May 17, 2012

Talk on Thursday: Q&A with BR Kingsolver (+The Succubus Gift Giveaway)

My guest today is BR Kingsolver, author of the Telepathic Clan Series
We're talking about the ups and downs of being a self published author and about how to make your novel stand out when there's an abundance of books with similar themes. 

The Succubus Gift
Book 1 of the Telepathic Clans Saga

Brenna’s life isn’t the same after she discovers her unusual and mysterious heritage. In addition to being a telepath and having many paranormal abilities, Brenna learns she has the Succubus Gift. She has always been a good girl and isn’t comfortable seducing men, except one she really loves.

That’s just the beginning of her problems. Someone is stalking her. Will she be able to protect her newly acquired family and friends? Then there’s the tall, dangerous woman who shadows her and hints a Goddess has linked them. And what is she going to do with a handsome, charismatic, womanizing man she knows she should avoid?

Some days a girl just wants to pull the covers over her head and stay in bed -- with a willing young man of course. 

Where to buy:

Author bio:

My grandmother retired when I was two years old. She came to live with us and taught me to read by the time I was three. I read everything I could put my hands on, including the Bible and Encyclopedia Britannica. When I first enrolled in college, I was a history major. It sounded like a great career, reading for a living.
Alas, as they say, I got sidetracked. I made silver and turquoise jewelry for almost a decade, ended up in nursing school, then took a master’s in business. Along the way I worked in construction, as a newspaper editor, a teacher, and somehow found a career working with computers.
I’ve always been shy and I have spent a lot of my life alone with a book. I first tried to write a novel when I was 15, a science fiction book set in an alternate reality. I wrote about a dozen pages with a pencil. I kept it for years, occasionally coming across it and reading it. It was awful, and it kept me from trying again for a long time.
So I made up stories in my head to entertain myself. If I don’t have a book and I’m on a plane or someplace else that’s boring, such as driving across the country, I make up stories.
I received a Nook for my birthday a couple of years ago and loved it, and started reading about the revolution in e-publishing, and the success some indie authors had with self-published works. This past Thanksgiving, I was discussing this with a friend, and mentioned that I had conceived a story I thought might be appealing to some people. She encouraged me to write it down.
As to my other interests, I love the outdoors, especially the Rocky Mountains. I’ve skied since high school, with one broken leg and one torn ACL to show for it. I’ve hiked and camped all my life. I love to travel, though I haven’t done enough of it. I’ve seen a lot of Russia and Mexico, not enough of England. Amsterdam is amazing, and the Romanian Alps are breathtaking. Lake Tahoe is a favorite, and someday I’d like to see Banff.
I have a very significant other, two cats and two Basset Hounds. I’m currently living in Baltimore, nine blocks from the harbor, but still own a home in New Mexico that I see too infrequently.

Find BR Kingsolver online:


You're writing about succubi. Do you feel that there's a paranormal "race" that's been used too much in urban fantasy? Do you think people are getting tired of some creatures? 
Since my succubi are human (mostly) and not a separate race, they're rather unique. Their talents are based in telepathy rather than magic or demonology. I know many people are tired of one type of paranormal race or another, such as demons or vampires or witches. I've also seen some unique treatments of such races recently. As authors, it's up to us to create new stories and characters for our audiences. If we can't present them with something fresh and exciting, characters they like and care about, then it shouldn't be a surprise if people don't want to read our work. Personally, I'm not a big vampire fan and I'm very tired of succubi working for the devil. I don't understand why highly sexual women are so often demonized. Everyone swoons over a male stud, and no one insists he has to be evil to seduce women.

What makes your new novel unique?
The characters in The Succubus Gift might be your neighbors next door. They look like you, go to work in the morning, you could have his baby. But that baby would inherit his father's telepathic gifts. There's no magic or magical races. My characters don't break the laws of physics, they just bend them. The mythology is based on that of the Druids, the people the Irish call the Sidhe, the People of the Mounds. Their telepathic gifts allow them to hide in plain sight from normal humans. My succubi don't take a man's soul for the devil. They do drain part of his life energy temporarily, but it's an offering of love to the Mother Goddess, and in return the man is blessed by Her. I think that's a very different way of looking at the succubus myth.

As a self-published author, what is the most valuable thing you've learned about the industry and getting your book out there?
It's a lot of work. You don't have an army of people to take care of everything from editing to promotion for you. The promotion is especially difficult. It takes a lot of time and even with outstanding reviews you're still competing for eyes with established authors who have large PR budgets. I'm not complaining, just stating the facts. I don't blame people for wanting to read the latest by big name authors. I read them. They have an established track record of writing enjoyable books. Many people are wary of self-published authors. I read a lot of first time authors, and some are incredibly good and some need to work harder at polishing their craft. It always bothers me when a good story is spoiled by poor editing.

In your experience, what is the best way to promote your book (in general for self-published and indie authors who don't have a large publicity team behind them!) 
I wish I knew. I have a website, I'm on Twitter and Facebook, and I request reviews from bloggers and review sites. Word of mouth is difficult to engender. The reviews I've received have been excellent, but aren't bringing many sales. I'm hoping that as I release the next two books in the series this summer, people will take some interest, knowing I'm going to continue to produce. But in the end, providing an entertaining, well-written story is going to eventually sell books.If the reader experience isn't enjoyable, it doesn't matter how large your promotional budget is.

Who are your favorite authors and books?
I'm an eclectic reader. Romance, science fiction, fantasy, history, biographies, you name it. In the Urban Fantasy genre, I enjoy Kim Harrison's Hollows series, Yasmine Galenorn's "Sisters of the Moon" , Mia Darien's Adelheid books, Richelle Meade's succubus series, J.D. Robb's In Death books. I recently read Lilith Saintcrow's Hedgewitch Queen, and I'm a huge fan of anything Anne Bishop or Jacqueline Carey. Another Indie author whose book I enjoyed was Rebecca Hamilton's Forever Girl. She's done a great job promoting the book, but the writing and the story are the real reason it's taken off. You'll notice that Darien writes about vampires and Meade's books have succubi who are demons. If someone writes a good book, it doesn't matter if it's a "race" I'm tired of.

What are you currently working on? Tell us about your plans for the series.
I've finished books 2 and 3 of the Telepathic Clans Saga. Book 2, "Succubus Unleashed", is out to my beta readers and my editors. I just sent book 3, working title "In Succubus We Trust", to one of my beta readers. I think it's the best of the series. After I get these two released, I'm going to take a break from this series for awhile. There's plenty of stories yet to be told about these characters, but in the interest of growing as a writer, I'm going to tackle something new. I'm working on a paranormal mystery set in the same world but with a new main character, a succubus who works as a private investigator. It's the first time I've tried to write from a first person point of view. I'm hoping to have it published next fall.I write very fast. I wrote the first three books in three months. Then I spent three months editing, revising, and re-editing the first book. Getting the story out of my head is the easy part. Making it readable and making sure I don't embarrass myself when it's published is work.

Many thanks for taking the time to answer my questions! 

BR has also offered to give away two ebooks of The Succubus Gift to WTSL readers. Enter your name in the Rafflecopter for your chance to win one!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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