Tuesday, October 25, 2011

INTERVIEW: S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet (Storm Moon Press)

It is my great pleasure to once again welcome the amazing folks over at Storm Moon Press to my little Bibrary Book Lust blog! Following up on yesterday's guest post on Bisexual, Trans*, and Intersexed Characters, S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet have stopped by for a fantastic interview that gets into their roles as authors, editors, and publishers.

If you`d like a little taste of what Storm Moon Press has to offer, I urge you to check out my review of Daughters of Artemis, published by Storm Moon Press, edited by S.L. Armstrong, and containing stories by both S.L. Armstrong & K. Piet!


♥ For those who may be new to your writing, as well as to Storm Moon Press, please tell us a little about yourselves.

[S.L.] Back in 2009, K. Piet and I wanted to begin publishing our original fiction. We researched and researched, but we couldn't find what we were looking for exactly, which was high control, high royalties, and dedicated marketing. So, in January of 2010, we launched Storm Moon Press. It was supposed to be only a platform for us to publish our works and some anthologies, but we quickly decided other authors may want to work with us on the terms we'd set. Since then, we've worked with some wonderful authors like Cornelia Grey, Rachel Haimowitz, and Aleksandr Voinov.


♥ The journey from 'aspiring' to 'accomplished' can be a long one, even in the era of small presses and digital publishing. When did each of you begin writing, and how did you feel when you first saw your work in print?

[S.L.] I began writing with the intent to publish sometime back in 2003-2004. I'd grown tired of fanfiction, I had worlds and characters of my own I wanted to share, and so I began focusing 100% on my original writing. When K. and I joined together as a writing team a couple of years later, I knew we'd stumbled on something really great. When we first held "The Keeper" in our hands, we were just ecstatic. It was an awesome moment.

[K.] For my part, I hadn't really written anything outside of college essays and the occasional fanfic that never saw the light of day. The writing bug bit me in my last couple years of college (2008-2009), and partnering with S.L. for our collaborative works has been life changing!

♥ What was it that led you to try writing as a team?

[S.L.] K. hadn't written prior to meeting me, and it took some encouraging through some roleplaying with fanfiction characters before I convinced her that we could do some really outstanding work if we moved into the realm of original fiction. It took about a year to iron out all the kinks, but I think we've managed to enter a phase where our styles mesh perfectly and our goals are aligned. I just love writing with her, the plotting and planning. It's social, and she's great to work with.

[K.] I definitely needed a helping hand in the beginning. My style of writing had been so very restricted because of college essays in my major (Kinesiological Sciences) that I had a good amount of difficulty toning down the vocabulary, getting my grammar right, and not buying into some of the terrible advice I’d been given way back in grade school regarding writing fiction. There was a ton I could learn from S.L., and she didn’t mind taking the time to teach me as we explored both the fanfiction and original ideas we had.

♥ What is it about the team dynamic that keeps you writing as partners? Is it ever a challenge to come together on a work, or are you that in sync?

[S.L.] At the beginning, it was hard. It took a lot of trial and error before we found a rhythm, especially since I was on one coast and K. was on the other. It made the 2-3 hour time difference a struggle. But, I love the interaction, the collaboration, the joint effort to bring about characters, the world, their struggles...

[K.] That we managed to come into that great alignment and pop out our first few manuscripts while being in different time zones still astonishes me! The challenge when writing long distance is really communication. You have to communicate everything you want for the plot/characters/world in addition to your misgivings, confusions, and opinions. Everything. While this is the challenge, it’s also one of the most rewarding parts of our collaboration. When you have a co-author, all that interaction makes the writing process very dynamic.

♥ Over the years you've written in a number of genres, covering everything from medieval fantasy to contemporary fiction. Is there one genre that draws you more strongly than the others, one that offers something the other genres don't, or do you just go with what feels 'right' for the story you want to tell?

[S.L.] We keep going back to the paranormal. Vampires, shifters, immortals, ghosts... Contemporary paranormal allows us to use the world we exist in, but skew it enough to offer something extraordinary, and we both have such a weakness for vampires. I think we'll be writing them for years to come, even if they're no longer 'in'. :)

[K.] The other common thread is our love for fantasy. We both grew up reading it, and we both have always wanted to write a sweeping fantasy book set in a world of our own creation. While all that is still in the works at this point, I think we’ll always love playing in our fantasy world. Because it’s all of our own making, the inspiration for it never ceases.

