Hello, Catriana, can you tell us a little bit about your background?
I’m initially from the east coast, the North Carolina area, and now I reside in Washington. I’ve always been interested in writing, my overactive imagination had to have some outlet, and goodness knows it wasn’t going to be through art! I’m currently happily married with two wonderful dogs. Growing up, I wanted to be a singer, and during my high school years I even performed a few solos in chorus. I believe my biggest audience was for when I played Glenda the Good Witch from the Wizard of Oz.
What was your first book and how long did it take to get it published?
My first novel was Destined, although my first release was Call on Me. It didn’t take very long to publish, Silver Publishing is pretty awesome concerning release dates. For ‘Destined’, I believe it was around 6 months, and ‘Call on Me’ was around four.
When did you start writing m/m romance? What about this genre interested you the most?
I started writing M/M romance around two to three years ago with fanfiction. I would have started earlier, but I was honestly too afraid to delve into a genre I wasn’t familiar with. I’ve done a lot of research and picked people’s brains for as much information as I can concerning intimate acts between two men, but writing the actual relationships themselves came easily. I grew up around gay men, many of whom are good friends I still keep in contact with from high school. I merely drew from those fond memories to write the romance aspect of my stories.
How long did it take you to get published? How many books have you written thus far?
Well, I could say it took me around a year after writing my first novel to be picked up. I was rejected numerous times by other publishers, but an amazing author who some may know as Rawiya really helped me in introducing myself to publishers and submitting. I’ve currently written two short stories (‘Call one Me’ and ‘My Will’) and two novels (‘Destined’ and ‘Bound by Blood’). My second novel is due for an October release.
Do you write full time?
I currently make enough money to write full time, yes.
Looking back was there something in particular that helped you to decide to become a writer? Did you choose it or did the profession choose you?
My friends helped me. To be honest, had they not pushed me and believed in me, I never would have found the courage to submit my stories.
On a typical writing day, how would you spend your time?
Procrastinating! But in all seriousness, it depends on how good the muse is going. Some days, I only get a little bit of writing done, others, I end up writing between 3-10k a day. I find sitting on my laptop and listening to music helps a lot more than sitting on my desktop doing the same thing. I have no idea why.
Do you write right through or do you revise as you go along?
A little bit of both, but mostly I plow right through and worry about heavy revisions after the fact. I’ve learned that trying to go back to fix every little thing does nothing more than prevent you from completing your book. I find as I charge right through I begin to develop other ideas to flesh out what I want for later. I typically either keep these in my head or write them down, so when I go back through I know what to keep and what to toss.
When it comes to plotting, do you write freely or plan everything in advance?
It depends on what I’m writing. The Arcanus Series is large and growing, I have to do some amount of plotting or I’ll end up with a jumbled mess. Same thing with any novel I plan on being around 100k. For short stories, I typically plot it out in my head and pants the rest.
What kind of research do you do before and during a new book?
Before, I did a lot of research into intimacy between gay and lesbian couples. While I have yet to write lesbian erotica, I do want to do so in the future, so I read books, fiction and non-fiction. I’ve been reading up on war tactics and strategies as my series will eventually be delving into an intense war. At the moment I’m reading up on steampunk, as my series has some steampunk elements within. Also when I write and I need a landscape or other scenery, I tend to google images that help visualize what I’d like. Another good site for this is deviantArt.
How much of yourself and the people you know manifest into your characters? How do you approach development of your characters? Where do you draw the line?
Well, I can freely admit that one character in Bound by Blood was directly inspired by my friend, Keith. In fact, he wrote me up one day, talking about how much he loved my writing and was proud of me, and I knew how much he was into vampires so I said “Hey man, you wanna be a vampire in my story?” And of course who can turn that down? So there’s a character named Kien Varian who is introduced in the first chapter of the novel, and while he’s not exactly like my friend Kieth, there are quite a few similarities and he absolutely loves the guy. That was a lot of fun, although I’m not sure if I’d make a habit of it. I believe any good author will have a piece of them in their stories and various characters. I’ve been told by my parents that my writing style ‘sounds’ like me. Wasn’t entirely sure how to take that, actually.
How long does it take for you to complete a book you would allow someone to read? Do you write straight through, or do you revise as you go along?
Whoo boy. The first draft of Bound by Blood took two years, mostly because I also wrote ‘Destined’ the same year and didn’t get back to ‘Bound by Blood’ until after it was published. ‘Destined’ went through five revisions(and is undergoing another, because I feel it needs it) which also took me about a year. So I would say it takes me around 6-8 months to finish the first draft, and then another 6 months to complete the novel in its entirety. For ‘Bound by Blood’, I actually had two people reading over the second draft as I went through revisions, so it went through three sets of revisions thanks to betas.
