Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Author Interview: S. A. Bolich

Today's interview is with S. A. Bolich, author of Firedancer.

Jennifer: Where can we find out more about you and buy your book?

S. A. Bolich: You can always check my website at http://www.sabolich.info/ for news and a little boring background about moi. I do have a blog wherein I talk about writing techniques, how to get stories off the ground and the like at http://blog.sabolich.info/. And, of course, you can find Firedancer at the publisher or in the Kindle store at Amazon, on Smashwords, and at Barnes and Noble.

Jennifer: Tell us about your book.

S. A. Bolich: Jetta ak'Kal was the most talented Firedancer of her generation, destined for the elite Circle of the Fire Clans--until the Ancient, the elemental fire Dancers have battled since the Beginning of all things, broke free from its prison at the heart of the world and killed her lifemate and the village Jetta was charged to protect. A year later, her clan demands that she resume her life and her duties to protect another threatened village, but Jetta no longer has the heart or the confidence. She mistrusts the Dance that is supposed to bind the Ancient, for it has failed her once, and Old Man Fire is acting strangely. Still, to Annam she must go, in company with the most erratic journeyman in all the clans, to protect a place that has never known the deadly incursion of fire--but that must be protected at all costs. And to complicate her life even more, Annam is full of Windriders, masters of air, the Ancient's most potent fuel. With disaster poised on every breath of wind, Jetta cannot fail, for if she does, Annam will not be the only victim of the firestorm that will surely follow.

This is "other world fantasy," set on a planet that is not Earth, with its own ecology and culture and internal logic. It was fun to write and, from the reviews I'm getting, fun to read. I hope so, anyway!

Jennifer: Where did you get the idea for the story?

S. A. Bolich: Therein hangs a tale... The first line, "This fire was malicious." just popped into my head from nowhere, and intrigued me enough I had to keep writing to know what it meant. But eventually it became clear to me that Jetta's battle with a pernicious enemy was deeply rooted in something a lot more mundane--my long and frustrating struggle with a particularly nasty weed attempting to take over my horse pasture! Oh, how I hate knapweed. Year after year I spray it. Year after year it comes back. Being a writer with too much imagination, naturally it has assumed a cunning personality and a sinister purpose in my mind. The Ancient is really knapweed, but oh so much more interesting. This is fire that thinks, that plans, and really, really wants to win.

Jennifer: Tell us about your previous work.

S. A. Bolich: I have several short stories out, in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, and other places, including an ebook published by Damnation Books called "Who Mourns for the Hangman?", a dark historical fantasy. I write a bit of everything, but a lot of my stuff is well grounded in history, seeing that I was a history major in college. I fully intended to write historical fiction. Somehow that never actually happened.

I currently have stories out in two anthologies, Defending the Future IV: No Man's Land, which is military SF, and a werewolf in space story in Wolfsongs 2. Both of those are available at Amazon.

Jennifer: What other projects do you have coming up?

S. A. Bolich: I am currently working on the sequel to Firedancer, which is called Windrider, scheduled for release next year, and there will be another one after that. The elementals are fascinating: Wind, Fire, Water, and Earth, and they each have a story. I am also in the midst of a 6-volume alternate history series that looks at a really fun and unexplored explanation for what really happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692. That one has to wait a bit, though, because I am contracted for Windrider and at least one other book first.

Jennifer: What is your writing process like--do you outline first or just start writing, etc.?

S. A Bolich: I really can't outline with any degree of success. I'm one of those seat-of-the-pants writers. I need the first sentence. The next sentence draws from the first, and just keeps going. The story grows organically, and eventually I figure out what it's about and where it's going. I think the muse always knows; otherwise the first sentence or the first scene would not float up out of that endless well of words inside to begin with. But man, she holds her cards kinda close sometimes.

Jennifer: Do you work with a writing group or mentor? Why or why not? If you do, what do you get out of it?

S. A. Bolich: I have moderated the online writers' workshop at http://www.otherworlds.net/ for 13 years. Workshopping has greatly improved my writing. Just having new eyes on a project is incredibly valuable, because they're liable to spot all those logic holes big enough to drive a truck through that the author never sees. They also catch the prose that doesn't flow so well, and can kindly tell you that your plot is, eh, not plausible, your characters unsympathetic, and all the other stuff a serious writer needs to hear. Writing in a vacuum is the last thing any writer should do; you just need to be open to advice, but not a slave to it, because it's your book. Ultimately, your vision is the one that should prevail. But a workshop can certainly help you hone your idea to a very fine point.

Jennifer: What was the hardest part: writing the book, getting it published, or marketing it? Why?

S. A. Bolich: The writing took a little longer than usual, mostly because of life distractions, but selling it was easy. My publisher asked to see a sample of my work, I hastily revised Firedancer, which had been moldering in my drawer since I wrote the first draft and forgot it, and sent it off. She loved it, bought it, and bam. The marketing is the hard part, because this is new territory for me, and having only begun to concentrate on my writing in the last 3 years, I have not built up a "name" yet. But I'm learning, and quickly. I do love going to cons and meeting fans and other writers and sharing ideas for everything from marketing to crazy "what if" story ideas.

Jennifer: When and why did you decide to become a writer?

S. A. Bolich: I never decided; it was just always there. From the time I was old enough to realize I could think I was making up stories in my head. I won my first writing contest in 6th grade, and had I been smart, I would have focused like a laser on developing my writing career. Instead, it was just always something I did, my strongest call when I needed something to do, but boring stuff like making a living always came first. Thus, I let myself be distracted for a long time before it finally came home to me that the reason I didn't like working for other people was because I really, really wanted to be at home writing. So finally I surrendered and found a way, and here I am, just a little bit late.

Jennifer: If you could travel to anywhere in the world, where would it be, and with whom?

S. A. Bolich: Heh, that's easy. Machu Picchu, with Dr. Who. That awesome place, with the Doctor in tow? You know, of course, that cool things would happen.

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