My first guest blogger was also one of the first people who stepped up as a sponsor for the Blogathon: Author and member of Broad Universe, K.S. Augustin.
Thank you so much for helping the Bay State Equine Rescue, Kaz! A lot of my readers met you a few months ago in the Great Broad Blog Out, so I hope you don't mind if I ask a few different questions so people can get to know you and your work even better.
I know you are a sister animal lover and have some wonderful animals in your life, how do they inspire and affect your writing? What are some lessons they have taught you about life and/or writing?
In a recent post at Long and Short Reviews I said that, although most writers seem to keep cats, I'm finding that having dogs around is a bit more productive. Because you have to take them for walks, let them out to go potty, and assorted other duties, it has the effect of changing your environment. Rather than sitting in front of a blank white screen, you're outside, feeling the breeze in your hair and watching the world go by while you wait for your doggie to finish investigating the Patch of Ground du jour. Sometimes, that's all you need to break a mental block. It's worked for me several times.
Now, what has been your experience with horses? Do you have any good horsey stories you can also share?
I took horse-riding lessons years ago. They're very high up, aren't they? That's my abiding thought. You're very high up on something you don't have one hundred percent control over. (I know that's not the motivation. You're supposed to think of the horse more as a partner than something to be controlled, but I never worked up enough confidence to think like that.) I prefer motorcycles.
You write some beautifully hot romance. What sort of things in life ignite your passion - romantic or otherwise? How do they consciously or subconsciously work their way into your writing?
Why thank you, ma'am! Politics. That's my passion. My husband, J, and I discuss politics over breakfast every morning and whenever we're not caught up in anything else. As to how they work their way into my writing.... Science-fiction is politics. If you write about a society, you're writing about politics. Because I started reading SF so young, I think that SF was the springboard to politics, and now it's come full circle. Before I start any story, I always ask myself, “What do I want to say?” Everything else—characters, plot, settings—follows from that.
With your fiction, what have been some of your favorite responses from readers? What drives your fans?
Oh, this was the most difficult interview question of all, Trisha! Er, I don't think I have any fans. At least, none that ever communicate with me. I read on a loop last year that one of the members mentioned me as an auto-buy for them and that really took me by surprise.
I wonder if this is due in part to me being, by North American standards, a difficult person. I'm political, an atheist, a socialist, and I don't care who knows it. I can get rather pointed on my blog and I don't care who it is I criticise. All of that makes me less approachable rather than more.
The other problem is visibility. I'm not a print author and I compete with a lot of other digital authors. And, to be frank, I just don't stand out. People seem to like my stuff once they read it (reviews are favourable and I've been shortlisted for a few awards), but my problem is actually getting to readers in the first place. I'm still thinking on that one, so no answers here.
What is your favorite part of your stories, whether your composing or reflecting on them?
My favourite parts are the beginnings, when everything is full of promise, and the minute after the end, when you're so damned sick of the characters, the finish couldn't come fast enough!
The part I'm most proud of, however, are the middles. Why? Because nobody has ever accused me of writing sagging middles. I try to keep the pacing constant throughout, although I've been told a couple of times that my beginnings are a bit slow. Pacing's important because I've read way too many books where the middle meanders off to nowhere, or stays stuck in the muck, and I've had to grit my teeth and soldier on. Then, reading becomes a chore rather than a pleasure.
Middles are also the worst for the writer because you're past the “honeymoon” stage with your concept and now it's down to actually working the thing. Middles are hard so, while not my favourite, as I said, they're the bits I'm most proud of.
What are you working on now? What is available from you now? Which of your books is a great place for readers to start?
I'm always working on an SF Romance! Heather Massey is holding a great event this month over at The Galaxy Express. It's called Parallel Universe and features writers from all over SFR. I'll be there later in the month myself. The writers are all tackling the subject of Diversity within SFR. I do wonder though at the readership of a sub-genre where most women aren't geeks and most guys are afraid to read romance because they'll get cooties. To me, the minute readership of SFRs is its greatest stumbling block.
(Sideways rant: Everyone's shouting about how the movie “Avatar” is SFR but the people who've made the movie so successful, the viewers, don't think of it as SFR. They just think of it as “Cameron's latest block-buster! With blue people!”. So it's no use saying, “Avatar is mega-successful and Avatar is SFR, therefore SFR is set to be mega-successful as well”. It's not a transitive relationship, and you're fooling yourself if you think it is.)
I read a review recently that described me as a writer of “erotica”! I've never written erotica! Erotic romance, maybe, but that's a different kettle of fish. I'm mostly a writer of SFR and have six SFRs released, along with two contemporary romances and one fantasy romance.
My SFRs fall into two universes, one a possible projection of our current world (the Republic), and the other a more utopian universe where Earth may not even exist (the Fusion). Both have their problems. All the stories are standalone, so you can read them in any order. I keep full first chapters of all my work on my website so a reader knows exactly what s/he's getting into when s/he buys one of my books.
You also have a great blog that covers your writing and ideas you're passionate about. For readers here who haven't visited it before, what can they expect from your blog? What do you write about there?
It's a very opinionated blog. If I haven't offended you, that's probably because I haven't got around to it yet! I talk about politics, life in Malaysia (although I'm Malaysian-born, I haven't lived in the country for decades, so feel very much like an outsider looking in), the tech industry, the children and the pets. FeedBurner tells me I have one subscriber to the blog and I think that's me, but a writer can't stop writing, so I keep it going.
I also blog weekly at another blog I set up called “Cooking with Kaz”. There, I discuss my other passion, which is food.
Is there anything I haven't asked that you'd like to promote or talk about?
I was brought up a Roman Catholic in a post-colonialist society with strict Asian parents. I find it exceedingly difficult to work up the courage to promote. So I'll just be happy if readers visit my website and see if our tastes are compatible. Consider me the Eeyore of SFR and thanks for this opportunity, Trisha. Look after those horses!
You're very welcome, Kaz! So, I'll throw in some promoting. I don't like reading electronically, but every time I've started in on something Kaz wrote - I totally get sucked in and loose track of time. Go check out the sample chapters and support her writing!
Thank you, also, for supporting the Bay State Equine Rescue Blogathon, Kaz. Readers, if you liked what you read in this interview, check out Kaz's books - and consider donating, like Kaz did, to the rescue by clicking on the apple below.
Click the apple to donate now to help the BSER horses!