About the Author
An avid reader all her life, only recently has Petra allowed her own imagination to run riot. She loves to travel, loves the outdoors and reads everything she can get her hands on, time permitting. Her taste in books is very eclectic – she tends to like stories with vivid and quirky characters that have elements of fantasy, adventure, romance and mystery interspersed together. A good book for her is one that makes the reader think long after it has been finished and set aside. And one that draws the reader back to it, again and again.
Stories have swirled in her head for years. Sometimes, when the ending of a promising book disappoints her, she imagines a different and more satisfying outcome for herself. To share the characters and tales that have lived in her imagination for so long is a labor of love and a lifelong dream come true for her.
What makes a good story, why?
A good story is one that can successfully draw a reader in, to immerse him in the tale and make him care about the characters and the universe that exists only in the pages of the book. A good book to me is one that makes the reader think about it, story, characters or situations, long after it has been finished and set aside.
Do you view writing as a career, labor of love, hobby,
creative outlet, therapy, or something else?
It is absolutely a labor of love for me, as well as a creative outlet. It started out as a creative outlet for my very active imagination and a way to de-stress and relax. I’ve been writing down snippets and stories that swirled around in my head for over ten years now. When I first began, it was singularly frustrating for me because when I read back what I had written, it did not even come close to the very vivid and clear picture in my mind. Over time, I got better at it by rewriting the same scene every day until the words singing on the page were finally in sync with the images dancing in my imagination. It took me a long time to make the decision to share my stories. Getting something ready for publishing is a very different ball game and so, writing became a labor of love for me.
I would like to make it a career one day and am exploring that option now. But as of now, I also have a very demanding career.
What field or genre would you classify your book(s) and what attracted you to write in that field or genre?
All my stories have one element in common - fantasy. They’re usually a mix of action, suspense and romance in varying degrees but the fantasy element is always present. I love the fantasy genre because it makes me feel that the world is my oyster. As long as I’m able to craft a fantasy world with details and characters that can draw a reader in, there are no rules to hold me back. That allows me to give free rein to my imagination. And I have a very vivid imagination J
What is your most/least favorite part of the writing process, why?
My favorite part of the writing process is when I’m trying to furiously translate an idea in my head into words on a paper and my writing is unable to keep up with my imagination. This is the part where the story just flows.
My least favorite part of the writing process is the final editing cycle. I get sick of the story and the characters that have been such a large part of me and yet, I’m loath to let go and admit to myself that this is the best I can do with this particular tale. I always feel that if I came back to it a few months later, I could improve on it with a few tweaks here and there.
Do you ever suffer from writer’s block? If so, what do you do about it?
I do, usually when a character is proving stubborn and not amenable to follow the path I’d like it to take. I call it story fatigue. It usually means that I need a break from a particular story until I can come back and look at it with fresh eyes again. So, I move on to something else. Since I usually have three, sometimes four stories, that I’m writing simultaneously, this is an easy transition for me to make.
Do you read? Who are your favourite authors and how have they influenced your writing style?
I’m a voracious reader and have been a bookworm all my life. But I’m not sure that the authors I love have influenced my writing style at all although they’ve certainly influenced the type of yarns I like to spin. A prime example is James Herriot. I love his books. Not just his stories but the way he tells them. The subtle humor, the self-deprecation, his dedication to his profession and patients, and his love for the Dales and his family comes vividly through the pages of his books in a manner that even a child can understand. But even though I like his books, my writing style is not influenced by him at all.
If I were to mention one author whose books have inspired the kind of stories I like to write, it would be Mary Stewart. When I first read her books in high school, I didn’t know what genre her stories fell under but I consider her stories timeless. I love the strong and well-defined characters, the intrigue and sense of danger, a strong thread of romance, the slow build-up of the story towards its climax and the exotic settings that fire your imagination. I tend to write stories with elements of fantasy, adventure, mystery and romance juxtaposed together and I believe that has been influenced by her books.
What are the advantages/disadvantages of self or traditional publishing?
I have only self-published, so my view of traditional publishing is based on reading about other writers’ experiences with it. Self-publishing can be very powerful and at the same time, very scary. You have complete control over your story, your characters and every aspect of book production (covers etc) and book promotion. It is a huge amount of work but can be very rewarding. On the flip side of the coin, you do not have as much control over your own work when you publish traditionally but you also gain a team to help you with aspects of the book that they’re good at and have prior experience with. I also believe that a team with your interests at heart to give you unbiased advice can help make your manuscript better. So, I would conclude that the very aspects that make self-publishing so seductive and powerful for writers are also what makes the process so daunting. I guess it depends on how you look at it.
