Monday, 9 September 2013

Guest visit from top author Rosalie Skinner


Today I'm thrilled to have best-selling science fiction/fantasy author Rosalie Skinner on the blog. Her popular series, Chronicles of Caleath, is taking a new turn. I caught up with her recently ...

Tell us more about your new seafaring series. What inspired you to look to the oceans?
My love of the ocean began during my childhood when I spent weekends at the beach or watching the ocean.When each of my children turned sixteen they were able to take a ten day trip on the Australian training ship, the Young Endeavour. 

The experiences changed their lives, for the better and began my fascination with today’s tall ships.

Living in a harbour town I have had the chance to take a day trip on a tall ship, spend many days aboard sailing vessels whale watching and even explore the replica of the Barque Endeavour.

My son has taken whale watching trips for many years now and it is exhilarating and inspiring to meet these gentle giants ‘up close and personal’. 

The humpbacks migrate along our coast and when they choose to interact it is humbling and incredible.

He also dives with sharks and has shown me another dimension to these amazing creatures. They are not all man-eating savage beasts. The grey nurse shark poses no threat to divers. They accept the divers’ company and get on with their life. Mind you, it is not their feeding time, but they are not aggressive in any way.

Of course I grew up reading sea faring novels, so it seemed natural to try my hand at writing one.


Did you have to do much research? If so, how do you go about it – and does it take over at times?
I love research. As I said, exploring the Barque Endeavour was brilliant. When it stayed in our harbour the council asked for volunteers to be guides. So there was an opportunity to collect a vast amount of research material. 
Gathering information means listening to those who have ‘been there and done that’. I am lucky to have access to people who live and work on the ocean. It helps to have them double check my story for accuracy. 

Research is part of the fun of writing. Even though I write fantasy and science fiction, anything happening in the story needs to be believable and familiar enough for the reader to be comfortable. There is a need to understand and have access to concrete facts before building a fantasy/science fiction world.It is difficult not to want to include in the story everything you learn from research. Knowing how much to share is vital. Giving enough information without being side-tracked from the plot or getting bogged down in fact, is part of the juggling act an author needs to master.I hope I have the managed to keep things on an even keel.

How much planning do you do, especially given that you’re into writing series?
I am not much of a planner. For each story and the overall journey I know where my characters begin, their backgrounds, and what they need to learn and discover to achieve their ultimate goal. During the writing process it often happens that the characters’ reactions guide the story. There are times their responses send the plot on new and interesting twists. As long as they all push toward the growth of the characters and are vital to the plot I let them stay. At least for the first draft. During rewrites and the editing process I am more likely to plan things and cull anything unnecessary.

You generously support many other writers on your blog. Do you get a buzz out of this?
Yes, I get a buzz out of seeing other authors achieve their dreams, share their stories and build their online presence. Being able to help other authors is rewarding. In the world of publishing and ebooks today every writer needs a place to showcase their work, I am happy to offer my blog as a venue. Blogging is fun, but like most activities, it is more fun to do in company than alone. 


The covers for the Chronicles of Caleath are fantastic and very distinctive. How did they come about?
Long story. I have previously self published and was signed up with another publisher before Museitup. During this process I became aware of the need for good quality cover images. With a concept in mind and an idea of what I needed I visited a mediaeval faire. With the help of a fellow writing group member I met Matt. He agreed to be the model for my covers. Enlisting the aid of a photographer and an art director we spent a weekend doing several photo shoots. Matt and the art director had both read the first four books in the Chronicles and with their creative talent and ideas the photographer created a wonderful portfolio. I am forever grateful to Rachel Lewis Photography , Matt, and Lisa for the magic they worked that weekend. With suitable images the Museitup Cover artist continued the magic and created the eight covers.

I see you went to a writing festival recently – and vowed to read more. So, what’s your favourite genre to read?
It is easier to mention what genres I don’t read. I tend to shy away from romance, erotica, and horror. Otherwise I read pretty much anything if it is well written.  Crime, mystery, thrillers, fantasy and science fiction, (of course) historical novels, human interest, travel, biographies, you name it I am keen to read it.

What do you look for in a book?
Off the shelves? A good cover. After that a blurb needs to catch my attention. When reading I am becoming more particular about good writing. Strong characters and good progression through the plot arc are important.

What makes you abandon a book, if anything?
Lots of things will make me put a book down now. Once upon a time I would read from cover to cover and devour everything in my path. Now I am a picky reader. Poor editing, contrived plots, lazy writing and superfluous prose put me off.

