1. What made you decide to become an independent author?
That feels like a bit of a loaded question! But I’ll answer it as specifically as it was asked. I tried my hand for a long time querying and submitting to agents and publishers…many, many times. I have an extensive collection of rejection letters, and I’ll be the first to say I am absolutely not ashamed of them! It takes a lot of work – research, writing specific query letters, different lengths of synopses and manuscript submissions (almost for every single agent/publisher). I spent two years trying to go the traditional route, and then finally realized just how much energy and focus it actually took.
Many people had asked me at that time why I didn’t just self-publish. I always had that in my back pocket as a last resort, knowing that I would never forgive myself if I didn’t first exhaust all my available resources for traditional publishing. As you can see, traditional publishing resources = exhausted. That was the original reason I became an Indie Author.
However, I will say now with absolute certainty that I prefer being an Indie Author. Not only do I get to keep my hands on the entire process – from typing that first word to getting a book cover and promotion design, to marketing and monitoring – but the best thing that comes along with being an Indie Author is the INDIE AUTHOR COMMUNITY. I have networked my butt off, made friends, learned invaluable things, received invaluable services in trade, and gained far more support just by being myself and using that to promote my work. That’s something I don’t think I could have done had I been picked up by a traditional publisher, and I’m not sure I would ever change it.
2. How does your day-job factor into your writing?
Short answer: in every way possible. By day, I am a self-employed Independent Editor, Chief Editor of a collaborative fiction organization, Editing Director of a fabulously unique Publishing Company, and an Indie Author. By night, I am a self-employed…well, rinse and repeat. Basically, I never stop working, but I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m lucky enough to finally be able to say that I do what I love for a living, and I wake up excited and grateful every day. Granted, there are times when all my “non-Indie Author” jobs take up a lot of time and energy, and I find myself falling behind on the schedules I’ve laid out for myself in writing my own fiction. But I try really hard to schedule a few hours here and there into my week where I turn everything off (except the lights and Microsoft Word) and go to town.
I will say, though, that the relationships I’ve built – within the Indie Author community, through Editing clients (who more often than not turn out to become very good friends), and just by simply saying hello and sharing bits about myself – have led me to the place now where, even if I’m not vigorously tapping away at my own novels, I’m writing a short story for an anthology, or a chapter for a collaborative novel, or some other crazy compilation of frenzied fiction with others. Like I said, my day job fuels my writing, and vice versa.
3. Do you have future projects in mind? Are they related to Daughter of the Drackan, or something new?
Always. I have so many future projects bumping against each other in my head that “future” may just never become “present”. But I try.
The sequel to Daughter of the Drackan, Mother of the Drackan, will be out early 2016. Right now, I’m thinking around February. And that’s already written, so it just needs one more round of revisions (which will make it lucky revision #13), and then it will be here too! I’ve also toyed with the idea of writing a prequel to ‘Daughter of the Drackan’, taking place centuries before and focusing on the very first drackan-human fledgling, but that has yet to grow roots.
I am, however, currently writing a third novel, which is a Dystopian Sci-Fi titled Sleepwater Beat. The best way I can describe this is: 1894 meets X-Men in the very near future United States. So we’ve got iron government control, pharmaceutical and social media conspiracy, human trafficking, human experimentation, guerrilla warfare, black market deals, and all that fun stuff. The X-Men part of it comes into play with the characters’ “powers”. Some people have developed an ability to illicit physical and emotional responses from anyone within listening distance…just by using certain types of words, specific to each unique “gift”. Needless to say, this is a very big project – XXL – with a lot to say, and I find myself having to sit it down in the discipline corner and give it a talking to about respecting its maker and listening to what I say…to make it easier for both of us. If ‘Sleepwater Beat’ cooperates…it should be out by April or May next year.
4. What about the writing community as a whole have you found most inspiring? What about something we need to work on?
I find the entire writing community inspiring! I think, though, what has stricken me as the most fabulous part is everyone’s capacity for supporting each other, enthusiasm for giving feedback/critiques/new projects, and acceptance of each individual author for WHO THEY ARE. That’s super important! I’ve come across all walks of life within the writing community, and I really mean ALL WALKS, and I have yet to see anybody left out, belittled, or intentionally discouraged. I mean, let’s face it, writers are strange people. We have quirks and vices that, for the most part, only other writers understand. At least where I spend my time in the writing community, I have yet to see anybody shunned for what makes them them. And I’m pretty weird, so it’s very encouraging.
I really haven’t found a lot of things “lacking” in the writing community, which is what makes being a writer and Indie Author (not to mention all the other “titles” I hold) being so much fun! The thing I find most difficult, though, is being able to keep up with ALL the different groups, forums, projects, and organizations. There are way too many, and as much as I want to be an integral part of all of them, I’m very aware of the fact that, to get to that level of proficiency, I’d have to stop writing completely. There would just be no time, and then what would be the point?
5. We all have our secret favorite characters—usually one in a supporting role rather than the protagonist. Which of your supporting characters has a special place in your heart? Why?
This is kind of a hard one, because my favorite characters tend to be my protagonists…hence the story all about them! But there is one character in Daughter of the Drackan that stands out in importance and splendor.
Igetheyr is the patriarch of the High Hills drackans (Keelin’s adoptive species, so to speak, and her only family). He’s the only drackan with obsidian black scales, is overwhelmingly enormous, and his mind-voice is a golden rich magnificence that echoes within the minds of all who hear him (drackans communicate through colors and visual patterns, telepathically and without spoken words). He was the first drackan to successfully wean a human fledgling—to give a human the drackan powers of communication, their instincts, and their bloodlust—and when Keelin becomes the second human fledgling, Igetheyr watches her through her life, and her journeys, with a keen eye. Essentially, Igetheyr is the most powerful being in the entire novel, but his bond with the drackans and the pact he’s made with the drackan gods keep him from interfering in the messes Keelin makes through her desperate search for answers.
I love Igetheyr. He’s powerful, wise, and patient; he doesn’t use his power and authority to belittle or intimidate anyone. He’s almost so powerful that anything he could do would make life as these characters know it obsolete. So he can only stand by and watch, occasionally giving advice and occasionally making crucial decisions (this comes into play in the sequel, ‘Mother of the Drackan’). My special tie to Igetheyr spans from the fact that everything about him came to me in a dream, before I had ever written chapter 5—including the spelling of his name. It was such an epic dream, where I heard him speak to me and watched him fly around a stone temple, that I couldn’t not make him an epic character in the book. If I do, in fact, decide to write that prequel to this series, there will be a lot more of Igetheyr.
Thanks so much for your fantastic answers, Kat!
Kathrin Hutson can be found on most social media and through her site, kathrinhutsonfiction.com