Tell our readers briefly about yourself.
I’m a disabled, geeky, enby and full-time SF/F author and artist. I live in the Seattle area with my partner and three special-needs kitties, and we both enjoy gaming (tabletop, board game, and video games) and exploring the ocean. Cartography and linguistics are both hobbies of mine, and I love living in the Pacific NW.
What books do you have available? Can you give us a short description of them?
I’ve got quite a number of books and stories published, so I’ll attach them and a few short descriptions in another file. Please let me know if you want short descriptions of them all.
Do you stay in one genre when you write, or do you find yourself veering toward others?
I write a mix of speculative fiction (science fiction, fantasy, & horror). I do tend to mix mystery into what I write as well because I think any genre can be a mystery.
Are you a panster, planner, or someone in between?
I’m a mix of plotter and pantser. I start out with plotting major and some minor scenes on notecards, but I don’t always write in chronological order. I tend to write the big scenes while fleshing out the characters (yes, I’m plot first). As I learn about their motivations and traits, smaller scenes that get me from point A to point B get filled in. This ends up being what I call a zero draft and is usually about 1/3-1/2 the size of the final story. Then I go in with the complete knowledge of beginning, middle, and end, and flesh everything out. This is where I let the characters lead a bit and its fairly pantsy. This draft ends with my first full draft, which I will go in and revise/edit. I write fairly tight, so I tend to need to add content rather than delete.
What is your writing routine like?
I write full time for a living, so I definitely have a routine. Because I’m disabled and brain fog from both my disease and my meds is a thing, I usually spend the morning shaking it off by reading, doing brain puzzles, or watching a good TV show. Around 11 A.M., I go to my office and answer business emails followed by 30 minutes doing business social media. I spend a few hours editing (I take a lunch break somewhere in there), and around 2 PM, I hit the ground running with writing. I typically work until around 6 or 6:30 PM and then spend the evening with my family. Weekends are typically for family as well, unless I’m at a convention/conference, writer retreat, etc.
Tell me about your favorite character that you’ve created?
Ida. She pops up in Amaskan’s Blood as a minor character turned major character. In fact, the readers love her so much that she’s getting her own book later this year called Ear to Ear. I love the idea of a warrior woman in her 50’s whose still able to kick ass and be sexy at the same time. She has her own agency in a world where most women wouldn’t.
Where do you get your ideas for world building?
Honestly, by looking around. A good turn-of-phrase and its history or a current/past event can easily be repurposed into something new, set in a fantastical world or space itself. For example, my space opera novella, Class-M Exile, came from my past. I grew up in the Bible Belt in a town where even the Catholics pretended to be Southern Baptist/Evangelical. When I first met a good friend, she was the complete antithesis of everyone I knew and as such, people were afraid of her. I used that experience to write about a future where humanity is mostly extinct, so when a group of aliens see one, they freak out. It’s comical but underneath it is an exploration of prejudice. The events in the book, up to a point, are my past fleshed out to be something entirely different.
Do you add romance to your writing? Is it steamy or clean?
I feel like you can’t have human characters without some romance. Aliens are another matter, completely dependent upon their society, culture, and reproductive needs. But as a demisexual, I tend to write romance into the background. It’s not the focus of my storytelling or my characters because I have other foci when developing a story. Because of this, it’s pretty clean, though I can’t say the same for swearing or violence.
What was your favorite scene to create?
The opening to The Ringers, my gothic fantasy novella. The set-up/intro is quite creepy and was me challenging my inner Dickens. I wanted to play with language as he did and set the stage for what ended up being a good introduction for children or young adults to horror as a genre. It’s a bit of a cross-genre tale for sure.
Where do you get character inspiration?
Same place I get inspiration for my worlds—from real life. ;)
What genre do you prefer to read?
I read most genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thriller, mysteries, urban fantasy, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, etc. I don’t read a lot of romance unless it’s mixed into one of the other genres. Straight up romance and erotica tends to bore me.
