Author Interview – Sonya M. Black

Do you like fairy tales? Sonya M. Black is your author. She adds just the right amount of angst to make your average fairy tale twisted. I met her on a writing site we are both members of, and she can weave a story like nobodies business. Her stories are full of twists and turns and surprises. I think you will enjoy her writing, her worlds, and her characters.

Without further ado, I give you Sonya M. Black.

Hey Sonya, welcome to my blog! I’d like to get right into the questions. Tell us about your writing process, and the way you brainstorm twisted fairy tale story ideas.

Sonya: I start with an idea or concept. Like what if the sleeping Snow White went missing and a dwarf mob boss was her godfather? What if the dwarf hired a private investigator to find Snow White? The next step for me is to figure out the characters. What do they want? What drives them to act? Once I know a bit about the characters, I figure out the beginning and ending of the story and create a loose outline.

The next step is the writing. I try to include the basics of the original fairy tale in the story as much as possible, but not always in the way readers are used to. That’s the fun of twisted fairy tales. I have a lot of room to spin the fairy tale in a new direction. I’m not trying to retell the traditional tale but create a new and unique version.

Sherry: That sounds very interesting. Why did you choose to write twisted fairy tales?

Sonya: I love fairy tales and myths. They speak to us on a very deep level. We tell fairy tales to our children and have told them for centuries. They are an important part of learning about how the world works. And fairy tales evolve over time. They change to suit the culture and needs to each generation.

The Cinderella tales that were collected by the Grimm brothers are very different than the Cinderella we tell today. When I read a fairy tale, I start to wonder what if ‘x’ happened? How would that change the ending? What would happen if the prince/princess did this instead? I look for ways the story can be changed to fit a new theme. My story Happily Never After is a twisted version of Cinderella and was written to convey the message that we can choose our own path in life.

Sherry: What are you currently working on and what is it about?

Sonya: I currently have two projects that I’m working on. The first is The Riding Hood Files, Book 2 in The Twisted Files. It is the story of a woman coming face to face with the past she left behind and embracing who she was and becoming who she wants to be.

The second project is A Sea Like Glass. This one is a bit different from my other novels. It is about a woman who is faced with a choice and a goddess who is trying to make amends for a mistake. It’s a flintlock fantasy but has some elements from various mythos. I’ve pulled bits from Celtic, Sumerian, and Norse mythology, using the archetypal characters and story elements from each of them. On the surface, they aren’t recognizable, but if you dig a little deeper, you can spot the influences.

Sherry: Do you ever get Writer’s Block, and do you have any tips for getting through it?

Sonya: I often get Writer’s Block, especially in the later stages of a novel. The biggest issue for me is that I’m usually trying to take the story in a direction that the characters wouldn’t go. Meaning, I’ve designed the characters one way, but the story is going against their design. So I have to decide do I change the character or the story?

My tip for getting through Writer’s Block is to work on something else until you figure out what went wrong in the other piece. Also, go back to the outline and character design and look at where the story or characters might have gotten off track. A little bit of digging into the basics tends to break the block.

Sherry: Good advice. Does your book use any references to mythology or real-world folklore, or does it contain its own folklore?

Sonya: They use both. The Twisted Files series takes place in a world where fairy-tale races and characters are very real. Think Once Upon A Time or Grimm. But the setting is more modern urban fantasy rather than medieval with magic as a real part of everyday life. I plant plenty of tongue-in-cheek references into the story in regards to fairy tales. A Sea Like Glass pulls bits from various mythos to create its story, but the world itself has its own unique folklore and myths.

Sherry: You have some very good unique ideas. How is magic used in your stories?

Sonya: The magic in my various worlds differs. In A Sea Like Glass, magic is based on the elements (fire, water, earth, air) and incorporates music into its use. Only paladins and healers can use magic and paladins can change their shape based on the element associated with their magic. In The Twisted Files series, many of the fairy tale creatures can use magic. Some is elemental, some is innate to the creature. But, magic is highly regulated so only people who have passed tests and have permits are allowed to practice magic.

Sherry: Wow. How awesome! Let me ask you. What would you say are the main advantages and disadvantages of self-publishing against being published?

Sonya: One of the reasons I chose self-publishing is that I control the timing of release and I control the story itself. I have the ability to stick closely to my vision of what the story should be instead of what the publisher thinks will sell. That’s a big deal to me. It allows me to pursue story ideas and take them in a direction that a publisher might be hesitant to go because they aren’t sure the idea will sell.

Sherry: Good points. Do you write with a specific reader in mind?

Sonya: Yes. I wrote The Snow White Files with my husband in mind. Happily Never After was written for the middle school girls I used to work with. I have an idea for a series of cat detective novels that came about because of my son.

Sherry: Do you have any advice for other authors on how to market their books?

Sonya: There is no magic formula for marketing books. What works for one book might not work for another. Don’t give up when something that was working suddenly stops working. Marketing is a bit of a crapshoot. You have to try lots of different things to find what works and you have to be willing to put money into the plan.

Sherry: Do you have any advice on how to deal with bad reviews?

Sonya: Don’t take them personally and don’t respond. You won’t appeal to every reader. That’s okay. Take the feedback and learn from it. If you neglected to hire an editor, then hire an editor. If the reviews say the ending was bad, look for ways to improve your endings. It’s all a learning process.

Sherry: Great advice! I always tell authors not to even read them. But who can that? Not me. Where was your favorite reading spot as a child? Where is it now?

Sonya: My grandma had a giant avocado tree in her front yard that was tucked behind a large bush. In the summer, I would take a blanket and book and hide behind the bush and read all day in the shade of that tree. My current favorite reading spot is my bed. I read for an hour or two before I fall asleep. So my bed is now the place to read.

Sherry: I love to read myself to sleep. One last question. What is your favorite way to avoid writing?

Sonya: Computer games. I’m not much of a TV person, but I can waste a lot of time on computer games. If I’m having a dry spell with writing ideas, I will play a little Skyrim or Dragon Age or whatever strikes my fancy at the time. It’s a terrible time suck but I enjoy it.

Sherry: Hey, don’t feel bad. Procrastination is my middle name. Thank you so much for stopping by for a chat. It was a real pleasure having you over.

Sonya’s biography:

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, mythos, 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 November 2015. The Riding Hood Files, Book 2 in The Twisted Files series is set to be released November 2017 and A Sea Like Glass is scheduled to be released January 2018.

Want to know more about Sonya and her books? Be sure to follow her website for all her new releases and updates about her writing. To find all of her books, go to Author Central. Friend her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter, and check her out on Goodreads.

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