by Connie Ward
What made you decide to become a fiction writer?
I don’t really remember a time when I did not want to be a writer. My parents were both avid readers, and I was brought up in a house with literally thousands of books. I really cannot imagine life without books, and my favorites have always been fiction, though I read lots of genres. I have been through several careers, ranging from theater design to engineering, but I always come back to writing as my true love.
What type of stories do you write? And why?
My stories definitely fall into the dark speculative-fiction category. My fascination with the supernatural and the darker sides of the human psyche shaped what I write about. If I watch television, I almost always head straight for the shows about true crimes and psychos on the loose. It probably says something about me.
What do your family/friends think about your writing?
My sister and some of my friends have been very supportive, even if they may think I am out of my mind, but many of my friends and family are either not aware that I write or have expressed limited interest. The most common reaction to my news that Kryos had been picked up by BSB was “You write?” That was usually followed quickly by a look of terror when they realized I might want them to read it. That is the danger of associating with engineers, I suppose: say fiction novel and they turn off. My online friends, on the other hand, have been great, very supportive and very helpful, even when I am being even more neurotic than usual. I am lucky to have friends all over that help me get a different perspective on things.
Where do you get your ideas?
My ideas come from everywhere. My mind wanders all the time. People think I am just flaky or scatterbrained, but really I am probably torturing some characters in my head instead of paying attention. I always have a story or character floating around that I like to take out and see if I can break them. Even if I am not actively working on a project with the characters, I still have a whole cast to play with when I’m supposed to be doing something else. The upside of that is that I rarely get bored. Silly things, like the unusual way a person moves, or the combination of the song on the radio and the way the sun just came through the clouds might make my muse wake up and start digging around in the virtual trunk to see where it might fit.
How do you write; do you plan everything out or just write?
Both. I start with a plan but let it go where it needs to. This works really well when working with Idun; we try to plot out the major points and then adjust those as we go, though no matter how much planning and plotting we do, the characters sometimes refuse to behave and take things in a different direction. I feel that planning is good, but you have to be open to whatever happens or you’re going to end up with a finished product that doesn’t feel right.
What makes Kyros special to you?
Kryos is very special to me because it is almost like a child. It was very organic in its development, and the story we ended up with is not the story we originally plotted. We worked and reworked the plot, the main arcs, the characters, everything until they all decided to play nice with each other. When I work with Idun, we each take a character (or two, or three) and focus on developing them so as we write we can play off each other so the novel can grow more naturally. There is always an element of surprise when working with another author. You think a scene or story may be going one way, but because it is not just you playing in the sandbox, sometimes something so much better comes out.
How much of yourself and the people you know are in your characters?
Surprisingly little, actually. I have a project now that is based on a dream a friend told me he had, so the main character does have a bit of him in it, but for the most part, no. I try not to put too much of myself or the people I know into the characters; they are their own creatures. Also, I am very dull and would make a terrible character.
Which gay/lesbian authors inspired you the most? Do you have a favorite
of this author(s)?
My fascination with gay fiction started a long time ago, before I even knew it was something anyone was writing; it was pre-Internet in those days. Then I discovered slash fan-fiction, which led to Yaoi, which led to authors like Sarah Monette, Alyx J. Shaw, Storm Constantine, and Lynn Flewelling.
If I had to pick a favorite from these authors I would have a really hard time because they all fill a different spot in my life. Sarah Monette and her Doctrine of Labyrinths series is an all-time favorite of mine; Felix is delightfully deranged and twisted. Alyx J. Shaw’s Strange Place in Time series is so fun that I could not put the books down. Lynn Flewelling’s books are also some of those I go back to like comfort food if I find myself between books and not sure what to pick up next. However, for the author that inspired me the most I will have to go with Storm Constantine and the Wraeththu books. Reading those I realized that I wanted to write something others would want to read. The imperfect characters and their gritty, dark world appealed to me on a level that made it possible for me to quit being afraid that what was in my head was not good enough, or shiny enough, and actually sit down and put it on paper.
Do you have any suggestions for new writers?
I still consider myself a new/learning writer, especially going through the publishing process for the first time, so I’m not sure. This process has shown me how much I still have to learn, and it is humbling. I would think the best I could say is to remember to be flexible and patient. I guess I am lucky that my “day job” is in a field that brings a constant stream of criticism and comments on my work. I never thought I would say that, but it has taught me how to not get upset at comments and be able to look at them for what they are—an attempt to make my work better.
When you’re not writing what do you do for fun?
I read. If I’m not reading or writing, I’m baking. I can’t say no to a challenge, and my friends and family like to find the most bizarre and unusual desserts to see if I can make them. The pie baked inside a cake has become a hit that they request frequently now.