We’re happy to have Book Country member Gloria Oliver with us today! Gloria is currently workshopping INNER DEMONS, an urban fantasy novel. INNER DEMONS is one of April’s Editor’s Picks on Book Country. INNER DEMONS was published by Mundania Press in early 2014. Gloria shares what it means to be a speculative fiction writer and tips on choosing the perfect title.
Lucy Silag: Tell us more about yourself. How did you become a writer, and how did you find your way to Book Country?
Gloria Oliver: As I kid, I always had a hard time falling asleep. This led me to making up stories in my head to entertain myself until slumber finally came. One day, one of these stories kept bugging me to actually put it on paper – so I did. A few years later, the bug bit me again as I got a neat idea for a fantasy novel, and this time the infection set in deep. I’ve not looked back since.
I heard about Book Country back when it was being put together. The day job at the time had slow days here and there, and I’d found out about an evil Outlook add-on that would convert Twitter items to email and put them into a personal folder. This was just around the time social media was catching on big time, and I followed people like Kristen Lamb, Chuck Wendig, and many other writers and publishers. Through them, I learned of Colleen Lindsay from Penguin and followed her as well. And soon after Colleen started talking about a venture she was very excited about – a “Sekret Projekt” she was involved in, one where she and her peers hoped to create a place where authors could meet, share, help each other, and create a long lasting community.
Colleen even did a ‘reveal’ presentation in Dallas during the DFW Writers Conference back in 2011. The goals and concept of Book Country sounded fascinating and well thought out, so I signed up!
LS: In May of 2012, you posted an excerpt of your Urban Fantasy book, INNER DEMONS, onto Book Country for feedback. Since then INNER DEMONS has been published by Mundania Press. Tell us about Mundania Press, their submission process, and what it was like to be published there.
GO: Mundania Press was founded around thirteen years ago by Piers Anthony (yes, THAT Piers Anthony!) and other entrepreneurs. Since then, Mundania Press has steadily grown over the years and absorbed several other small press companies as imprints.
Like most publishers, Mundania has a page on their site dedicated to their submission guidelines and also gives a time frame on when you might expect to hear back after making a submission. They’ve even set it up so you can make your submissions online. The form asks for all pertinent info, including the novel’s blurb and synopsis. There’s even a button for uploading your manuscript into the form.
I submitted INNER DEMONS to them on 1/5/13. I sent an inquiry email since I’d not heard back after ninety days. They contacted me back right away and let me know I was being considered as a likely prospect, which was why I hadn’t heard from them yet. It wasn’t long after that I was presented with a contract to publish the novel in paperback and ebook formats.
Once on board, there were more forms to fill – cover copy, ideas for covers, marketing plans, etc. I was assigned an editor, and she marked the manuscript with suggestions and edits. Once I’d worked through those and she looked through the revisions, the manuscript went into the publishing queue. As the time for the release approached, they sent me a first look at the cover and gave me a chance to give some final input. Aside from a font change suggestion, I adored the cover at first sight. And so, on January 28, 2014, a little over a year after my original submission, INNER DEMONS was let loose upon the world.
LS: INNER DEMONS is a snappy title—very to the point, but still very evocative. Give us tips on choosing the right title. Does it change according to the genre you are writing in?
GO: For something that is only a few words long, a title can be a very difficult thing to choose. It can even get pretty nerve wracking – if you let it. It’s one of the first things people see, after all. And first impressions can make all the difference.
Typically, I try to keep my titles short. I feel they have more impact that way. If I can manage to find the right combination, the title will both hint at the reader about what they can expect and/or grab their interest. I also search the name online to make sure not too many people have had the same title idea. 😛
If I’m having a hard time deciding on a name, I’ll write down a placeholder title for the WIP – then as the manuscript grows and themes develop, ideas will hopefully crop up here and there, and then I’ll find one that sticks. My current work-in-progress, a science fiction novel, is at 80K words, and I’m still trying to figure out a good title! Lol.
Yet in the end, you can’t be married to the name you choose. Your publisher or editor might decide a different one might be better, depending on a multitude of factors. (My first published novel underwent a title change.) It’s something to keep in mind. But don’t assume they’ll do the work for you either! Your title is the first thing a prospective agent, publisher, and reader will see, so it’s key to make a good impression!
LS: You classify yourself as a writer of “speculative fiction.” What does that term mean to you?
GO: To me, speculative fiction is a liberating term. Rather than just be trapped in one genre, speculative fiction crosses the boundaries and can encapsulate fantasy, science fiction, even horror. The word speculative itself says it all: tending to think about what might happen or be true (Merriam-Webster Online Dictionary). All three of these genres push to see things beyond what we know – whether it is to tackle possible social issues, explore how the world might be if a key point in history had gone a different way, or how humanity might deal with something new or strange.
Speculative fiction is a giant sandbox! The only limit to what can come from it is myself.
LS: INNER DEMONS is just one of your publications. Tell us about the other books and stories you have published, and what you are working on now.
GO: INNER DEMONS was my first novel length foray into Urban Fantasy. The rest of my novels that have been picked up for publication range in genre from young adult to fantasy. All of them are standalone works. I’ve not been bit by the series bug…so far.
IN THE SERVICE OF SAMURAI is probably the most unique of the bunch, as it is a young adult fantasy set in mediaeval Japan and has undead, skeletal ninja and samurai (Think a cross between the Last Samurai and Pirates of the Caribbean, but without the comedy.) CROSSED EYED DRAGON TROUBLES is my second young adult title and is very quirky. (I blame my husband!) The location for the novel is a magic school with dragons – think Harry Potter meets the Dragon Riders of Pern. WILLING SACRIFICE is also a YA fantasy about a young woman who’s been raised to believe that to save the world, she’ll need to sacrifice herself. But then, she’s kidnapped by a group of people telling her she has to live to save it, not die. Lots of fun stuff to play with in that one.
On the fantasy novel side are: VASSAL OF EL, where I got to dig deep into the mind of a somewhat embittered mercenary who is more than he seems; and THE PRICE OF MERCY, which I placed in a world with a bit of a 1500s French flair and involves a young man who gets cursed after being accused of treason for an act he didn’t commit.
Short story wise, I’ve published a couple in the awesome Yard Dog Press Bubbas of the Apocalypse anthologies – THE FOUR BUBBAS OF THE APPOCALYPSE and HOUSTON: WE’VE GOT BUBBAS. I’ve also had short stories accepted for Lee Martindale’s LADIES OF TRADE TOWN anthology, and others.
LS: What’s been the most surprising things one of your readers has told you after reading one of your books?
GO: VASSAL OF EL is probably the novel I’ve gotten the most varied and surprising comments on. I had a gentleman who parachutes for fun who gushed about how impressed he was of my descriptions of how the main character felt when dragged about by the winged race represented in the novel. A close friend commented how she knew exactly how Torren felt when he found himself on one of the Chosen’s floating islands, where everywhere you looked everyone was fair-haired and all the features similar – something she’d experienced when walking the crowded streets of Japan.
Book Trailer for INNER DEMONS
About Gloria Olver
An expert party wallflower, Gloria Oliver can be a great asset during any multi-language movie experience, able to translate some Spanish and Japanese when it’s splattered without warning or subtitles at your screen. She also likes to dabble at movie reviews, which she posts on her blog every Friday. A small press author, her latest work is an urban fantasy that starts out in Texas called INNER DEMONS. For sample chapters, free fiction, and more, please visit www.gloriaoliver.com