Today it’s my pleasure to bring you an interview with independently-published author Liana Mir.
Liana and I found each other at a drabble prompt community I used to run on LiveJournal. We liked each others’ work and now provide reading and editing services to one another, happily. Liana’s latest publication is called Dowse and Bleed: A Novelette of Kingdom and Thorns. I’m delighted to have left some small fingerprints on this book as Liana’s beta reader. I’ve read so many iterations of this novelette that it’s hard to remember where it began, but I know I’m very happy with what it’s become.
Here’s the jacket copy:
Rachelle Winslow was once known as the Database, one of the most powerful special human operatives in the military, able to read and process genetic material on contact. Now she has her own problems and trying to stay out of the business tops the list.
Then a professional informant vanishes from his city apartment, leaving shattered windows, blood on the carpet, and a frantic message that he knows who’s coming after him-a special. It’s just one more case, even if it could end up killing her.
I can tell you that Kingdom and Thorns is a complex world with strong science fiction and police-procedural elements. It’s also one where the characters verge on superheroic yet remain real and believable, and the dark nights of the soul are often plummeted. It’s available in paperback, for Kindle, for Nook, and as in other formats (PDF, epub, rtf, etc.) on Smashwords. I might be biased, but I recommend the print version. The cover is beautiful.
How old were you when you started writing fiction, and can you tell us about the first story you remember writing?
Liana: I was four years old when I first started writing fiction and I wrote a tiny little story about a five-year-old Native American girl and gave it to my grandmother, which she graciously complimented as being good for someone of my age.
The worlds you create are incredibly complex. I know authors are frequently asked “where did you get the idea for that” and I hate to be cliche, but what was your inspiration for the world of Kingdom and Thorns?
Liana: Oh my! Big answer that I shall have to try and condense. I went through this stage of fandom where I was heavily into Roswell, Mutant X, and X-Men all around the same time (among other things), and I kept imagining this premise where 12 genetically-engineered kids escaped from the military facility that made them and created their own society in the jungle. This core premise with the many things that went with it later became the foundation for multiple storyworlds including Kingdoms and Thorn, Vardin, and others.
I never intended to write down the military backstory though and that only happened after I saw this book cover once for Fade to Black by Francis Knight. When I read the Big Idea post about the city, it gave me this idea of a city where multiple kingdoms were cheek by jowl in the same city. When I combined that with the other, Kingdoms and Thorn became what it is and was born. I could write that.
Who are three of your favorite authors? What about them makes them favorites?
Liana: Zenna Henderson, Terri L. Fivash, and too many to name who are awesome and tied for third.
These two though, they have this amazing ability to combine gorgeous language, compelling story, and breathtaking worldbuilding into one awesome whole. I especially adore their worldbuilding and characterization though. Their characters breathe on the page.
It’s the dread deserted island question! Knowing you’ll be stranded on a deserted island, what five works of fiction would you bring along to help pass the time?
Liana: Ingathering by Zenna Henderson, Joseph by Terri Fivash, The Brother’s Keeper by Tracy Groot, Anne of the Island by Lucy Maud Montgomery, and Emma by Jane Austen. They aren’t my five favorite fiction books (though there is some overlap), but they are five varied and interesting stories that give a whole lot on each rereading.
Tell us one secret Rachelle would rather you didn’t.
Liana: Rachelle has so many secrets, but I think the biggest one she never wants to look at it is that she’s actually very vulnerable: she can’t make herself say no when she feels she is really needed by someone she cares about. She cares about more people than she likes to admit.
What are your most and least favorite things about self-publishing?
Liana: My favorite thing about self-publishing is that I don’t have to wait for someone else to love it who also happens to publish. Most of the stuff I love is adored by people in fandom, but it’s really hard to find submission guidelines that are even close to a match for my stuff.
I love designing my own covers and formatting a new book. That is awesome.
I dislike how long it takes me to get a story to perfection and to get all the various formats set up and published. I really don’t care for the sheer number of formats you have to do or filling out metadata. To be honest, that’s just drudge work.
Speaking of self-publishing, do you have any tips to share with would-be authors looking to self-publish?
Liana: When it comes to self-publishing, my number one tip is to find something you love that it’s in the same genre as what you’re publishing and study it when you’re formatting your own work. Study the back cover, study the title and copyright pages and frontmatter. Study the margins and footers and headers. Study what makes the cover work for you. Make yours just as good as that and include the same elements as much as possible.
Poetry books don’t have BISAC on the back cover. Novels do. Put the country on the title page. Be creative with your table of contents. Don’t box yourself in, but really hold yourself to the standard of what you like to read.
Second big tip: study the BISAC codes and follow the browse paths on Amazon to get a feel for what those BISAC codes cover in genre. In fact, ignore self-published and most small press books when you do this. Just figure out BISAC. This is a free education in genre rules and all those subtle cues that tell a reader this book is for them. Then pop over to M. Louise Locke’s blog for a look at categories and keywords beyond the BISAC.
Price according to other books in your subgenre that have the same formats. There are a handful of usual format breakdowns: hardcover/trade/ebook, hardcover/trade/mass market, and trade/ebook are the most common. For “Dowse and Bleed,” a science-fiction procedural, I went on Amazon and studied scifi procedurals with a trade/mass market/ebook format breakdown and priced to match.
What’s your favorite world you’ve created, and why?
Liana: Seven Days. It’s my sweetest and everybody loves it and even though it has built-in angst, there’s none of this deep, heavy moral dilemmas, etc. It’s just not as heavy.
I’d like to thank Liana for her time and generosity. You can find her and her works online at the following sites:
If you’re a small press or indie/self-published author and would like to be interviewed, contact me via email.