Do you believe there is value in a review? Do you believe they are under rated, over rated, or don’t matter at all?
There is tremendous value in reviews, both for the reader and the author. Since the advent of self-publishing and Amazon has lowered the barrier to entry for independent writers, reviews hold even more value than before. This is especially true for authors just starting out who don’t yet have a body of work available out there for readers to digest.
For a reader perusing books and searching for a good read, reviews help him make up his mind from the myriad choices available to him today. Especially, if the reader is looking for a new author to try. But for an author too, a well-written review holds tremendous benefit. It tells an author what parts of her story resonate with readers and what could be improved upon. I write for myself but I publish with the hope that readers derive pleasure from reading my stories. When they do, it spurs me on. And when they tell what they didn’t like, it helps me hone the next one. I always want to hear from readers, both the good and the bad, so I can work at my craft and hopefully, get better at it over time.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Yes, I read all my reviews. I have published one book so far and I’m hungry to get reader feedback. I only respond to reviews posted by someone I have solicited to read my book. Otherwise, I do not engage.
My advice would be to take the bad reviews in stride with the good. At the end of the day, people read for different reasons and one man’s fantastic read could easily be someone else’s one star rating.
What is the best piece of advice you would give to someone that wants to get into writing?
I’m a firm believer in following your dreams, whatever that may be. If you believe that you have a story to tell and are willing to work at it, you can make it happen. The world can only be a better place with more stories in it.
I also believe that with practice and a desire to improve, one can become a better writer. It is after all a medium of communication and like all such mediums, it can be learnt. I certainly don’t mean to imply that all it takes is some perseverance to become Yeats or Shakespeare but with some effort and dedication, you can learn how to better articulate your thoughts in a way that the reader you’re trying to communicate it to understands you.
What are your current/future projects?
I have two series I’m currently working on - Saga of the Chosen, an urban fantasy series and The War Chronicles, a science-fiction romance and adventure series.
Saga of the Chosen is sprinkled with action, adventure, an unfolding mystery and a dose of romance. The Prophecy is Book One of this series. Set in contemporary San Francisco, it follows the intrigue in the cut-throat world of Chosen, beings gifted with power but plagued by rifts and factionalism, who defy all attempts to unify them until a mysterious threat from the past roils their world to lay bare their divisions and make them question centuries-old traditions and norms. The story is told through the eyes of Tasia Armstrong, a Chosen whose dangerous secrets compel her to keep her distance from her brethren. When a fateful decision forces her into a tempestuous alliance with the local Shape-shifter Pack, Tasia finds herself in the midst of fierce politicking between wizards, Shape-shifters and vampires. In a world where the line between friend and foe is often hard to decipher, Tasia must figure out the rules quickly even as danger stalks ever closer to her.
The War Chronicles are a set of standalone stories that may be read in any order. Set in a galaxy far way where a deadly war for territory and domination of space rages, it tells the stories of the space-faring people caught up in this conflict as they attempt to build their lives amidst the flames of an all-encompassing and never-ending war; fighting to protect their homes from being annexed and their way of life from being destroyed and subjugated by the Budh-Ketaari Empire.
The Mercenary will be the first book in this series. It tells the story of two unlikely people whose worlds collide accidently at a space station. Drawn to each other despite the circumstances and against all odds, echoes of their improbable love reverberate across space. The aftermath sets into motion a chain reaction that has the potential to alter the course of the war and the balance of power in their quadrant of space.
About the Book
Chosen have walked the earth for time immemorial, surviving by scrupulously hiding their magic to blend in. Tasia Armstrong is a very special Chosen. Forced to conceal her powers from her brethren, she makes a fateful decision one night to assist an injured Shape-shifter. Suddenly, Tasia finds herself forced out of the shadows, an unwitting pawn in the ongoing skirmish between mercenaries wreaking havoc in San Francisco and the local Shape-shifter Pack led by a formidable and dangerous Alpha Protector. Thrown into the deep end, Tasia has little choice but to ally with the volatile and aggressive Shifters while grappling to deal with the enigmatic Alpha who holds his fractious Pack together with a ruthless hand on the reins.
Grave danger threatens their world as a powerful wizard exploits an old prophecy to divide the Chosen. When the Pack is asked to investigate the twenty-five year old mystery, Tasia is drawn deeper into the past. As danger closes in on her, Tasia must decide who to trust with the deadly secret she guards.