Back at the end of November, Dakiti was nominated for the Indie Book of the Month in the Space Opera Fans group on Goodreads. To my surprise (and, I’ll admit, pure elation), it ended up being chosen as the Indie BOTM for December. Bear in mind that this all came about on December 1, aka the Nexus release date, so my brain was already sufficiently…stimulated by book-related thoughts. This really ended up having a positive impact on sales, especially considering the Kindle version was still $.99 at the time, and the book ended up on multiple new TBR lists, which is always encouraging.
Since Dakiti was Indie BOTM, I, by default, became the Indie Author of the Month. I had the opportunity to complete a fairly in-depth interview, basically introducing myself and the book to any new potential readers. It was an awesome experience and I’m really glad some of the groups out there are trying to give indie authors a chance to shine. We need all the help we can get, after all!
[AOTM] – Interview with E.J. Fisch
1. What books have most influenced your life?
It may just be because I’ve had it in my head since I went and saw Interstellar, but I’ve been thinking about A Wrinkle in Time almost non-stop lately. My teacher read it to the class in 4th grade, and I remember when a weekend rolled around I couldn’t wait to find out what happened so I went and found another copy at the library and read the whole thing overnight. Then I came back to school Monday and already knew what happened 😉 Now that I think about it, it was the first sci-fi-ish book I ever read, and I’ve been itching to go back and read it again after all this time.
2. How do you develop your plots and characters?
I almost always have characters in mind before I figure out the plot. Sometimes I’ll have a few rough character profiles just sitting around and I’ll look for ways to incorporate them into whatever plot I’m currently working on. This was actually the case with Kat Reilly, a character from Dakiti’s sequel Nexus. In terms of plot, I like to take the time to sit down and at least make a general outline, especially since I’m writing a series and there’s a lot of continuity I need to keep track of. I ask myself questions and write out the answers. I literally write down things like “But what about _______?” and “Or maybe they ______” and I explore my options. I used to be able to make up plots on the fly, but these days I feel like I need a little more planning and preparation.
3. Tell us about your Space Opera Fans book?
Dakiti is a sci fi story (obviously) set in a galaxy similar to Star Wars or Battlestar Galactica. It centers around members of a race of superhuman characters, most of whom are special operations agents from their planet’s main law enforcement agency. I actually wrote the book during my junior and senior years of high school and finished it in the fall of 2010. It sat around gathering dust until this past March when I thought “Hey, you know, I could probably do something with this.” I went back and spruced it up – Lord knows it needed it! – and developed some of the background information a little more since it had previously only existed in my head. I actually increased the wordcount by about 12k during these edits. Even today, it’s not a very long book, so it was even shorter back then. Some reviews have said that the plot, while enjoyable, was a little predictable, and maybe it is. But changing that would have meant totally re-vamping the entire book, and I just wasn’t sure if I wanted to do that. People do seem to like the story and characters though, so hopefully any new readers do too!
4. We all need a hero! Tell us about your protagonist(s)? Was there a real-life inspiration behind him or her?
Ziva Payvan is one of my favorite types of characters: an anti-hero who has her own agenda and isn’t necessarily trying to do the right thing. Good and evil are relative; as far as she’s concerned, the villain is just whoever is opposing her mission at any given time. She wants to avoid unnecessary conflict but has no interest in being friends with anyone. Back when I first created her, she was just a small filler character who was only meant to appear in a couple scenes in a goofy story some friends and I were writing in junior high. This isn’t really a “real-life” inspiration, but she was very heavily-based on NCIS’s Ziva David (her character was new to the show at the time and I absolutely loved her). But after awhile, my own Ziva started growing on me so I stopped and stripped her down, so to speak, and started developing her into an original character who might be able to star in her own story. And I’ve been building on her ever since.
5. A good villain is hard to write. How did you get in touch with your inner villain(s) to write this book? Was there a real-life inspiration for him/her/it?
I can’t really think of a real-life inspiration for my villain, but it’s been long enough since I wrote the book that I don’t remember a whole lot about the developmental stages. The persona of Dakiti’s main villain was kind of based on Ari Haswari – also from the early seasons of NCIS – in that he’s cold and calculating but appears very calm, smooth, and almost charming on the outside. He wants what he can’t have, and he’s motivated by revenge.
6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?
