As I embark on writing my first novel (fantasy/horror/thriller/sci-fi/romance), releasing my first novella (horror/sci-fi), and having a couple of my screenplays up for awards and being filmed, I tend to count well-known authors like Stephen King, H.P. Lovecraft, Clive Barker, Edgar Allan Poe and the like as my literary influences. But also among those influences are independent writers like Lawrence C. Connolly and Dark Fiction Writer, Christine Soltis who are busy making their own way in the literary world. I had the pleasure of meeting Ms. Soltis at an event put on by the awesome Eljay’s Used Bookstore in Dormont, PA. At the event, she discussed being an independent in the literary world dropping some good advice for those like me who are just beginning to release their own literary works. I picked up one of her books (look for a review on it soon) and I was thrilled when she agreed to an interview with my webzine. Read on and find out more. Oh yeah, and pick up one of her books! 🙂
MU: How did you come to be a writer?
CS: About six months before my 2003 college graduation, I saw a painting and wrote a three page poem about it for a class. My teacher was impressed by it, mostly that I had written it pretty quickly and all of it had come from one image. After graduation, I was working in a news radio station and found that just simply having a job wasn’t enough for me. I needed the continuance of intellectual stimulation. English was always a strong point so I became curious and thought, “Hey, why not try writing a book?” So, I sat down and did it. Then, I found that I couldn’t stop. At that point, I hadn’t known I would fall in love with writing or that it would become such a large part of me…but here I am, still going, nine years later.
MU: Why dark fiction over other genres and who have been your influences in writing?
CS: Dark fiction is only a portion of what I write, albeit a large part of those works. I grew up on horror movies, so many concepts have been developed through time and are probably pretty well embedded by now (insert laughter here). Horror themes have oftentimes been the most exciting, thrilling ventures. However, I find myself constantly moving into other genres, which is very stimulating as well. One major influence on my life was actually Dean Koontz, whom I read a lot of his works as a teenager. “Lightning” is one of his books that remains in my mind, but it is more of a time travel story. I’m also a big fan of dystopian literature where there are bleak, futuristic societies. “Brave New World,” by Aldous Huxley is one of my all-time favorites.
MU: Tell us about your production company, SolsticeNightSky Productions.
CS: SolsticeNightSky Productions is a name that I developed years ago as I continue to build my love for writing into a company. Under this title, there are two divisions, Solstice Night for horror and dark productions and SolsticeSky for the works that are less graphic. Any works and/or collaborations that I have now are steppingstones for the future. People come to me for collaborations on written works and I expect this to increase in the future, especially with a company name where interested parties may look to find a writer to help bring their visions to life. I have found that I love working with other people, as it can only help you grow, adapt and become more diverse than when working alone. Luckily, I also have a wonderful editor, Christie L. Johnson, who helps out tremendously in making sure the books are in great shape.
MU: What would be some challenges you may have faced as an independent writer?
CS: Oh my, this one is endless, as there are so many challenges to being an independent writer. Writers can generally be reclusive, introverted types, particularly during the inception of the book. Then, once it is finished, the independent writer must switch hats and become the extroverted marketer. It is an interesting adjustment going from introvert to extrovert (and I share this with people all the time) but writing the book is honestly the easy part. You have to care enough about what you write to go out and do book signings and promote as much as humanly possible. This can be a challenge when all you really want to do is continue writing.
MU: What are the pros and cons to being independent based on your experience?
CS: Pros of being independent are that you have complete control over your work and will not have to change anything. You also have the ability to publish at a faster pace and are not bound to any contracts. Querying for agents and publishers takes a really long time, months even, just to hear an acceptance or rejection. In that time, you could have published several books instead of letting them accrue dust while you wait.
Cons of the independence are that you have to market so much on your own, and you will probably reach less people. An agent can net you a publishing deal where you also might get an advance against royalties, which won’t happen if you do it yourself. It is a choice you have to make, based on your writing level, production and patience.
MU: Now I’ve asked a couple people this question, but I’m always interested in getting different perspectives on this. The mainstream media tends to saturate us with the stories of “overnight successes” with all the reality tv ‘stars,’ American Idols, and the ‘cinderella stories’ of how “so and so became an overnight sensation in a matter of five minutes.” Would you say that such articles and stories tend to give (especially) young people trying to break into the industry a sort of false hope and distorted view as to how the industry really works?
CS: This is definitely a false hope situation, there’s no doubt about that. Many writers complete a book and then think they will be rich or that it is the best book that was ever written. Truth is, one person might love it and another will hate it, no matter how good it is. The overnight sensations that do occur are the minority, a very tiny percentage, but I also think one part of us needs to remember that they are still possible. It is just best not to believe that is how it will always work. I will tell everyone to strive for the stars but to keep grounded in reality. Don’t think of anything as impossible, but don’t build your dream around the hopes of a few trends. You need to love your craft, be passionate about it, develop a bit of a thick skin and have gallons of determination much more than anything else in this industry.
MU: Of all the works you have written, is there one in particular you are most proud of?
CS: Oh wow, I’m proud of them all, especially the Hatred Blooms series, which is really an imaginative and fun fantasy tale that was inspired by the movie Labyrinth. The thing is though, that when a book was written long ago, we realize that we have grown and learned so much since then. But every past story had a reason and a purpose and was developed during significant periods of my life. All of them have great meaning to me. I’m also very proud of my co-creations such as Final Moon, which came after a screenplay with Matthew T. Veltri. I also worked with two Australians on various other works, Zane Dirani and Dr. Mo Dirani and another script with Jason T Swinchock. I’m also proud of some of the works that are coming next and always look forward to a new release.
CS: Well, I just finished my second degree, a Master’s of Science in Environmental Studies and then left Pennsylvania for Los Angeles, CA. Right now, I’m deciding if I will try to make a fresh start in L.A. As far as releases, I have some edits to finish on a dystopian release entitled, Reclusive 2038. We have a couple international releases coming up as well with Dr. Mo Dirani. I also have six other completed books that need edited and released. Future co-creations are always something else to look forward to. I’m also hoping to expand more into filmmaking and even some more acting. It’s endless, you just have to keep going. There’s always so much to do!
And thank you, Tiffany.
Artistry by Jason Repp and photo by David Riley
ABOUT THE INTERVIEWER: Tiffany Apan is an award winning and acclaimed independent recording artist along with being a stage/film actress, producer, and writer. You can find more about her at her Official Website
, Web Blog
, and Facebook
. She can also be found on IMDb and her music releases on CDBaby along with iTunes, Amazon, and other digital retailers. She also writes for the publications Rogue Cinema and Horrornews.net
. She is also responsible for starting up the Music’s Underworld Webzine