I have another installment in my author interview series to post today: say hi to Deb E Howell, author of The Healer's Touch (Kristell Ink Publishing, 2013). Deb E is a wonderful combination of science geek and fangirl, and has an inspiring sense of humor. I encourage you to check out her blog, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and of course, to buy her book.
Now, on to the interview!
I like the premise of your book: someone who can heal herself, but only at the expense of others. It takes the usual notion of a positive ability and makes it much darker. How did you come up with the idea?
I honestly can’t remember. I developed a character with this power (the giving and taking) some 15-16 years ago. I was at High School at the time, so I would have been watching a lot of super hero cartoons, which no doubt played a part. Because I was a teenage girl, of course my character back then was a strapping young man. Llew will never forgive me for sticking her with it...
Deb E's childhood nights were spent falling asleep to cover versions of Cliff Richard and the Shadows and other Rock ’n Roll classics played by her father’s band, and days were spent dancing to 45 LPs. Many of her first writing experiences were copying down song lyrics. She graduated to scientific reports when she studied a nematophagus fungus in the Zoology department of the University of Otago, trading all traces of popularity for usefulness… then traded both for fiction.
Those of you who know me well, know that I'm 1) a huge fan of paranormal adventure and alternative history; and 2) a stickler for getting things right. Okay, we all make cock ups now and again, but when they get in the way of my enjoyment of a good spectacle, I get annoyed.
I've been enjoying the ridiculous fun of Fox's Sleepy Hollow. After all, it features a RevWar hottie with a pony tail and great boots, AND a headless horseman - what's not to like? But in last week's episode I found I couldn't concentrate on Tom Mison's awesome cuteness when he was running along machine-milled hollow steel catwalks in his "18th-century" underground tunnels and and when he struck a match to light a lantern. And then his modern-day co-star referred to being "so far down a rabbit hole," and Mison's Ichabod Crane seemed to understand the reference.
Seriously? History PhDs are a dime a dozen out there. The screen writers couldn't pay one of them in Starbucks gift cards to review the script for basic accuracy? Heck, they couldn't use Wikipedia? Sheesh. (For those of you playing at home, extruded hollow steel pipe is a post-Civil War-era material, the first modern, self-igniting match was invented in 1805, and Lewis Carroll's Alice's Adventures in Wonderland was published in 1865.)
And, when I saw a novel entitled Spank Me, Mr. Darcy, I was not offended by the subject matter or premise, but by the fact that the cover image featured a modern reproduction of a Victorian corset, NOT a Regency-era one. Again, c'mon, people, just do a little research! That's all the fangirls are asking.
Ok, enough ranting! Peace, everybody.
A dear friend of mine, who happens to be a voracious reader, just told me that she keeps seeing a facebook ad from an indie author claiming that Jodi Picoult was "completed absorbed" by his book, and wouldn't we all like to buy it right now???
Okay, deep breath while I heave myself onto a three-story soapbox before proceeding. Here's my reaction:
1. I love indie authors. I want to believe in them. I want to support them. I do not want to discriminate against, patronize, or otherwise belittle them. After all, I have published with an independent small press, putting me more or less in the same camp.
2. Like it or not, indie authors are held to a higher standard than traditional press authors. Rant, whine, howl, whimper, or erupt in fury as you see fit. Sorry, but it's the truth.
Is it fair? I suppose not, when has life ever been fair? Indie authors are pioneers. You guys are like the first women in the military, the first African Americans in Congress, the first whoever to do whatever - you have to work twice as hard and be twice as terrific in order to be considered acceptable. As we know from previous "firsts," eventually you'll be accepted, at first grudgingly, and then openly, at which point you can be judged on your own merit. In the meantime, don't screw it up for the rest of us.
Seriously, just don't. Don't put out ungrammatical Facebook ads with errors that a spell- and grammar-checker would have caught. Don't forget to use Oxford commas consistently. (Don't know what the Oxford comma is? Look it up.) For the love of all that's holy, know how to use an apostrophe! Don't exclusively self-edit. Know all the rules backwards and forwards and work within them before you even think of breaking them. You have to earn the right to be an iconoclast. Bad grammar, poor spelling, poor usage, weak structure and style, and sloppy editing aren't signs of closet genius. When you've sold a few hundred thousand copies, you can be "colorful." Until then, you're paving the way for those coming behind you.
See? The individual indie author is carrying a huge weight on his or her shoulders. S/he is breaking ground. Sure, it's not fair that those in the vanguard have to work so hard, but that's the reality. Think about it. And then, make sure your work is so squeaky clean perfect that we don't notice the details at all.
I completely expect howls of dismay from the peanut gallery for this post. Bring 'em on! Peace, everybody.