Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Life After Acceptance

My guest is fantasy fiction author Glenda Larke.

My first experience with the wonderful created world of Glenda was book two (Stormlord Rising) of her Stormlords Trilogy. I loved it. Rich believable world, strong, but flawed, characters, and a wonderful story. The plot is multi-layered yet she effortlessly weaves all the pieces together in a real page turner. A very satisfying read and one I couldn't put down until the denouement.

I enjoyed it so much I wrote to her and asked her if she'd be a guest on Over Coffee. I'm honored she accepted.

Glenda is a fascinating woman. Why? She’s the wife of a Malaysian scientist with a job with the UN, raised two children while traveling the world. Glenda has in lived in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysian Borneo, Tunisia in North Africa, and Vienna, Austria. She’s worked about every job you can imagine and probably some you can’t. She’s a passionate defender of the rainforest and a field ornithologist. She tells us:

“[While in South-East Asia ] I learned to tie a sarong, cook with chillies, speak the language, clean squid, make curry, eat politely with the fingers of one hand, get rid of cobras in the house and explore the rainforest…

We returned to Malaysia where I turned more and more to environmental work, earning a living as a field ornithologist. I've waded through mangrove swamps, been followed by a tiger and attacked by a king cobra, been caught in a flash-flood and stung by a colony of irate wasps, studied birds on tropical atolls and swum with turtles. I've survived an open boat in a tropical thunderstorm and been eaten alive by leeches, mosquitoes, sandflies, ticks, chiggers and things that don't even have names. Would I do it all again? You betcha! In fact, I still do. My love of the rainforest is boundless, and I feel obligated to do my best to save it…

[Through all this] I kept on writing—in tents, at home, on boats and beaches, in swamps and mangroves, in national parks and logging camps, in airports and on planes.”

Boy, am I glad she kept on writing! Glenda shares what it's like as author after being published.

The day I heard my first book had been accepted for publication was also the day before my mother’s funeral. I was standing in my sister’s house after flying in from overseas, ripped by grief and feeling guilty because I hadn’t been there, when I was handed a fax. It was from my agent. I read it several times before the words even began to make sense. After almost seven years of various story rejections, there it was: Havenstar was to be published, chosen as one of three launch novels for a publisher’s new fantasy and science fiction imprint.

I was torn in two. The moment I had waited so long for, worked so hard to achieve – it had finally arrived. I wanted to be ecstatic, yet I was swamped with despair. I wanted to scream and dance for joy, yet I was weeping inside. My mother would have been delighted for me, but she died not knowing that her youngest daughter was achieving her lifelong dream. She would never know. I was devastated, conflicting emotions churning inside. Even now, thirteen years later, I can feel the raw anguish of that moment, the sense of Oh, why didn’t I know this a few days ago while she was alive?

Most authors – fortunately – don’t experience quite that mix of pain and joy when they get the news. They think they’ve reached the mountain peak where the view is great, and from now on everything will be wonderful … What they don’t know in that perfect moment of joy is that all they are doing is standing on a bump along a very long road.

They’ve probably spent years perfecting that first book. It’s their baby. They’ve thrown out a number of other attempts, but not this special one. This one they’ve nurtured, rewritten, polished. They’ve had it critiqued, it’s been rejected numerous times by publishers and agents - but still they’ve maintained their faith in it. And now that faith is vindicated.

Imagine it: standing there on the pinnacle of your career as a writer. You envision a lovely new book with your name on a shiny cover, loads of money, bookshops asking you to come and do a signing, fanmail stuffing up your inbox…What you get instead is a contract you don’t understand and a request for a rewrite from an editor you’ve never met – help, she even wants to change your baby’s name. Worse, she doesn’t like your name, either! She wants a pseudonym.

If you haven’t got an agent, you scurry around trying to find one because everyone says you ought to have one before you sign a contract. And that contract: horrors, it talks about your NEXT book as well. The one you haven’t started yet. And what does “at a discount of 52.5% up to 57.5% inclusive the royalty payable will be four-fifths of the prevailing rate…” actually mean? You’re not a lawyer! And where’s the bit about the date of publication? Oh, that’s on page twelve…Nooo - you have to wait anything up to two years? Two years? Your family’s already planning the launch party!

About then you realise this pinnacle of your career is really more like a road hump and you still have to negotiate the potholes of contracts and re-writes and copyedits and proofing and back page blurbs. Not to mention starting a website, and blogging and all those other things that authors are supposed to do. Publication day may well be ages in the future, but somehow everything has to be done in a hurry. Worse, you not only have to write a new book, but you’ve made a crazy promise to hand it in within twelve months - even though the first one took you six years to complete.

You want to drop your daytime job, but you can’t do that. Your advance is hardly enough to buy the cat food; it’s certainly not going to pay the mortgage. Everyone agrees: stopping work is madness for a new writer. So somehow you learn to juggle job, kids, spouse, leisure, getting the flu and carpel tunnel syndrome – while writing to a deadline. And suddenly the bump on the road begins to look more like an abyss.

Never fear, though. One day, in the mail, there comes a book. You rip open the packaging, and there it is: your creation. It has your name (or pseudonym) on the cover. There’s your dedication to your long-suffering family. Those are your words there in chapter one, your story, your blood, sweat and tears, paragraph after paragraph. (Probably a typo or too as well, so don’t too look closely right now.)

And that’s the mountain top. You’ve arrived. Some time soon you’ll have to deal with the deadline again and all that other stuff, but right now you really are standing on the peak, smelling that new book smell, and the view is magnificent.

Better still, sometime very soon, someone, somewhere, is going to ask you, “So where do you get your ideas?”

Stormlord Rising

Shale Flint has skills needed in a world in which water is worth more than gold, yet he can't control his own destiny. Circumstances force him to continue helping the devious rainlord, Taquar Sardonyx, to create rain—even though Taquar is using his control of water to further his own lust for power…

Terelle has been forced to leave the Scarpen with her great-grandfather, Russet; his painting of her future has trapped her into doing his will. Russet will not give up until he has regained his status as a Watergiver lord in his homeland—but Terelle is determined to resist, no matter what the price.

Meanwhile, Ryka Feldspar has been captured and taken as a concubine by a Reduner tribemaster. She discovers her rainlord husband, Kaneth, in the slave lines, but he has no memories of their time together. She is desperate to flee—but how can she leave him to his fate? Excerpt

As I said, I read book two first, but there were things I had to guess at--not hard, but a lot to absorb. So I would highly suggest reading Book One: The Last Stormlord, Synopsis and the excerpt, first.

BOOK GIVEAWAY Glad to do this, and the book will come from me, posted to anywhere. Choice of The Last Stormlord or Stormlord Rising.

~ * ~ * ~

Glenda was born on a farm in Western Australia, and moved to Malaysia after her marriage. She has been at various times in her life a housemaid, a high school teacher, a university tutor, a field ornithologist and a designer of nature interpretive centres. Besides Australia, she has lived in Kuala Lumpur and Malaysian Borneo, Tunisia in north Africa and Vienna, Austria. Her passion (when she is not writing) is rainforest conservation. Sometimes the two things get mixed up and she has been known to do copyedits in logging camps, or to read proof pages by candlelight in a tent in a peat swamp. Aged eight, she decided she was going to be a writer, but her first forays into print were all in non-fiction. When she was forty-five she submitted her first novel to an agent and she now has nine books published worldwide, with the third book of the Stormlord trilogy due out next year.

Glenda working on her writing in the field