Monday, December 9, 2013

Sci-fi, Fantasy, & Music ... My Kinda Girl

I'm excited to have a very smart and sweet lady with me on the blog today. Fellow time travel author, Sandra Ulbrich Almazan, is answering a few questions about what she writes, how she writes it, and who her favorite band is.

There's our lovely guest. Now let's find out what she has to say.

1.       Using only five words, tell us who you are as a person: 
       A curious, well-read, hard-working mother.

2.       How long have you been writing? How many books do you have published?
       I’ve been writing for about sixteen years. I have one short story traditionally published in an anthology, and I’ve self-published a novel, a novella, and four short stories.

3.       You’re an indie author (yay!), so tell us why you chose the indie path, and how it’s been for you thus far…. 
      I chose the indie path because it was a better fit for me and my work. As an indie, I can publish stories at the length I think works best for the story, and I have control over my work. I can also write the stories that need to be written without worrying how to sell them to publishers. I self-published my novella about two years ago. It’s taking a while to build sales and reviews, but I had some success with my promotion last month and got onto an Amazon best-seller list.

4.    You write sci-fi and fantasy both. Which do you find more challenging, and why?
      Science fiction is more challenging because it needs to follow the laws of reality and because you’re often projecting into the future and need to predict what the world will be like—and how it got that way.

5.      What inspires your work?
       Inspiration is everywhere. I get ideas from science articles, things I read, and daily life. One short story was inspired by an invitation to a graduate school reunion. Another one came from following my son around as he explored bouncy houses (giant inflatable structures for kids to play in). 

6.     What advice would you give a first time novelist wanting to create a speculative fiction story?
      Do a lot of research into any aspects of the world that are new to you, and make sure to thoroughly explore the implications of the speculative aspect of your story. 

7.     Is there a story you’ve written that’s especially near and dear to you? If so, why?
      Both Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes are favorites of mine. I worked on both stories for a long time, and the main characters have a lot of me in them. There’s also a lot of Beatles influence and science in both stories.

8.   You’re a dedicated Beatles fan. How has their music inspired your work, if at all? And do you require the use of music to write any of your scenes?
      Although I wrote a bit in my early twenties, it wasn’t until I became a die-hard Beatles fan in my mid-twenties that I became especially inspired to write. The way the Beatles worked together inspired me to create a quartet of magicians that also had to work closely together. They’re at the heart of my fantasy Season Avatars series, which I plan to start publishing next year. (I’m currently revising the prequel.) Sean Lyon, a musician from Lyon’s Legacy and Twinned Universes, was inspired by John Lennon. I don’t necessarily require music to write, but I prefer it. 

9.    In your book, Twinned Universes, Paul travels between universes to a place called Cen-gen Earth. This reminds me a little of the Fringe concept. What brought about the idea for this, and what type of research did you do to make it work? 
      TwenCen is a nickname time travelers give to Twentieth Century Earth. It’s very similar to our world; in fact, the travelers aren’t sure what makes that Earth’s history diverge from their own, but they theorize they can travel from their universe to the TwenCen as long as the histories remain identical. So naturally, when someone like Joanna Lyon or Paul Harrison wants to save their ancestor from an unnaturally death, the travelers object....As for research, we go back to Chicago in two different years: 1962 and 1980. I had to research neighborhoods where Sean Lyon might have lived, what people wore in 1962, what movies were showing in November 1980—basically telling details to bring the eras to life.

10.   And lastly, what is the single piece of writing/publishing advice that has helped you press forward, even when you had doubts?
      Self-publishing is a long game. You can’t rely on a single book to be successful—and you shouldn’t rely on a single format or distributor for your sales. As Kristine Katherine Rusch advises, you need to write, publish, and repeat.

How true! That'why I keep reminding myself this is only the beginning. First book doesn't have to mean a ton of sales, it just has to get my name out there as an author so I can keep creating. 

Isn't Sandra great?? (And I know for a fact she tweets out great links, so make sure you follow her on Twitter, as well as her other sites: 

Thanks so much for being here today, Sandra! Click below to buy a copy of Twinned Universes and Lyon's Legacy:

By the way, there's a HUGE giveaway over on Candace's Book Blog and yours truly may or may not have a SIGNED copy she's giving away. Not to mention, all the other fabulous prizes! Head over and check it out. 

Thanks so much for stopping by! Don't forget to visit Sandra as well and help support an indie author! And I've been interviewed over at Awesome Gang. It's a great site where you can sign up to be interviewed as well. 

 How about you--is there a band or music that inspires your writing? If so, you've come to the right place 'cause Sandra and I want to hear all about it .... Spill it!


Sandra Almazan said...

Thanks for having me, PK!

William Kendall said...

Sandra, terrific answers!

I like listening to classical or film scores when I write.

Leslie S. Rose said...

Beatles and Sci-Fi - does it get any better? I love finding music that will fit the conflict or emotional core of a chapter and build a playlist for an MS.

Andrew Leon said...

Legacy is on my Kindle app.

Maria Perry Mohan said...

Hi PK and Hi Sandra,

Great interview. I do agree with you Sandra, inspiration is everywhere. Is speculative fiction another name for science fiction? Or is it horror fiction?


Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Inspired by a bounce house - now that is original!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Great interview. Interesting that Sandra thinks sci-fi is harder than fantasy to write.

Pat Dilloway said...

Her books are great. And on her blog you can learn a lot of cool science-y stuff.

Barbara Watson said...

Such an intriguing interview! Thanks, ladies.

E.J. Wesley said...

Congrats on your recent success, Sandra! (And all of the fabulous work you're putting out.) Great getting to know you a bit (Beatles FTW!). :)

Sandra Almazan said...

William--I sometimes listen to classical music when I write too.

Leslie--Creating playlists can be fun, but I think each reader will create his/her own playlist while reading.

Thanks for your support, Andrew!

Maria, speculative fiction can also include fantasy and horror in addition to science fiction.

Have you ever been in a bounce house, Alex? They can be fun for grownups too.

Natalie, I guess each genre has its own challenges.

Thanks for the shout-out, Pat!

Thanks, Barbara and E.J.!

Emily R. King said...

I like her definition of herself. And her places for inspiration? Genius! Makes me feel like I should appreciate every day life a little bit more, dig a bit deeper for ideas.

David List said...

Good interview!
I especially like #3 and #10. I've decided to go indie for complete control. And what I gave up to do it was my fantasy of getting rich quickly writing fantasy fiction!

Hilary said...

I love how the beatles are in a way responsible...

Sandra Almazan said...

Thanks, Emily! Inspiration is all around you; it's a matter of finding a new perspective on what you see.

David, I think we can not get rich quickly together as indies. ;)

Hilary, the Beatles are responsible for a lot of things, and our universe would have been much poorer without them.

PK, thanks again for hosting me--and thanks to everyone for your comments!

Lexa Cain said...

I love how Sandra says "Inspiration is everywhere." It truly is! But sometimes that inspiration distracts me, and I end up completely forgetting what I was supposed to be doing! Good luck to Sandra! :-)