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XX Author Interview Featuring: Olivia Hardin

XX Author Interview Featuring: Olivia Hardin

CLR: Give us the deets – genre(s), length of writing career, how long you’ve been writing – all the basics.

“Women are fantastic creatures and I love writing them.”

OH: In 2011 I published my first book, Witch Way Bends, the series starter for my (currently) 12-story Bend-Bite-Shift Paranormal Romance series. Since then I’ve dabbled in contemporary romance and urban fantasy genres. I also write erotic romance as Lili Von and I’m just launching a brand new cozy mystery brand as C.H. Sessums!

CLR:  How do you feel about female characters?

OH: Women are fantastic creatures and I love writing them.  With my female characters, I tend to write what I know, focusing on the characteristics I’m familiar with. My first few stories I think there was a lot of me in those women. Devan in Witch Way Bends didn’t realize her own power and strength and had to be taught how to channel it for good. In my contemporary romance All for Family I even touched on my own body image issues by writing a woman who was self-conscious about her weight. I think as long as I’m listening to the characters and learning who they are, it is all good!

CLR: Male characters, same question.

OH: I tend to go with what I know. All the males in my stories have tidbits of the men in my life. They’re strong yet flawed and my favorite thing about writing them is revealing how they open up their female counterparts and encourage her to get out of her safe zone to grow.

CLR:  What is the hardest thing about being a female author?

OH: I don’t imagine being a female author is any harder than being a male. The business itself is tough and learning how to muddle through writing a great story, packaging a great story and then selling a great story isn’t easy. I write romance and I’d say that the greatest majority of my fellow authors are also female (and frankly the majority of my readers tend to be as well.) I have seen though, with my husband who is also an author, that he tends to be a lot more secure in his writing than I am. He’ll talk to anyone about his books and a lot of the time he’ll sell them one. And I seem to see that with other male authors too. It’s hard for me to tell a stranger about my books, to essentially brag about myself and when I’ve talked to my female author friends they say the same thing. Thankfully for me though, my fantastic man will tell everyone about my writing for me!

“I can shoot a gun and I’d step into a fight if I had to.”

CLR:  Do you make a conscious effort to include feminist themes in your writing?

OH: I don’t. The definition of feminism has been changing so I’m not sure I even clearly know what that is. In my stories, the partners—men and women—are better because they’re together, either as friends or as lovers. They have different strengths, but none of them are better than the other. Equity and not equality because in my mind equality doesn’t really exist. I’m a true southern lady (at least the hubby tells me I am.) I can shoot a gun and would step into a fight if I had to. I don’t necessarily believe I can do anything a man can do. Some women can, yes. Some men can do things just as well as women, but not always. I think we expend a lot of energy trying to bridge gaps and break through glass ceilings. Now don’t get me wrong. If a woman has a passion to do something and has to fight her way through discrimination to get there, I applaud her and will lift her up. I just don’t think we all have to do those things to prove our strength. Men and women are inherently different. I don’t “need a man” because he’s a man. I need a partner who has strengths in areas I don’t. I try to do that with my characters too when I’m writing.

Author Bio:

Olivia Hardin always realized how strange she was to have complete movie-like character dreams as a child. Eventually, she began putting those vivid dreams to paper and was rarely without her spiral notebooks full of those mental ramblings. Her forgotten vision of becoming an author was realized when she connected with a group of amazingly talented and fabulous writers who gave her lots of direction and encouragement. With a little extra push from family and friends, she hunkered down to get lost in the words. She’s also an insatiable crafter who only completes about 1 out of 5 projects, a jogger who hates to run and is sometimes accused of being artistic, though she’s generally too much of a perfectionist to appreciate her own work. A native Texas girl, Olivia lives in the beautiful Lone Star state with her husband, Danny, and their corgi pup Bonnie and their brand new hound Heidi.

For more on Olivia and her books, check out her links:

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XX Authors: Featuring C.L. Roman

XX Author Interview

I am starting a series of interviews with authors of the female persuasion. In some cases, this may be the only thing they have in common. As the instigator of this endeavor, I thought it only fair that I start with myself.

BRP: Give us the deets – genre(s), length of writing career, how long you’ve been writing – all the basics.

