Please give a warm welcome to author R.A. Steffan
Tell us a bit about yourself
I’m a forty-something ex-rancher living in flyover country in the US Midwest. For the last few years, I’ve been city bound—living in a midsized college town where I’m illegally keeping ducks in the backyard, so I don’t go completely insane from lack of critters.
Have you always wanted to become an author?
Not at all. I started writing fanfiction in 2005 for personal enjoyment, and branched out to ghostwriting and non-fiction content creation a few years later to supplement my income. I published my first series professionally in 2015. (It was a commercial disaster, and remains deeply buried in red ink to this day.)
With my ranch gone, and deeply disillusioned by a series of back-breaking, low-paying shift jobs, I told my husband in early 2016 that I would be writing as a full-time living within eighteen months. He scoffed at the assertion.
In his defense, it took me twenty months of working 100+ hours per week, not eighteen. But, ever since March of 2018, here I am, a full-time writer.
What was your inspiration for your current book/series?
That’s a trick question—I currently have three active series going. (Side note to aspiring writers: never, ever do this. NOT EVER. Trust me on this one.)
Anyway, the inspiration for the Love and War sci-fi romance series is the current slow march toward extremism in the western world. It’s a cautionary tale about the manipulation of a populace into an “us” versus “them” mentality, and how easy it is for that kind of xenophobia to morph into acts of unspeakable brutality and evil… as we see every day in the news from around the world.
The inspiration for my second active series, The Eburosi Chronicles, is the beauty of inclusivity and understanding when it comes to love. Love has the power to heal, and I firmly believe that consuming media in which love is portrayed as beautiful and desirable in all its forms can help people bring some of that beauty and tolerance into their own lives.
The Eburosi Chronicles is the umbrella series for The Horse Mistress, The Lion Mistress, and The Dragon Mistress story arcs, which follow various members of an adoptive family in a fictional Bronze Age culture across a span of decades. The current arc in progress, The Dragon Mistress, deals with a misfit group of renegades coming together to save the last five dragons in existence from powerful forces that would see them wiped out forever.
Finally, the inspiration for The Last Vampire (co-written with Jaelynn Woolf) was my love for big, sprawling, intricate book series that span the divide between Urban Fantasy and Paranormal Romance. (We market ours as “urban fantasy romance.”)
What are you working on now?
Right now I’m diving into Anthelion: Love and War, Book 4, which is the second-to-last installment of the sci-fi romance series. I expect this book will garner mixed reviews, to put it mildly, since the protagonists are gay and the couples in the other books were all heterosexual.
Mind you, it’s not like I didn’t make it pretty obvious from the beginning that this was coming, but I’ll still be interested to see the response. There seems to be only a vanishingly small amount of M/M sci-fi romance available, and what’s there mostly follows the male pregnancy trope (which mine doesn’t). I’m not at all sure why that is.
Do you have any quirks while writing?
Eh, probably. I’m afraid I couldn’t say what they are, though, beyond the fact that I need quiet to write. Since we live in a tiny house, and my writing time usually overlaps time when my husband is home from work—playing video games or watching TV—I seem to spend an awful lot of hours with earbuds blasting white noise in my ears.
I have absolutely no clue how writers who go to coffee shops or cafes to write can manage to get anything done.
What are your hopes for the future?
I dream of a day when being a full-time writer/publisher isn’t a constant source of panic, stress, and worry. Will the next book flop? (Answer: if it’s not about vampires, then yes, it will flop. I can only sell vampires. The other two series are merely self-indulgence on my part—a very expensive hobby.)
Will Amazon or Facebook or some other platform I rely on suddenly change their algorithms, causing my sales to plummet to nothing overnight? (Answer: it’s happened to writers before, so… maybe.)
Do people like my work? Am I good enough? Is the last book-related decision I made hopelessly wrong? Will it destroy my business? And so on and so forth.
Fun with anxiety and clinical depression, basically. Both very common conditions among artistic types, or so I hear.
Do you have any advice for new authors about the publishing world?
If you’re writing genre fiction, indie publishing is the way to go. Traditional publishing may still be a viable option for literary fiction and poetry.
Before you do anything else, ask yourself what your goals are. If the goal is artistic expression, write what you want and enjoy yourself to the fullest, but be aware that publishing probably won’t be a gateway to untold riches. If the goal is to make a comfortable living, put aside your ego and write what readers want to read. Produce it quickly and with good quality, market it professionally, and treat the venture like the business it is.
If what you want to write and what readers want to read happen to overlap, then understand how lucky you are and embrace that opportunity with your entire being.
Do you have anything to say to your readers?
Thank you—especially those of you who read the books I write because I’m passionate about them, rather than because they pay the bills. I wouldn’t be here without you.
Thank you so much for the opportunity, Helle!
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