Originally posted on Renee's Author Spotlight:
She works as an editor for AIA Editing and Publishing, a selective, author-funded publishing company, and lives in an Australian rainforest with a lovely husband and two cheeky Burmese cats. She also makes masks and steampunk accessories, and her wardrobe is full of steampunk clothing which she wears every day because beautiful clothes deserve to be worn.
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About the Book
While Jamie struggles with family responsibilities, Ella’s steampunk murder mystery develops a life of its own, raising disturbing memories of her time as a striptease artist and a past life as a sexually abused Italian nun. She also dreams of an ephemeral city, where she seeks to unravel the locksmith’s secret and find the key that opens a door to other realities.
All these, together with a lost brother, a desperate mother, a demanding cat, and a struggle to live up to Buddhist ideals, weave together in a rich tapestry that creates an extraordinary work of genre-bending transrealist fiction.
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Keep reading for an interview with the author:
Do you have a "day job"? If so, what do you do?
I'm a freelance editor.
What genres do you write?
Fantasy and magical realism mostly, but The Locksmith's Secret is primarily a romance with magical elements. I've also written a non-fiction book on writing - The Elements of Active Prose: Writing Tips to Make Your Prose Shine.
Is there a genre that you've been wanting to experiment with? If so, what is it and what attracts you to it?
Steampunk. There's a steampunk thread in The Locksmith's Secret. It's a story the central character is writing. Though it comes to a conclusion, the story isn't completely finished in that book, so I've started writing the ending which I hope to publish as The RIse of the Aether Mages. I like the steampunk genre because of the plucky heroines, the action packed stories, the light-hearted touch and the magical element. What drew me to steampunk initially was the clothing. I love steampunk clothes, so much so that I wear them all the time.
What inspires you to write?
Meditation. Often when I sit and let my mind clear, vibrant scenes just pop into my mind. I feel like I'm right there and that's very inspiring.
What is the biggest obstacle you face as an author and what do you do to overcome it?
Marketing is my biggest obstacle. It doesn't come easily to me. I try to break the tasks down into easy steps and focus on one thing at a time, otherwise I get overwhelmed with all the things I could, and maybe should, do. Marketing can be a big time suck. and you never know whether anything you do will be worth the time you put into it.
What is the best compliment you've ever received as an author?
I think getting the awards I've won. Many reviewers have said lovely things about my work, but it's not easy to get a BRAG Medallion or an Awesome Indies Seal of Excellence and I have three of them.
What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
Write as if you're right there in the scene, smelling what is to be smelt, seeing what is to be seen, hearing all the sounds, feeling all the feelings and so on. People say that my writing is very evocative in this way.
What made you decide to self-publish?
I scored an agent for my first book, Lethal Inheritance, and a major Australian publisher wanted to publish it until their marketing department decided that they couldn't handle another YA fantasy. Those two things told me that the book was good enough to publish. My agent had tried all the big publishers, and she said not to go with a small publisher, which meant that I either shelved the series or self-published, so I decided to give it a go.
The Diamond Peak series was later picked up by a US publisher. After that I decided that I liked having total control of my work and so have published my books through my own company(AIA Publishing) ever since.
Have you ever gotten an idea for a story from something really bizarre? Tell us about it.
The Locksmith's Secret came from a visual image of a girl in a transparent city floating in outer space. She was all alone in this deserted city except for a locksmith in a room high in a skyscraper. What was he going to do with all those keys when the city had no doors? This ephemeral city is now a story thread in the book.
Do you have any advice for other authors?
Yes, don't rush into self-publishing. Premature publishing is a really bad start. Also it's a minefield of sharks. You need to do a lot of resesarch and study on the topic, because you're learning to be a publisher. You also have to learn marketing and that's another steep learning curve if you know nothing about it to start with.