Today I’m having another guest: author and blogger Veronica Sicoe.
Veronica Sicoe is a science-fiction writer born in Romania, living in Switzerland, and working in the IT industry. She writes dark, far-future stories with deadly aliens, deadlier tech, and strange relationships.
Now, let’s get down to business. 🙂
Q: Veronica, you finally finished your first novel, The Deep Link. I know it is still in the works, even after a round of beta-reads. How was the experience from the beginning to the final revisions? How do you think you’ve evolved creatively during this whole process?
THE DEEP LINK is my first completed novel, which is to say that when I started writing the very first draft, I had no idea what I was doing. By the time I reached the middle, I realized I had to first learn a damn lot about storytelling if this was to be anything close to a readable novel. So I stopped drafting, read everything about writing I could get my hands on (totaling, meanwhile, a good 50 books on the craft, not counting online articles and blogs) and reworked my whole plot. I started again, and this time I finished the first draft and was ecstatic about it. Then I read it, and realized it sucked. So I analyzed it again and wrote it again, from scratch. Then I edited it for content (plot, character arcs, etc.) adding wordlbuilding elements to it as well. Only then did I consider it worthy to be beta-read. And now that several fellow writers have taken a stab at it, I am planning yet another revision.
I guess it’s needless to say my learning curve with just this one novel was very steep, breathtaking and humbling. And I loved every step of it!
Q: Give us an insight into your main character(s). What does she/they do that is so special?
My protagonist, Taryn Harber, a young, headstrong woman who thinks she’s got everything under control and needs nobody in the world, clashes with an alien warlord, Amharr, who’s nothing short of a genocidal, uncompassionate monster. Their first encounter ends in them becoming mentally linked to each other, forced to experience each other’s states of mind in real-time, forced to accept each other in order to retain some sense of self. They’re not just vastly different and alien to each other, they’re soon tangled in a torturous codependence that alters their personality and affects everything around them — potentially changing the fate of the entire galaxy. 😉
Q: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing? Is there a certain type of scene that’s harder for you to write than others? Love? Action? Racy? What is your least favorite part of the writing process?
I can’t write funny scenes. I find it extremely hard to tickle smiles and giggles out of my characters, and/or the readers. It’s not that I lack a sense of humor (far from it) or don’t like humorous prose, it’s just that I haven’t yet gained the necessary skills to write funny. I admit I haven’t really tried either, but it’s most certainly not an innate talent of mine.
Q: What inspired you to write The Deep Link? How did you come up with the title?
The idea of an aloof, cruel, and by all means perfect killing-machine-alien, forced to live with the moods of an unreliable, distraught and sometimes downright unnerving human, has formed in my mind long ago and has continuously shapeshifted until I found the right characters to express it. I can’t say exactly what sparked this idea, or when, just that it’s been with me for very long.
How I came up with the title? That’s easier to answer. I work in IT, more precisely I test projects with online frontends. A “deep link” is a set of hidden information passed from a web page to another during the normal browsing process, carrying data needed for the subsequent page to work properly. That’s also the basic idea beneath the Deep Link tying Taryn & Amharr together.
Q: How important are names to you in your books? Do you choose the names based on liking the way it sounds or the meaning? Do you have any name choosing resources you recommend?
I love picking the names for my characters from “rare names” lists from the internet. I search, for example, for uncommon Italian boy names, and pick those that resonate most with the character’s personality. Mostly it’s just a gut feeling.
Q: This book is a part of a trilogy. Tell us a little about it. What are your thoughts on writing a book series.
It didn’t start out as a trilogy, but as I reworked the plot, I realized it had too much potential for escalation to be contained in one book. As the characters grew as well, they just begged for more space to develop.
I don’t plan to write series or trilogies in the future. I want to write standalones, but I’m quite certain that the storyworlds I develop will haunt me and I will eventually end up writing additional material for them. Maybe short stories.
Q: Tell us something about your writing habits. What does your writing process look like? How much research do you do? Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured? Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day? Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you? Do you have a specific writing style?
My writing process is unorganized. I don’t write in a special place, or at special times in the day, or wearing the same sweater. That would totally make me crazy. 🙂 I write whenever I have time; mostly on my PC, or the one at work, during breaks or downtimes, and use many different programs from Word to Scrivener, and even email. Despite this “chaos”, I write my stories in chronological order. I’ve heard of many writers writing scenes out of order, as they “come to them”. I can’t do that; to me, the story evolves in a certain direction, characters (d)evolve a certain way, and I can’t go back and forth without losing the underground current that drives those changes.
