Friday, June 8, 2012

Interview with Becka Sutton!

 Becka Sutton is the author and publisher of two web-serials, The Dragon Wars Saga and The Haventon Chronicles, and she's also converting Dragon Wars to ebook format. The first of these, Land of Myth, is now available in several convenient formats. I've been reading Dragon Wars since early in its on-line life, and find it thoroughly enjoyable. Since Land of Myth went live last month, Becka's on a tour to raise awareness and I'm very happy to provide a stop for her, in the form of an interview with questions that range from the sublime to the... not so sublime. 

The format of this interview:
First, I have some writing and author related questions.
The center section deals with more project specific topics. Since Becka publishes two web-serials, I asked some related questions.
Lastly, a selection of random questions, so we can get to know her a little better.

me: Why did you get into writing/become a writer?
Becka: When I was eight we used to do little creative writing projects in English. On parents' night my teacher told my mother that I had a talent for the English language that verged on the astounding for my age. I asked what would be astounding and was told writing a novel at that age. So I set to work writing a novel. I seem to remember it was some Mary-Sueish thing about a girl who had to go on a quest to win the hand of a fairy prince which would end a curse that had been placed on her homeland after they burnt someone as a witch generations ago. As the chapters were only a paragraph long, it was really just a short story, and the plot was totally incoherent. I misplaced it when we moved a while later. But I kind of caught the bug then and haven't stopped writing since.

As a teen, I wrote my first proper novel length story in a stack of exercise books my mother bought me for the purpose. It was a tad less incoherent but still awful. I burned it ages ago. The second one as well.

me: Why did you decide to go into Indie Publishing?
Becka: That's a difficult question. I think it was the realization that most writers, whether Indie or Traditionally Published, didn't make a living at it, so in the end this was mostly about fun that might, with hard work and a following wind, bring in a little dough. Keeping control of my work seemed like more fun than hawking it around and having all the creative decisions taken away from me if I managed to sell it to a publisher.

me: Can you give a synopsis of your current WIP (Work In Progress)?
Becka: Which one? Apart from The Dragon Wars Saga and The Haventon Chronicles, I'm currently working on the outline for a traditional fantasy about an asexual female navigator in an island culture – I think that might be this year's NaNoWriMo Project - and a set of Science Fiction flash fiction pieces about the first contact between humans and an alien species from a planet where the thalassogen is sulphuric acid and who want to buy Venus.

Note: For readers like me: "Isaac Asimov has coined the term 'thalassogen,' by which he refers to any substance capable of forming a planetary ocean."
"Isaac Asimov; 'The Thalassogens'; Magazine of Fantasy and Science Fiction 39 (December, 1970):94-104."
Quoted from Robert A. Freitas Jr.,in Xenology: An Introduction to the Scientific Study of Extraterrestrial Life, Intelligence, and Civilization, First Edition, Xenology Research Institute, Sacramento, CA, 1979;

me: What is your biggest inspiration as a writer?
Becka: I find inspiration everywhere. I'll come across a fact somewhere – documentaries, books, Wikipedia, random conversation – and my brain runs away with it. Music is another big one. I'm not a writer who has soundtracks for my stuff but having the radio playing when I'm writing or outlining helps me focus.

me: What is your writing process? (ie: outline, notecards, etc)
Becka: I tend to worldbuild like crazy. My head is full of worlds. Then I notecard my outline. Then I lose the notecards and write by the seat of my pants, XD.

More seriously, I worldbuild a lot and I sometimes notecard but I usually have an outline in my head even when I don't have it on paper.
me: What was your motivation in publishing web serials?
Becka: It sounds weird but I sort of fell into the web fiction scene on Twitter and next thing I know I'm thinking that seems like a fun idea and trawling through my WIPs to see what I want to post.

me: What advice would you give a writer thinking of beginning a web serial?
Becka: Have a buffer and a regular posting schedule. Be prepared for a hard slog to build up your number of readers.

me: I think Dragon Wars is a success, but that’s from the reader’s perspective. What would you do differently, if you had the chance?
Becka: Success is always relative. I'm not Amanda Hocking (though I can dream) but I have awesome fans like you who were willing to fork up the dough to make the book happen. That's a big success in my book. 
What would I do differently? I'd probably look into the promotion side more. Making the world aware of web serials and books is not easy. Then again I'm still not sure what I'm doing on the marketing side of things – so if I had done that I'd probably still be waiting.

me: What’s your feeling about an author producing multiple web serials?
Becka: Well speaking as an author currently publishing two at the same time I don't have a problem with that. It is a lot more work than just doing one. On the plus side, updates draw people.

me: Why did you decide to publish Dragon Wars in the more traditional format of ebook and paperback? Any advice to offer from that experience?
Becka: A lot of people don't like reading huge chunks of text on a website so I suspect that some people are put off by the huge archive they'd have to read through. It's also easier to read an ebook or paperback anywhere once you have it. Websites require not just a computer but an internet connection to browse the page. On top of that I wanted to give my fans the chance to own a copy of the story they've supported so long. Plus there's just something immensely satisfying about holding your own book in your hands.

Advice? Work out how you're going to fund it. Self-publishing is more affordable now than it has been historically but it's still not free to do it properly. Every penny you spend is one you have to make back. I was fortunate in that while my IndieGoGo campaign didn't reach target it did make enough to cover everything so the first book has broken even before going on sale. Not losing money equals a big success. :-)

And some fun questions to see what Ms Sutton likes:
me: What three toppings would you mix into/put on top of your ice cream?
Becka: I tend to eat my ice cream plain. Also usually chocolate ice cream rather than anything else.

me: What is the coolest animal in the world?
Becka: The wolf or possibly the cheetah.

me: Who do you think would take the fight - Captain Kirk, Captain Jack Sparrow, or Captain Crunch?
Becka: Undoubtedly Captain Jack Sparrow – he's such a trickster archetype.

me: What is your favorite type of food? (IE: Mexican, Chinese, Thai, Italian)
Becka: A toss up between Chinese and Italian. I'm also rather fond of curry.

me: What is one thing on your bucket list? (Bucket list = things to do before you kick the bucket.)
Becka: I'd love to visit Japan.

me: Any closing statements? :)
Becka: Thanks for hosting me. :-)

Art for Land of Myth

Becka also shared her bio:
Becka Sutton is a self-described crazy cat lady, but she’s not very good at it: while she is crazy she only has one cat. She was born in Britain in 1972 and has lived there her entire life. In her early teens she started scrawling fantasy stories in exercise books her mother bought her to stop her scribbling in her school books. She hasn’t stopped writing since, and she credits writing as the outlet that allowed her to recover from the nervous breakdown she had after her parents died.

Her other interests include reading, listening to music, attempting to draw, growing her own vegetables and looking after the aforementioned Pumpkin cat.

No, you can’t read the novel she scrawled as a teen – she burned it long ago because it was awful.

Follow Becka on Twitter:
Her website:
For information about purchasing her book: (this is the hub page on the site that links to the various places it can be found)

So, thanks Becka, for helping to fill the blogging void this Friday with humor and advice. I appreciate the responses and the information. Along with following The Dragon Wars Saga, I'll be looking for more on your flash fiction series, and your navigatrix sounds fascinating as well.

This interview format based on one used by JE Medrick.

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