Author Answers with Kameron Hurley

The Word Nerds are shifting genres this week to welcome Kameron Hurley to Author Answers! She’s an award-winning fantasy author. In addition to writing a lot, she keeps up an active Twitter feed, talking about work and issues in the publishing realm. Her latest book, “Empire Ascendant,” the second book in her Worldbreaker Trilogy, hit shelves yesterday.

WN: What kind of reader will really like the Worldbreaker Saga?

Kameron-HurleyHURLEY: If you like big, complex fantasy sagas with incredible worlds you haven’t seen before, you’ll like The Mirror Empire andEmpire Ascendant. It’s the story of two paralelle worlds coming together and fighting each other to figure out who lives and who dies. We’re talking about not just the fate of one world, but of many. There’s blood mages, satellite magic, sentient plants, and a whole lot more, too.

WN: What’s a typical day like for you? How do you balance the day job work and the writing work?

HURLEY: I do most of my writing on the weekends, generally in a big six or eight hour go on Saturdays, and Sunday when I’m on deadline. These days my struggle isn’t so much figuring out how to find time to write, but to find time to do the other things – interviews, podcasts, guest blog posts, reviewing contracts, editing, career planning, negotiations, pursuing other related projects like board games based on my work… all of those things are important, but they aren’t writing.

I tend to get up very early – a little after 5 a.m., and get a lot of that kind of work done then. I also work on my lunch break. I try to reserve time after I get home from work for stuff like actually spending time with my spouse and my dogs and reading or catching up on various media. Lately my weeks have been just one un-ending slog of work, which I don’t recommend. Things should get better here in late November though. I’m turning in three books this year, but just one next year (so far) so I’m hoping I can regain some sanity in 2016. Hope springs eternal.

WN: You use Patreon to support writing short stories. How are platforms like that helping artists and what’s the danger (if any) from them?

HURLEY: Patreon has been a great way for me to justify spending time on writing short fiction instead of working on freelancing work. For a long time I had a day job, the fiction writing, and freelance copywriting work. Now I can generate the same – or more!  – income from writing short fiction as writing corporate websites. And really, who needs more corporate website copy?

I think the only danger of these platforms is feeling like you have to produce. Some days I wish I’d gone to a month-to-month instead of “per thing” model, but the money-per-story model was the one my fans preferred. And to be dead honest – without those external deadlines, without the public pressure, I simply wouldn’t create as much work. One can argue about this being good or bad, but it takes a lot of practice to improve one’s craft, and if I’m not working, I’m not improving. This has been a good way of ensuring that work gets done that otherwise would not exist.

WN: You’ve lived in several parts of the US and in South Africa. How have those experiences influenced your writing?

HURLEY: Some of the best advice I ever got about writing didn’t have to do with forming sentences. It was “Read outside the genre and travel.” The more exposure you have to other ways of living and thinking, the better your own work is going to be. Challenging myself to get outside my comfort zone – whether in reading or living – was a powerful way of improving the well of knowledge where all the ideas come from. You hear from writers sometimes about having to “go back to the well” to generate more ideas and interest in new projects, and traveling is a good way to do this. It certainly worked for me. My first trilogy borrowed a great many worldbuilding details – especially the bugs – from my time living in South Africa.

WN: What’s your favorite word and why?

HURLEY: Frabjuous. As in, “Oh frabjuous day.” I love the sound of a lot of made up words. There’s something deeply evocative about them.

WN: What’s next for you as a writer?

HURLEY: I’m finishing up edits for my essay collection, The Geek Feminist Revolution, this weekend, and then turning in my first space opera, The Stars are Legion, on November 1st. Both books are coming out next year. Once The Stars are Legion is in, I’ll start work on the last book in the Worldbreaker Saga, The Broken Heavens. That will be out sometime in 2017. It’s a lot of work on top of a day job, but it’s great to be under contract with so many fabulous publishers.

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