CLR: I’m an indie author. Been writing my whole life, but my first book came out in 2013. Several others are gathering dust in a drawer somewhere. Thank goodness.

BRP: What made you choose Sci-fi and Fantasy?

CLR: I’m not sure I chose them so much as those genres chose me. I love the world building aspect, especially constructing the rules for the magic in a fantasy world. And, with both SF and Fantasy, you have so much scope. Anything is possible, which makes for some wonderful story opportunities.

Coming soon to a platform near you.

BRP: How do you feel about female characters?

CLR: I am definitely pro-female characters. (Grins.) There is such a lot being said about how women are portrayed in books and movies. I think its important to simply let them be who they are. Strength or weakness should be an aspect of the character without regard to gender. The same is true for honest/dishonest, honorable/dishonorable and all the rest. I build my characters from the ground up starting with whether, at their base, they are a good person or a bad person, then progressing to how good/bad, how strong/weak, etc. Gender factors into that, but it does so as a separate issue.

BRP: What is the hardest thing about being a female author?

CLR: I think balancing work and home life continues to be a bit more difficult for women than it is for men. Maybe that’s a sexist view. I don’t know. I can only speak from my own experience. When I’m working, and something needs to be done (care for children, mess to clean up, meal to be made, whatever) I used to have to battle within myself the idea that I should automatically be the one to do it. Sometimes I still do.

Let me be clear. Neither my husband nor anyone else in my family “makes” me feel this way. It has a lot to do with the way I was brought up. The roles in family life were unspoken, but clearly defined nonetheless. So, when I’m working and something needs to be done, I am learning to ask myself, is this something I, specifically, need to take care of, and if not, I let someone else handle it. It doesn’t work that way all the time, of course. It’s a work in progress, like most of life.

BRP: What is the best thing about being a female author?

CLR: In some ways, being an author may be easier for women than being in the corporate world, because to a huge extent we are our own boss. We choose who we work with, which offers us a huge advantage that women in the corporate sector don’t have. When I was a secretary, for instance, I dealt with sexual harassment on a daily basis, and more than one instance of gender discrimination. Keeping my job meant putting up with it or finding a way around it. But as an indie author, if I have a bad experience with an editor or a cover artist, then I have a hundred others to choose from. (Luckily, the ones I’ve worked with have been awesome.) The competitiveness of the field tends to weed out those who make things difficult.

BRP: How does being female affect your writing – or does it?

CLR: Never having not been a female I don’t know how to answer that. I know that probably sounds like it was intended as a joke, but the truth is, I have nothing to compare it to. I think all of us wear these lenses through which we view the world but, most of the time, we aren’t aware of wearing them. So, it’s really hard to set them aside. It is only when we intentionally remove the lenses, or something happens that knocks them off, or at least sideways, that we can see things differently. And that isn’t just true for women. It’s true for all of us. All we have is our first-person perspective, unless we make the effort – and it is a large effort, make no mistake – to see things from someone else’s viewpoint.

BRP: What do you think about the “strong female character” or STF, trope in literature?

CLR: In as much as it suggests that the “strong female” is a distinct subset, somewhat unusual and rigidly defined, it worries me a little. Everyone has strength. Sometimes that strength comes from gender, but far more often it comes from the totality of who one is: personality and life experience. Some are stronger than others, or strong in different ways. Some don’t access it as often or as readily as they might, but that comes back to character and choices.

On the other hand, I do like the STF as an alternative to the submissive stereotype that used to be more common in literature. The funny thing is, those types of characters are forgettable. They have no staying power. Who do we remember from literature, and why? Do we remember Diana Barry or Anne-With-An-E? Hint: I had to Google Diana. I had no trouble remembering Anne.

BRP: How do you treat misogyny in your writing, or do you?

CLR: It would be foolish to ignore misogyny. As Elie Wiesel said, silence helps the oppressor, never the oppressed. There are people in the world who do bad things out of a warped worldview that sees women as less than.  But I try hard not to glorify or reward it in my writing. And I try not to lean on it as a trope either.

BRP: Do you think the market treats authors, and/or protagonists, differently based on gender?

CLR: I have heard it said that in certain genres, readers accept authors of one gender more readily than they do authors of another gender. I have no idea whether this is accurate, and no interest in testing the theory. True or not, I can only write the best stuff I can write, and let the pages turn as they may.

