I have always thought it was important for everyone to have their type of art. And “art” in the all-inclusive sense: cosplay, video games, dance, painting, whatever works for you. I seem to do reasonably well with words. I prefer writing in speculative fiction because, at the beginning of a project, you have all the freedom to create your world and your rules, but then you have created enough structure that you have to follow your own rules.
Your writing journey:
So, I did what a lot of writers probably did. I started writing when I was young, relying on fan fiction or overly-cliched stories that were never shown (intentionally) to anyone else. For everything I’ve written, I’ve self-published. I’ve begged family and friends to proofread and beta-read. I’ve had friends do covers at times (I did pay them), and I’ve hired cover artists. I have tried what I could afford for contests, advertising, anything within reach of my time and monetary resources. But I am small-time. So, I’d rather talk about what I wrote, and why.
My first real story that worked out long-term, I started writing for a friend. Not because they requested it, more because I thought they needed it. It was the early 2000s, and my friend, deeply in the closet, wanted a story that touched on the topics that were important to them. So I started Utsukushii Kuro, a lesbian vampire romance. I call it “my soap opera,” since I was doing it one chapter at a time and the characters had to deal with some dramatic event every chapter. I was putting it up on deviantART every time I finished one, and I felt a real purpose in trying to make this story for my friend. Along the way, apparently I made a story for a lot of people. This has a lot of meaning to me because, at the time when I had started writing it, we were still in the physical book society. The “Gay and Lesbian” section of Borders or Barnes and Noble was one book case, 90% filled with self-help and psychology reference books. There was hardly any fiction to be seen. When I wrote it, it felt good to write a romance, some sappy, happy, emotional positivity. And it felt better when I saw comments from people saying they liked it. In the realm of publishing and “successful writing,” I know I’m a complete failure. But hopefully I wrote something that helped a few people once.
After Utsukushii Kuro, I started on Licantropa Sogno, my lesbian werewolf romance. I wanted to try the same genre setup, but approach the story differently, trying for more internal conflict for the lead. Also, I am totally into werewolves over vampires. ;P I also still felt like I was contributing something small to a group who needed it. I could understand wanting love, and I could understand feeling isolated (I am straight white male, and I know I have those privileges, but I’ve always been the bullied kid). When released serial-style, it didn’t fare as well as UK, but it did reasonably well since it was completed and can be read as a full novel.
After Licantropa Sogno, I made an attempt at “pulp.” I wrote the action-based, plot-thin La Zorra Ciega. It has been largely panned, and fairly so. I knew I was taking a risk by not working the plot to a realistic level, but I wanted campy action. I guess I’m not that great at pulp novels, but I got to write my sword-fighting scenes, so I was reasonably happy.
Next was my experiment: Vox. I wanted to attempt writing a novel without dialogue. The world of Vox is one where no one is able to speak, so all communication happens through signing and writing. As a novel, that means there is no direct speaking, only narration. It was difficult, but I loved the concept. I have received a lot of critique that it is hard to read through, but I can understand that. I still think it was worth it for the sake of the experiment. This is the one I most fantasize about being made into a movie, just so I could make an entire film of characters signing to each other and being subtitled for the hearing audience. I know I’m dreaming, but it’s a nice dream.
After Vox, a return to more standard writing. Mind Capture, set in a future where downloading a human mind into a computer is a standard medical procedure. Those who have read it have spoken well of it, but it did, unfortunately, get completed right before a lot of large-name movies and TV shows took their own swing at the concept. My plotline of mystery and science accidentally running head-first into things it doesn’t understand remains unique enough, but I fear it looks like a small actor in a crowd now. While researching for it, I found the theory of “The Singularity,” and I have latched onto that concept. Researching for your stories can lead you to life-changing information, so never shy away from it. This is the only story I’ve done to novel-length so far that has a white male lead. All others so far are female-led and most of them from varied ethnicities, and mostly non-straight sexual orientations.
At this point, I was seeing how everyone was obsessing over two things: zombies, and series stories. So, being the petulant person I am, I resolved to do a zombie series…and do it completely wrong. The Sabem series, planned for 6 books, 2 currently completed, is about a necromancer, working for the shadow necromantic government, and enforcing the laws of how people may and may not be zombified. It is full of death, somewhat detective-ish, and means to address things that are valuable beyond our limited understanding of life and death.
My most recently published novel is The Fugitive Clone Act. Inspired by my learning about Henrietta Lacks, I start from her case, guaranteeing a person full controlling rights over their own genetic material. From there, it shows how the letter of the law can always be twisted to harm vulnerable people. I researched the writings of Frederick Douglass to try to find a similar tone and journal-style writing to his. Obviously, it is nowhere near his eloquence, but I did try.
When I have tried to advertise, I’ve only been able to really pay for minor things. I’ve boosted posts on Facebook and tried to appeal by offering up samples of new writing. I used to do a “Stump the Writer” thing, where anyone could offer up 3 words, and I would have a week to write a one-chapter “story” that featured those three things. No one ever had any real interest. I paid for click-based ads on Amazon, which never really went anywhere, since I couldn’t afford the necessary budget to push them up front into attention-getting positions. I’ve tried given books away in every manner I could think, but it never led to anything. Now I just try to find opportunities like this, where a blogger or reviewer asks for authors willing to speak about themselves a bit, in the hopes that someone might connect with my works.
With every new story I try to write, I usually want to attempt something new in writing. I keep asking myself “What haven’t I tried yet? What’s been done by everyone, and how can I twist it around?” It actually fits with the little “Stump the Author” events I used to do. I keep wanting to address the new thing that is on everyone’s mind, but do it in a way that is still original. My lesbian romance novels were meant to be something that wasn’t there when they were first made, and that people needed and wanted. Vox was a novel with no speech, which I got the idea for, at least in part, from the National Day of Silence meant to bring attention to LGBTQ+ Rights. Mind Capture was was meant to question that ever-moving border of science and the unknown. The Sabem series is supposed to take the zombie fad, go back to the origin of the word, relating to slavery, and discuss who is the good guy and who is the bad guy when they are all using something immoral. The Fugitive Clone Act is meant to show that we keep moving towards good intentions with laws, but we need to always beware how people will abuse the exact phrasing of any law. With each new book, I get a little better at hitting the colloquialisms better, crafting better metaphors, just from re-reading myself, adding what I’ve read from others, and being my own worst critic. More research always leads to more skills. I will always use speculative fiction, to have the most freedom. My best and worst decision are the same: the decision to put my books out there. All of my books are failures. They sit, unnoticed, and I don’t have enough clout or money to get them noticed. But, if someone reads something from them and finds something they needed…then maybe I can hold onto that and keep moving forward on my future stories.
Utsukushii Kuro: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EFQ3566/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i7
Licantropa Sogno: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EFQ31HY/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i6
La Zorra Ciega: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00EFQ36PQ/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i5
Mind Capture: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B01A8UKQE6/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i3
Sabem II: The Second Law: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B071YN2WK1/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i1
The Fugitive Clone Act: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B0846QDMTH/ref=dbs_a_def_rwt_hsch_vapi_tkin_p1_i0