me under her wing on purpose or if I just wedged myself in there. Either way, she became one of my mentors as I became an Indie author.
Lindsay is best known for her seven book series, The Emperor’s Edge. I haven’t actually finished the series myself (As of this writing, I am on book five.). My review of book one, The Emperor’s Edge, is on Amazon http://amzn.to/1nmELay and of the second book, Dark Currents, at http://amzn.to/1w9sCan.
Considering all Lindsay has done, I feel like I owe her a lot. When she is in Seattle, she at least lets me buy her a tasty beverage. The last time we were chatting, I managed to get her to agree to answer some of my questions publicly. I truly hope you will enjoy getting to know her as much as I did .
Lindsay, where did you come from? Tell a little about your background, old stomping grounds, etc.?
I’ve spent more years in Seattle than anywhere else, though my family moved quite often when I was a kid, and, as an adult, I got restless and moved a few times too. (I’ve recently wandered down to Arizona in search of sunnier climes, and my writing output has increased in the last year—it’s possible I’m solar powered.)
I’ve been a lifeguard, a fast-food jockey, a soldier in the army, a network administrator, a professional blogger, and finally, an author. I’ve been self-employed for the last ten years, and it’s a foregone conclusion that I’d make a horrible employee after walking my own path for so long. Fortunately, the author thing is working out. 😉
When and why did you decide to become a fantasy/sci-fi author?
I started writing early on, but it was all wilderness and animal stories as a kid (There are some rather blatant Black Stallion knock-offs in boxes at my parents’ basement.). I read Lloyd Alexander’s Chronicles of Prydain in 7th grade and stumbled across R.A. Salvatore’s Drizzt books soon after. That was my introduction to fantasy, and ever since, I’ve been setting my stories in made-up worlds full of swords, magic, and monsters.
When you started getting into more adult fiction what was the first book/author you loved to read?
Jack London. Before finding fantasy, I read a lot of frontier and colonial era stuff.
[Note: Lindsay and I spent about thirty minutes over coffee reminiscing about various Jack London books. You can really tell his influences on us in our stories. Where do you think the inspiration for Duke came from? Lindsay’s Flash Gold series is a dead giveaway for her.]
Of all your published works so far, what is your personal favorite book?
Encrypted was my second novel, and I think it’s still my favorite.
Why is Encrypted so special to you?
It had a fairly unique heroine for fantasy (Tikaya is a philogist and a cryptanalyst.), a love story where the leads were clearly a good match but happened to be from enemy nations, and the prerequisite amount of mystery, action, and near-death experiences to keep things moving along at a good pace.
Which of your fictional characters is your favorite?
Oh, probably my assassin, Sicarius. He started out as more of an antagonist in the beginning and gradually became one of the heroes; in a way, though he never truly became a “good guy.” A lot of readers have told me how much they rooted for him and wanted him to find some happiness along the way.
That said, I’m also pretty fond of “Fleet Admiral Starcrest” from the Encrypted/Decrypted books, even if he’s a big old Mary Sue (or Marty Stu if you prefer gender accuracy). I’ve always been fond of stories where so-and-so and so-and-so could be great friends or lovers if their people weren’t mortal enemies. What can I say? The Fox and the Hound was my favorite movie when I was a kid.
That isn’t what I expected. I thought maybe Tikaya or Amaranth would have been your favorites.
So spill, what are you working on now?
So many things really… I’ll stick to a couple. Okay, maybe three. I’m working on a new Flash Gold novella (steampunk), and I’m about to start a new novel set in my Emperor’s Edge world. It’ll star most of the core characters from the original series and take a peek into some of the trials and tribulations of starting a new government. I’m also writing a series of prequel novellas for a trilogy set in Nuria (the enemy nation for our Emperor’s Edge heroes). I plan to get started on that trilogy in 2014.
Why Emperor’s Edge? Where did the idea come from?
I’ve always enjoyed stories where the “adventuring party” goes off on some quest, so that’s at the heart of it. Also, I’ve seen epic or high fantasy get darker and grittier in the last decade or two, and I was having a harder and harder time finding well-written stories with engaging characters that also had some humor and light moments. When the world is so grim that I’d never want to live there, I have a hard time wanting to read about it. So the EE books were an attempt to tell a not-entirely-fluffy story but at the same time, keep things fun for the most part.
