Indie author Candace Gylgayton was born in Falmouth, Massachusetts, but spent her earliest years in Tokyo, Japan, before relocating to the Bay Area of California where she has lived ever since. Candace received her B.A. with departmental honours from the University of California, Santa Cruz, where she wrote her thesis on the uses of iconographic images in Byzantine art. A self-acknowledged history geek, many of her stories reflect her fascination with the never-ending story of human beings. Along with a handful of short stories, some of which can be read at her website www.candacegylgayton.com, she is the author of the fantasy duet The Pentacle War, which is comprised of Hearts in Cups (Book One) and Swords and Wands (Book Two).
What inspires you to write?
I tell myself stories all the time; as I’m driving or gardening, while riding my horse or walking my dog, I’m always spinning stories in my head. I think the psychological term is “daydreaming”. Sometimes something I’ve seen, a film or something on television, or something I’ve read, or heard about, will start firing synapses and I’ll find myself caught up in a narrative. Most of the time the story goes no further, but occasionally that process will spark something that eventually ends up as words on a page.
Tell us about your writing process.
When I am working on something, like a novel, I play around with scenes and characters in my head. I’ll mentally advance the story in one direction or another to see what happens. But when I start to actually put the words down, the inner-logic of the story will usually assert itself and I end up “following my muse” to use the old cliché. I’m definitely a “seat of the pants” writer when I sit down at my keyboard, although I will jot down notes when they occur to me about various aspects of the story.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
My characters arise someplace in my subconscious and step onto the stage of conscious thought during the creative process of “storying”. What is interesting is that some characters show up as the story needs them, other characters seem to develop on their own and then a story materializes for them to inhabit. It is a rather complicated process. For the most part I don’t think about it too much. I prefer to let the stories and characters percolate in my head until they become so compelling that I have to write them down. I especially enjoy creating strong female characters who are not afraid of life.
What advice would you give other writers?
Before you can go anywhere with a story, you need to create it. Having “a great idea for a book” (and how many times have we heard people tell us this?) is useless unless you get the words down on paper. Then, when you actually do write something that you want to present to an audience, go back and revise, rewrite and edit it. Raw material is rarely palatable by anyone other than the author. When you finally have something you think is decent, have it read and edited (at least copy-edited) by someone who knows how to edit. One of my biggest peeves are books that are not properly edited – and some of the biggest publishing houses these days are guilty of putting books out there that are “not ready for prime time”. You owe it to your reader to give them a polished piece of writing.
Final advice: develop “rhino skin” because not everyone is going to like or even understand what you are doing. Like any artist, you are going to have to stand up and take what will be slung at you. Frequently, you will get positive feedback, but there will be times when you have to contend with people being negative – or downright nasty. However, if you have truly produced a work of art (be it a book, or a song, painting, performance, or whatever) it will shine no matter how much mud comes its way, and you just have to keep believing in it and yourself.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
When I first completed The Pentacle War, I went looking for and finally found an agent who loved my book and wanted to help me get it published. For a long time we struggled to find a publisher. In the days of snail-mail we received responses that all boiled down to “this is a really well-written book, but we have our quota of that genre at this time.” Tiring of sore knuckles, I shelved the book and got on with other projects. Fast-forward to the silicon revolution and the rise of the indie writer. While my book is an independent production, my goal was to create an engaging story with wonderful characters, edited and produced so that is indistinguishable a traditionally published book, and put it into the hands of readers who would enjoy it.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
Companies like Amazon and Smashwords have changed the gameplay of getting books to readers, so that writers (and readers) are no longer solely at the mercy of an editor’s fancy or a publisher’s list. Being an indie writer also means that I can follow my muse and write what interests me; I don’t have to be stuck writing only one type of book. My current novel (and its soon to be published sequel) fit in the genre of Epic Fantasy, but the book after that is a mystery novel set in San Francisco in 1994. That kind of creative lee-way is hard to have when you are under contract to a big publisher.
What do you use?
What genres do you write?
mostly fantasy and mystery
What formats are your books in?
Both eBook and Print
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