CL: Tell us a bit about how you got started as an author – What was your writer’s journey (include influences, favourite authors, education – if applicable)?
GO: My writer’s journey began in fan fiction university. In middle school in the late 90s, I made a new friend. She liked to write. I thought that this would be a great bonding thing as friends so I started to write too. At the same time, I was introduced to things like anime, and Star Wars. I started writing fan fiction and reading fan fiction. Both amateurs online and the pros doing the Star Wars EU. We had long bus rides. So, I did a lot of book reading; epic/romantic fantasy and classic scifi.
For about ten years I used fan fiction to hone my skills focusing on different aspects of writing while I went to school for Fashion Design. I started reading urban/dark fantasy like Jim Butcher, and Anne Bishop, getting into table top RPGs. And I played action platformers, MMOs, and JRPGs video games. My favorite movie at the time was Mr. & Mrs. Smith, a romantic comedy action mash up.
Confession, I’m a nerd.
I still had a block on original writing. I didn’t want to write original. I said I would never write original. (Yeah. Um. Never say never.) I didn’t want to lose control of my work. (Because during this time, self-publishing wasn’t an option like it is now.)
So most of my (in)formal education on writing is reading other novels and writing, lots and lots of writing. The Academy of Art did require us to take two English classes, one about writing a story, and another about pitch papers.
And this leads to question two.
CL: Tell us a little about the motivation and idea behind your book series.
GO: My road to my Heaven’s Heathens stories started in one of these classes. Claudia Holmes, my Narrative Storytelling teacher, assigned us to write a five page story with two caveats; no ninjas and no vampires. Being a somewhat petty person, I decided if vampires were off the table. I’d write about a werewolf.
I got an A. She loved it. Since I was getting Bs at best in my fashion classes, this probably should have told me to change majors.
My roommate at college and I lived in SOMA of San Francisco. We’re both short, skinny girls. The best way to keep weird people away from you was to talk about werewolves. One afternoon walking down a city street ahead of us was a guy in biker leathers. I leaned over to her and said “What about biker werewolves?” We both started laughing.
Nothing came of this until a coworker recommended Sons of Anarchy, the biker tv drama, for me to watch. I binge watched a couple seasons and taking a break I popped in Expendables 2, a campy action ensemble movie. I got to the end. Everything started falling together. Sons of Anarchy, the Expendables, and something popular like Meyer’s Twilight, but no vampires! Werewolves!
I laughed for ten minutes, opened a Word document, and started typing everything I loved into one idea. I wanted to delve into the concept of family and America’s aversion to casual touching. I fell in love with the latest science about wolves. The whole “wolf packs are families that love puppies with siblings that squabble” over alpha, beta, omega dynamics of captured wolves in zoos. Finding the commonalities, I “smooshed” them together to end up with Heaven’s Heathens MC.
I finally found an original story I wanted to write. It was freeing.
CL: What comes next? What are you working on that you can share with us?
Writing-wise, I finished the Dawn Princess, the sequel to Dawn Warrior. It’s a retelling of the Sleeping Beauty fairy tale except Sleeping Beauty is a warrior princess who wants to help other princesses escape curses, etc. It’s off at editing. I want to focus on finishing the trilogy by writing the Dawn Queen.
Then I’m going to step back and take stock of my ideas. I know I’m going to continue with Heaven’s Heathens. I need to decide on my other project. I want to stay committed to two books a year on average.
I’m thinking about a Youtube channel to expand my blog to do book reviews of indie science fiction and fantasy books.
CL: When you’re not writing, how do you spend your time and how do you make the writing fit into your life?
Right now, I’m what you’d call a “full time” writer.
I read. I watch movies/tv. I love media that is both entertaining and smart. I’ve been watching the new S.W.A.T. admiring the way they’re twisting typical narrative arcs. I love fashion competitions like Project Runway. You can also catch me singing along to jazz standards, jazz versions of pop songs when I’m not listening to rock.
I do play pc/console games, I’m putting energy towards my game project, Mystic Riders MMORPG. Instead of fighting monsters, the player, an equestrian, is using their magic to heal or break down the world while following a nonlinear choose your own adventure story. This is a huge passion project merging together my love of video games, fashion, and horses along with writing.