Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Q&A with author Tabatha Austin

Q ~ Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
Sure! I’m in my upper thirties, female, and someone that used to write then stopped for way too many years. Most of my early stuff was just fan fiction and NaNoWriMo entries.

I’m known for writing gay erotica but also some bizarre stories involving British accented Penis Monsters on Mars.

Q ~ What’s your favourite pass-time?
SCUBA diving when I get a chance. The only way I can describe it is ‘alien’. It’s the muted sound in your ears, to the power of ‘flight’, and the strange animals around you. It’s on Earth but it’s unearthly.

Besides that, some video games. Minecraft when I want to turn my brain off and need something peaceful. Although, it’s not peaceful when a Creeper throws you into the lava and you lose your diamond armor.

Q ~ What is your biggest pet peve?
Work-wise, bad formatting on e-books I send out. “I have no idea why it’s duplicating pages or doing double quotation marks.”

That and people that drive around you on the freeway then immediately go slower.

Q ~ What’s one habit that you have that you’d like to break?
Repetitious phrases. I’m trying to train myself out of “eyes went off to the side in thought”, and “I wasn’t sure if…” or “I didn’t know if…” and its cousin “I couldn’t tell if…”. I use a Word Addon called ProWriting Pro to look for repeated phrases and then re-word them.

Q ~ If you were stuck on a deserted island, who and what would you want with you and why?
Definitely not Gilligan. The castaways should have eaten him or just sent him on the other side of the island. I’ll go with The Professor. Yes, he couldn’t fix a hole in a boat but he’ll make life comfortable in the tropic island nest. I can just pull the nails from the top of the boat when we need to be rescued.

Q ~ How do you think people perceive authors?
Probably like wizards in alternate universes – we’re people with a power they’ll never have. There’s the mentality you have to be born with it to write.

It’s not true.

Jim Butcher put it best.

“It isn't easy. But it isn't complicated, either. Kinda like lifting the engine block out of a car.”

Sure, there’s raw talent but with enough reading and writing, nearly anyone that loves stories can write. It’s hard work to listen to the podcasts, read books on writing, devour your favorite genre, and read things you wouldn’t necessarily choose just to get another tidbit of knowledge.

But if you want to be a writer, chances are good you can.

Q ~ How do you feel about self-publishing?
I think it’s wonderful and not just for the personal benefit to me. There’s less of a ‘gatekeeper’ mentality to decide if something is good and allowed to be read by the masses. As long as someone writes well, they have a decent chance to ‘make it’.

Of course, the definition of ‘making it’ differs. Some want extra money, while others just want to know there’s fans out there. All far more doable now no matter your end goal.

Q ~ What is your favorite quote, by whom, and why?
“The best time to plant a tree was 20 years ago. The second best time is now.”

It’s an ancient Chinese secret as to who wrote it.

Because it’s never too late to do many things. You can’t go back in time, but you can tell yourself: “Yes, I will learn to paint, write, work out, etc.” Time’s going to pass anyway, so you might as well have that thing done when it does.

Q ~ What is your favourite genre to read? To write?
Pulp Science Fiction. Maybe it’s a desire for a simpler time or a response to not seeing that genre much. Although Guardians of the Galaxy was very pulpy (yes, including Groot).

I write more Urban Fantasy but I always reach back into Pulp when I need to recharge my brain. It’s fun to write about jetpacks – guns with bees, or miniature robot duplicates.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite author? Do they influence your writing?
Going with Jim Butcher. All around great guy but lots of sarcastic humor in his writing. I’m sure he does influence me (especially The Dresden Files). I try to add some very outlandish concepts in my writing. I mean… British accented dinosaurs? That’s Butcher’ish.

Q ~ How did you begin writing? Was there a single catalyst or a series of events?
I started as a writer as a child then stopped. There’s memories of me writing stories about The Smurfs when I was a kid. Then like with other goals, the years past by.

I thought about writing ‘one day’. “There’s a story in my head and I’ll get to it.”

Then I found a five year gap between then and my last creation when I looked at my notes. That was depressing. If I just wrote, I would have written 5 – 10 novels already.

So, I joined a few writing groups and someone mentioned Erotica as an option.

What really intrigued me was the short story part. I’ve always had a fondness for those old short Pulp Science Fiction type stories.

