Chris is new to the world of independent publishing, but has a very interesting writing background in fanfiction. Welcome!
Tell us about your latest book, SIkkiyn.
My book is a science fiction novel liberally sprinkled with romance. Or it could be a romance novel grounded in hard science fiction. It depends upon your point of view. Its title is Sikkiyn, which is both the Arabic word for knife and the name of a group of mercenary warriors to which two of my main characters belong.
When will it be released?
Sikkiyn will be released in Kindle format on November 26th, 2014 by Solstice Publishing and will be available in paperback from Amazon.com and Barnesandnoble.com by January 26th of 2015.
Can you give us a teaser?
Captain Johan Larsen is in serious financial trouble. His ship, the Valkyrie, is over forty years old and falling apart. In a desperate ploy to get the funds he needs, he agrees to a high risk but lucrative transport contract. His cargo: an accused assassin en route to trial, to be delivered to the other side of Confederate space, cash on delivery. His money problems will be over once he delivers her alive to her destination, provided the people who are trying very hard to kill them en route don’t succeed, and he can somehow keep his passenger from murdering him on the way. And then there’s the fact that he’s stupid enough to be falling in love with her. Okay, so maybe his most serious trouble isn’t financial.
What other books/stories have you written?
Sikkiyn is my first professionally published work, although I did cut my eyeteeth on Star Trek fanfiction. You can find me on fanfiction.net under the nom de plume 2Distracted if you are so inclined.
Do you write in a particular genre or genres?
I write romantic science fiction, if that can be considered a genre. What I’ve managed to produce thus far has a lot more scifi than the average romance novel and a good deal more romance than usual science fiction, plus it has a happy ending (mostly, anyway), which is somewhat unusual for modern science fiction. So you can call it whichever one you want, I suppose.
What grabs you about this genre/these genres?
I’ve spent my entire life reading science fiction novels and romance novels and loving them both. I enjoy science fiction with believable relationships and romance in wildly imaginative alien settings, and it always bugs me when the science is faulty or the characters are poorly drawn. Occasionally I find a book that does both so well that it makes me wish I could write something so wonderful myself. I suppose my novel and the sequel that I’m currently working on are my attempts to give someone else the same experience.
What do you think are the biggest challenges for the type of writing you do?
Honestly, my biggest challenge has been finding the time to write. When you’re a physician your day job pretty much eclipses any attempts at secondary pursuits. Although I have learned in recent years to budget my time and prioritize so that I can get my writing done a bit faster than previously, when I get the idea for a great scene it’s very difficult to postpone writing it down until I have the time to sit down and do it.
What inspires you?
The great scifi authors who have successfully blended real romantic relationships into their science fiction without dumbing it down always inspire me. I’m talking about authors like C.J. Cherryh, Anne McCaffrey, Diana Gabaldon, Lois McMaster Bujold, Jacqueline Lichtenberg, and many others.
What do you think is the hardest thing about being published?
The hardest thing for me was the wait. I ended up giving up on the major publisher I initially submitted to. It was 6 months until I was told I’d made it out of the slush pile. I expected then to find out relatively quickly whether they were interested, but I waited over a year after that without any word. Barely a week after I decided to pull my manuscript from them and submit elsewhere to a smaller publisher, I received a contract.
Are there things you know now that you wish you’d known about earlier in this journey?
I wish I had known that there was a middle ground between self-publishing, which I really don’t have time to do with my current day job, and a major publisher. I’ve given up the option of hardback publication and major bookstore shelf space with my choice of publisher, but so far it seems to me that a smaller publishing house which does e-books and on-demand paperbacks is a good fit for me. I suppose I’ll know for certain very soon.
What advice would you give aspiring writers?
Write every day. Keep writing and find some friends who are honest enough to complain when it’s bad and enthusiastic enough to rave when it’s good. Then, when you’re satisfied with it, let a friend who’s a grammar Nazi dissect it to pieces. Find other writers to give honest criticism and re-write until it reads like a published novel to your eyes (and also to the eyes of several well-educated beta readers). Only then should you research your publishing options.
How did you get started writing?
A friend of mine introduced me to the world of fanfiction about a decade ago. I’ve always read for pleasure and wanted to be a writer, but I thought it was too late for that. I’d made my choice when I chose to go to medical school. When I read the fanfiction stories, though, I thought, “I can do that.” So I did for about five years. Finally I got tired of playing in someone else’s sandbox, and I decided to tell my own story. It was very hard to stop writing fanfiction. The immediate online feedback is like crack. It’s terribly addicting.
Anything else you’d like to tell our readers?
I’m about a quarter of the way done with the sequel, called Farspeaker. It’s coming, I promise!
How can readers contact you?
My Facebook author page at https://www.facebook.com/sikkiyn is the best way. I’m on every day for at least an hour or so, and I love to chat online.
Thank you, Chris, and we wish you the best of luck!