♥ For some authors, it's coming up with a title, and for others it's writing that first paragraph - what do you find is the most difficult aspect of writing . . . or do you each have a personal challenge for which the other compensates?

[S.L.] I think the weaknesses are compensated for. In all honesty, I suck at writing action scenes. If you see a really great action scene in one of our books? It's a good bet K. wrote it. K., though, can have a really hard time starting or ending a scene, so I tend to take that on my shoulders.

[K.] She’s completely right! XD We compensate pretty well for each other, and it was by coincidence, which makes it all the more fun.

♥ With almost a dozen works between you this might be an unfair question, but is there a favourite quote or scene from your work that you feel particularly fond of?

[S.L.] Presently? I have to say one of my absolutely favorite scenes is in "Other Side of Night: Bastian & Riley", which just came out. It's one of the latter Riley scenes, after he comes back from the hospital and realizes just what it is Bastian has done to him. I won't say more than that, but those two initial scenes in that section were just some of my favorites. If I had to pick a second one, it would be the finger sucking scene in "The Keeper". ;)

[K.] Ooo… S.L.’s choices there are really good! As far as emotional impact goes, the scenes in "Catalyst" where Logan finds Kasper after Kasper has hit rock bottom pull my heartstrings every time. Seeing Kasper go so far with his obsession with perfection not only breaks Logan’s heart, but it solidifies how much Logan loves him, that even at his very worst, Kasper is worth keeping, helping, and loving. On a completely different note, I love the way that Aric, the teenaged character in "Rachmaninoff" refers to where Nikola lives as an "obscure corner of Fuckoffistan". XD

♥ Sometimes, characters can take on a life of their own, pulling the story in directions you hadn't originally anticipated. Whether it came from your own pen or your partner's, has a twist or turn in your writing ever surprised you, or really challenged your original plans?

[S.L.] Actually, no. I'm not an author who subscribes to the myth that characters just do what they do and an author is helpless to stop them. They're our characters, our stories, and so we control them from start to finish. :) K. and I plan the stories out from start to finish, chapter by chapter, in outlines. By the time we sit down to write the story proper, we know exactly what the motivations are, all the twists and turns, and how it will end. Nothing to surprise us!

[K.] The surprises only happen in the initial planning stages, usually when we’re playing around with the characters in a more role-play kind of setting, just getting a feel for the characters and to see if they interact well with one another. There have been a few ‘ah-ha!’ moments then, but by the time we’re actually writing, the characters don’t take over and force us to change something with our delicate nerve endings at knife-point. ;)


♥ When did you first get the idea to launch your own press, what is it about Storm Moon Press that differentiates it from the other small presses out there?

[S.L.] It was an idea we'd been tossing back and forth for a couple of years, but in 2010, we took the plunge. Storm Moon Press gives authors incredible control over cover art, we use two wonderful cover artists (one that does drawings from scratch, the other uses stock images), we offer marketing support, reimburse authors for their convention registration fees when they attend cons we attend, and we had one of the first royalty structures that offered generous flip-points for authors where the base royalty increased at a certain threshold.

[K.] On top of all that, we offer our titles at competitive prices so readers can afford them and consequently enjoy them. We also have no plans on becoming a huge press, which means that we cultivate one-on-one relationships with the authors who publish through us, offering them support through every step of the publishing process. This small size allows us to focus on quality rather than quantity, which we really love. We hope readers love it, too!

♥ Looking back over the last year and a bit, what were the hardest lessons you had to learn? What were the most pleasant surprises?

[S.L.] Hardest lesson would be about how friendships change once there is a level of professional involvement, and for me, the most pleasant surprise was the great fun it was to work with really talented people from start to finish on their fiction.

[K.] Hardest lesson for me would be that having demanding goals in business often means that sacrifices must be made in personal life. Not necessarily bad, but difficult to adjust to. The most pleasant surprise has been finding a select few authors (and business contacts) who are a joy to work with on the marketing side of the business.

♥ Clearly both aspects must have very different demands upon your time, so how difficult is it to juggle your time and prioritize as both authors and publishers?

[S.L.] That's been one hell of a learning experience this year. *laughs* Our original planned output for 2011 was three novels and one novella. It wound up being one novel, one novella, and two short stories. It took some thinking, but we've decided to prioritize our writing a little more over the publishing of our own works. 2012 will be a light year with only one novella (written for our new mainstream imprint, Wild Moon Books) and one novel, but there will be short story contributions to about half a dozen anthologies, all while we write like fiends to stockpile manuscripts for 2013. Once we have that cushion, we feel we'll be able to juggle the hats of authors and publishers more easily.