Writers often go on about writer’s block. Do you ever suffer from it, and what measures do you take to get past it?
I do suffer from writer’s block. Usually, I try and write something less stressful, like a fanfic. There’s no pressure when it comes to fanfiction, because it’s a hobby, like gardening. If I’m stuck on a scene for one story, sometimes jumping to another story helps. If writer’s block is too bad, I’ll force myself to take a few days to a week off and that usually solves the problem.
When someone reads one of your books for the first time, what do you hope they gain, feel or experience?
My biggest goal is for people to enjoy reading what I enjoyed writing.
Can you share three things you’ve learned about the business of writing since your first publication?
1) Don’t submit something you’re not 100% happy with.
2) Get a beta reader! Someone who will be straight up and honest with you and not inflate your ego. Also listen to them. If they tell you there’s something wrong with your character or a scene, don’t dismiss it off hand because you feel it’s perfect. Chances are, if your beta has an issue, the readers will have issues too.
3) Ask questions. Do not be afraid to ask anything and everything. And for the love of all that’s holy, don’t be afraid to speak your mind. If you see something you don’t like going on with your book, don’t stay quiet just because you’re the new guy. I have a really bad habit of not speaking up because I’m afraid of making people upset, but in the end your book is yours. Make sure you’re happy with all aspects of it.
Does the title of a book you’re writing come to you as you’re writing it, or does it come before you even begin the first sentence?
Can I admit I’m horrid at coming up with titles? Because I am. Horrid. I eventually end up crossing my fingers and hoping the title doesn’t sound absolutely stupid once I finally drag one out of my head.
How would you describe your sense of humor? Who and what makes you laugh?
I don’t think I’m very funny, although my husband would beg to differ. I’m the person who cracks a joke and then there’s awkward silence among the group. I do find my husband to be hilarious, he comes up with the wittiest things at the drop of a hat. Sometimes I get lucky and I deliver a real winner, but it’s few and far between.
What is the most frequently asked (author name) question?
I’m not entirely sure what this is asking, but the question I often get asked is ‘What inspires you?’ The short answer is: Everything.
What are you working on now?
I am currently working on a freelance graphic novel job for a successful webcomic studio. After that, I have plans to do a Christmas sequel for ‘Call on Me’.
What was the best piece of advice you’ve received with respect to the art of writing? How did you implement it into your work?
Don’t compare yourself to other authors. I used to do this, and to a certain extent I still do. Mostly, I try to take aspects of writing styles I like and attempt to incorporate it into my own style. Not quite there yet, but I believe I’m getting better.
When it comes to promotion, what lengths have you gone to in order to increase reader-awareness of your work?
I’ve joined numerous Yahoo!Groups, I have a twitter, facebook, tumblr, blogspot, and a deviantArt page(although I’ve had that for about 9 years). I even promoted myself to my fanfiction crowd once I became published. There are a few people who have followed me to my original works, and those people are amazing. I cannot convey how much I appreciate their support. Now that I’m back in the states, I plan to approach a few bookstores and hope they’ll carry my series. Right now, I’m doing a few writing challenges as well as hosting other authors on my blog.
Writing is obviously not just how you make your living, but your life-style as well. What do you do to keep the creative “spark” alive – both in your work and out of it?
My imagination is always going. Always. It’s not a switch I can cut on or off, so there’s always creativity there, it just might not want to come out as writing. If I’m not in a writing mood, I draw. I’m not very good, but practice makes perfect and I’m already seeing improvements in my art as the years go by.
What kind of books do you like to read?
Science Fiction/Fantasy, Paranormal Romance, some Young Adult titles, Fantasy, and sometimes just straight up romance.
If you weren’t a writer what would you be?
A hobby shop owner, if possible.
Where did you get the idea for the stories you write?
They really just come to me. Sometimes from dreams, but mostly it’s all random.
When it comes to the covers of your books, what do you like or dislike about them?
Reese Dante makes the covers for Silver, so I have absolutely no objections. They were also generous enough to allow me to hire an artist for my Arcanus Series, so I have zero complaints about my covers.
Aside from writing, what else do you enjoy doing?
Drawing, singing, table top Role Playing Games’s and Magic: The Gathering. I play video games, mostly RPG’s, driving along scenic routes and long walks around my area. I hate going up the steep hills, but it’s still pretty.
Any special projects coming out soon we should watch for?
‘Bound by Blood’ comes out October and I have plans to write another short story that will be a sequel to ‘Call on Me’. I had a few people want to know more about the characters, so I’ve decided to revisit that world.
New writers are always trying to glean advice from those with more experience. What suggestions do you have for new writers?
