About Megan Haskell:
Legend has it, I was born with a book in my hands. When I was a kid, my mom would ground me from reading in order to get me to do my chores. To this day, I can readily ignore the real world in favor of the imaginary one lurking between the pages of my current addiction. My dad — also an avid reader — introduced me to Tolkien in my late elementary years, and I never looked back. I love escaping to worlds where magic and monsters are real, especially stories with kick-butt heroines and dangerously attractive heroes.
Despite my voracious book appetite, I didn’t start creative writing until I was working as a number cruncher in a big accounting firm. With an hour plus commute by train every day, and a demanding left-brain occupation, I needed a mobile creative outlet. A pen and paper are about as mobile as it gets! As the pages began to fill, I quickly moved onto a tiny laptop, and a writer was born. Now I get to create my own fantasies!
I currently live in Southern California with my wonderfully supportive husband, two daughters, and a ridiculously energetic dog. Sanyare: The Last Descendant is my first published novel. I also have a free short story prequel — Pixie Tamer — available on Amazon, iBooks, and Kobo.
What inspires you to write?
The work of other writers inspires me. I’ve always been a voracious reader, and admired the storytellers and authors whose work I loved. As I got older I started to think about writing my own stories, but for a long time I didn’t think I had the talent. Eventually, I realized it’s not just about talent, but also hard work and practice. I started writing on the train to work in my early 20’s, and became addicted to putting pen to page.
Tell us about your writing process.
My stories usually start with a character. He or she pops into my head and sticks around until I can’t ignore the story. Then I do a lot of pre-writing, including character interviews and sketches, extensive world-building, and thinking through the major plot points.
I’m a mixed pantser and plotter. I put together a very loose outline of the major plot points before starting the first draft, but it’s a flexible, changeable thing. As I write, things invariably change, and I’ll update the outline as I go. I write in Scrivener, so this is really easy…I use their digital note cards for each major plot point (folder) and scene (text file). When I’m done with the first draft, I’ll divide the plot points into chapters, and update the note cards to match, which helps make sure I don’t have any major plot holes that need to be filled.
Once the first draft is complete, I set the manuscript aside for at least a week (or as long as I can stand to ignore it), then go back to self-edit. For Sanyare: The Last Descendant, I worked closely with a critique partner, editing chapter by chapter for several months. Then it’s off to beta readers while I write something else for awhile. When the beta readers are done, I incorporate their suggestions and changes as I see fit, then it’s off to a professional editor. Once she’s done and I’ve incorporate her changes, I’m finally ready to publish.
It takes a long time — nearly 2.5 years for Sanyare — but I think it produced my best possible work. I’m hopeful the sequel won’t take quite as long now that I have more experience, but in all honesty, it will take as long as it takes until I’m satisfied with the quality.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
I don’t talk to them, but I let them talk through me by free-writing in the first person from their perspective. These interviews (or rants, sometimes) might not be used in the novel, but they help me understand the character motivations.
What advice would you give other writers?
Don’t get discouraged, just keep practicing your craft until you can compare it to your favorite author without totally cringing. Then you’re ready to submit to agents or publish on your own. If this takes years, so be it. Keep an eye on the long game and you’ll get there eventually.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I chose to self-publish because I’m interested in the publishing process and didn’t want to give control of my book over to someone else. I have an undergraduate business degree, so the business side of things is as exciting to me as the writing!
New authors should consider their skill sets and interests before making a decision. Being a self-publisher can be very rewarding, but it also takes a lot of work. You need to have enough cash on hand to invest in your own work. A professional editor is not optional, in my opinion, and unless you have professional design skills, I strongly recommend a professional cover artist at a minimum, and both of those cost a good chunk of change. You’re the project manager, so you also need to have strong organizational skills. And lastly, you need to be prepared for the disappointment of low sales. Unless you already have a big platform, it could take months or (more likely) years to find an audience and make a real income. I certainly haven’t reached that point, yet.
But traditional publishing has its own issues. Personally, I didn’t want to wait another 2 plus years to see my book in print or on the digital shelves. And since I enjoy the business side of publishing, I didn’t want to give up a significant percentage of each sale to let someone else make all of those decisions.
Know yourself, and research the pros and cons of both sides.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
I think paper books will continue to dwindle and go the way of the vinyl record: they’ll still be around for collectors and purists, but will no longer be the most common medium. Traditional publishers will eventually be forced to realize this, and they’ll have a choice: produce beautiful collectors edition books, or increase efficiencies so that they can support authors in the digital market (fast turnaround and higher percentages for authors). I also think smaller publishers will have a competitive advantage in speed to market that will be attractive to authors looking for the traditional publishing model.
What do you use?: Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write?: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Coming of Age, Sword & Sorcery
What formats are your books in?: Both eBook and Print
All information in this post is presented “as is” supplied by the author. We don’t edit, to allow you, the reader, to hear the author in their own voice.