I’m so thrilled to have the awesome Lucy A. Snyder on the blog today! It’s no secret that I’m a HUGE fan of her Jessie Shimmer series, and am so excited for the 3rd book, Switchblade Goddess (out Dec. 27th!). Lucy was kind enough to answer a few of my questions, and she’s also generously offered a copy of Spellbent (Book 1), OR Switchblade Goddess (Book 3) to one lucky winner, so be sure to check out the giveaway details at the bottom of the post!
Please welcome Lucy to the blog!
Lucy, you have a BS in Biology, an MA in journalism and have worked in many different fields, including editing. You’ve also published numerous short fiction! What made you decide to take the plunge into novel writing?
I wanted to write fiction from the moment discovered the joys of reading; it was Madeline L’Engle’s A Wrinkle In Time that simultaneously hooked me as a lifelong science fiction/fantasy reader and fixed me on the idea of writing genre fiction. But writing a novel seemed pretty daunting once I started to realize how much had to go into one; NaNoWriMo and its support system didn’t exist and English classes focused on poetry and fiction (if they dealt with creative writing at all), so I started out writing short work.
During college, I went to the Clarion workshop fully intending to start writing novels after I left, but once I was there I realized how demanding short fiction is both in terms of the form and the market for it. I decided I wanted to have a solid number of short story credits under my belt before I tried a novel. It was a craft issue for me; I want to be able to write anything and everything: essays, poems, short stories, novels, all of it. I figured if I got to a place where I was regularly selling short stories I’d have enough equipment in my writing toolbox to competently tackle big fiction projects.
This tactic worked for me; I finished my first novel Spellbent, sent a query to my current agent, and six months later I had a deal with Del Rey. And that’s really very quick in the grand scheme of publishing. I know other authors who skipped short fiction entirely and have never written anything but novels, so everybody’s mileage varies. But most of the people I know who didn’t go the short fiction first route wrote several novels before they finally sold one, so everybody still has to do their own writing apprenticeships one way or another. Unless you’re some kind of celebrity, it’s extremely rare to sell a novel if it’s the first thing you’ve ever tried to write.
I’ll admit, I can’t gush enough about your Jessie Shimmer series and was floored at the sheer imagination on display in both Spellbent and Shotgun Sorceress. Also unusual (to me) was the inclusion of many horror elements in an urban fantasy setting. What are some of your biggest literary influences and what would you say influenced Jessie and her world the most?
Over the years, I’ve read a whole lot of authors in a whole lot of genres, and all of them have influenced me one way or another. Ursula K. Le Guin made a huge impact on me when I was younger, but so did Lewis Carroll, Charles Perrault, Frances Hodgson Burnett, Ian Fleming, William Golding, Frank Herbert, Ray Bradbury, Robert E. Howard, William Gibson, Anne McCaffrey, and Hunter S. Thompson. Because I got these really spectacularly gruesome nightmares when I was a kid and didn’t want to encourage them, I didn’t read horror until I was an adult. But once I dove into the dark end of the pool I found a whole lot of good stuff there. For instance, I think people will probably see a bit of Clive Barker influence in parts of Switchblade Goddess. And I’ve learned a tremendous amount from Gary A. Braunbeck.
Can you give us a bit of a teaser for Switchblade Goddess, the third in the Jessie Shimmer series?
Switchblade Goddess is the second half of Shotgun Sorceress; when I was plotting the series out, I envisioned that plot arc as a single book, but the story expanded once I started writing it. Jessie’s nemesis Miko is the title character of Switchblade Goddess for a reason — the book goes into her history and motivations a lot more than Shotgun Sorceress did. Readers can expect this novel to go to some very dark places, but I’ve also tried to balance those scenes with moments of humor and some sweetness in the evolving love story between Jessie and Cooper. As always, the focus is on the adventure.
When you started Spellbent, did you already have in mind the number of books that would be in the Jessie Shimmer series, or did you just decide to see where it took you?
When I initially sold Spellbent, I had in mind a trilogy, with a possible fourth book. But the storyline kept expanding, and now in order to get to all the events I alluded to in the prologue for Spellbent, I need to write at least three more books. I’ve also got ideas for more novels past those, and I’m currently writing short stories that explore some other events implied by the current books.
What is one of your most unusual writing quirks?
I do my best writing in flannel pajama pants and fuzzy socks. If I try to write barefoot and in jeans, or in shoes and in shorts, it’s all wrong and I have to change. The shirt doesn’t seem to matter so much; I should note that I do always wear one, largely because my office window overlooks the street.
What’s on your nightstand right now?
I’m currently reading an advance copy of Seanan McGuire’s new urban fantasy Discount Armageddon; it’s all about cryptozoology and ballroom dancing, and it’s a lot of fun.
When you’re not busy writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
What is this “not busy writing” thing of which you speak? I enjoy watching movies, and playing Scrabble, and going out to good restaurants. Because of my going out to restaurants habit, I also try to spend a decent amount of time at the gym.
It says in your bio that your parents took you on car trips all over the US. If you could pack your bags and go anywhere in the world tomorrow, where would you go, and why?
That’s a hard question to answer, because there are so many places I’ve never been that I’d like to visit: Hawaii, New Zealand, Australia, Japan, the Caribbean, Costa Rica, Scotland, Ireland, northern Italy … there are too many to list. Of the places I’ve been, I’d love to take my husband and a couple of friends to the Isle of Capri just so I can go, “See? The water really is that blue! I didn’t Photoshop that!” and then we could eat some really phenomenal bruschetta and ice cream and then we could all hike up to the ruins of Villa Jovis while singing songs from “Meet the Feebles”. Okay, the singing and hiking is optional. The bruschetta wouldn’t be.
You write a column on science and technology for writers and also coordinate writing workshops. What advice would you give to struggling writers?
My main advice would be to stick with it. That’s been the biggest difference between the people who’ve gotten published and the people who haven’t: persistence along with the ability to learn from criticism rather than be put off by it or ignore it. I’ve seen talented writers fall by the wayside because they got discouraged, and writers who at first seemed not so talented succeed because they were willing to work their butts off.
Is there any other news of upcoming projects or events that you’d like to share with us?
My next book will be a collection of erotica entitled Orchid Carousals; I’m still working on the stories for it, but it should be out in 2012 from Creative Guy, the publisher who’s produced my collections Sparks and Shadows, Chimeric Machines, and Installing Linux on a Dead Badger. A significant portion of Orchid Carousals will be new stories featuring Jessie Shimmer, Cooper Marron and the Warlock. I’m writing it mostly for fun, and I hope readers will enjoy it, too.
Keep up with Lucy: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
1. You must fill out the form below.
2. Giveaway is for 1 copy of Spellbent OR Switchblade Goddess to 1 winner.
3. Giveaway is open to US and Canadian addresses only
4. Please include a valid email address
5. You must enter on or before 1/1/12
6. I am not responsible for books lost or damaged in the mail. Please see my Giveaway Policy.
7. Giveaway book kindly provided by the author.