Geetanjali Mukherjee

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

How I Write: Authors on Their Writing Process - Roxanne Bland

Today's interview is with science fiction and fantasy author, Roxanne Bland.

1.      When did you first start writing?
For me, writing was a hidden passion. Like most people, I think, I started writing when I was a child. Except I didn’t take it seriously, even after I won a writing competition while still in elementary school. My goal was to be a professional musician. So, growing up, into adulthood, writing was just something to do to pass the time, though I will admit to sending off a few short stories that never saw the light of day (which is probably a good thing). So in 2001, I was recovering from a bout of illness that left me almost bedridden for about a month. To pass the time, I started writing, and I loved it. I’d discovered my passion, and I’ve never looked back.

2.        What are your books about? Are you self / traditionally published or hybrid?
I write science fiction and fantasy, of the paranormal kind, with a healthy dose of romance. Sometimes all three genres appear in a book at once. As for publishing, I’m self-published, I guess. I own my publishing house, so I never have a problem with contracts and the like! I prefer the term indie, though. It sounds so cool, don’t you think?

3.        What led to your love for literature? Any favorite books / teachers / writing mentors?
Reading. My sister taught me to read when I was three. I read everything and anything I could get my hands on, even if I didn’t understand all of it. My favorite book is the collected works of Edgar Allan Poe. Someone once asked me what my favorite stories or poems were, and I said “all of them.” My favorite teacher was my high school English teacher Ann Coluzzi. She was the first person who suggested I write. The Moreva of Astoreth is dedicated to her. As for mentor, that would have to be Don Gerrard, my first editor. Even though my book was pretty bad, he saw something in it that made him take me on. He’s the one who taught me how to write a novel.

4.        What's your writing process like? Do you outline? Do you write by hand / type / dictate?
I’m a pantser—I write by the seat of my pants. The plot unfolds as I write. That’s to say I know I want to get from point A to B to C, but how I get there is an unknown, until I write it. I tried going the outline route, but it felt so…constraining, even though I know it’s all right if the outline changes as you go along. And I type. I can’t imagine writing by hand, especially since my handwriting’s so bad even I can’t read it sometimes. I’ve never tried to dictate anything—that might be fun.

5.       What's your editing process?
I edit as I write. I know, I know—this is a big no-no, but I can’t help myself. I just can’t seem to plow on and write a first draft without making tweaks. Now, mind you, that’s not the end. I do a lot more self-editing before it goes out to the editor.

6.       Any favorite apps / software / technology for writing?
No, just me, Word and Grammarly.

7.        Any favorite apps / software / websites for marketing and promotion?
No, no favorites, though I usually use Facebook and Twitter because I’m most familiar with them.

8.        What did you find most / least useful in learning to write?
As far as I’m concerned, all knowledge is useful, whether it’s something to “do” or something to “do not.” Some of it I might not be able to use, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth learning.

9.        Who or what inspires you? Where / how do you get your book ideas?
Reading great fiction, in whatever genre, inspires me. I may not know the author personally, but it makes me feel like we’re all part of the same tribe. As for ideas, I get a lot of them from the world around me. I’ll see or hear something, and then my imagination takes over. Sometimes the ideas are entirely my own. Like my idea for a thriller I may write someday.

10.      When in the day do you usually write? For how long?
I generally write in the wee hours of the morning, for as long as I can before it’s time to do something else, like go to work. Usually a few hours or so, maybe a little more, depending on what time I get up.

11.       Do you have a writing routine / schedule? Any specific rituals?
Rituals—no, I don’t suppose I have any. I just go into my little office, sit down, and start writing.

12.       Where do you feel most inspired to write?
Sitting at my desk in my office. I watch people writing in coffee shops and such, and wonder how they do it. All that noise, people moving about…I salute them.

13.       Describe your desk / writing corner / favorite writing spot.
I have glass and metal computer station with my monitor and keyboard on top. The tower sits on the floor to my left. Just behind my left elbow is a file cabinet with a printer on top that doesn’t work. Cables and wires everywhere. And the desk’s top is an unholy mess.

14.        Do you listen to music while you write? What kind of music?
No. I used to listen to music, but now I find myself following the tune instead of the storyline. Especially when I play Beethoven or Michael Jackson.

15.        Do you ever get writers' block? What are some ways you get around it?
Yes, I do. I used to fret over it, but now, I really don’t let it bother me. I just go on about my life, doing what I’m supposed and need to do, and invariably the urge comes back, and ideas start popping in my head like popcorn. It might even take a couple of months—or more—but it always comes back.

16.        Do you now, or did you ever have any day jobs? Did they add to or detract from your writing?
I’ve always had a day job. To my mind, they add discipline. I don’t have that much time to write, so I sit down and write. Don’t get me wrong, though—I fervently wish I could write full time.

17.       How do you make the time to write?
Like I said, I get up very early, when most people are just going to bed or already asleep. It’s really the only time I can write. My day job is demanding, and I’m often working on weekends.

18.       How much research do you do? What kind?
I do enough to make the story credible. For example, in The Moreva of Astoreth, I had to find out if there was such thing as a tertiary star system. Well, apparently there is. So my idea of a planet with three suns was credible. For The Underground, I relied on maps of Seattle, since I’ve never been there. Changed the names of the streets, though—this is an alternate Seattle. Still, I’d like to go someday. Anyway, I count Google as a dear friend.

19.      How much marketing do you do? Which platforms are you most active o
Probably not enough. But there’s only so much time in a day, and marketing itself—for an indie, anyway—is almost a full-time job. Like I said, I’m usually on Facebook or Twitter. I also do blog tours. 

20.       What's the most fun aspect of marketing? The most challenging?
I don’t consider marketing “fun,” and it’s all a challenge. But probably the most challenging is getting your name and book out there, when there are so many voices competing for attention.

21.       What project are you working on now?
A sequel to The Underground, wherein our werewolf, vampire, mage and alien heroes have to find a way to stop an invasion of Earth by the alien’s enemies. 

22.        What books do you like to read? What are you reading now?
I like to read mostly horror and thrillers, though I do read science fiction, fantasy and the like. I think it important to read outside one’s genre. Keeps things fresh. I’m between books at the moment, but that will be remedied very soon.


Roxanne Bland grew up in Washington, D.C., where she discovered strange and wonderful new worlds through her local public library and bookstores. These and other life experiences have convinced her that reality is highly overrated. Ms. Bland lives in Rosedale, Maryland with her Great Dane, Daisy Mae.

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The Moreva of Astoreth

In the world-building tradition of Andre Norton, Anne McCaffrey and Ursula K. LeGuin, The Moreva of Astoreth is a blend of science fiction, romance, and adventure in a unique, richly imagined imperialistic society in which gods and science are indelibly intertwined. It is the story of priestess, scientist, and healer Moreva Tehi, the spoiled, headstrong granddaughter of a powerful goddess who is temporarily exiled from Temple life in her beloved desert home to a volatile far northern corner of the planet for neglecting to perform her sacred duty, only to venture into dangerous realms of banned experimentation, spiritual rebirth, and fervent, forbidden love.

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