An Interview with SF Author Sharon T Rose

IMG_1153Greetings, Sharon! Thank you so much for taking the time to join me for this interview. Before I begin, can you tell us about your writing background, particularly regarding how you got into writing online serials? 

Hola, Becna! Thanks for inviting me over for a chat. Here goes:

I began writing online serials in January 2009. I'd been reading online comics for years, yet it had never occurred to me that fiction could be done the same way. One day, while surfing for some new comics to read, I clicked on a link to a serial. One Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO) later, I set up my own free website and began posting. I'd tried to write a whole novel before and been completely overwhelmed by the prospect. Breaking the writing into little chunks made it less terrifying and a lot more fun. I've come to value the process of serial writing and depend on the regular updates to keep myself on schedule. Mostly on schedule.

Perhaps the most challenging part of serial writing is the same challenge other writers face: keep going when you don't feel like it. I set my own schedule and word minimum, but I don't always feel like doing it. Real Life intervenes without warning, there are days when I'm sick or stressed or busy and I still have to write. By having an update schedule, I have a tangible deadline that allows for very little slacking. It's a good way to keep up the writing discipline.

 Before I delve into your released novel with Curiosity Quills, what has been the most challenging aspect of writing serials online? Did you ever anticipate acquiring a contract with a small publishing house when you set out to write your serials? 

I began writing as a hobby and as a way to escape from the Desk Job I had at the time. Writing “wasn't a real job”, so I never expected to do anything with it. The more I wrote, the more I saw when I looked at and interacted with other online authors, the more I realized that this was more than a hobby. It took years for me to gain the courage to approach anyone, agent or publisher, with my work, because I have such high standards for myself that I refused to see any value in my little scribbles. I submitted to Curiosity Quills mostly as a “see what happens but I doubt anything will” experiment. I was rather surprised when they wanted to publish it!

What is your favorite part of writing an online serial? Why? 

Oh, the dreaded “favorite” question. There are so many things that I enjoy about the process that choosing just one is as hard as choosing my favorite book! Hmm. Perhaps it's the thrill of discovery. I'm primarily a pantser in my writing. I do some plotting and planning ahead of time, but I've learned that if I'm too specific, I choke of the flow and go nowhere with the writing. I've lost count of how many times I've had to stare at what I just typed in shock, awe, confusion, or excitement, because I had no idea that those words would ever show up. So many little things that readers have told me they loved were not in the original concept of the story. Some huge things that changed the entire flow and outcome of the tale showed up when I wasn't looking.

Your least favorite part? Why? 

I dislike most what I value most: the enforced discipline. There are days and weeks when I don't want to write. Case in point: the last few months have been hideously stressful in Reality Land, what with family crises, illness, challenges, disappointments, opportunities, and more. I haven't felt like writing because I was so wrung out from everything non-writing related in my life. I HATE missing an update, but I've had to miss several because there were too many conflicts. The requirement to write when I've got nothing in me to write from adds as much stress as family obligations. And yet, I still treasure it.

Can you describe the process of converting an online serial to a novel? What sort of challenges did you face going through this process? 

One of the biggest challenges lay in the fact that this was my very first attempt at writing anything more than a few pages in length or scope, and I had next to no idea what I was doing. We had so many things to clean up, fix, rearrange, change, and edit that my head swam and I felt sure I was the worst excuse of a writer in the world. However, I've learned from the process, and I continue to learn. I get a little better each day, each time I sit down and begin typing. Another big challenge is the difference in format between serial and novel: I update three times per week, so my updates tend to be between 1,000 and 1,500 words. Most book chapters are upwards of 5,000 words or more. Bite-sized is great for the online reader, and every update has a tiny cliffhanger at the end. It's not easy to combine those into a single, longer chapter. In the Space & Time series, we've chosen to keep the chapters short to preserve some of the online feel. Is that the right choice? We will learn.

Is there anything you would have changed about how you handled writing the serial if you knew in advance you would be releasing it as a novel in the future with a publishing company? 

I don't know that I could have changed anything way back when. As I mentioned, it was my first attempt; the entire process was a learning experience. Perhaps the only thing I could legitimately change would be doing more edits on my own before submitting to CQ's editor. That said, I didn't know about doing my own edits (beyond looking for typos), so how could I change that? I had to learn the hard way, the same as every other writer, what to do and not do. I guess I would change nothing about the process, because then I might not have learned all the lessons I needed to learn, and I would not be the writer I am today had I not made the mistakes I made.

You wrote an online serial. It got converted and released as a novel. Tell us about this book!

“The Galaxy is a big place. No matter how well you prepare, you're not ready for it.“Space & Time” traces the journey of a young slave who tricks a powerful man into buying her so that she can have a better life. She doesn't expect him to be as clever as she is, since her first master was an idiot. Jregli learns a lot of things through trial and error, including the fact that while you can't control life, it is what you choose to make of it. There are dozens of alien Races to discover, constant clashes of culture, failures and successes, and unexpected outcomes. Jregli takes her life in her claws when she dares to change her future.

Without spoiling too much, please tell us what your favorite part is! Why is this your favorite part? 

My favorite part of “Leap of Space” is definitely the Dance sequence. Jregli has always secretly admired the Wind Dancers of her home planet, Yerbra, and when a group visit the space station where she lives, she gets to watch a performance. I had way too much fun choreographing the scene, determining what would be impressive to Yerbrans, and how to explain it all to a human audience. The scene provides a lot of character development for Jregli and fuels much of the later conflict. My favorite part of the series … well, you'll have to read the rest of it to find out.

You are being chased by an angry unicorn. You have a Shakespearean Insults mug, a sharpie, a water bottle, and an Oxford Pocket Dictionary. How do you defeat the unicorn?

I throw the water in his face to distract him, jam the dictionary on the horn to disable it, draw zebra stripes on the pelt to embarrass him, and drink from the mug with Billy-esque smugness as he lopes off in shame.

Thanks again for having me over!

About Sharon

Sharon T. Rose grew up in the military, which did its level best to turn her into a properly-functioning and positively-contributing member of society. Being a little on the thick-headed side, Sharon needed a few decades to realize that she didn’t have the legs for combat boots, but she did eventually wise up and go AWOL. After a decade or so of college and cube farming, Sharon got the bright idea that maybe, just maybe, all those stories banging around in her head weren’t the waste of time The Brass seemed to think they were.

The break for freedom began when Sharon discovered online serial fiction in January 2009. Enveloped in a Blinding Flash of the Obvious (BFO), Sharon quickly set up an account with digitalnovelists.com and began posting stories. It was a ray of sunshine in the dark, dank cellar of the cubes. It was a rebellion. And ultimately, it was rebirth.

Late in 2010, Sharon left the cube farm for the greener pastures of her own imagination. The Brass screamed, the farm condescended, and Sharon put one trembling foot in front of another and made it work. After months of trial and effort, she completed a trilogy, released an ebook, syndicated a serial, sold a short story, and has so many WIPs that she sometimes wonders why she did this in the first place.

Oh, right. Because the stories must be shared.

Fun Facts About Sharon!

  • She lives under a rock.
  • She could eat Haribo™ brand Gummi Bears until she puked and be glad of it.
  • She’s allergic to way too much stuff, including flowers, pets, and milk.
  • She is fluent in over 12 accents.
  • She quilts by hand.
  • She is The Pundit.

Sharon's second novel can be previewed at Curiosity Quills. The novel releases in April 2014.

Leave a Comment:

1 comment
john l. denton says August 30, 2015

maybe trinity could use a small group ministry for sci fi fans… ps:i like gummy bears too ..jd

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