A lot of them are things I’ve already mentioned. Don’t compare yourself to other writers. Don’t submit anything you’re not 100% comfortable with, even if you’re writing for a Call to Submission. Finish what you start! Don’t let self-doubt plague you and keep you from finishing. Make sure you know what you’re getting into with a publisher. Ask around, ask them for a sample contract, surf around for a publisher that suits you and not just for who has the biggest name.
What future projects do you have in the works?
Book three of the Arcanus Series will be titled ‘Dethroned’. I’m also working on a YA novel called ‘Righteous Path’.
Can you please tell us where we can find you on the Internet?
Tumblr(be forewarned, I reblog a lot of crap): http://catriana.tumblr.com
Facebook Author Page: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Author-Catriana-Sommers/156704994402378
Could you please share your favorite excerpt(s) from one of more of your stories with us?
“Oh!” Kien sat up in his seat as she slid down, his eyes lighting up. “Is that? Why I do believe it is! It’s Caryn Ilnari. Hells and flames, I haven’t seen her in decades.”
“Who?” Liari tilted her head, giving him a look. She had a feeling she would be on her own tonight, her cousin had that gleam in his eyes.
“The future mother of my children, of course.”
Oh boy. Her cousin could now be classified as ‘complete loss’ this rising. She wondered who to feel sorry for the most, herself or the poor Ilnari woman who was about to suffer Kien’s attentions. Liari loved her cousin dearly, he was more like a brother than her own, but even she could admit one had to be….special to appreciate his wiles.
“Um, well…I wish you luck. With the courting. And reproducing.”
With a sigh to make any love struck fool jealous, Kien patted her head and graced her with a sympathetic smile. “One day, you’ll understand, my dear. You’ll find that special someone, perhaps the Lotros boy -”
“And you’ll want to have lots of babies by him. Or at least enjoy the act. It’s really the act that’s the best part.” His brows furrowed in a thoughtful frown. “Well, raising a child isn’t so bad, I suppose.”
She found herself curious. “Kien, I hear you’ve been alive for a really long time. Have you ever had any children?”
For a moment, she saw his mask slip, revealing an oddly somber and serious expression that pulled at her heartstrings. Their eyes met and without having to say a word, Liari simply knew, and the knowledge had her eyes stinging with unshed tears.
Then the look vanished completely and he grinned. “I have you.”
From ‘Destined’(Very Spoilerish):
“Father, I…” Timidly, Briae moved between his legs, resting her head on his chest. A small sigh left her when his arms wrapped around her tiny body. “I didn’t tell the truth.”
“Hmm?” Leaning back, Naliel put his hands on her shoulders. “What do you mean? About the Attunement?” Naliel held back his smile, because he already had an idea of what she was going to say. He had already seen the signs of her Attunement, but decided to wait for her to approach him first.
A nod. “Yes.” Briae’s face scrunched up in a small frown. “But, I don’t understand it. It’s muffled, like muddy water.”
“Oh?” Genuine surprise emerged. “Muddy water?” A surge of pride filled Naliel at the news and he put a hand on her head. “Little one, that is a sign you have two Attunements. Extremely rare for someone as young as you. Elves do connect with the other elements, but only with time. Usually, our second and third Attunement arrives around our twenties to thirties. To have two so soon is very promising.”
Eye lighting up, Briae beamed at her father. “Really? I have two Attunements?”
“Yes. It’s very rare, but normally when you can’t quite understand an element, it’s because you’re unable to separate the two sets of spirits communicating with you.” Naliel looked thoughtful. “If I had to guess, your elements are earth and water. An even more unusual combination. I can train you in earth, but I’ll speak to Tyrnus about possibly taking you on concerning the water aspect.
“Once you learn what to sense and how to separate the two, it’ll become clearer.” Somewhat excited, Naliel kissed her forehead. “You might even become one of the youngest Elementalists, Briae.” Veciel had been only eighteen winters when he had begun his training; twelve made Briae nothing short of a prodigy. Sarnaiel and Lavern would also be thrilled.
Gasping, Briae’s hands flew to her face. “R-really? I… me? I mean I… oh Father!” She threw her arms around Naliel and he chuckled. He was pleased to see his little girl happy again.
“Don’t get too excited. You are still very young so I’m not sure if they’ll accept you right away… but I’ll speak to the headmaster about admitting you. When Sarnaiel returns, we’ll tell him. Now then, go tell your grandfather, he will definitely wish to know. We’ll have a nice dinner to celebrate when Sarna returns from his sentry post.”
“Thank you Father! Thank you so much!” Another hug and then Briae pulled back, face flushed and practically glowing with excitement. “Being an Elementalist, it’s been my dream.”
“Has it?” She nodded and Naliel stood, taking her hand. “Then I have every belief you will succeed.”