DRAGONS AND A TOUCH OF MAGIC

FROM CONNIE BARRETT
I hope my readers are enjoying this change of pace. I’ve been interviewing authors who belong to Indie Writers Unite!, which is a super list serve or writers loop to connect with those who are publishing with independent publishers or publishing themselves. It should give my readers a look at alternative publication and what type of books are coming from those authors.
Welcome, Connie Barrett, author of what she refers to as mythology fiction. Thanks for being a guest.
Q. Please tell us something about yourself and how you came to be a writer of fantasy.
A. I was a child who preferred reading to almost everything else, except being in the woods and climbing trees. As a result, I was well-read. Because my grandmother and mother were compelling story tellers, the idea of writing came naturally to me. I especially enjoyed reading Greek and Roman mythology (with occasional dips into Nordic myths). In some ways, I think of what I write as more like mythology than the usual brand(s) of fantasy. I also like turning accepted beliefs upside down, and there is an element of satire in my stories. The land of Oasis, which is the starting point for A Dragon’s Guide to Destiny, my series, is in many ways very much like contemporary so-called civilization.
Q. Tell us about your books.
A. The first two books are part of a series in progress. Based on the idea (prominent in Celtic mythology) that different kinds of dragons represent the four elements, they follow the adventures of a melancholy dragon, fearless kitten, reluctant female psychic, and the Guardian of Oasis, who isn’t having much luck in keeping either his nation or himself together.
Big Dragons Don’t Cry: A cunning opportunist incites the people of Oasis to kill the local dragon so that he can convert Druid’s swamp into suburban housing. The would-be dragonslayer also plans to have the Guardian assassinated and assume power. Unless the dragon joins a kitten with attitude and a human with unlawful psychic gifts, Oasis is finished.
Dance with Clouds: For centuries, a priestess cult has ruled the land of Dolocairn. Now drug lords seek to take control. As part of their campaign to broaden their power, they use drugs that induce amnesia and death to attack the land of Oasis. Serazina, the Heroine of Oasis, must go to Dolocairn to stop them. Tara, a fearless kitten, and Druid, a melancholy dragon, accompany her. They may not get out alive.
I’ve also written a non-fiction book: Animals Have Feelings, Too: Bach Flower Remedies for Cats and Dogs. If you have behavioral issues with your cats or dogs—or they have issues with you, you may find this book helpful.
Q. Why do you prefer small indie publishers to the traditional publishing houses?
A. I am a freedom-seeking being, and I love being able to write what I want without interference. I was originally contracted to a publishing house, but I began to not like the direction things were taking, and I was able to opt out of the contract. At first, the idea of being on my own was intimidating, but I’m coming to like it more and more.
Q. What are you working on?
A. I am working on the third book of the series, as yet entitled. It will feature fire dragons and lots of wickedness. I’m also thinking about how to publish a collection of short stories. In addition, I have some more mainstream novels that I will probably publish next year. I have a blog written from the point of view of one of the characters of my series that could end up as a book.
Referring back to question 3, I find that being an independent author allows me to contemplate publication without having to think about whether a Big 6 publisher will agree that the book is worth publishing. That, of course, is a double-edged sword. I have only my own judgment to consult, and if I misjudge from the reader’s viewpoint, the book won’t sell. However, I’d rather let the readers decide, as opposed to numbers crunchers.
Q. Do you manage to write every day?
A. I manage to do some writing every day, but because I also write non-fiction and two blogs, there’s no telling what I’ll be writing on a given day. My writing day depends on what else I have to do, my level of inspiration, and whether any really good distractions are showing up.
Q. Do you plot or outline your stories or do you just get an idea and take off?
A. I lean more to taking off. I have to warm myself in the creative fire and wait until later to gather up the ashes. Once I’m launched, I’ll begin a kind of outline, and a plot will take form, but both will change a lot. I’ve found that my most creative approach is to let the characters tell me what they want to do. They haven’t failed me.
Q. What do you like the most/the least about the writing life?
A. What I like most is writing, and what I like least is marketing. As I learn more about the latter, though, I’m developing a better attitude.
Q. What advice would you give aspiring writers?
A. Do it, and write without worrying about whether it’s ever going to get published. That is a fantastic creativity crusher. You’re in this to write and get lost in the creative process. The other stuff comes later.
If you can’t quite get it together to launch a novel, write a short story. If you need aerobic writing exercise, write a journal as often as you can. If you’re having trouble quick-starting the creative spark, keep a dream journal. Just move those fingers on the keyboard, or wrap them around a pen. Movement counts.
Q. Who are some of your favorite authors?
A. I am an omnivorous reader, and it’s difficult to pick favorites, but in the fantasy field I love Terry Pratchett and Ursula LeGuin. Overall long-time favorites include John Steinbeck, James Joyce, Jane Austen, and Maeve Binchy.
Q. Are you on any forums or networking sites? If so, how valuable do you find them?
A. I am mostly clueless about networking sites. This is the dark terrain of promotion that I’ve only begun to explore. I have, however, gotten great value on many levels from being part of Indie Writers Unite (IWU!). The value goes far beyond practical information. Writing is a solitary endeavor, and it’s wonderful to surface and spend time with fellow authors.
Q. What do you think the future holds for a writer?
A. The world of publishing has changed so much in the past few years that I find prediction impossible. The only thing I know for sure is that we will continue to live in interesting times.
Q. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
A. I think that covers it. Thanks so much for hosting me on your blog.
Please feel free to comment and ask questions of Connie. When you visit her sites, please like her Facebook page and make comments on her blogs. This type of interaction between genres helps all of us in our promotional efforts.
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About veldabrotherton

I'm primarily a writer, but I also speak and teach workshops and co-chair a large critique group. My brand is SexyDarkGritty and that applies to my western historical romances, mysteries, women's fiction and horror novels. After almost 30 years in this business, I still have something to learn and attend conferences to network with other writers, publishers, editors and agents.
This entry was posted in Celtic mythology, Connie Barrett, dragons, fantasy and mythology, independent publishing. Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to DRAGONS AND A TOUCH OF MAGIC

  1. M. M. Justus says:

    Could you add a link to the listserve? It sounds like it's right up my alley.Or is it allowing new members at this time?Thanks.

  2. Jack LaBloom says:

    Great interview, Velda. I love the her responses to your questions. Especially the one where she says do it and write without worrying about any of the big six publishers. I think that is great advice for creativity.

  3. J.M. Powers says:

    I enjoyed the interview! I always like hearing what other writers have to say about the craft. Oh, writing for the big six…that was a dream, but now that I have worked with indie publishers, I love the feel of "family". Thanks for sharing.

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