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Thursday, September 28, 2017
We have another wonderful author interview for you! Here is our session with the lovely Valerie J Mikles! Enjoy!
1) Why did you decide to start writing?
It wasn’t a decision. Writing has always been a natural outpouring of who I am. When I was young, during the commercial breaks of TV shows, I would write myself into the story. When I was learning to spell in the 2nd grade, and we had to use each word in a sentence, I’d weave those sentences together into a story. I wrote my first book in the 3rd grade. It was called ‘Pterodactyls All Over.’ In the 4th grade, I started my first full-length novel. I tried keeping a diary once—it was fiction. Being a writer has always been in my life plan.
I started writing the New Dawn Series specifically for publication. I developed the characters in different short stories, then brought them together to see how they reacted to the universe I created for them. I knew I wanted to write a series, because I always loved series books growing up. I also knew that finding the write ‘cast’ was essential. When I finished writing the first book, I tried searching for an agent with limited success. I went on to write the next in the series. I was going through severe suicidal depression, and I wanted my legacy to be a completed series, not a single published book, and so I prioritized writing over publishing. Once I had a complete 9-book arc, I started down the road to publishing.
2) Do you think authors can succeed in multiple genres or should they stick with a single genre?
It depends on the person, and is limited only by their imagination, desire, and time. Every author must be a writer first, and as writers, we must continue to challenge ourselves creatively in order to keep our work vibrant. If we become truly passionate about a story, and we think the world needs to hear it, we will find a platform.
3) What do you feel is the biggest reward to you with writing?
Being able to touch a life, change a perspective, or give hope to a reader. Sometimes that reader who needs a touch of hope is me.
4) Who are some of your favorite authors & why?
Kathy Reichs – I like murder mysteries, and she writes from the perspective of an academic. She gets aspects of academia right that others don’t, because she’s actually a professor. Also, she has the capacity to scare the crap out of me.
Robin Cook – Always consistently engaging in his medical thrillers. I love having a large body of work of consistently good quality.
Michael Crichton – I do enjoy the science/thriller aspect, but also I’ve seen his writing improve from one book to the next, reminding me that even when you’re really good, you can always get better.
Douglas Adams – I like the way he narrates a story. He’s a little cynical in Hitchhiker’s Guide, but less so in Long Dark Teatime of the Soul, I think. The latter is my favorite book. It starts in an airport, and I used to read it whenever I was in an airport.
5) What are the biggest hurdles to overcome as an author?
Engaging an audience of humans when I sometimes don’t feel human myself. As an aromantic/asexual, I feel like there’s this giant gap in my understanding of “the human experience.” I learn about romantic and sexual attraction by reading, not by experience. I sometimes describe it as a color-blind person describing colors. If you show two shirts to a colorblind person and ask which they like better, they might choose based on the style of the cut or the feel of the fabric on their skin, but not the color. Similarly, if you show me pictures of two men, I can tell you which is the more aesthetically attractive (maybe), and I could ask a few questions about their interests/personalities to say who I’d rather spend an evening with. But I don’t have that instant gut reaction of who I’m more sexually attracted to. It has been interesting finding the right balance of sexual interest and sexual tension for my characters when I have no direct experience. In Book 3: Trade Circle, I actually wrote an asexual character going through the frustration of this kind of self-discovery.
6) Is there any advice that you can offer for new writers?
Don’t major in writing. Unless you plan to write for others for a living, you don’t need to. I majored in physics (because it was the next easiest thing to me), and the life experience I’ve gotten from that has been incredible. It has informed my writing far more than a writing degree could have. (Although, to be fair, I did take a lot of writing seminars in college, too.)
7) Tell us a few random personal things about yourself personal & professional!
- I have a PhD in astrophysics. I used to be a black hole hunter. From my brief time in the field, I have 17 refereed journal publications, and am first author on seven.
- I am currently a NOAA Contractor, working on the Joint Polar Satellite System. My next satellite launches November 10, 2017 (a week after the launch of Book 2)!