Monday, December 30, 2013

Author Spotlight: RS McCoy—Complete with Interview (A Bearded Scribe Blog Tour)

About the Author:

RS McCoy didn’t ever plan on being a writer. With a career teaching high school science, writing is the last thing she expected. But life never goes the way you think it will. 

While battling cancer, she picked up her laptop and let the words flow out of her fingertips like magic. One year later, her first published fantasy novel has been released on Amazon and her second novel is in the works. 

She is a wife, mother of one with another on the way, a scientist, baker, gardener, and life-long science fiction and fantasy addict.
Connect with RS McCoy

The Interview:
Joshua Allen Mercier: Which book introduced you to speculative fiction?
RS McCoy: Hmmm. I guess I’d have to call a toss-up between Asimov’s I, Robot and Tolkien’s The Hobbit. My dad is a major sci-fi guy, so I guess I was a little doomed when it came to finding a book to read. In middle school I really cultivated a love of reading, and my dad’s extensive sci-fi collection made it easy to find a good book.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Do you have an all-time favorite book? What about it makes it your favorite?
RS McCoy: Is it corny if I say Ender’s Game? I read it for the first time for English class in the sixth grade, and harbored a deep-seated love ever since. Card presents the timeless human vs. aliens conflict in an unique way, often painting the aliens as being more human than his futuristic society. It probably didn’t hurt that I was a kid reading a book about kids doing amazing things.

Joshua Allen Mercier: It's most certainly not corny! Ender's Game is definitely a title worthy of such praise. Which author—and/or book—inspired you to start writing?
RS McCoy: None. If I tried to compare myself with trade published books from the get-go, I can’t honestly tell you I ever would have started writing. Instead I found myself wandering amateur fiction sites when I got sick last year. Many times I felt the stories were truly original and more enjoyable to read than many published works, but too many of them were unfinished or abandoned. I started writing to keep myself busy during treatment, and because I was too tired to search for a really good story. It seemed easier just to write one.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I, too, have a hard time comparing myself to other authors, but it was definitely Tolkien's amazing language construction that inspired me to write a series with its own language sprinkled throughout...well, two languages, actually. As an aspiring Fantasy author trying to shop his first manuscript, could you tell me why you chose to self-publish versus traditional publishing?
RS McCoy: Historically, I come from a long line of entrepreneurs. My dad has been in business for himself my entire life. In college, I managed a few online businesses that became reasonably successful. It’s not that I didn’t consider going the trade-pub route, but it’s just not in me to let someone else have that much control over my business.

Joshua Allen Mercier: Of the entire publishing process, what would you say is the most difficult aspect to endure?
RS McCoy: Editing! I cannot accurately use words to describe how much I hate editing. Yuck! Writing is a fantastic, liberating and enjoyable journey into a place of your own creation. Editing is the grueling process of staring down every comma, apostrophe and letter to determine if they’re doing their job. Ultimately, I care far more about the story than I do about any individual comma, so combing through my story on repeat was a tall order.

Joshua Allen Mercier: As a natural editor, I often struggle to get my thoughts onto 'puter or paper for the mere fact that I edit as I write. While my final product comes out with few edits needed, I often wish I could turn it off while writing. From where did the inspiration for Sparks arise? Was there specific mythology or folklore that—forgive the pun—sparked it?
RS McCoy: Many times I have been asked this question, and I wish I had a clear cut answer. I always had the idea that people were born to fill a role, similar to organisms that fill a niche in their ecosystem. Some people were born to be the President while others were born to be astronauts. I wanted to write a book that explored a world where those roles were clearly defined, named, and used in everyday situations. I also included some elements that I truly love: animals and nature, old world cultures, gemology, and romance. Somehow they all worked together rather nicely!

Joshua Allen Mercier: Was there a specific place (or combination of places) that inspired the physical world of Sparks?
RS McCoy: Yep! The names were all derived from old world civilizations or modern cities in India, China and South America. Physically, the nation of Madurai exhibits many of the areas found around various parts of Texas. There are some untamed forest areas in Big Thicket National Park and wide coasts along the gulf. I based the Nakbe Islands on the Hawaiian Islands, mostly due to the volcanic nature.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I would have never drawn any conclusion that Texas was your inspiration...then again, I've only seen Texas as portrayed in films and such. I did, however, pick up on the Hawaiian connection with Nakbe scenery and even Maya and Aztec inspiration with the language and culture of the islands. Do you have a favorite character (to write) from your series? If so, what sets them apart the others?
RS McCoy: Oh without a doubt, my favorite is Avis. Deep down Avis is a truly remarkable human, but circumstances require him to play a different role. His inner conflict challenged me in many ways, but ultimately I really enjoyed writing him. In my mind’s eye, he’s also devastatingly handsome!

