A Most Friendly Inquisition
Earlier this week, I had the lovely opportunity to sit down and speak with RaeAnne and Tina, the masterminds behind the #letsreadindie campaign. It was an eye-opening experience, and something I really think I learned something about myself in the process.
R&T: Tell us a bit about yourself and your books!
W: When I’m not writing The Erden Archives, I’m most likely planning or participating in some form of roleplay game. I’m big on keeping online roleplay communities alive, which has been difficult for a number of factors. I currently participate in several stories within the Star Wars universe, one within Star Trek, and I have an infrequent Numenera campaign going as well.
The Erden Archives are all short stories (which makes it easier to be prolific) taking place in the world of Erden, which is this place where magic and technology mix and mingle. It’s a place where the average person has forgotten who they are, and a place where real power doesn’t reside in the will of the group. Full of secrets, mystery, and conspiracy, Erden is on the brink of a cataclysm all but a few are completely oblivious to.
R&T: You’ve written a lot of books!! Do you have a favorite one?
If I were to choose among my children which one is favorite, I’d probably say “Road to Ruins” because it changed the most under rewrite. The first draft was much more pedantic. In it’s final form, it’s concise, beautifully dark, and uniquely driven by the narrator, Sargaron. Even though I have trouble connecting with him as an author, I love the challenge he presents.
R&T: What’s one thing that you’ve learned about writing? Or how have you and your approach to writing changed since writing and publishing your first book?
Never stop writing or reading. For me, the moment I put the pen down for a period of time, all the doubts and self-critical behaviors that inhibit creativity pop up and take root so quickly. I think that has changed how I approach things. I might not be working on my latest story, but I’m always writing something.
R&T: Who is one author you look up to?
I have so many, must I really choose? Ok. Ok. OK. I think I’ll pick R. R. Martin for his ability to really weave some fatalism and lots of political intrigue into the fantasy genre. It’s not often that the lawful good knight dies merely because she’s lawful good, and therefore, inconvenient, and Martin is a master of showing how inconvenient the lawful good knight can be.
R&T: What inspired you to write your Erden Archives series?
To be honest, it’s something mysterious, spiritual, and existential for me. The story calls from the ether to be created; I’m just its conduit. I don’t write the story as much as I expose it to this world.
There’s a lot of conversations happening at once in The Erden Archives. Ultimately, I hope one (or more) grabs the reader’s attention and resounds within them.
R&T: Where did your love for reading/writing come from?
Iraq. No, seriously. As a soldier there are hours, days, even weeks, where nothing happens when you’re in conventional forces units. Cut off from family and friends, lacking the creature comforts of home, my choices were exercise more or go hide in the base library (that no one visited). You read a lot of books, even if you’re a slow reader like me, when you’re alone and have nothing else to do.
When I got home, there was a lot of decompression time. As part of some self-directed therapy, I chose to work out some issues and re-develop some interpersonal skills in a low-risk way through online roleplay. As it turned out, I realized I loved writing and weaving stories for others to enjoy. It’s been one of the cores to how I develop characters ever since.
R&T: Thank you for your service!
R&T: What made you decide to “go indie”?
The freedom to takes risks and experiment. I know some people start indie and hope to get picked up by a big house. You can’t do experimental and avant garde often inside any industry, and publishing is no different. Industry is production, proven methods, and formulae to generate income and profit for both publishers and authors. Experiments are risks, and a publisher that takes too many risks can end up closing their doors, and that would be a sad loss for the world.
R&T: What would you say to people who disregard indie because of the label?
I guess I would say, “Don’t stop knowing yourself. Read what you want to read.”
I don’t think there there is anything to say to someone that prefers Lady Gaga (pop) over Dream Theater (progressive metal) or Miles Davis (avant garde jazz), is there? It’s what connects to them, and it should, otherwise the publishers don’t understand their markets.
Indie is an experimental place where an author can experiment wildly (like changing their voice) with freedom. Many readers have limited free time and income. They may suffice with something ‘good enough’ that they know they’ll enjoy with what resources and time that they have.
‘Indies’ percolate into the mainstream all the time, and readers crossover even more often. Indie isn’t some either/or transaction, a label that once applied sticks for life. It’s a permeable barrier where authors and readers both flow through constantly to enrich each others’ lives.
R&T: What advice would you give to aspiring authors, or debut indie authors, out there?
Don’t take yourself seriously. Make this a fun thing. Not everyone needs to like your work, but if you don’t like what you’re doing, those criticisms will hurt all the worse. And, do better at social media than I am. I’m terrible at it, and I know my sales suffer as a result.
R&T: Which book (or books) have been very impactful to you?
When a book as heavy as War and Peace falls from the top shelf and strikes you on the collar bone, you don’t have to read it for it to have an impact on you. (True story.)
In honesty, my influences are just far too large to really narrow it down to just one, and not all of them are books. R. R. Martin, Herbert, Orson Scott Card, H.P. Lovecraft, Aurelio Voltaire (No, not the French author, the singer-songwriter. Yeah, him.), Ragnar Tørnquist (Oh no! I made you google people!), and even a bit of Dan Brown (His books, not his movies) are easily seen in my work when you hold them to the right light.