We're very excited about this week on the WEbook blog! Today is the first of three interviews with WEbooker and recent debut author Rae Gee, whose steampunk thriller, Mars on the Rise, was published this spring by Torquere Press. Today, Rae chats with us about her writing life.
Congratulations on your debut! Tell us a little bit about Mars on the Rise.
Thank you! Greetings from across the pond! Mars on the Rise is set in the fictional Victorian city of Svenfur during the last years of the nineteenth century. It follows improvised storyteller Cedo as he steps from the pier and into the arms of weapons manufacturer Erus Veetu. Erus has promised him fame and fortune but Cedo has to battle with his sense of what's right. He discovers that below the streets and behind the walls of Svenfur are deadly machines, slavery and human sacrifice. With Erus supplying the weapons for the war in the East, Cedo tries to stop it from coming to the shores of England. Does he succeed? Can he penetrate Erus' cold exterior and stop the cogs and gears of progress? You'll have to read it to find out!
Sounds thrilling! When did you first start writing?
Probably when I was in school. Apparently I've always had a vivid imagination and I was lucky enough to have a really good teacher in secondary school. She really encouraged me to go for it and get stuck in. For several years, due to my own stupidity, I didn't write a thing. I fell into a dark place, got wrapped up in drink and drugs, and it fell apart. It was only through the encouragement of some really wonderful friends that I began writing again. A couple of years ago, I sat and thought, “I can't do this any more. I really need to do something with my life” and, through various blogs and websites, began writing again. There was always that spark in there, waiting to come back to life; it just needed a helping hand from some great people.
That’s very inspiring – writing as rescue, in a way. And it’s amazing what a difference it makes to get a bit of encouragement at just the right moment. How do you fit writing into your life alongside work, friends and family, etc.?
With Mars on the Rise it was quite strange. It started off as a paragraph for a friend to illustrate. Yet while I was sitting on a train at Crewe station, the idea hit me. Not all in one go, but little bits. To write it I pretty much cut myself off from the world. I only went out to work or to go shopping, rarely went out with friends or did anything sociable. I realised that if it was going to happen, I had to knuckle down and get on with it. It's just great that we live in a day and age where we can communicate so easily and cheaply. My friends are really supportive, as are my family. Now that the book's out I'm starting to ease myself back into having a social life, seeing friends more often, actually going out and having fun!
That’s dedication, alright! What’s your biggest challenge as a writer, and how do you overcome it?
Thinking that everything has to be done right this instant. Obviously we want everything to happen now. We want the book to be finished yesterday. We wanted it to be published last week. I'm terrible for wanting to control every little detail and it drives me to distraction (and to at least one nervous breakdown!). Life doesn't work like that and it's taken me a long time to just sit back and enjoy the ride.
When did you join WEbook? Tell us about your experience on the site—any favorite features?
I joined Webook back in 2009 on the insistence of a couple of writer friends. They'd come across it and were really enjoying it. So I signed up and instantly fell in love! (Although I'll admit to not having used it too much as of late and, for that, I apologise!) I think my favourite features are the projects. It's great to get invites to contribute to them. Some of my favourite ones have been the 50 and 60 word challenges. On top of that I've made some really great friends through Webook as well!
Yes, we'd love to see more of you! We've got a lot of exciting new stuff in the works. But back to your work - how did you use WEbook in writing and perfecting Mars on the Rise?
I'll tell you now, if it hadn't have been for the users of Webook, Mars on the Rise would never have been finished! I'm terrible for leaving things in half-way hell. Thanks to them I kept going, kept adding to it. And it was mainly down to people leaving comments, saying how much they liked it and making suggestions. Some of the events in the book are a direct result of something someone said. It was especially great when I was stuck and wanting to give up. A message, or a comment, would turn up and that would be the push I'd need to get on with it.
Come back on Wednesday and Friday for more of our conversation with Rae - she'll talk about the publication process (oh, the mysteries!) and the importance of enthusiasm in publicizing your own work. While you're waiting, you can follow her on Twitter and become a fan on Facebook!