Joshua Allen Mercier: I truly enjoyed the character of Avis, too, and also imagined him as handsome. It is clear, in reading Sparks, that you are truly a wildlife and nature lover; could you tell the readers a little more about your love of and experience with tracking, hunting, and surviving from the land?
RS McCoy: Okay, so don’t laugh, but I have to go with 'none' here. It’s true! I can’t hide a life-long love of animals and nature, and I even pursued a degree in Marine Biology at university. I am SCUBA certified and worked in an aquarium for a few years before moving to high school to teach Biology. My son’s first word was 'fish!' On the other hand, I am definitely an inside girl. I don’t want my meals to look at me and I certainly don’t want dirt under my nails. The one sport I truly love is fishing, and my family makes a big trip to Missouri to catch trout every year, but that doesn’t mean my husband doesn’t have to put the worms on my hook!

Joshua Allen Mercier: That's actually very hilarious to find out, really. I did get a chuckle out of it; I'm sorry. Do you intend to continue Lark's story via a series, or was Sparks a solo title?
RS McCoy: I never started Sparks with the intention to make it a series, or even publish it. It was always just something to keep me busy and occupied last year. About half way through it became clear that story I wanted to tell just wouldn’t fit into a single book (that is, unless I went all GRRM and made it a thousand pages!). Outlined and ready to be fulfilled is the second novel, Spirits, which I hope to release sometime in 2014.

Joshua Allen Mercier: As a female, would you say it was difficult writing through the mind of a male protagonist? Also, did having a male protagonist fuel your decision to use only your initials instead of your full name?
RS McCoy: It was a tad difficult at times to think from the male perspective, but overall I think it worked out well. In some of my earlier works, the point of view flipped between male and female characters with each chapter, so it wasn’t something I hadn’t done before. As for the name, I use my initials to create some distance between my real life and my author life. In reality, I’m a six-month pregnant school teacher who lives in a small town. As an author, I write New Adult Paranormal Romance, featuring some profanity, graphic violence, and light sex. Hopefully McCoy is a common enough name to provide a bit of anonymity!

Joshua Allen Mercier: What project(s) are you working on at the moment?
RS McCoy: Currently, I’m putting the final touches on a short story I’ll be submitting to an anthology. I really enjoy trying out shorter fiction as I feel it is more challenging to work within specified word limits. Next I’ll be working on transforming Spirits from sloppy, scribbled outline to publishable novel.

Joshua Allen Mercier: I can't wait to read Spirits; I would even love to read the scribbled outline, for that matter! Could you describe your writing process to the readers?
RS McCoy: I’m not sure of how to describe it, or if it even qualifies as a 'process.' For Sparks I spent about three days of mulling over the idea of mind-reading, how it would work and what the limitations would be. After that I spent another three or four days jotting down ideas about the world, drawing a sad, sad little map and describing characters and their interactions. Then for six weeks or so, I went home and wrote for about three hours each night. Once I had the general plan in my head, it seemed eager to escape. I was desperate to get it all onto paper before I forgot anything, although I think my husband wanted to kill me!

Joshua Allen Mercier: I'm not sure of the topic or in what capacity, but would you consider writing a guest post on The Bearded Scribe at some point?
RS McCoy: Of course! Just like writing shorter fiction, writing blog articles can be a bit of a challenge in an enjoyable way. Just let me know when and where!

Joshua Allen Mercier: Is there anything else that you would like to share with The Bearded Scribe's readers that I did not ask you (and you wished I had)?
RS McCoy: My favorite color is green, I can do the moon walk, and I love pomegranate lemon drop martinis with sugar on the rim (when I’m not pregnant, that is)!

Joshua Allen Mercier: Sounds yummy! Did you know that, when I am not writing or blogging, I am a mixologist? As soon as I read “pomegranate lemondrop martini,” a few recipes came to mind that I could try on you! I just created one on Thanksgiving that you might enjoy called Aphrodite's Kiss. I make a rosemary syrup by steeping some rosemary in some sugar and water, that's combined with lemongrass, cucumber, and lemon, then some gin (or a silver tequila works, too!) and some velvet falernum (a liqueur made with cane sugar and lime juice infused with spices). It's finished with a swizzle of pomegranate syrup that gives it a tart finish, and garnished with a sprig of rosemary and some pomegranate seeds (optional). The drink is so named because it is said that Aphrodite was draped in rosemary when she was born of the sea, and it's such legend that gives the plant its Latin name, Rosmarinus: dew (ros) [of the] sea (marinus).

The Interviewer:
Joshua Allen Mercier is the Founder and Executive Editor of The Bearded Scribe, a blog dedicated to the broad genre of speculative fiction. He is a writer, a coffee addict, a self-confessed linguaphile and philologist, a proud bibliophile, and an unrepentant Grammar Nazi. He is also a professional mixologist (a darn good one, thank you very much!) with over twelve years of cocktail-slinging experience.

Joshua is currently working on two manuscripts simultaneously: half his time is spent doing the re-edits of his first manuscript, The Assassin of Aldarhaij (The Aesiranyn Saga), and the other half is spent dabbling with an untitled book of a new Urban Fantasy series.

When he is not working on the blog or writing, he enjoys singing, cooking, and spending time with his family. Joshua lives in the Atlanta area with his partner, Jeremiah, and their two chihuahuas, Bailey and Chanel.

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