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I am delighted to present an interview with Regina Puckett, award winning author and poet, who I am particularly interesting in seeing her answers because she is a steampunk writer, a concept I am fascinated by. You can find Regina on Facebook, Weebly, Goodreads or Twitter
What are you currently working on?
I’m currently working on the third book in my steampunk Forbidden series, An Ill Wind.
This series is set 800 years into the future after The Great War destroyed most of civilization.
For more information about Regina’s first and second books see the bottom of the post.
When and how do your characters come to you? Is it in a moment of inspiration, an epiphany? Or do they grow in some murky recess of your mind?
Every book is different for me. It’s never the same thing that sets me to thinking, what if? Some books I plan for months and others I jump into writing as soon as the idea for another story pops into my head. My heroes, I fashion out of traits I wish everyone had and my villains, I endow with traits that repulse me. This way I have my dreams and my nightmares all together in place.
There’s an acceptance that authors often write in traits or characteristics of themselves into their work, you have several books, is there any part of you in any of your characters?
There’s bits and pieces of me in every character I create. Since I write everything from horror, romance and steampunk, I’m exposing my good and bad traits. It’s easier to bare my soul when I know there’s really no way for the reader to ever be certain which one of my characteristics I’m revealing.
How do you develop your characters? Do you let them brew in your subconscious, use character interview sheets, or something completely different?
My characters develop throughout the entire writing process. I never really know who they are until about halfway into a book. I like to get the plot down first and then I go back and add the details to my characters and scenery. It may take me three to four rewrites before my characters are fully fleshed out.
Are you a planner, or free writer?
My first couple of books I tried the whole outline thing, but I soon discovered that no matter how much I plotted and planned my characters always changed what I thought was going to happen into what they wanted to happened. Now I go in with a concept and start writing. Sometimes it takes me until the very last page before I know how my book is going to end. This is especially true with my horror stories. I’ll be in the shower and out the blue I know exactly the story should end.
When you are developing a book, what tools or techniques do you use, e.g. timelines, mood boards, character interviews, scraps of notes?
The only thing I have on my corkboard is a list of my characters’ names and their characteristics. If I don’t do this, I’m forever trying to flip back through the manuscript trying to find out what I said a character’s eye and hair color, or name was.
Has your technique changed over time?
I used to let little things discourage me and would stop writing for months at a time. I believe I’ve gotten a little wiser and have finally come to terms that not everyone is going to love what I write. Now I write for me and with any luck someone else will read it and enjoy it. Time and practice have improved my writing skills.
Where do you draw inspiration from? Do you actively look for it?
I’m very visual. That’s one of the reasons I like to have my book cover beforehand. It inspires me to move forward when I want to stop. It was a picture that inspired me to try my hand at writing steampunk.
I see things when I’m driving that get the writing juices flowing. That was what happened with my short tale of horror, I Will Work for Food. I saw a couple of beggars on the side of the road. That turned into, what would happen if I stopped and helped them? My sweet romance, Concealed in My Heart, began with a dream. Everything in my life turns into a book at some point or the other. I never understand when people say there’s nothing to write about. Really? I wish I had the time to write about everything there is to write about.
What kind of an environment do you write in? Day/night/silence/music/desk/sofa etc
I write on the couch, in the living room, with my husband talking and the television blaring. Don’t ask me how it works. It just somehow does.
I’m 53K words into my first novel, it’s taking over my brain! What advice can you give me on completing it? Or maybe an easier question. What do you wish you had known about writing a book before you started?
I always get stuck somewhere in the middle of a book. I have about 5 or 6 books I’ve written up to chapter 5 and that’s where they’ll stay until I find the inspiration to finish them. I always know my books are going well when I can’t sleep because my characters are so busy talking to each other. The trick is to get your characters loving the story. Once that happens, nothing will stop your book from being written.
The publishing industry is in decline across the board. Do you think things like the Kindle are bridging the gap, is there still the same love for the written word, or is it being diluted by the modern obsession with tech and gadgets?
There will always be people out there looking for a good book. That will never change. The publishing industry is always in a flux. We have to learn how to change with it. I love my print books. There’s nothing like holding a real book in my hands. Print books aren’t going anywhere, but saying that, ebooks are pretty cool. I have some books I’ve enjoyed reading but didn’t love them enough to have them taking up space on my bookcase.
50 Shades of Grey author EL James was reported to make around £100k a day at the book’s height, and the upcoming film will make her millions. Do you find it a shame that the most lucrative and famous book franchise of the moment is one so widely derided for its lack of literary value? Or is it just good to have a book going mainstream?
All I can say is, “Lucky her.”
If a fascist regime was burning the world’s libraries, what books would you save?
