I am very happy today to welcome T.S. Vale to the indie author interview series, a dear friend going back to Clarion days, and a writer of both beautiful words and amazing ideas. Take it away, T.!
First off, please tell us a little bit about you and your work.
The single unchanging passion I’ve had my entire life — is for story-hearing and story-telling. It’s a powerful call that never fades.
As some who know me are aware, I experienced early success in traditional publishing in terms of both sales and recognition. But my big focus at the time was finishing college, not capitalizing on the success of my first novel. (Oops?!)
Fast forwarding through various life adventures, including a few quick dips here and there back into the world of writing and publishing — such as my time at Clarion West with Ruth and other great authors and instructors! — I’m delighted to be launching a couple of new series that fall into the category I love most of all: speculative fiction.
Speculative fiction is a broad term, yes. But it’s the best at capturing a majority of the kind of reading and writing I love best.
The AMERICUS series is post-apocalyptic / dystopian / alternate America. The DARKCRASHER series is best described as The Matrix meets Game of Thrones — a dark epic fantasy / dystopian tech fantasy hybrid.
What made you decide to become an “indie” author?
For me, indie / traditional comes across as a choice between chocolate or vanilla. Both flavors have their charms. And while I know some people have a very clear favorite, I find chocolate and vanilla equally appealing and meritorious. Each has unique attributes, and each offers something the other does not.
So why did I pick the flavor I did, for my relaunch back into the world of publishing? In the end, I loved what I perceived as the egalitarian and entrepreneurial nature of indie. Not that these qualities don’t exist in the traditional world: it’s simply that as an indie author, I felt that I’d get the chance to be far more “hands-on” than I might be otherwise. It’s a lot of fun, frankly!
How do you go about world-building?
As corny as this sounds, each world I’ve built has first appeared in a dream. It then unfolds in my waking mind … every day. (I’m not kidding. Not a day goes by that I’m not inside these worlds, even if only for a few moments. What else is there to do while waiting in line or brushing your teeth, after all? Grin.)
Research follows as I figure out the mechanics behind what I’m imagining. Research is documented in various ways. Sometimes I capture all of what’s needed in a few words that I file as a document or even as simply an email. Other times, for richer worlds, I need more. What I call the “wikipedia” for DARKCRASHER is huge.
Do you have a writing routine?
Alas. I wish I did. I’m eternally working on better discipline.
Some people have gotten a kick out of the fact that sometimes, in order to focus, I will do this:
I go to a dark windowless room. I turn out all lights, put on headphones, and sit cross-legged on the floor. And then I write.
It’s not a routine, but it has gotten me through some “stuck” times.
What have you already published?
Traditionally published under other names:
A multi-awarded YA novel that almost made it to the silver screen (script was written, stars chosen including Keanu Reeves yes really, but — as happens — it didn’t quite make it in the end). This book is an older item, you won’t find it on the shelves anywhere, but the rights are mine and I’ll be re-releasing that novel soon. In addition, a handful of shorts in both YA and speculative fiction. I haven’t published a lot, but I’m proud that each thing I have published traditionally, has received some kind of recognition or award.
Indie, as TS Vale:
The first installment of the AMERICUS series is available on Amazon. Full title: AMERICUS • Exscendent, Book 1: High Road Cross.
The first installment of the DARKCRASHER saga will be out in October.
You can also find In the Real, a dystopian SF thriller / SF romance short novella that was originally published under another name, and Library, a post-apocalyptic / SF romance short story.
What are you working on now?
The AMERICUS series and the DARKCRASHER saga are the big ones at the moment.
Do you make your covers yourself or do you hire a cover artist?
Both. Mostly with a cover artist, but a couple on my own.
What do you think are the advantages of indie publishing? Of traditional publishing?
Indie advantages: You’re hands-on. You’re on the front lines. You have more personal control over timelines. And best of all, it feels to me like you’re more closely in touch with your readers.
Traditional advantages: A large established system at your back. You’re not “doing it all” all by yourself. Advances up front. And — possibly, in some circles? — there may be more of what I’ll call “perceived prestige”.
What advice would you give to an aspiring author?
Listen, learn, write, repeat.
And most of all: love what you do and do what you love.
How can people get in touch with you?
The hub for all things related to contacting me — newsletter, email, social channels, blog etc. —
Best way to stay in touch: sign up for the newsletter.
And here is the description of the first book of the series, Americus:
In a war-torn post apocalyptic America, Bill does not have a choice. To save what he loves, he must find and stop a deadly transhuman soldier gone rogue — his own biological father. And for that, he must become what he despises.