You know the type. It’s ten pages long and the ending reveals the female and male astronaut are Adam and Eve and the planet is Earth. Lots of Twilight Zone and Outer Limits twists.

They’re very simple by today’s standard but there’s something admirable about author’s that can work in a story in a few pages.

So I figured, a short story was easier than a novel – why not start there just to get my feet wet? That got me off my butt so to speak, and I’ve been writing ever since.

Q ~ Do you have any writing rituals that you follow? What is your go-to snack while writing?
I stick a recorder just above my right boob and walk around and talk. Once I’ve gotten about 20 minutes of audio, I have Dragon Naturally Speaking dictate it.

Then I correct as I write. It’s very Steam of Consciousness and I try to not let anything stop me. If I don’t know the name of a city, I just say “look up location” or “Cool name for a robot.”. Usually when I sit down, I can find the information. It’s very each to look up a city from 1930’s Germany and then find yourself reading Wikipedia articles about H.R. Puff’n’stuff.

Going with Coffee. It’s warm, sweet, and helps when I use Dragon Dictation.

Q ~ When you write, do you lay out a solid outline before beginning, or start writing and iron out the kinks later?
I do a bare bones outline and write down some clever things I want to see in the story. Then I just kinda freeform it. It’s kinda like going to Northern California. I can take a few different routes there but I still end up in San Francisco.

Q ~ What are your five favourite verbs to use during a love scene?
Kissed – Bit – Pushed – Clenched – Ran (as in fingers along my chest).

Q ~ Can you tell us a little bit about your latest release and what inspired you to write it?
Oh gosh, you got me at a good time. It’s called: “I Feminized Hitler.”

It has three origins.

1. I give myself hard topics to see if I can write about them. Call it a self-imposed challenge.

2. There was a Buzzfeed article about WTF Stockphotos. One was a girl with a Hitler mustache. I thought, “Hey that could work for a feminization story.” I wasn’t able to get rights to that photo but they story just fell into place.

3. I wanted to write a dark piece of fiction but I couldn’t create a storyline were you wouldn’t feel sorry for the protag. Considering it’s Hitler, not too many people will care if he’s ahem… punished in a maid’s outfit.

Q ~ What is your favourite part or scene in the novel?
Worldbuilding. Stories are about characters but the world is the salt/seasoning that makes it flavorful. It’s the chocolate icing on a fresh cake or a dash or salsa on a good taco.

Q ~ Do you have a favourite character (or two) in your latest series? What is it that draws you to them?
Captain Future. You can’t get more stereotypical than that. She’s a 1930’s type Pulp Science Fiction Adventurer. I love writing her stories because I go in directions I don’t usually go to or can.

Paranormal’s nice but you won’t get floating cities over Venus, talking dinosaurs, gender changing chambers, or cough… space corn dildos. It’s also different. No disrespect to the paranormal genre but Sci-Fi romance is a rich area just waiting to be tapped.

Q ~ You’ve written works outside of this series as well. For you, do they compare to one another? Do you have a favourite or do they all stand out in their own way?
It’s almost apples to oranges. My gay stuff is more ‘standard’. I hate to say formulaic because of the stigma to that word but there’s tropes and outlines that work well.

With my pulp / bizarre erotica I get to go really off the rails. However, that wouldn’t work well with my gay fiction. Readers have a certain expectation and going weird doesn’t really do it for them.

So when I follow the rules, it’s usually with gay fiction. When I freeform, it’s usually pulp and bizarre parody stuff.

Q ~ Do you have anything in the works at the moment? Care to give us a hint about it?
Yes, I have a sweet gay marriage romance between a geek and a jock. They’re off to Texas to announce their engagement but someone from the past lurks in the shadows…

Q ~ If you could give aspiring authors one piece of advice, what would it be?
Just do it. There’s a saying that every good writer has a million bad words in them. Some won’t have that many but every bit you write, helps. I learned more from just writing than I ever did with How To Books (as great as some were).

So don’t be afraid if you’re not good. Just write and you’ll become better… great even. Don’t deny the world a great writer.

About the author:

Tabatha Austin is an Austin, Texas transplant settling down after finding a city she can finally call home.

When she's not in front of her keyboard, she enjoys playing with her three dogs (now four), martial arts, SCUBA diving and working in her garden.

You can find out more about Tabatha below:

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