The Bible, all of my books, the Harry Potter’s series
Which publishing route have you taken? Did you always know you were going to go down this route, and if so why?
I’ve taken a few different routes over the years. I’ve been published by three traditional publishers and discovered that the contracts and their practices toward their authors left a lot to be desired. I’m usually ranting, raving and foaming at the mouth before all is said and done. I grew weary of always trying to receive the money owed to me, so I decided to go indie. I like being in control and if I’m going to get screwed, I’m might as well be the one doing it.
What do you wish you knew about the publishing process before you started?
I’m glad I went into writing completely ignorant of the ways of the publishing world. I’m not certain I would have ever written my first book if I had known just how little publishing companies valued their writers. But saying that, now that I’m publishing as an indie author, it’s a must to stay informed about the ends and outs of the publishing world.
What is the best advice you could give to aspiring novelists like me? Or what was the best advice you were ever given?
You should write. It’s really just that simple. There are people who talk about the book they are going to write one day and there are the people who write it. Once you finish, jump into the next book as soon as possible. You’re going to get better with each and every book.
Is fanfic to be welcomed as it broadens interaction and the readers experience or a scourge that devalues the ability of an author?
I don’t know. Is it an honor to have people to love your characters so much they have to see more of them, or it is maddening to have the characters you created from your heart and soul stolen by someone else? It’s never happen to me, so I’ll let you know exactly how I feel about it when it does.
I am finding more and more, that writers often have several creative outlets. Do you? Or is writing your one source?
I sew, paint and read.
If you weren’t a writer, what would you be?
I can’t envision being anything else.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
I decided I wanted to be a writer in the seventh grade. I had just finished reading Gone with the Wind and knew I wanted to create a story as beautiful as that one some day.
What authors do you admire, and why?
J.K Rowling, Clive Cussler
I’m astounded by how J.K. Rowling was able to keep all of the details straight from one Harry Potter to the next. I can’t remember what I went in the kitchen to get.
Clive Cussler is an amazing writer. His plots are incredible.
Regina’s First and Second Books:
The first book in the Forbidden series is, I Will Breathe.
The year is 2836. It has been eight hundred years since The Great War. There are small groups of people scattered in isolated pockets around the world, but most are too suspicious of each other for any intimacy. If they don’t stop hiding, and learn to help each other, there won’t be anyone left on earth.
Liberty has grown up in this post-apocalyptic world. Her home is an airship built by her adopted father. Since his death, each day is just another day trying to survive in a hostile environment. That is until her father’s dying friend asks if she’ll take custody of a small, child-like robot.
The last thing Liberty needs is another responsibility. Surprisingly, once the endearing robot is aboard Airus, she discovers there is more to life than just living, and loving someone can be as easy as breathing.
My second book, Into Forbidden. It will be released on March 6. This story jumps forward several years to Liberty’s granddaughter, Harmony.
Freedom isn’t a place Harmony would normally travel to, but she’s there on a mission to rescue her brother and cousin, Walker and Journey. Since The Great War, the world has become a barren and unfriendly place. If Harmony didn’t already know that, she certainly does the moment she winds up in the walled-off city of Freedom. It turns out that this city is anything but free. Its people are ruled by a group of huge, spider-looking robots aptly named Overseers.
Harmony’s big plan is to run in, rescue Walker and Journey and then steal one of the Overseers’ steam engines as a way of making their big escape. The only thing going in her favor is a run-away from Freedom and two rusted-out, falling-apart robots who have offered to help. Now Harmony has their escape planned, all she needs now is to sneak Walker and Journey out of their jail cell and then figure out how to run a steam engine. Easy right? Throw into this crazy mixture a few Overseers determined not to let this strange group escape and a steam engine low on water. Their adventure turns into a long flight back to Forbidden that is fraught with danger.
Finally more Information about Regina in her Bio below:
Regina Puckett is an award winning author who writes sweet romances, horror, inspirational, picture books, steampunk and poetry. There are several projects in various stages of completion and there are always characters and stories waiting for their chance to finally get out of her head and onto paper.
Her sweet romance, Concealed in My Heart, won a Readers’ Favorite Award in 2014.
Borrowed Wings, has received the Children’s Literary Classics Seal of Approval and a 5 star review from Readers’ Favorite.
Memories won first place in the 1st WSBR International Poetry Contest. This poem may be found in her book of poetry, Tilting at Windmills and Words.
Slowly Drowning won second place in the 3rd WSBR International Poetry Contest. This poem may be found in her poetry book, My Words into the Beyond.
Sir Galahad Comes to the Rescue won third place in the 3rd WSBR International Poetry Contest. This poem may be found in her book of poetry, Ramblings and Dreams.
Her collection of poetry, Fireflies, won 2013 Turning Pages Poetry Book of the Year.