Lucienne Diver, Michelle Young, and Kaylan Doyle are three writers covering the entire range of speculative fiction, from Lucienne’s series’ on Greek gods, and vampires, to Michelle’s adventures in her medieval world, and Kaylan’s mix of science fiction and fantasy. They kindly agreed to sit down with the us to answer some questions after visiting the Blood Drive.
Daily Dragon (DD): Welcome to Dragon*Con! How are you enjoying it?
Lucienne Diver (LD): Loving it! Everyone is so great!
Michelle Young (MY): It’s fantastic! There’s so much going on!
Kaylan Doyle (KD): I’m having such a great time!
DD: How did being an author and an agent affect your writing as an author?
LD: I did a lot of self-editing at first. I would look at what I had written, and think “What would I think of this as an editor?” I found that as I kept writing and working on my craft, the self-editing from the agent’s point of view helped me improve my work.
DD: How did you keep your agent and writer sides separate?
LD: When I first submitted work for consideration, I used a pseudonym specifically to avoid people knowing it was me. I wanted them to consider my work on its own merits, and not because they knew me. It felt wrong to use my position as an editor to promote myself as a writer. Eventually though, I switched to my own name, once I got published, and was able to separate the different aspects of my work. I also got an agent to handle my writing, and promote my work for me with editors, which has further helped me keep my roles apart.
DD: Why did you choose to write about vampires and gods?
LD: I did a double major in college, anthropology and writing. I just love the Greek and Egyptian gods and everything about them! I will probably end up doing a series on Egyptian gods too. As for the vampires—I had asthma as a child, and it was in the days when asthma was treated with steroids. So, between having asthma and the treatment, I was a very vampire-like child!
DD: Why do you think these genres are still popular?
LD: With gods and vampires both, I think it’s the mythos behind them. They’re interesting on so many levels. I think it’s the re-interpretation of the genres that helps keep it fresh.
In my Vamped series, Gina is something of a cross between Clueless and Buffy. She’s a fashionista who wakes up dead and is more upset about chipping her nails and ruining her outfit in her attempt to claw her way out of her coffin than she is that she’s dead. Vampires are also persistently appealing because of their inherent sensuality and eroticism. There are also strong themes of transformation. My fashionista, for example, grows as a person from one who considers bad fashion sense to be the height of tragedy to becoming more human and concerned about the welfare of her friends.
In my other series, Bad Blood, Tori can trace her family line back to a drunken orgy between the god Pan and one of the Gorgons. As a result of generations of watered-down powers, while she can’t turn men to stone, she can stop them dead in their tracks. At least temporarily.
MY: My favorite genre is definitely fantasy. I have always loved that era, and the romance of knights and castles and princesses. People love the magic and romance of the medieval world. Every boy wants to be a knight, and every girl dreams of being a princess at some point in their lives.
DD: Is there a difference between being an author and simply a self-publisher?
KD: When self-publishing, there’s a definite difference between just anyone posting an ebook available for download from Amazon for $0.99, and a legitimate author who has put in weeks, months, and possibly years into their work. The author values their work and what it represents.
DD: Are there any ways to differentiate between the two?
KD: A simple way is to see whether there are previews and samples pages available. Legitimate authors will provide you with a sample of the work to demonstrate their ability to write you a story you will enjoy. QR Codes are easily available to provide access to downloadable content. The amateurs rarely do. It’s not hard to spot the bad writing when you can preview the work.
DD: How hard was it to get into decent self-publishing?
KD: It’s not easy to self-publish. When I first started there was lots of stumbling as I found my way. Fortunately, I had lots of help, and I liked that I had a lot more control over my content.
DD: With a traditional publishing house, you work with a professional editor. Do you still need one if you’re self-publishing, and how would you pick the right one?
KD: Shop for your editors. Many legitimate editors will review a chapter for you to give you an idea of their work. Send them a sample chapter with a polite request. It’s very easy for someone to hang out a shingle proclaiming themselves an editor. It will take time to find an editor you trust, and who understands you.
DD: How were you able to find an editor that worked for you?
