Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Interview with R. L. King, ALASTAIR STONE CHRONICLES


1. Can you give us a brief overview of your latest book? Is it part of a series?
My latest book is The Forgotten, the second book in my urban fantasy series, The Alastair Stone Chronicles. Stone was mostly on his own in the previous book, Stone and a Hard Place, but in this one, during the course of some investigations he’s doing into some bizarre and potentially supernaturally-based murders, he meets Jason, a young man who’s searching for his missing sister. Because the two find that they’re tracking the same leads for completely different reasons, and that what they’re looking for is a lot bigger than either of them thought, they join forces. I think the two play well off each other: Stone is sarcastic, mercurial, and driven, while Jason is more down-to-earth, pragmatic, and straightforward.

2. Do you have a favorite character?
Dr. Alastair Stone is my favorite character. He’s a blast to write, because he constantly keeps me on my toes to keep up with him. He’s bright as hell when dealing with things he’s familiar with (like magic), but sometimes a little out of it when it comes to the more mundane aspects of life. Ever since I was a kid I found myself drawn to smart, sarcastic (and yeah, easy on the eyes!) British guys, so Stone is my take on the type. This current book is fun because he tends to overpower people around him with the force of his personality, but Jason, who’s a mundane (non-magical person), proves early on that he won’t stand for his bull@#$%. Stone respects that, and they end up getting along surprisingly well.

3. What factors influenced your decision to self-publish your book(s)?
Two reasons: impatience, and the fact that I’m a control freak. Regarding impatience: I’m reasonably sure that if I plugged away at it long enough, I could probably convince somebody to publish something I’ve written (I’ve already got a novel published in the Shadowrun roleplaying game line), but I don’t have the patience to go through the process of submissions, rejections, trying to find an agent, waiting for the publisher to get around to publishing the book, etc. Maybe if I were younger I would, but at this point in my life I think I’ve learned enough that I can put out a quality self-published product on my own schedule. As far as being a control freak: I like to set my own schedules, I know what I want on my covers, I like to do my own paperback designs, and all that sort of thing. I wouldn’t like leaving those decisions up to someone else. I’ve heard too many horror stories from other authors about the horrible covers they’ve been stuck with. Also, I like keeping my rights and setting my own prices.

4. If you used a graphic designer/publisher’s designer, how involved were you during the creative process for your cover?
I used a wonderful graphic design company called Streetlight Graphics, and I’ve had a lot of input into my covers. Generally, I give Streetlight an idea of what I’m looking for, show them a few covers of other books that I like, and tell them the basic color scheme I want. They produce something (which so far in almost every case has been really close to what I had in mind) and then we tweak things back and forth a few times until it’s right. Designing covers is one of my favorite parts of self-publishing, but I know enough to know that I’m not good enough with image-editing software to make my dreams a reality on my own. Working with a pro has been one of the best decisions I’ve made.

5. Do you outline your story or just go where your muse takes you?
A little of both. I need to have at least a vague idea of the beginning, the middle, and the end of the story before I can start. Usually what I do is write a 30,000-foot outline of the main story arc, then create a more detailed outline of the first few chapters. That gives my mind room to chew on the story in the background for a while, and usually by the time I’ve exhausted my detailed outline, I’ve got some more cool ideas for what will happen next. I find that if I try to outline the whole thing ahead of time, it doesn’t work. I just don’t get the ideas until I start writing and see what’s happening. At that point, I can start thinking, “Okay, this happened. What could possibly follow from that? And what would cause the most trouble for my characters?” (Insert Evil Author Cackle™ here.)

6. Did you hire an editor to review your manuscript before publishing?
I did. His name is John Helfers, and I’m really lucky that he finds time in his schedule for me, since he’s very busy with all sorts of projects. He edits the Shadowrun novel line as well as having worked on anthologies and other projects with big names like Charlaine Harris and Mercedes Lackey. He’s even been nominated for a Hugo as an editor! He’s a great guy and really easy to work with.

7. What have you’ve learned during your self-publishing journey?
Oh, wow, I’ve learned a lot of things, and I’m sure I have a lot more to learn. I guess the big ones are that if you want to produce a professional product, you have to hire professionals to help you, and that you have to promote your work, because nobody else is going to do it for you (unless you pay them to, of course).