Do you follow a schedule, or just go with the flow?
When I’m writing something new, I’ll try to get in X,XXX words a day. That usually ranges from 3,000 to 5,000, depending on what else I’m working on and how soon I want to finish something. I know there are people out there who can write 10,000+ words a day, but I think I’d go crazy trying!
[Note-to-self: Lindsay thinks I’m crazy with my 10K per weekday schedule…]
Do you listen to music while you write (and what type), or do you prefer the quiet?
I usually keep it quiet, though if I’m writing in a café or someplace noisy, I’ll put on earphones and listen to instrumental music (Epic movie soundtrack stuff is fun.) or maybe some light fantasy-themed stuff. There’s some “steampunk” music on one of my YouTube playlists, and I’ve enjoyed Lake of Tears ever since I stumbled across their “Raistlin and the Rose” song years ago. I reserve the heavy stuff for working out at the gym. 😉
If you could jump into any book and live there, which book would you choose?
Maybe Lois McMaster Bujold’s Vorkosigan universe. It’s far-future SF so rather civilized, all in all, and the uterine replicators certainly sound like a nice way to deliver a baby!
Describe as many of your books and series in tweets (140 characters or less) as you want.
The Mushroom Hunters: On the Trail of an Underground America by Langdon Cook.
Do you remember the first book that kept you up all night reading? What was it?
Where the Red Fern Grows. And I bawled my eyes out at the end.
Does writing come naturally to you, or did you have to work harder in order to get that story in your head down on paper?
Naturally at this point. I’ve been making up stories in my head since I was a kid, and even if I’ve had to learn a lot about the craft of writing (and doubtlessly have more to learn), getting down my ideas has never been much of a problem. Figuring out how to find clever ways to get my heroes out of traps, dungeons, and other dead-ends… that’s another matter.
How long does it take you to write your books?
A couple of months for a first draft. I usually go over that once, then send it off to beta readers, and go over it a final time after I’ve incorporated their comments. Then it’s off to my editor for a final run-through. Generally, I’m under six months now for a novel, from start to finish.
If you won the lottery tomorrow, what are the first three things you think you would do or buy?
I don’t play the lottery. A victory based on luck doesn’t mean anything. I want to win by succeeding at life. 😛
[Note: for the record, that is a dodge if I’ve ever heard one.]
What is the best piece of advice you have ever received in your life?
I’m not sure about the best, but the worst was probably that writers don’t make any money so I should study business or computer science. It took me a long time to “get serious” about writing because of that.
What thought or sentiment would you like to have copied and put into one million fortune cookies?
I can’t say that I ever adored anything I read (AKA was forced to read in school) by Camus, but if I were the bumper sticker type, I’d have this quotation: “The only way to deal with an unfree world is to become so absolutely free that your very existence is an act of rebellion.” It seems more and more relevant with each passing year.
If you got a parrot for a pet, what phrase would you be sure to teach it to say?
Coffee or tea? Coffee
Paper book or eBook? Paper
Summer or winter? Summer
Werewolves or vampires? Death to all those overused paranormal monsters! Ahem.
Morning person or night owl? Reformed night owl.
Pantser or plotter? Plotter
Pepsi or Coke? Zevia
Dogs or cats? Dogs
Drink: Red wine, Hard cider, or a Coconut milk latte
Food: Dark chocolate
TV show: Frasier
Book: Too many to choose
Late night snack: Plantain chips
Writing tools: MacBook Pro
Vacation destination: Somewhere I haven’t been yet
Music: I like songs from lots of different genres
Place to read: Bed
Place to write: Coffee shop
Way to relax: Tennis
Thank you, Lindsay, for taking part in the Fantasy & Sci-Fi Network author spotlight interview. I really look forward to your next books, and again, I cannot begin to thank you enough for all the wonderful help and inspiration you provide for other up and coming Indie authors.
If you haven’t met Amaranthe, Sicarius and the gang, that first installment is free for Kindle, Nook, and other eBook retailers…
Lindsay Buroker can be found on the Internet at her web site http://lindsayburoker.com. Do try out her books. Emperor’s Edge (book one) and Flash Gold book one are free.