eBook Review Gal chats with writer, photographer, wife and mother, Su Williams about her new novel, Dream Weaver.
When did you realize you wanted to be a writer?
I always liked writing short stories and poems as kid. But it wasn’t until after I read the Twilight Saga that I was inspired to try something a little more…epic.
How long did it take you to write Dream Weaver?
I’m a little embarrassed to admit that it took me 5 years to write Dream Weaver. But I take solace in the fact that it was a learning journey for me. I don’t believe the story would be nearly as fleshed out had I published it any earlier. I spent those years learning as much as I could about writing and editing.
How did you choose the title?
I created my immortals, the Onar Caphar, or Dream Weavers based on the Gary Wright song, Dream Weaver. And believe me, Emari Sweet definitely needs help to ‘get [her] through the night.’
Do you have a favorite part?
I’d have to say the ‘vampire’ scene was my fave. The story was originally going to be about vampires, but my daughter, Sarah, protested. Besides, vampires have been done to death…there’s not much new under the sun about vampires…including the vampires. But I still had this great vampire scene floating around in my head. So I figured out a way to use it.
What is your writing schedule like?
Hours and hours on end, usually into the wee hours of the morning, holed up in my bedroom, with books scattered across my desk…I mean my bed…for research; and close to a dozen websites open to various sites like Thesaurus.com.
What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Well, I think I’m just a wee bit quirky all on my own. I tend to research a lot to make sure the concepts sound feasible. And again, the fact that I write in bed, usually in my jammies.
How did you choose this writing genre?
Honestly, I had no idea what ‘genre’ I was writing for in the beginning, except YA. It wasn’t until I went to my first writer’s conference (PNWA Summer Conference) that I discovered that I was writing paranormal fiction. I tossed around urban fantasy as a label, but you have to have an ‘urban’ setting and Dream Weaver’s more rural. People kept using terms like ‘Steam Punk’ and ‘Space Opera’, and I’d look at them like they said a foreign word. Well, it was totally foreign to me.
Where did you get your information or ideas for Dream Weaver?
I wanted to create an immortal that wasn’t a vampire or werewolf. One of my lead characters, Nick, infiltrated my dreams and shared scenes with me that evolved as I got more characters involved. I studied information on sleep stages, brain waves and dreaming, and each new piece of information expanded the story. The characters kind of nudged the story in different directions. Some of the ideas are from my own real life experiences or the experiences of others.
Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Not so far. But, when I hit a sticking point, I use riff-writing to discover new things about a character or scene.
What does your family think of your writing?
My family is 100% behind me. Sometimes, I think they believe in it more than I do. My parents especially have been supportive in more ways than I can count.
Do you hear from your readers?
Mostly, I hear back in the form of reviews. So far, Dream Weaver has garnered a 4-5 star rating on Goodreads, Amazon, and B&N.
What do you think makes a good story?
I think the biggest thing is for the story to be relatable. If the story is too far out people won’t be able to relate to the characters. And I think the story must be well edited. Personally, I get very frustrated with reading a story that is riddled with mistakes.
Do you think most authors understand the importance of marketing their own work?
Geez, I know I had no clue what it would take. I think a lot of indie authors have no clue the amount of work that goes into marketing their work until they’re into it. And it’s not just knowing the importance of marketing, but knowing how, and what venues to use.
What are some of your methods for self-promotion? What has worked, what hasn’t?
I’ve used my blog, Twitter, Facebook, Goodreads, and various indie book sites. At this point, I don’t really feel I can say what has and hasn’t worked.
What do you like to do when you’re not writing?
I’m an aspiring photographer in down time.
Who would you say has been a major influence in your life?
My Mom and Dad. Hands down. They inspire me in ways that they don’t even realize.
Are you working on anything new now?
Yep! I’m working on the next book, Rock Star. And I’m toying with a book that will be a cross between ‘It’s a Wonderful Life’, ‘Butterfly Effect’, and ‘Quantum Leap.’ I hope to have it available for release by the end of the year.
Do you ever use friends, family members or acquaintances as character models?