What did you do when you got your first book deal? (I went bonkers, I must admit.)
The thrill of being signed up with a publisher does get the heart beating faster and the dreams tumbling over themselves. Bonkers sounds about right. It certainly makes for a good celebration. I remember being on a high for days.

In addition to writing, you edit. Is this rewarding – or something of a slog?
Good question. Rewarding. Without a doubt. One reward is helping polish a great story. With any job you are doing to the best of your ability, there are times when it becomes a slog. Often the grey matter is tested, when trying to fine-tune well-presented manuscripts. The authors I have had the privilege of working with, yourself included, make each manuscript an exciting challenge. I learn so much from working with talented writers while in the process of editing. There is always something new to learn or share.


Did you ever imagine you’d have so many books out and more to come? 
That’s easy. No. It has been an incredible experience to find a publisher who believed in the Chronicles as a complete series.

Any advice for wannabe writers?
Write for the love of writing. Join a critique group and never give up honing your skills as a writer. Do whatever it takes to keep your Muse alive and inspired. Even when not working on a ‘Work In Progress’ write when and wherever you can. It all helps to keep the creative juices flowing. Above all, enjoy what you are doing. 

Great questions, Pam. Thanks for having me on your lovely blog. I have had a wonderful time!

Thanks, Rosalie. It's been a pleasure. It doesn't seem that long ago we worked on Ice Trekker, does it? I really appreciated your tactful advice, especially the fact that you also found the time to highlight elements that you liked - and explained why! It was such a useful experience.

I can't wait to see the new books. I'm sure they'll be a rip-roaring success.

Links:
Find out more about Rosalie and her books on her website and blog. Look out Adrift: In Search of Memory and Adrift: The Fragile Sun.
 

Interview by Pamela Kelt

13 comments:

  1. Great interview, ladies!

    Rosalie, I love that you were able to get Matt to do your covers. They are fantastic!

    Best of luck to you!!!

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  2. Fascinating interview, Pam. Since I first met Rosalie in her alter ego (content editor) for my first book with MIU, I found your conversation especially interesting. Love your comment about "bonkers," Rosalie. Used to use that word often, but not so much any more. However, it's so appropriate for the email/call when you first sell!
    While I don't read much fantasy, your covers are very enticing.
    And I agree with you, Pam, Rosalie's smiley faces on the sides sure brought smiles to my face. Loved the chat, ladies.

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  3. Thanks, Marsha. Glad you could drop by and share your thoughts. Editors aren't so scary, are they?

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  4. Hi Mary,
    Matt is a godsend. I can't visualise the books without him on the covers.
    Marsha,
    Just to think you have a whole new genre waiting for your reading pleasure. :)
    As an editor, working with talented writers makes the process a pleasure.
    Pam, talking about research... I realise now the Bark Endeavour doesn't get the fancy spelling. My bad. Had to go back and re read the facts.
    "If the ship didn't fit any category and its captain's rank was lieutenant, this ship was also classified a bark." How disappointing for such a historic vessel. :(
    Thanks again for having me as a guest. Your blog is stunning.

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    1. The book cover is an inspiration. Love all the Chronicles covers, too. Most distinctive. The blog, with that lovely sword, is perfect, too.

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  5. Very interesting interview, Pam and Rosalie. I can't wait for Adrift to be released. I was hoping I'd have it on my Kindle by now.I hope that day comes soon. Good Luck

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  6. Hi Wendy,
    I hope you find Adrift worth the wait. :)

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    1. Hi, Wendy. Thanks for joining us on board, as it were. I think there are quite a few folk keenly awaiting the next instalment.

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  7. Such an interesting interview! I agree that research is fascinating, which is a really good thing since my co-author abhors it!

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  8. Hi Heather,
    They don't know what they are missing! I guess it takes all types. Still, means you get to absorb all the information.
    Thanks for dropping in. :)

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  9. Apart from writing, research is my favourite thing. You should see my collection of bookmarks!

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  10. Pam, This weekend we have had the thrill of climbing above and below deck of a 15 Century replica of a Caravel. Amazing woodwork. Great research. Now to add the experience to my novel before edits begin. There are photos on my blog.
    I think of Ice Trekker as well as the vessels in my novel. I think the Notorious would fit any fantasy ship, pirate or not!

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  11. I've just paid a visit. Wow. Bowled over. Wonderful pictures. If I hadn't written a seafaring tale, I'd be itching to start right now..

    Thanks for sharing these.

    Good luck with your new titles.

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