I think readers are looking for someone they can identify with. Gender is part of that equation. To that extent, maybe the market, or rather the reader, wants or expects different things from a protagonist. Whether or not that is based on gender? In part, yes, I think. But there are other components as well that are just as important.

BRP: What outside influences, if any, do you see having an impact on your writing?

CLR: The nightly news has a significant impact on my writing. Things that are happening in the world today – climate change, the #metoo movement, political weirdness – it all shows up one way or another.

BRP: Favorite author? Why?

CLR: As a young girl I loved Anne McCaffery. Her Dragon-Riders were everything I aspired to. Brave, tenacious. Then, as I grew older, I discovered Bradbury and Atwood. Now I don’t try to pick favorites. I just read what appeals to me.

BRP: Do you make a conscious effort to include feminist themes in your writing?              

CLR: Not really, but I’m finding they show up more and more. Probably due to the question above about outside influences.

BRP: What advice would you offer to new women authors coming up?

CLR: Don’t give up and don’t listen to anyone who tells you that you should. Regardless of what field you’ve chosen to rest your passion in, pursue it with everything you’ve got. Even if you don’t meet the world’s definition of success, you may find it better to write your own anyway.

BRP: What are you working on now?

CLR: I am working on the third novel in my Earth Prime series, Gaia’s Revenge. Humans have been evacuated from Earth and are trying to find a new home, or regain the one they lost.

C.L. Roman

Author Bio: C.L. (aka Cheri) Roman, writes fantasy and sci-fi with a paranormal edge. You can find her at www.clroman.com and on Facebook. Cheri and her ever-patient husband live in the not-so-wilds of Northeast Florida with Jack E. Boy, the super Chihuahua, and Pye, the invisible cat.


Book Review: Outsystem by MD Cooper

Outsystem: A Military Science Fiction Space Opera Epic (The Intrepid Saga Book 1)Synopsis:

In 4123, the greatest colony ship ever built is leaving the Sol System, and Major Tanis Richards has secured a berth.

Demoted by the military and hung out to dry, the media calls her the Butcher of Toro. However, despite her soiled record, Tanis still one of the best military counterinsurgency officers in the Terran Space Force.

The backers of the colony mission need her to stop the terrorists trying to destroy the GSS Intrepid, while in the final phases of construction at the Mars Outer Shipyards.

Getting the job done will be her ticket out of the Sol system, but Tanis discovers she is up against more than mercenaries and assassins. Major corporations and governments have a vested interest in ensuring the Intrepid never leaves Sol, ultimately pitting Tanis against factions inside her own military.

With few friends left, Tanis will need to fight for her life to get outsystem.

Review:

M.D. Cooper’s Outsystem is a fast paced, high tension power ride with vivid, multi-dimensional characters and an intriguing plot line. I was hooked from page one and fully invested by the end of the first chapter.

Full disclosure – I haven’t read sci-fi in a long time. Recently, most of my reads have been fantasy and/or young adult. But Outsystem made me rethink my trajectory. A lot of the reason for that had to do with Cooper’s protagonist, Tanis Richards.

Female characters in sci-fi stories, especially those with a heavy military angle like Outsystem, tend to be either frail princesses waiting to be saved, or hard-assed – erm, boiled veterans with little or no emotional side. Tanis is different. She is smart, savvy and more than capable of defending herself against the enemy, but Cooper also manages to provide her with a heart. Rather than shoving her into the mold of the male warrior as is so common, Tanis is presented to us as a fully-fledged, multi-faceted character with the same wants and needs of any normal human being.  She has been through rough times, and she carries that baggage, but she doesn’t come across as fragile or weak. Tanis is a hero anyone, male or female, can relate to and appreciate.

For this reason, plus a strong plot and an outstanding supporting cast of characters, Outsystem gets 4.5 of 5 stars. If you enjoy military sci-fi, this is a must-read.

Author Bio:

M.D. CooperMichael Cooper has been writing since he finished Return of the King and had to have more. Lately, he has turned toward science fiction and is working on a series of books which surround a colony ship leaving the Sol system for 82 Eridani.

When he’s not writing novels or software he can be found spending time with his wife and daughter or in his wood shop building furniture.

You can find out more about Michael and his books here:

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