Blogs by L.T. Suzuki
M. Pax Interview
6/9/2012 9:17:27 PM
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Mary Pax discusses her works in science fiction and the writing life!
LTS: Iím always in search of fabulous writing talent to share with my readers and today Iíd like to introduce you to sci-fi author, Mary Pax. Iíd like to begin by having you share a little information about yourself with our readers, Mary. What do you enjoy doing when you are not writing?
MP: I enjoy exploring Oregon with the Husband Unit, I work as a star guide at Pine Mountain Observatory in the summers, and have my own telescope. I hang with my writer pals, play with the cats, read and watch TV. I like museums a lot, too.
LTS: Has writing stories always been a part of your life and becoming a published author a life long dream?
MP: Yes. I invented stories from a young age. Imagining was my favorite thing to do. Iíve written fiction off and on since high school. I used to write soap operas for my friends in high school. I think somebody kept those ... :-O
LTS: You have published a number of successful and popular novellas. Can you share with our readers some details about your first published novella Semper Audacia and what inspired this story?
MP: I lived in NYC right after college, and often met a friend on Saturday nights in the Village. I shared with her a fledgling novel way back then. Very melodramatic about being alone. A lot about being alone. She has teased me about it ever since. So, I told her I was going to rewrite ďAloneĒ in space. And I did. Semper Audacia was dedicated to her.
LTS: With so many books to choose from, letís discuss your latest release The Backworlds. What was the inspiration behind this novel and can you tell us a little bit about your protagonist, Craze?
MP: I was a huge Firefly fan, and still miss it. It was a brilliant piece of space opera. I drew elements out of that television show to create Backworlds. Mostly the characters. I loved how they were criminals and had morals at the same time. Craze is imperfect, a bit mercenary in his desire for money and vengeance on his father. He tries to be crusty, but often fails, showing his gooey interior. He thinks he wants the money and revenge more than anything, but his need to belong somewhere and with a group of folks he can trust often overshadows those other goals. Despite what he says he wants, he usually ends up doing the right thing. There will be times when he doesnít though.
LTS: Without giving away too much, can you reveal whatís in store for the readers when they crack open The Backworlds?
MP: It begins with Crazeís father turning on him and casting him off the planet. With no money or friends, Craze has to find a new home and make a new life. He meets some good people and some not so good, and ends up on an adventure out to the Edge, the outermost planets in the Backworld system.
LTS: The road to publication is difficult at the best of times. What made you decide to self-publish your works and would you recommend this mode of publication to others?
MP: I bumped into Lindsay Buroker over a year ago. Prior to that, itís not something I ever considered. She encouraged me and enlightened me, got me thinking of the business aspects more than the esoteric ones. I started by publishing the free reads I had up on my website. Despite all the work and effort required, I decided it was something I really liked doing.
I would absolutely recommend it. You must spend the money on professional editing though. Must. And a writer must be ambitious, self-disciplined, tenacious, and patient. An audience is rarely built over night.
LTS: What is the best and the worst part of becoming an indie author?
MP: The best is complete control. The worst is, itís hard to be seen and heard. An indie really has to fight for that. Thatís where tenacity comes in handy. And a marketing plan. Series work best. And the more a writer gets out there, the better they do. Those seem to be the two main ingredients. I wish I could write faster.
LTS: What is the most important lesson youíve learned on the road to publication?
MP: Iíd be nowhere without my friends and the network I built up prior to publishing. I am deeply indebted for all the help my awesome and talented friends have given me.
LTS: Still on the subject of writing styles, are you a plotter or pantser? Our readers would like to know if you tend to plot out your story line in great detail or if your writing is more organic with the characters and events unfolding as you write.
MP: I plot to an extent. A lot of it remains in my head and doesnít get written down. I must know how I plan to end the story, what the goal and focus are, and the main plot points I want to hit along the way. I rarely plan how Iím going to get between the plot points though. I need to write to be inspired to figure that out. I plan the characters out more than I used to, writing bios for them and what their life was before the novel opens. I do all planning and organizing in journals. I keep a journal for each project.
LTS: Some authors meditate, others need to fuel up on coffee or listen to music. Do you have any rituals, ones that can be shared with the readers, that you must do before you hunker down for a writing session?
MP: No. I get up and go at it. Morning is my golden time. I gave up caffeine last year.
LTS: At one time or another, most writers hit the wall and their work stalls because of the dreaded writerís block. What do you do to get around or over this mental wall to resume writing?
MP: I donít panic about it any more. Inspiration will come. Something will pop up to unstall it. Usually, I just keep writing one scene at a time, one paragraph at a time. These days I can switch projects. Workouts help. Showers. The long lonely drive back and forth to the observatory. Conversations with my friends and family ... the idea will come from somewhere to pop the project back into gear. I think not getting too worked up over it helps.
LTS: Who is your favourite author and how has he/she inspired you to write or influenced your writing style or choice of genre?
MP: Just one? Thatís tough. One of the biggest influences on how I write, oddly, is Thomas Hardy. He taught me atmosphere and characterization ó his settings always perfectly accented what went on with his main character. Heís very poetic, too, which I like. I read all of his novels and have read a lot of classic literature.
A friend recently told me she read a Ray Bradbury book and thought I channeled him a lot, that now she understands everything I write. Flattering. If I do, itís not consciously done. Iíve read all of his books, too, but consider Arthur C. Clarke more of an influence.
LTS: What are you reading now, and how did this particular book make it onto your to-read list?
MP: My reading is terribly slow lately as Iíve been pressed for time to get my work done. Iím reading Opening by Stephen Tremp, Immortal Desires by Laura Eno, and CassaFire by Alex J. Cavanaugh on the Nook. I read a chapter in each when I get a chance to unwind. Theyíre all friends, and great writers. So, itís a pleasure to read their work.
LTS: What do you foresee in your future over the next five years and do you hope to branch out from sci-fi into other genres? Can your fans expect a sequel to The Backworlds in the near future?
MP: The sequel to The Backworlds will be released at end of July. Iím about done with the final edits and will begin formatting shortly. It will be released in paperback as well as ebook. In 2013, the third Backworlds book will come out, Boomtown Craze, and the first in a series of novellas telling stories of the Foreworlds. Those shorter works will come out between the Backworlds novels. This series has no planned end. I envisioned it as a cross between space opera and the Twilight Zone.
This fall, Iím starting a second series, the Hetty Locklear series. That I will be marketing under general fiction as itís aimed at women more than the sci-fi audience. Itís a combination of modernized Jane Austen, contemporary sci-fi, and fantasy. Iíve planned four books for this one. When itís over, I hope to have something in the same vein to take its place.
I like weird stories, so I may go more that way and farther into literary with that sort of thing in the future. Probably. I have more space opera, paranormal, fantasy, gothic, and steam punk on the back burner.
LTS: Thank you so much for taking the time to discuss your works and to share in your writing experiences, Mary! Iíll catch you on Twitter.
For more information about Mary Pax and her stories, check out: www.mpaxauthor.com
Follow Mary on Twitter: .mpax1
Where to buy the book:
Smashwords - http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/150519
Barnes & Noble - http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-backworlds-m-pax/1110498771?ean=2940033159109
Amazon Ė http://www.amazon.com/dp/B007Y6LHAA
AmazonUK - https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B007Y6LHAA
For Kobo, iTunes, and other outlets: http://mpaxauthor.com/the-backworlds-series/backworlds-the/
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