I am very pleased to announce that Megan Masters is the winner of a competitive event of a Fantasy Writers group on Facebook! Who is she? She has kindly answered a list of questions that answer just that.
1. Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?
A1. I live in Melbourne, Australia, but was born in Sydney. Melbourne is more conductive to all things literary, artistic and creative, for me at least. I was educated in the public school system, and from a blue-collar family. My heritage is Nordic, Slavic and Celtic.
2. What do you do when you are not writing?
A2. I love sewing and dancing. Belly dance in particular, but I am partial to folk dancing and ballroom dance as well.
3. Do you have a day job as well?
A3. Yes. I am a legal secretary specialising in the field of conveyancing, which is the legal process of buying and selling real estate. I have worked in other fields of law, but conveyancing is my favourite.
4. When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?
A4. I have been writing for as long as I can remember. I would write my own stories with strong female characters because I didn’t think there were enough in the literature that was available in the 80s. I wrote short stories for the Writer of the Month competitions organised by the high school I attended. I finished my first book, Replica, in 1999 or thereabout, but it never got published.
5. How did you choose the genre you write in?
A5. I was dissatisfied with Replica, which was science fiction. I found the fantasy genre to be more appealing, and I was able to draw from many tenets of Wicca in my works. I also felt duty-bound to set the record straight, because of the bad rap witches have had to deal with over the centuries, and I was tired of the stereotypes portrayed by Hollywood, and the dumbass questions from non-Wiccans which were aimed to insult rather than to satisfy curiosity.
6. Where do you get your ideas?
A6. Most of my ideas spawn from my personal experiences, my fascination with the supernatural, from dreams, recent world events, ancient history, and from my practices as a Wiccan.
7. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
A7. Sometimes. I usually divert my energies elsewhere, while I wait for the creative “batteries” to recharge, or a random idea would pop into my head to get the ball rolling again. Sometimes life gets in the way, rather than writer’s block. I have resources at my disposal when the writer’s block starts becoming a problem.
8. Do you work with an outline, or just write?
A8. A bit of both.
9. Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?
A9. Children’s author Paul Jennings, Roald Dahl and later on, the works of Raymond E. Feist, Matthew Reilly, Michael Creichton and others inspired me to write. I generally have no preference for one author over any other.
10. Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?
A10. I sent the manuscript for Replica to a major publisher back in 1999 or 2000 (who I shall not name to protect the innocent and guilty!), but they rejected it. Some time later, I saw a scene in the film Spy Kids which seemed to have been ripped straight from a particular scene in my manuscript. I didn’t care if it was a coincidence or not, I lost all faith and trust in traditional publishers after that, vowing to self-publish instead, but the costs were prohibitive at the time. With the advent of e-books, it will bring that vow within reach.
11. If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?
A11. Quite possibly. Any old Joe Blow can get something published these days, I would have kept the manuscript a guarded secret and then get it published as an e-book when the time comes. I would have revised the manuscript, with the wisdom of life experience behind me.
12. How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?
A12. I haven’t reached a level to be able to market my work at this point in time.
13. Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?
A13. I wrote a supernatural murder mystery called Jessica’s Ghost in 2004. I nearly lost the manuscript several times because of computers dying on me. After I moved to Melbourne, I found some CD-Rs among my belongings and checked them out to see what was on there – and lo and behold, there was the manuscript for Jessica’s Ghost! It will need some revision insofar as the legalities.
14. Can you tell us about your upcoming book?
A14. The working title for the series is Chronicles of Gaia, only because I couldn’t think of anything else. It started out in 2001, all the ideas were floating around in a chaotic mess inside my head. I started writing, then writer’s block and life both got in the way, and I abandoned the project altogether. After I moved to Melbourne, I found the handwritten manuscript and decided to start again from scratch, using the book Tarot for Writers by Corrine Kenner and the Faery Wicca Tarot deck for character creation and plot outlining. During the writing process for the first draft, I would see random people on the train or elsewhere in my travels, who resembled characters in my novel, and current affairs that reflected scenes in my works, or influenced them.
15. Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?
A15. Jessica’s Ghost took some inspiration from the Anita Cobby murder case, which happened in 1986, and most of the scenes were based on what was happening around me in the time period in which the novel is set. Chronicles of Gaia took some inspiration from the Roman occupation of the Celtic lands and the Celtic Revolt led by Queen Boudicca circa 55AD. Book 2 takes inspiration from the Roman occupation of ancient Egypt. The rest is imagination.
16. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
A16. For Chronicles of Gaia, it would be the fight scene between Ehrion Hraefen, the primary protagonist, and Sartmulu Bahram, the anti-hero. Imagine a fist-fight between a 27-year-old Celt male (Ehrion) and a 38-year-old Spartan (Sartmulu), and you’ll get a fair idea of the outcome of that fight. The trash-talk was what made it so enjoyable.
17. How did you come up with the title?
A17. The working titles are just stating the obvious.
18. What project are you working on now?
A18. Right now, Book 2 of Chronicles of Gaia for NaNoWriMo 2014.
19. Will you have a new book coming out soon?
A19. Book 1 of Chronicles of Gaia is aimed for a 2015 release.
20. Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?
A20. After the Chronicles of Gaia trilogy is completed, I’d like to write more on the expanded universe. Write the backstories of the various characters, some who even died before the main setting.
21. What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?
A21. I am my own worst critic, no one can ever be as harsh on me as I am on myself! Best compliment? Nothing beyond “I like it, when you get published I will buy it!”
22. Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?
A22. Never, ever give up. If it is your passion, if it is something that won’t leave you alone, then nothing can stop you.
23. Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?
A23. Keep the faith!