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Adam Interviews... S.E. Anderson!

One of my favorite things, doing these interviews, is having friends come back and update us on their lives and their writing.

This interview is a great example of that.

S.E. Anderson is a fabulist, a physicist, and a gifted storyteller. She's also a friend, and I'm thrilled to have her here again to let us know about her new project! Make sure you read all the way through for the cover reveal for her new book!

Star Trek or Star Wars?

Star Gate! Ok, fine, fine. Hard to chose because it’s like comparing apples and oranges: Trek is Scifi while Star Wars is Sci Fantasy. I’m a Trekkie through and through, but I do love a good Star Wars Marathon. Bit harder to marathon the whole trek universe…

A book that pleasantly surprised you?

I recently was blown away by The Terraformers. I was expecting a more hard scifi, but instead relished in the questions of personhood and identity set in a vivid world which solves our current crises in a way I’ve never read before. Brilliant!

Where do you get your information or ideas for your books?

I get a lot of inspiration at work. My day job is as an astrophysics researcher, so a lot of wild ideas I have to throw out of my papers can easily inspire a novel instead. That, or little things that irk me: I was frustrated that in the lastest Legend of Zelda Game, Tears of the Kingdom, Truffles were found in damp caves. What? Why would they grow there? … and that inspired my current cozy fantasy novel.

What do you like to do when you’re not writing?

I’ve been dabbling in graphic design for ove a decade now, and love to make book covers for self published and indie authors. This has been transitioning into posters for local events, and I’m happy to say I’m finally developing a style that I’m proud to call my own. I’m also an avid crafter, knitting my way through Star Trek right now.

Is there a trope you find yourself going back to in multiple works? Or one you avoid?

With the Starstruck Saga, I’ve found myself exploring the theme of destiny and obligation more than I expected to. Does one really have free will if time is a straight arrow? A trope I avoid is enemies to lovers, as popular as it is. It’s a trope that frustrates me to the core. Also… time travel stories where a life well lived is erased or forgotten. Those hit me too hard.

What was one of the most surprising things you learned in creating your books?

Just how much your perspective can change between drafts. I can reread a section and completely disagree with what I was going for! I guess it’s a fun benchmark of personal growth and change.

How many books have you written? Which is your favorite?

The tenth Starstruck novel will be my… holy cow, my thirteenth published novel! I can’t pick favorites, I’m proud of each one in their own way. Though I gotta say, Traveler was a pretty fun one.

Do you have any suggestions to help someone become a better writer? If so, what are they?

Read, read, read! And think critically about why you love the stories that you love. Is it the characters? If so, why do these stand out to you? Is it the location? Why are you gripped by this place? Consider what makes you a fulfilled writer, and bring that with you when you write.

What is the first book that made you cry?

I remember Flowers for Algernon decimating me when I was 11. I may have cried at books before, but this is the first one I truly remember.

Does a big ego help or hurt writers?

Honestly, if you’re using your ego to help sell your books, good on you! But I have read some awful books that just felt like the author wanted to show off how smart their were on every page, rather than tell a gripping story. I’m a scientist I work with some pretty big egos every day; I don’t want to find that in my books I read on my time off. So it can help sales, but hurt readthrough.

What is your writing Kryptonite?

Fatigue! I’ve been fighting a health issue as a result of long Covid, and this fatigue is the freaking worst. It keeps me down most days even when I’m desperate to write!

Did you ever consider writing under a pseudonym?

Maybe I already am, wouldn’t that defeat the purpose of a pseudonym?

Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?

Original. When I get an idea, it’s usually because it’s something I want to read: and since it’s not already out there, it’s time for me to write it myself! And I think readers want originality; I know some find comfort in reading the same story under a new wrapper, but many are looking for new experiences, new worlds, new twists. I know I am.  

Do you write novels, novellas, short stories, episodic fiction, poems, screenplays, or something else? What is your preferred format?

I love my long form fiction, but I do write shorter pieces: one of my stories, Smells Like Teen Virgin, was recently published in the Being Ace anthology! I have quite a few novellas that I’ve been working on more as an exercise than anything serious, but who knows… maybe one day…

Are you traditionally or self published? Or both? Do you feel there are advantages to one over the other?

I’m what they call a hybrid. I’m with a traditional publisher for the Starstruck Saga, but self published Aix Marks the Spot and Over the Moon. I self published so that I could enjoy the creative control that comes from the process: with Aix Marks the Spot, agents were saying the silliest things, like that I had to set it in Paris for it to sell, when the whole point is that it’s about Aix en Provence. Traditional publishing brings you a seasoned marketing team, though. Both systems have their advantages and disadvantages.

How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?

If I were to count, I’d be here a month. So many stories ended up being better exercises than works worth sharing. But who knows, maybe I’ll return to them one day!

What does literary success look like to you?

Honestly, all I want is for one of my books to make it into a special edition box one day. I’m a simple girl with simple needs.

What do you have coming next?

After the last Starstruck novel releases this summer, I’ll be working on new projects, trying to challenge myself: I have a cozy fantasy in the works, and an Urban (sci) fantasy I’m pushing myself with. And I’ve got to finish the Over The Moon Duology!


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