♥ How hard is it to deal with other authors, knowing where they're coming from and how protective they can be of their work?

[S.L.] Pretty hard. :) It's a mixed bag, but we enjoy every aspect of the publishing job, and I personally don't regret a moment of it.

[K.] Everyone’s a little different, so I think the most difficult part is adapting to the needs of each different author. It’s a challenge we relish, though, and S.L. is right: no regrets!

♥ At the same time, how has wearing the publisher's hat and dealing with other authors affected your own writing?

[S.L.] I'm not sure it's affected my writing on a personal level, though it has on restricted the amount of time I have to spend on it.

[K.] It hasn’t so much affected my writing as it has affected my networking. I’m a lot more organized than I used to be. That and the time restriction S.L. mentioned.

♥ What is the strangest or most surprising reaction to the works of Storm Moon Press that you've ever encountered so far?

[S.L.] Our offer to pay for marketing or convention registration. It seems authors have come to expect the most minimal of effort on the part of their publisher, but Storm Moon Press' goal is to make the publishing aspect of their work all about them. Without authors, what purpose does a publisher have? We always try to remember that authors are where the creativity and stories come from, and they should be treated well and with respect.

♥ What can we look forward to from Storm Moon Press next? Is there a project on the horizon that you're really excited about?

[S.L.] Well, we have begun to acquire work for Storm Moon Press' mainstream erotic romance imprint, Wild Moon Books. Wild Moon Books launches next year, and we can't wait to work with authors who prefer heterosexual romances over the GLBT titles. Other than that, we have some wonderful authors lined up in 2012, and we can't wait to share those great works with readers.

[K.] In addition to that, 2012 also marks our first year in the convention circuit, so you’ll be seeing Storm Moon Press at a few conventions throughout the year. We’re really excited to have a presence where both readers and authors will be able to interact with us directly. It also means being able to purchase our products in person, too, which is always fun!


♥ Just for fun, who would you single out as your number one celebrity crush, and what would you like most to do with/to them?

[S.L.] I think my 'celebrity crush' would have to be Nigella Lawson. I adore that woman, and I would love to just spend a day with her in the kitchen, cooking and laughing and chatting about food.

[K.] Hmm… I would have to say Shane Dawson of YouTube fame. The man isn’t afraid to go out there (usually in drag) and make some great comedy. I’d love to just spend a day on one of his random excursions, which would probably end up on one of his YouTube channels and be hilarious.

♥ If you could live a day in the world of someone else's story, whose would you choose, and why?

[S.L.] Aman. Tolkien's paradise for the Elves. I've always thought it would be amazing to see perfection as it was meant to be, to walk with immortal creatures who have both done amazing and terrible deeds.

[K.] S.L. totally stole my answer! This is one reason we work so well together. We sometimes read one another’s minds. Aman would be my number one destination in Tolkien’s world, though there are various places that I’d love to visit if I had more than one day and could hop around in the timeline (Nargothrond, Gondolin, Imladris, etc.). Forgive my geek-fest there.

♥ When you're not writing (or publishing), what are some of the hobbies and passions that keep you sane?

[S.L.] Reading. I love to read. I also enjoy cooking, singing, gaming, and crafting.

[K.] Massage therapy (which is actually my day job), hoopdancing, singing/karaoke, and cross-stitch needlework all make it to the top of my list.

♥ Finally, if we can solidly turn the attention back on yourselves for a moment, what can we look forward to from S.L. Armstrong and K. Piet next? Is there a collaboration you're excited about?

[S.L.] Right now, I'm hugely excited to begin writing a trilogy we've been planning for a few months now that stars Oscar Wilde's Dorian Gray as one of the main protagonists. We're also beginning work on our epic series set in our fantasy world of Egaea.

[K.] The Dorian Gray project is going to be amazing! We also have the first installment of our "Wanderlust" trilogy slated for 2012, which surrounds the characters of Cain and Lilith from biblical fame. That’ll be coming from Wild Moon Books, so keep your eyes peeled both there and on Storm Moon Press!

1 comment:

  1. Great interview; I really enjoyed it.

    I'm looking forward in purchasing more works from SMP.

    Tracey D
    booklover0226 at gmail dot com