Genre of the Month, November - Science Fantasy

Interview: Stephanie Wideman

For our Science Fantasy month, Stephanie Wideman, author of the Space Station Olympus series, joins us for an interview!

Kayla Perisho-Denley:  First, I want to thank you again for joining me today. 🙂

Stephanie Wideman:  Thanks for having me.

Perisho-Denley:  Can you start us off by telling us a little about your Space Station Olympus series?

Wideman:  In a nutshell: Greek Mythology in Space. A bit longer, it’s about the survival of humans and aliens after the destruction of Earth 3, so far in the future that both species have forgotten anything about where they came from. The gods now rule over the humans, taking human hosts as part of a not-so-secret secret. Each book revolves around a Greek myth from beginning to end as we get to see different aspects of life on the station and as the humans migrate to a planet later in the series.

Wideman:  I tried to design it so that the reader won’t have to know about Greek mythology to keep up with the story line.

Perisho-Denley:  That sounds really exciting, and unique. What inspired you to meld Greek myth with Sci-Fi?

Wideman:  Well, originally, it was supposed to be a straight up retelling of Greek Myths set in Ancient Greece. I’ve always loved Greek myths, so it was an easy subject. I did it for NanoWrimo 2009. However, when I was writing the first novel, Iona, and the main character was then called Psyche, I came to a problem. In the myth, Psyche throws herself off a cliff. I went nuts pouring over maps trying to figure out what cliff. So I said, “Screw it! It’s in space!”. Thus, Space Station Olympus was founded. It really opened a lot of doors for the retellings and settings of the stories.

Perisho-Denley:  That is a pretty great way to solve a problem! So in designing the universe this story is set in, did you draw from other myths, or create your own? I imagine there is an impressive history of this galaxy.

Wideman:  I pretty much only drew from what I knew of Greek mythology and created everything else from my own mind. There is a lot of history of the aliens and humans, but I only put in what pertains to the story at that moment in time. Such as, they do fear they are the only ones left. There has been no contact with the other space stations, all of which house a different religion and mythology, in several centuries. I haven’t decided if I want to do spin off someday, but I’m keeping my options open.

Perisho-Denley:  With myths, your options for spinoffs really are endless. That is very cool. So was this your first Science Fantasy story? Or have you written in the genre before?

Wideman:  I actually don’t remember reading much Sci-Fi growing up. A few Mercedes Lackey books here and there, maybe. I did watch more Sci-Fi, though. I mostly read Fantasy. As for writing, this is really my first journey into Sci-Fi. I tend to focus more on the characters and less on the ship because of that.

Perisho-Denley:  Makes sense. I know this question is hard for most writers, but I have to ask, which authors or books inspired you to write most?

Wideman:  Oh, let’s see, who did I read the most growing up? I did read a lot of Stephen King. I used to read a series called The Unicorn Queen which influenced me a lot growing up. It’s out of print, but I think there’s a free version on the net somewhere. I can’t remember who wrote that series. I read a lot of Nancy Drew. Honestly, I read what I could get my hands on. It wasn’t so much an author that inspired me, but the worlds that opened up to me. I’ve been writing since I was about 7 years old. Each time I read a good book, I want to cause that same reaction in a reader. When I read a bad book, I tell myself, “I can do better.”

Perisho-Denley:  That is a good way to react to a bad book! So since you have been writing for so long, do you feel any different about writing now that you are published? Has it changed how you write?

Wideman:  I have more respect for the craft. It’s not easy to write. It looks easy, it really does. I don’t think it’s really changed how I write, but I am more conscious of what I write and what audience I’m reaching out to. I started writing just to get my stories out, and I still do that, but I am more aware of who might be reading my stuff.

Perisho-Denley:  That is a very good point. So can you tell us a little bit about your writing process? Is there a specific time and place you prefer to write, or do you prefer to write when the mood strikes you?

Wideman:  My schedule is to hectic, I haven’t had a chance to create a writing process yet, but it’s on my list. I tend to write whenever I have a chance. I bring my notebook for the first draft with me everywhere and type everything up at night or in the morning. If I can, I make it to my local writer’s meetings to work on my stuff. My usual writing process that I’ve been able to keep has been this: first draft in year A, second draft and editing in year B, send to professional editor, beta readers, get cover and publish in year B as well, write next novel in year B and publish in year C, and so on. I always have something going on each year, either working on the next book or editing the current one.

Perisho-Denley:  Sounds like it’s effective! What advice would you offer for someone wanting to write in this genre? Or perhaps, something you wish you knew before you published?

Wideman:  Well, I can answer both. Be prepared for bumps in the road. I just published my third book, and I am still finding new ways to mess up. Writing isn’t easy and there will always be some kind of set back. The important thing is to push through them. A lot of times, we forget we can always go back and fix something later. Don’t like the cover because it was done on short notice? Re-release the book later with a new cover. Published authors do this all the time. Couldn’t afford an editor? Again, when you can afford one, re-release the book. Accidentally hit publish on your self-publish site? Don’t panic. There are ways to fix that. It may look like your world is falling apart, but take a deep breath. It’ll all work out. As I said, I just published my third novel. I hit publish too soon, but didn’t think anything of it since I had proofed the book digitally and thought it looked fine. Big mistake! I got my copy and it was 1/3 the size it should be. My font was too small. I had to go back and republish my novel after making the font bigger. I now have three copies of tiny font book, and I’m hoping they were the only copies purchased. If not, hey, collector’s editions.

Oh, and advertising works. I still haven’t figured that one out yet. 🙂

Perisho-Denley:  That is some excellent advice. And hey! When your books become super popular, those small print copies could be extremely collectable!

Wideman:  That’s the plan. I was in both a panic and laughing too much over them. As I said, it’ll all work out.

Perisho-Denley:  One last question before I let you go; what is your number one piece of advice for surviving NaNoWriMo?

Wideman:  Don’t see the end goal as a hard limit. By that, I mean, if you don’t make 50K words, you didn’t lose. There is no losing in NaNoWriMo. When I first started, I only saw the goal and got really bummed if I didn’t get my 50K in by the end of the month. Now, it’s gotten easier because I know I’m closer to my goal by November 31st than I was on November 1st. Only get in 25K? Well, that’s 25K more than you had. Life happens. Every word written is a word you didn’t have before, and that’s all that matters.

Perisho-Denley:  Awesome! Thank you again for joining us! Where is the best place for people to find Space Station Olympus?

Wideman:  I mostly publish on CreateSpace and Amazon. But I have three sites for information, depending on what they want to know. Tumblr: tumblr.com/blog/slwidemanbooks; this is for my “cute and fluffy” entries. I do character profiles, updates on writing, and the like. WordPress: StephanieWritesBooks.wordpress.com; a more serious writing site. I have backgrounds on my books and plan to put my more serious writing tips here. A bit under construction but should be viewable. Facebook: facebook.com/SLWidemanBooks; use this site for quick updates, first peek at contests and convention/signing schedules.

Space Station Olympus:

Facebook: Facebook.com/SLWidemanBooks

Tumblr: tumbler.com/blog/SLWidemanbooks

Blog: stephaniewritesbooks.wordpress.com