Absolutely! My character, Ivy, is loosely based on my friend Heather; and the memory sequences of Emari’s dad are based, again loosely, on my Dad as a child.
How do you deal with criticism?
Initially, not very well. But anyone who has either negatively or constructively criticized Dream Weaver has followed up with very encouraging and positive acclamations as well. I try to find the good in a criticism, if it exists. If not, I have to remember that everyone is entitled to their opinion. And if they want to be wrong, that’s their right. LOL
We often hear the term, Write What You Know. Do you think this is always true?
Yes. And if you don’t know it, find out.
How much time did you spend researching information for Dream Weaver?
Hours and hours and hours. There are historical aspects of Dream Weaver that I wanted to be accurate, so I researched local, national and world history. BTW…I hate history. I studied brain waves, sleep stages and dreaming; fashion and autopsy procedure of the early 1900s; and information on rape in the US. For my new book, I got to do interviews with a band called Hell’s Belles, and go to rock concerts. It was really tough work.
For Private Eye (the third book), I’ve got a ride along with a local police woman planned, as well as a tour of the Spokane Police Department, and keeping my fingers crossed for a peek at a cold case file.
Do you write other types of content? (Articles, Web content, etc.)
I’ve done a few short stories via writing prompts on Writer’s Digest. That was fun. But mostly, my only other writing is blog posts and web content.
Do you think blogs are helpful marketing tools?
I absolutely believe that my blog is a helpful marketing tool. I’ve had my blog up for 2 years. At first, I’d get excited if I got 20 visits in a month. Now, I average between 600 and 800 visitors/month.
Are you active on social media sites? Have they been effective marketing tools?
I’m quasi-active on social media. I tweet new and upcoming blog posts on Twitter, which automatically posts to my Facebook page. I’m not really sure how effective social media is as a marketing tool. I can say I have all these friends and followers, but that hasn’t really translated into a lot of sales.
What is your opinion on using a pseudonym when writing?
I think it’s a matter of personal preference whether a writer chooses to use a pen name or not. Each author has their own personal reason for using the name on their books. For myself, I’m not super attached to my legal name (Barton), and neither is my husband…long story. So I chose to use my maiden name, Williams, instead. There’s a lot of Susan Williams out there…I have a friend by that name…but not so many Su Williams. BTW, why do people put an ‘e’ at the end of Sue, when there’s no ‘e’ in the name Susan???
Has any book (or movie) influenced your life?
The only book I can say that has truly influenced my life is the Bible.
Who are some of your favorite authors?
I have a few absolute favorite authors.
Richelle Mead whose Vampire Academy books are such an intense read, and soon to be a movie, that when I went to reread them I couldn’t because the emotion is so raw.
Lisa McMann is one of those writers agents might call ‘sparse’. She doesn’t need a lot of flowery speech to draw the most vibrant pictures. My favorite so far? Dead to You. I wrote to Lisa after I finished and said, ‘Lisa McMann knows just where to plunge the knife…and twist for good measure.’ Yeah, that good.
Maggie Stiefvater is so beautiful and lyrical in her writing. Her Shiver trilogy is AMAZING! She inspires me so much to be more poetic in my writing.
Annette Curtis Klaus captured the very nature of the beast in her novel Blood and Chocolate. An uber-great read. And I generally don’t use the word ‘uber’ anything.
I just finished the book Rot & Ruin by Jonathan Maberry. A bit gory but not totally disgusting. I think the tag line is something like ‘This book is full of heart….They just don’t beat anymore.’
What would be your best word of advice to aspiring authors?
Two things: get your manuscript edited, even if you can’t afford a professional, there are people out there who will do it on the cheap. Don’t let your high school English teacher do it. You want to release a book that is as polished and perfect as possible. Second, hire someone to do your cover art. Your cover is the first thing people see, their first impression of your book. If your cover looks cheap and amateur, readers will think the writing might be cheap and amateur.
Thank you Susan, eBookReviewGal, for the opportunity to spend time with your readers.
Dare to Dream!
Dream Weaver is available in paperback and eBook format at Amazon.com.