Sonya M. Black lives in the Pacific Northwest with her husband, son, and mischievous kitties. She enjoys reading books in a wide range of genres and takes her inspiration from fairy tales, folklore, myths, and legends. Writing is her passion and she loves using her imagination to explore the endless possibilities.
She loves working with children, especially of the teenage variety. Her first book, Happily Never After was released in July 2013 and The Snow White Files, Book 1 in The Twisted Files series was released in December 2015. The Riding Hood Files, Book 2 in The Twisted Files series is set to be released in November 2017 and A Sea Like Glass is scheduled to be released January 2018.
1.Why storytelling? What made you yearn to tell a good story, and how long was this story within you before it came out?
I’ve been telling stories since I could first talk. I’ve always had a story begging to be let out. I love fairy tales, but often find that I want to create something new with them. Snow White is a story I’ve wanted to play with for a while. I was talking to my chiropractor (strange person to get inspiration from, I know) and we were talking about different ways to approach Snow White. He mentioned that it would be funny if the seven dwarves were like mob bosses. The idea of a private investigator hired by the seven dwarves to find the missing Snow White hit me and I went home and started writing.
2.What is it about your genre that speaks to you?
I love fantasy, fairy tales, and mysteries. The Snow White Files combines all of those elements. It’s The Dresden Files meets Casablanca with a fairy tale twist. It draws on all of the fairy tale races and puts them in an urban setting with a film noir feel. It is such a fun world to write in. I’ll be a little sad when I finish the series.
3.Without giving any spoilers, what is your favorite thing about this book?
The world. It’s such a cool world with mages, shapeshifter, dwarves, elves, ogres, trolls, pixies, dragons, sirens, witches. You name it, I’ve probably put it in there or it will show up in the later books. These races don’t live in perfect harmony and there’s a lot of political and social maneuvering for power amongst the races.
There’s also two layers to the city. You have Topside, which it where everyone who is willing to live within society’s structure lives. And then you have Underground, where everyone who skirts the edges of the law lives. They are very different worlds with their own rules and systems of governments. But, they also have to work together.
4.What character from your book fills you with hope?
Stinky, the half-ogre. This guy is probably one of my favorite characters. He’s not the usual ogre character. He’s intelligent, underestimated by everyone but his friends, and even when life hands him lemons, he finds a way to use them to his advantage. He doesn’t take what he has for granted and appreciates what’s in his life at any given moment.
5.What character from your work frightens you, makes you feel dirty to write?
Lorelei doesn’t make me feel dirty when I write her, but she’s probably one of the scariest villains I’ve written. At first glance, she seems like a typical villain, but then she seems like a friend. She’s extremely intelligent, manipulative, and uses everyone’s needs against them. She has the ability to steal a person’s life force and with it, whatever magical abilities they have. Couple all of that with her vendetta and you’ve got a villain who doesn’t appear to be a villain until her true colors are revealed.
6.Your main character walks into a bar. What happens?
That depends on who is with him and why he’s in the bar. Brendan Hunter is a mage and a private investigator, but his partner, Stasia, is a shapeshifter with the tendency to talk with her claws first and her words second. If he’s there to talk with a client, he’ll be civil, probably buy the client a drink, and chit-chat until he has the information he needs.
If he’s there for a case, it might degenerate into a brawl depending on why he went to the bar in the first place. There’s a scene in the The Snow White Files where he goes to a club to try and wrangle information out of a contact. It doesn’t turn out well for Brendan. He gets himself in some hot water by the end of the scene.
Brendan is smart and level-headed, but he takes a ‘fly-by-the-seat-of his-pants’ approach to life. Stasia has a bit of a temper, but she also has a list of rules to keep her and Brendan out of trouble. The two are a perfect team.
7.What is the most fascinating thing about your main character?
Brendan is a mage who hates using magic because in this world, a human mage can get addicted to using magic. He’s been through the addiction and doesn’t want to go there again. But, in order to find Lily Whitaker (a.k.a Snow White) he’ll have to use his magic.
8.When you are writing, tell me about the emotions that are running through you and what it takes to work alongside them.
It depends on the scene. I used to be heavily involved in acting so I tend to step inside my character’s shoes so to speak. I try to feel what they are feeling while I write the scene. So a highly charged action scene is going to make me jittery and get up and down out of my chair as I write it. A more contemplative scene will have me staring out the window as I process the exact emotions that I’m trying to convey.
9.How do you police your production? Do you have a word quota, or a page goal, maybe you work for a set amount of time? Do you place demands on yourself when you’re working? How do you meet those demands?
It depends on what phase of the writing I’m in.
For the first draft, I try to write around 2000 words a day. Sometimes I write more. Sometimes less. I set deadlines for one chapter a week. Sometimes I get three done. I rework my outline about every two weeks to make sure it continues to line up with what I’ve produced. I belong to a writer’s critique group that exchanges one chapter a week. That helps a lot toward me keeping my deadlines.
For the revising phase, I work in passes. So one pass I might clear up timing and the next major plot holes. I try to work through three to five chapters a day in each pass. The number of passes depends on how much work the first draft needs.
For the editing phase, I get through one to two chapters a day. It takes that long to read through each chapter line by line, listen to it through text-to-speech software and fix, fix, fix. Once I can get through listening to a chapter without stopping the recording to tweak or fix, then the chapter is done.
10.How did you find the time to write this book with your busy life? What ideas do you have on how others can make time in their lives?
I’m lucky enough to have a spouse who supports me and my writing as a career. I write full time during the hours my son is at school. When I was working full time and writing, I made time in the evening after I put my son to bed. Instead of watching TV, I wrote. If you are serious about writing, you make the time.
11.Everyone has at least one specific challenge that holds them back. What is that challenge in your work and how do you overcome it?
Self-criticism. Self doubt. I think most writers suffer from it. Writing is a hard profession. You are putting your heart and soul on public display. The hardest thing for a writer to develop is a thick skin. It’s also one of the most important skills. You can’t appeal to everyone and taking criticism personally is certain to cause crippling self-doubt. I am my own worst critic. I can point out every flaw in my stories, and would never have hit the publish button if I didn’t have a good support system of people telling me that I can do it.
12.You’re going to go back and visit yourself when you first started writing, at whatever age it was, and you can give yourself one piece of advice. What would it be?
Write more. Read more. Don’t listen to that inner voice that tells you that everything you write is crap. Learn the ins and outs of what makes a good story. Do it early. Study poetry and music. Find the rhythm in the words. Don’t read all of the bad advice on the internet about the ‘do’s’ and ‘don’ts’ of writing. Play with words until you find your unique voice.
13.What’s the most beautiful thing you’ve ever seen?
This is going to be corny, but my son. The day he was born. My husband and I didn’t think we were able to have children so it came as a shock when I found out I was pregnant. When the nurse handed me this squirming, slimy, purple baby, he was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I cried when she handed him to me. I still get teary when I think about it.
My son is the reason I write. I want him to grow up knowing that it’s okay to pursue whatever you’re passionate about no matter what the critics say and no matter how little money it makes you. I don’t want him to regret the dreams he didn’t follow.
For more from Sonya M. Black:
Amazon Author Page: amazon.com/Sonya-Black