Friday, 22 January 2016

Taming Shadows by Fiona Skye

Fiona Skye is a fantasy author, currently living in the deserts of Southern Arizona. She shares a home with her husband, two kids, three cats, two rats, a betta fish, and a Border Collie.

Fiona’s passion for story telling began early in life. She’s loved playing make-believe and inventing elaborate fantasy worlds for as long as she can remember. At age twelve, she wrote her first short story, which was based on a song by a 1980s hair band. After giving it to her English teacher for editing and rewrites, she learned to love the entire writing process, and has dedicated her life since then to writing, only to be occasionally distracted by her insatiable love of yarn and crochet, and the dogged pursuit of the perfect plate of cheese enchiladas.

She counts Diana Gabaldon and Jim Butcher as her favorite authors and biggest influences. Joining these two on the list of people she would wait in queue for a week to have a coffee with are Neil Peart, Kevin Hearne, and Brandon Sanderson.

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About the Book

Four years ago, crime beat reporter Riley O’Rourke changed the world. To be fair, it wasn’t entirely her fault.

Her mentor, a 3,000-year-old vampire, destroyed Tucson police headquarters during a fight with a sorcerer. Footage of the fight went viral on the internet, and the existence of Preternaturals—vampires, witches, and other were-animals like Riley—was revealed. Humans went a little crazy. The Cats—and Wolves—were out of the bag, and only an act of Congress stopped the chaos.

But not all the Preternaturals are happy with this new world order, however. The Queen of the Winter Faeries worries that exposing her hidden world will destroy it, and sends the nastiest storybook characters imaginable to kill Riley before she can out the Fair Folk, too.

The Summer Queen, Winter’s arch-rival, promises to protect Riley if she does her a teeny-weeny favor: break into Winter’s castle, sneak past creatures straight out of Riley’s nightmares, steal a magical mirror, and return it to Summer. All without Winter noticing.

Riley agrees to the favor—what choice does she have? But dealing with the Fae is always a double-edged sword, and the Summer Queen neglected to explain that if Riley successfully pulls off this heist, the entire world might end up on the edge of destruction.

Get it today on Amazon and Audible!

Keep reading for an interview with Fiona:

Why did you decide to be a writer?

When I was little, I spent a lot of time making up stories and different worlds for my friends and I to play in. One day, we'd be dogs lost in the forest and have to figure out how to survive. The next, we'd be characters from the movie Ladyhawke. We always had so much fun.

Then when I was about twelve or thirteen, I heard a song by a 1980s hair band that sparked something inside me. I sat down and wrote a short story based on the song, and then gave it to my writing teacher. She edited it and helped me polish it. When it was finished and I read it to my father, he was impressed by it and that got me hooked on writing.

Do you have a "day job"? If so, what do you do?

I'm a freelance fiction editor. I specialize in sci-fi, fantasy, and other genres of speculative fiction.

What inspires you to write?

I find inspiration just about everywhere--other books, TV shows, films, songs, bits of conversations I overhear. I have so many ideas for future books that I'll probably still be writing on my deathbed.

What authors/books have most influenced you?

Jim Butcher and Diana Gabaldon.

The Dresden Files seem like light fare, something to read on the beach during summer, but if you really drill down, you quickly realize that these are incredibly complex and intricately plotted books. Things that Butcher hinted at in the first or second book come back in the twelfth or thirteenth and they're now BIG DEALS. I'm fascinated by Butcher's ability to weave plots.

The Outlander series is just perfect. Gabaldon has an amazing talent at creating characters and sucking the reader into history and making it real, breathing, history. And of course, her romance and intimate scenes are beautifully written.

What are your goals as an author? Where do you see yourself in five years?
I'd like to have two, maybe three, series published. The Revelations Trilogy is one book away from being finished. I'm currently working on a portal fantasy that I'd like to spin into a trilogy, and I have an idea for a five-book saga about a particular family and how they help the world recover from a nuclear war.

Does your family support you in your writing, or are you on your own?

My husband and children are very supportive. They give me the time and space I need, and they tell everyone they know about my books.

What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?

I have a particular friend who is writing fan-fiction about two of my characters. This same friend has come up with the characters' ship name, and she bugs me about when the next book is coming.

Have you ever had a particularly harsh critique? How did you handle it?

I haven't really had any. I mean, I've received two- and three-star reviews, but they weren't particularly harsh. Mostly they helped me focus on things that I need to fix in my writing.

What do you enjoy doing aside from writing?

I'm a crocheter. I love making stuff for other people and seeing their happiness when they receive it.

If you were stranded on a deserted island, and you could only have five books with you, what would they be?

1. Outlander, by Diana Gabaldon
2. Summer Knight, by Jim Butcher
3. The Dragonbone Chair, by Tad Williams
4. The Princess Bride, by William Goldman
5. Catering To Nobody, by Diane Mott Davidson

How many books do you have on your "to read" list? What are some of them?

There are about 40 to-be-read books on my Goodreads account, plus another 20 or so on my Kindle. Some of them are Brandon Sanderson's The Way of Kings, RA Salvatore's Cleric Quintet, and Steven Erikson's Malazan Book of the Fallen series.

What made you decide to self-publish?

I racked up 26 rejections for a very early book and it really got me down. I stopped writing for a while. Then in 2012, I finished the first book in my Revelations Trilogy and knew I didn't want to suffer through more rejections, so I researched self-publishing. The idea that I could control everything about my book was very appealing so I took the plunge and did it. I've never looked back.

What is your writing process?

It usually starts with a character who has a problem. Then I play a game of what if and spin out a more cohesive plot. After that, it's a matter of research and writing.

Are you a pantser or outliner?

I think I'm a little bit of both. I have a vague outline in mind when I sit down to write, but mostly I just write and follow my characters.

How long does it take you to write a book?

The longest it's taken me to write was 22 months. The fastest was four months.

Do you write about real life experiences, or does everything come from your imagination?

Sometimes I use anecdotes from other people's lives, but mostly everything comes from my imagination.

Have you ever wanted to put one of your characters together with a character from one of your favorite novels? What characters would you choose and how would their meeting go?

I've often wondered about how Harry Dresden and the main character of my Revelations trilogy, Riley, would get along. I think they'd either be instant best friends or they'd hate each other and constantly try to kill each other.

What are you working on now?

I'm writing a portal fantasy about a woman who wakes up in a completely different world, meets a prince who didn't want to become king, and helps him save his kingdom from invaders.

What was the hardest part about writing your latest book?

The portal fantasy trope is a big cliche now, and I'm struggling to keep it fresh and make my book stand out from others with the same underlying plot.

How do you market/promote your work? Have you found something that works really well for you?

Word of mouth has been a godsend. It's really the only thing so far that's helped. Giveaways, book blog reviews, Facebook and Twitter have all driven traffic to my books, but I'm not sure how many people have ever actually bought one. A real person telling their friends to buy my book, though, has worked wonders.

Do you have any advice for other authors?

Before you can become published, you have to actually write the book. Sit down and write it. Don't edit as you go, just take the time to get the first draft out of your head, imperfections and all. You'll do numerous rounds of revisions and editing, but you can't do that until you've written the first draft.

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