Dubai. I swear I could sit and look at pictures of the architecture in Dubai all day. I have an entire Pinterest board full of futuristic-looking architecture that actually exists in our world today. I like buildings with corners and flat surfaces; in my mind, the Haphezian culture in Dakiti uses architecture with very few arches, domes, and the like. I also spend a lot of time looking at mountain and forest environments. Haphez is a very mountainous world, and I like to be able to look at a picture and say “Yeah, that’s what it would look like if I was really there!” Also, hailing from Oregon, I’ve spent a fair amount of time in the Columbia River Gorge and loved the idea of having a massive river where all the civilization in the story is situated. Haphez’s Tranyi River is a lot bigger than the Columbia, but that was always where the idea came from.
7. Sci-fi fans love techno-porn! What real-life science (or pseudo-science) did you research for your book?
Without spoiling too much, I spent a little time researching the concept of telekinesis. What an interesting topic! I’ve watched a couple Netflix documentaries on futuristic weapons and read up on the current research scientists are doing involving plasma and laser weapons (what’s a sci fi story without lasers??). There’s a scene in the story where a few characters perform a HALO jump, and I actually spent a lot of time doing calculations and consulting my math-whiz friends to see if I was getting the physics right. I wanted to know exactly how long (or at least get a ballpark estimate) it would take the characters to freefall from a certain height, taking things like gravity and terminal velocity into consideration. After getting similar figures from a couple of different sources, I was pretty confident that I got it right.
8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Oh gosh. For me, the hardest part of writing any book is just sticking with it and getting it done. I tend to take long breaks in the middle of it, and then it takes way longer than necessary to finish. For Dakiti specifically, one of the biggest challenges was that I didn’t do a whole lot of planning. The first half was roughly based on drafts of a couple other stories I had previously scrapped, but I had no idea what was going to happen in the second half. But I winged it and just kept writing. Sometimes that works, and it did in this case. I came up with some great ideas while I was working and the plot ended up coming together.
9. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?
I really enjoyed writing a couple of the new flashback scenes I added when I decided to publish. There was an entire backstory that I never really elaborated on because I didn’t think anyone else was ever going to read it, and it was great to have the opportunity to go back and re-visit that and really develop it. Because now, that backstory is the basis for Book 3 in this series 😉
10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?
Back when I first started writing seriously, I always had the goal of making my next story longer than the last one. So when I finished Dakiti and realized it was 3 times longer than the last story I wrote, I saw how much I was improving. The quality of the writing itself might not have been that great back then, but I was able to create a more intricate story with a more complex plot and characters. It may sound kind of clichéd, but I learned that persistence pays off and you’ll only improve if you keep working at something.
11. Is there a message in your novel that you hope readers will grasp?
Hmmm. I suppose one of the main messages is that we shouldn’t be too quick to judge a person if we don’t really know them. It may be hard because maybe they’ve done something really awful, but maybe you don’t know the whole story. At the risk of spoiling something, I’ll leave it at that. Not all the information regarding this message is revealed in Dakiti anyway, so I guess everyone will just have to continue reading the series 😉
12. What are your future project(s)?
Nexus: Ziva Payvan Book 2 was just released and I’ve already made a bit of a dent in Ronan: Ziva Payvan Book 3. It will be difficult to make progress on it since I’m currently a full-time student, but I’ve been working on some extensive outlines so when I have a chance to write, I’ll know exactly where I want to go. My plan is to have a definite ending to this trilogy but still leave it open enough that I can come back to it someday. Before that, I may start working on another story I’ve had brewing in the back of my mind for awhile. It would also be sci-fi, but the setting would be a near-future Earth rather than a fictional galaxy. Needless to say, I’ve got a ton of planning to do.
13. If you couldn’t be an author, what would your ideal career be?
I’ve always thought it would be really cool to be some sort of concept artist or character design artist for a video game company. Aside from writing, digital art is my main hobby. But at the same time, it is a hobby, an outlet, something fun to do with my mind. I’m not sure if I’d want it to be a job I had to do. That’s what’s great about being a self-published indie author – I can do almost everything on my own time and on my own terms.
14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?
You can reach me just about anywhere these days – I have profiles an all the major social media sites. I’m always looking to connect with other readers and writers, so feel free to hit me up. Here’s a list of my various profiles, arranged in order of most frequent use:
15. Do you have anything specific that you want to say to the Space Opera Fans community members?
Keep being awesome! To those of you who have read and taken the time to review Dakiti, thanks so much for giving it a chance. To anyone who hasn’t read it, I hope you’ll be willing to try it out and join in the discussion 🙂