I don’t aim for certain wordcounts, except maybe on NaNoWriMo. I aim to finish a certain scene by time X, or by lunch, or whatever, depending on how full my schedule is.
I always write with an outline. I’m a plotter to the core. But I never plan any details, only major plot points and character arcs, right up until the ending—which never ends up being what I initially planned. So in a way I do write organically, but based on a clear outline. Which makes me a hybrid, or mutant, or something. Whatever works.
Q: What made you decide to sit down and actually start something? Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve been writing stories ever since I could write. I had my own typewriter when I was ten, and wrote little stories and poems and scripts for my play-sessions, in which all my stuffed animals and face-wearing toys were cast in roles and sent into their destruction. Ha. I’ve always favored tragedy and horror to all other forms of storytelling.
Q: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about? What draws you to this theme/genre? Where do your ideas come from?
My favorite genres are horror and science-fiction, to read, watch, and write. My fascination with horror far predates that with sci-fi, but the latter has hit a deep nerve with me, and it draws on my love for science, technology and very large, open settings. And what is larger than a whole galaxy as your stage? Or the whole universe? So much room for development, so much potential for disaster…
My ideas usually form around characters, around people in terrible situations, around the tremendous potential of the human mind (or alien mind) to expand or collapse into madness.
Q: Do you read much and if so who are your favorite authors. For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hardback books?
I read far less than I’d like to, and it’s something I’m continuously working on. But my favorite writers are definitely Dan Simmons, Peter Hamilton, and strangely enough, Franz Kafka.
I love good books, but I’m not a fanatic reader, and any means to tell a good story is a welcome means to me. I love good movies equally much, or short stories, actual case reports and non-fiction books. As long as my mind is stimulated, and my imagination can unfold, I love it.
For my own reading, I much prefer ebooks. I can read them anywhere on any device, at any time (Lately, I only find time to read when I bring my daughter to bed, so I have to read in a dark room, and make no noise; a Kindle is perfect for that.).
Q: To you personally, what are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published or the other way around?
I find it fascinating (perhaps “strange” is the better word) how obsessed writers all over the world are with getting published traditionally. Sure, it’s nice to be paid up front and have a whole team of editors prune your work for you free of charge, but that whole “you’re not a real writer if you don’t have some publisher’s logo on your book’s spine” mentality is simply stupid. It’s like an urban myth perpetrated continuously, and I find it unnerving that so many still fall for it nowadays. Of course, if people can self-publish with the click of a button, a shitstorm of bad and awful books constantly rains upon the internet, but readers decide on their own what they want to read, and they can always say NO, or YES to any book they please. I don’t see why traditionally published authors should ever feel threatened or ashamed or annoyed with self-publishing and its consequences. The more books, the merrier.
As to my own choices — I see the advantages in both paths, and to me these are:
Q: How do you see your publishing journey with your first novel / trilogy?
For this trilogy, I will most likely choose self-publishing simply because I really don’t want to write the subsequent books to a deadline. But for the next novel I’m writing, which is a standalone set in another storyworld, I will go for traditional publishing. I’m curious to see how it all works out.
Q: What are you working on now? What is your next project?
I’m working out the kinks on a new novel, that’s not part of the TDL trilogy. I plan to begin drafting it this November, as my NaNoWriMo project. It will be a horror science-fiction standalone novel, set in the far future, with a micro cast of just two characters. Okay, maybe three, if you count the rampant alien monster that stalks my protagonist. 😉
Q: What else have you written? (*Include books, novellas, short stories, poems, blogs, awards or anything of interest.)
I’ve written a few short stories which are available online, and a whole lot of things which I will never show anybody. 🙂 You can read those stories on my blog, if you like.
Q: How can readers discover more about you and you work?
You can check out my blog (veronicasicoe.com), or find me loitering about on Facebook and Twitter. I also have a Google+, LinekdIn, Goodreads and now an Ello profile, but I’m not really active on those.
Thanks for interviewing me, Jeno.
Thank you for participating, Vero. 🙂
New release? A giveaway party? Let us know! Want to do an interview or a guest post for my blog and join the fun? Click here.