I’ve also learned a lot about writing in general from attending various classes and seminars, talking to other writers, and incorporating my editor’s comments into my manuscripts. I was just doing a pre-edit pass on one of my novels the other day (sort of like cleaning the house before the maid comes!) and I found a whole lot of little stylistic errors that I wouldn’t have noticed a couple of years ago.

And finally, I’ve learned that there are a whole lot of awesome people out there writing really good indie books, and that the indie author community is very supportive. It’s great to find other authors I like and help promote their books, and see them helping to promote mine. I think it’s really important for indie authors to support each other, since we don’t have the backing of a publisher to help us get the word out.

8. What kinds of marketing [twitter, facebook, blog, forums] are you involved with for promoting your book(s)?
I have a Facebook page for the series (facebook.com/AlastairStoneChronicles), a blog (rlkingwriting.com), and a website for my publishing company (magespacepress.com). I have also started using Twitter in the past few months. I never liked Twitter before (mostly because I didn’t really understand it) but now I’m finding it to be a lot of fun. It’s also a great place to meet other indie authors.

9. What advice would you give a new author just entering into the self-publishing arena?
My number-one bit of advice is to make sure you’re producing a quality product. Be realistic about your abilities—make sure you produce the best writing you can, and then find beta readers who aren’t afraid to be honest with you, and a good editor who will help you make your story even better. Everybody needs an editor—from the newest self-published author to Stephen King and J. K. Rowling. Your book will sell better, and you’ll feel more pride in your work, when you know you’ve put your best foot forward and offered your best work for sale. Also: have fun with it! You might sell a few copies or you might sell thousands, but either way, you’ve done something that most people will never do: you’ve finished a novel! That’s an accomplishment right there.

10. What’s next for you?
I’m preparing the next Stone Chronicles book for publication, hopefully in late September or early October. After that, I’ve got two more books in the series finished, another one as a completed first draft, yet another that I’ve just started, and ideas for about five or six more. So I expect that, if things go according to my fiendish plan, the Stone Chronicles series will be humming along for quite some time. I’m also hoping to get the green light to write another Shadowrun novel—I need to finish the proposal and send it off to the editor soon.

Thanks very much for letting me invade your blog! I had a great time!

BLURB
Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor, powerful mage, and snarky British expat now based in Palo Alto, California, does his best to keep his academic and social lives separate from his increasingly frequent brushes with various malevolent forces from the supernatural side of the street. A little horror, a little humor, but mostly straight-up urban fantasy.


Stone and a Hard Place
==============
Dr. Alastair Stone, Occult Studies professor and powerful mage, has his hands full trying to keep the two sides of his life separate as he trains a new apprentice, deals with a malevolent entity trapped in the basement of a wealthy old woman's massive home, and battles dark mages intent on enslaving it for their own ends.

Debut novel of the Alastair Stone Chronicles.

The Forgotten
=========
Dr. Alastair Stone is back, this time teaming up with Jason Thayer, a young man hunting for his missing sister. Embroiled in a web of odd homeless people, a growing conspiracy, and deadly danger, they soon realize that even if they find Jason's sister, they might not be able to help her.

What do you do when you discover an extradimensional plot that threatens the safety of the entire world, but you can't tell anyone about it because literally anyone on Earth could be part of it?

Book Two of the Alastair Stone Chronicles.

AUTHOR Bio and Links:
R. L. King is an award-winning author and game freelancer for Catalyst Game Labs, publisher of the popular roleplaying game Shadowrun. She has contributed fiction and game material to numerous sourcebooks, as well as one full-length adventure, "On the Run," included as part of the 2012 Origins-Award-winning "Runners' Toolkit."

Her first novel in the Shadowrun universe, Borrowed Time, was published in May 2015.

When not doing her best to make life difficult for her characters, King is a software technical writer for a large Silicon Valley database company. In her spare time (hah!) she enjoys hanging out with her very understanding spouse and her small herd of cats, watching way too much Doctor Who, and attending conventions when she can. She is an Active member of the Horror Writers' Association and the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, and a member of the International Association of Media Tie-in Writers.

Links:
Publisher Website: http://www.magespacepress.com
Twitter: @Dragonwriter11
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/R.-L.-King/e/B0084QBKYC/

Buy link for Stone and a Hard Place (Book 1): amzn.to/1CFdTDi 


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