KD: I was very lucky to find my editor. I was referred to her by the artist who did the cover art for my book.
DD: How important is social media these days, both as an agent and as a writer?
LD: Social media very important in today’s publishing world, both as agent and writer. I can hear about all sorts of things via online first, on an almost real-time basis. As an agent, I am able to promote others on an ongoing basis. It’s fine and well to say “I was just nominated for an award!”, but this can be hard for some of the more introverted writers, so being able to step up for my clients and get the message out on their behalf is a huge help.
DD: Is it difficult to switch between writing for teen and adult audiences? Are they different?
LD: They are definitely different. It’s not hard to switch between them though. Each character has a different voice, and as long as I keep listening to that voice, and follow where they lead me. The trick to getting into character is to channel the character!
DD: From where do you draw your inspirations for your work?
KD: I read every genre. I key in one people, personalities and conflicts. Then, when I’m writing, I draw on those, and keep asking myself “What if?” as my characters draw me along with them on their adventures.
DD: How do you go about imagining your worlds?
MY: I love fantasy! I’m lucky in that I can spend about nine months using my hammock, so I can go lie out there, close my eyes and create my world.
KD: I was lucky because I got to create 2 different worlds, one a fantasy world of castles and forests and the other a science world of plasteel and plascrete.
DD: How did you first get published?
KD: I queried in the traditional way of mailing out samples, but didn’t hear anything back for ages. I met the President of the Sister’s in Crime Seattle Chapter, an accomplished self-published author, who told me “This story needs to be out there!” and suggested I self-publish. I pulled my manuscripts from the agents who had them, and self-published. I was very lucky, as I had all sorts of statistics, information and help, thanks to her.
MY: I have been a writer for years. I had joined a writing group called Romance Writers Association. A publisher from Wild Rose Publishing came to speak to the group one night. I pitched her my idea after the meeting, and she asked me to submit a query. I did, and they accepted!
DD: How do you research your material?
MY: When researching, I use a variety of resources. The Internet, of course, and I also contact groups and organizations. Recently, I needed to get some information about falcons, and I approached a local raptor group, as well as my nearest Medieval Times, and they were more than happy to have me come over to show and give me all sorts of useful information on falcons. Real life experts are absolutely invaluable.
KD: I had an implant a while ago to help me with hearing loss. It is a device called Esteem by Envoy Medical that helps people with moderate to severe senso-neural problems to hear better. This sort of experience helps me write better, because I have experts I can get advice and real-world applications from for technology.
DD: Michelle, you have created jewelry to go along with your books. What inspired that?
MY: In my books, everyone has a Dragonstone. This colored stone represents the magic of the owner. I live down in Florida, and there are all sorts of tie-ins down here with the theme parks and adventure lands. So, I found a jeweler, and worked with them to design real life versions of my Dragonstones.
DD: What color is your real-life Dragonstone?
MY: My personal stone is clear, but you’ll have to read the book to see what that means my magic is!
DD: “Show, don’t tell” is a basic principle of writing. How do you show?
MY: When I’m writing, it’s like playing a movie in my head. I write what I see. Instead of writing “He was angry,” I will describe his face turning red, the muscles in his jaw clenching, and so on. When I’m writing, I’m picturing something like Lord of the Rings, Harry Potty or Avatar.
KD: Completely agreed! It’s like a movie in my head and I’m describing what I see.
DD: Do your previous careers influence your writing?
MY: My training as a speech pathologist has definitely helped me with my writing. I have certifications in specialties dealing with imagination techniques which I teach to my patients on how to imagine something, and then describe it.
KD: I learned to read people as I worked in previous jobs. I learned to pay special attention to body language, and as I write my characters, I draw on that to create my characters, and how they’ll react to different situations.
DD: Are there any groups or causes you’d like to mention?
LD: Yes! I am contributing to an anthology of YA writers called “Dear Bully.” It is a collection of non-fiction stories, with the contributors writing about their experiences with bullies as kids. The authors are all donating their pieces, and part of the proceeds will go to benefit the STAMP Out Bullying program.
DD: Thank you all for your time! Have a wonderful rest of your con!