Do you have any specific authors you follow and try to craft your work after?
As far as my favorites, they shift all the time since I read a LOT, but some favs are Rebecca Roanhorse, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Jenny Lawson, Melanie Rawn, and Shannon Mayer.
Do you have any recurring themes in your book?
Prejudice. It’s a theme that is so critical these days because we can’t, as humans, seem to overcome it. We’re all so afraid of things different from our expectations. Another theme would be the idea of family. As someone who puts more value into my chosen family than my blood relatives, it’s a common theme in my works.
What does your editing process look like?
As I write a draft, I have a running list I make of questions I have about something I wrote or areas I need to go through and add more detail, clarification, or double check for consistency. I use a lot of brackets to tag areas like that so I can use the find function (CTRL-F) to quickly jump to those areas. Sometimes the brackets will have things like <research _____ and write a great scene here about it>. The first part of editing for me is to ensure I’ve filled in all those brackets and answered any questions I noted in my list. Once my list is checked off, I go through a thorough consistency check to make sure my characters always have the same color eyes, etc. After a story/work has gone through this, I tend to read it out loud to myself to take notes on areas that are unclear, which I fix as I go. While I’m doing this, I also ensure that every scene is pushing the plot or character arcs forward. If it doesn’t, it gets cut. I’ll also use this time to smooth out transitions between scenes, chapters, etc. Then it’s time to check for passive-voice/weak verbs; word repetition; weak, unclear, or unnecessary descriptors; and any other mechanics. I then use my computer and Scrivener’s read aloud function to have it read the story to me. Hearing a computer do that is excellent for catching homophone errors and other spelling or grammar issues. Finally, I run spell/grammar check. Then the story’s off to the editor(s).
Do you have a preferred drink or snack that you eat/drink while writing?
Cherry Coke Zero. I’m too busy writing to snack as that takes my hands from the keyboard.
When is your favorite time of day to write and why?
I prefer to write during the afternoon as that’s when I’m most awake. I’m definitely a night-owl.
What is your favorite vacation spot?
Anywhere with a forest or a beach.
Marvel or DC? Do you have a favorite character?
Marvel. While I love DC’s Wonder Woman, there are more Marvel characters I like than DC, such as Captain Marvel, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Black Widow, etc.
What hobbies do you have?
I’m a huge gamer—be it tabletop, board games, or video games—and I love cartography. I’m an artist, but there’s something about map making that is way too enjoyable. I also crochet and love 3-D printing.
Where can our readers find you?
My website is fairly central as it has links to all my social media (at the bottom) and my mailing list.
Facebook Author Page: https://facebook.com/authorroak
Facebook Reader Group: https://www.facebook.com/groups/ravenconspiracy
Goodreads Author Page: https://www.goodreads.com/raven_oak
Bookbub Author Page: https://www.bookbub.com/authors/raven-oak
Amazon Author Page: https://www.amazon.com/Raven-Oak/e/B00P5PT4AM
Social media is above, as is my website.
All books can be ordered, autographed, here: https://booksandchains.square.site/
Amaskan’s Blood: https://books2read.com/ravenoak
Amaskan’s War: https://books2read.com/b/bppaEW
Class-M Exile: https://books2read.com/b/4NEW9m
The Ringers: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/the-ringers/
Ol’ St. Nick: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/ol-st-nick/
The Loss of Luna: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/the-loss-of-luna/
Peace Be with You: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/peace-be-with-you-friend/
99 Tiny Terrors: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/99-tiny-terrors/
The Great Beyond Anthology: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/weightless/
Swords, Sorcery, & Self-Rescuing Damsels: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/swords-sorcery-self-rescuing-damsels/
Magic Unveiled: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/magic-unveiled/
Untethered: A Magic iPhone Anthology: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/untethered/
From the Worlds of Raven Oak: A Coloring Book: https://www.ravenoak.net/my-books/from-the-worlds-of-raven-oak/
Full bibliography and links here: https://www.ravenoak.net/books/full-bibliography/