Q&A with author S. Usher Evans

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Hey folks!

I thought it would be fun to have a Q&A with author S. Usher Evans on the heels of the release of Alliances, the follow-up to Double Life, from her sci-fi adventure series, Razia. I’m halfway through Double Life myself, and am having a blast with it. When I’m not reading her book, I really enjoy reading her blog and posts elsewhere on social media about her work and experiences. Check out her work, and her Q&A below!

Q&A with author S. Usher Evans
Author S. Usher Evans
Ice breaker:
Q1: If you could listen to the music of only one artist, composer, or band, for the rest of your life, who would that be?
A1: I would have to say Mozart or Bach or any kind of classical music, only because it’s the music I have to listen to sometimes to be able to focus. So if all my options were taken away from me, I would have to go with the one that helps me write (HAH!)

Personal/background:

Q2: Where are you from, and what was your childhood like, (where you lived, etc.)?
A2: I’m from Pensacola, FL, a lovely little speck on the northwest part of Florida (no, I am no where near Disney World or Miami or where your grandma/retired aunt sally lives). Life was good for us growing up, and I’m eager to move back there.

Q3: What were your favorite topics in school?
A3: Without a doubt, American History. Probably because it was story-based, with causes and effects that lasted decades after the event. I had a truly fantastic teacher in 9th and 11th grade (same guy) who made learning fun.

Q4: What would you credit as being the biggest catalyst that pushed you towards writing?
A4: I’ve been writing since I was a wee babe, but I put it aside for about 8 or 9 years because I thought I needed to become “an adult.” To be frank, I was just scared to be myself, though it took me a while to admit it to myself. After a pretty bad breakup, I sought some therapy to help me get past it and ended up realizing I’d put a whole side of myself on the back burner. So I did a complete 180 and decided to jump head first into writing again. One year and three+ books later, I haven’t looked back.

Q5: For those who may not already know, can you talk a bit about the distinction you’ve drawn between your name and pseudonym, and how that impacts your work?
A5: S. Usher Evans is a very symbolic and intentional name. When I started posting things online (keep in mind, children, this was back before your Snapchats and Instagrams, in a world long ago called America Online), I created the screen name SunsGoldenRay. It became my online presence, and I decided to call myself Suni (sunny).
I think either freshman year in college or senior year of high school, I decided to create a real pseudonym. I toyed around with a bunch of different options, but settled on S. (for Suni) Usher (my middle name and also to honor my maternal grandfather Usher) Evans (I love being an Evans). Because I always considered Suni to be the creative part of my brain, using my real name (Whitney Evans) always seemed disingenuous, like I was taking credit for the work she had done.
Though it does always make me laugh when people address me as “Usher.”

Writing process and your work:

Q6: What are your completed works, works in progress, and planned future projects?
A6: The Razia series is just over halfway complete, with two and a half of the five books completed (pardon me whilst I sob in the corner). Alliances comes out on March 10th, and Conviction is slated for October 28th of this year. Books 4 and 5 will come out in February and June 2016 respectively.
I’ve got a contemporary fantasy novel slated to be released May 12th of this year, one that delves into a lot of my fears and anxieties that I struggle with in the form of a fire-breathing dragon. It was a very hard book to write, but one that I think is important for my personal growth.
Finally, I’ve got a sci-fi (maybe, I honestly have no idea what genre it is) romance (can you believe it?!) trilogy in work. Think Romeo and Juliet are pilots from warring countries and crash land on a deserted island. It’s deliciously dark and angsty. I’m about halfway on the first book, and debating when that one will come out (maybe January 2016).

Q7: If you could go back to before you began any of your projects and give yourself a single piece of writing advice, what would that be, and why?
A7: I would have put more thought into Double Life’s cover and hired an editor. At the time, publishing was just a “haha, let’s just see what happens” but as the months passed and I realized this is what I’m supposed to be doing, I began to take it more seriously. I’m not saying Double Life is poorly edited (it’s not), but it would have made things a little easier if I’d had someone else do all the heavy lifting.
And while I like my cover for DL, it’s not very interesting. I’m kind of locked into it for the duration of the series, and I have to mimic the look  and feel for all the other covers as well. I think maybe in 2017 or something after the series has been out for a while, I’ll re-release the books with new covers. For now, I’m sticking with them.

Q8: What are some of your methods for planning time to work on a given project and sticking to that plan?
A8: I give myself about 4 months to first draft a book, 2 months for betas, 1 month for my line-editor, and one month to QA, then I stick it out for 2-3 months on preorder.
Most of the time, I know what I want to write, and it’s just a matter of forcing myself to be in the moment. I’m a project planner by nature, and so I have the next 10 years planned out in terms of books I would like to release. I can give myself a little wiggle room, but mostly I’m so excited to get something out that I stick to the plan pretty well.

Q9: What has been the biggest external or self-imposed road-block that may have inhibited or delayed your progress as an author so far, and how did you overcome it?
A9: I struggle with fear a lot of the time. I worry about reader expectations, I worry about what people will say or think or do. But I’m also pretty good at quieting down that fear, especially when I get going creatively.

Q10: As a writer, are you most passionate about sci-fi and fantasy? Are there additional genres, or cross-over/fusion genres you’d like to explore?
A10: I write whatever story in whatever setting happens to come into my head. The genre always comes later, when I’m trying to figure out what box a particular story goes into. That, to me, is the hardest and silliest part. I’ll never say never, but I like to dream of worlds where there’s more than exists today, so I probably won’t write anything not in sci-fi/fantasy. 

Q11: For those familiar with Double Life, book one of your Razia series, what are some non-spoilery things fans can look forward to in book two, Alliances?
A11: The biggest thing to look forward to is Lizbeth. She shows up, guns blaring, and doesn’t give Lyssa/Razia any quarter. Which, if you are familiar with Double Life, is something that Lyssa desperately needs to become a less-crappy human being. Because really, the Razia series is about that—one woman learning how to be emotionally healthy. In space. With pirates.

Q12: Could you highlight some of your upcoming appearances and future project time-frames?
A12: Oh boy. I set a goal for myself to set up 6 convention appearances and at least 1 book signing in the 1st quarter of 2015. I’ve got four down (Chattanooga, Richmond, VA, NYC, and most recently back home in Pensacola), and two to go (Indianapolis and Chicago). My book signing will wrap up the quarter on March 29th in DC (where I am currently based).

As far as future projects, as I mentioned above, I’ve got Empath in May, and the rest of the Razia series and the pilot trilogy. Beyond that, I’m hoping to start bolstering my brand as an expert in the indie book market by publishing a blog post series about the particulars of the marketplace and some tips and tricks. That series will start in June and run through July, just before I pack everything up and head out for a 14(ish) city book tour!



Now, go catch up on her and her work!

– Jeramy

Main website: http://www.jeramygoble.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/JeramyGoble

Twitter: @JeramyGoble

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