Author Sydney Blackburn
Sydney Blackburn is an active member of many writing groups on Facebook. She is a seasoned author with great advice to share. Thank you for joining us today, Sydney!
Name: Sydney Blackburn
Latest Release: (single title) Imperfect Memories (writing as Vivian James) (short story in anthology) “Drastic Measures” in the Dreamspinner Press anthology Starstruck
Genre: romance, both m/f and m/m
Sydney Blackburn is a binary star system. Always a voracious reader, she began to write when she couldn’t find the stories she wanted to read. She likes candlelit dinners and long walks on the beach… oh wait, wrong profile. She’s a snarky introvert and admits to having a past full of casual sex and dubious hookups, which she uses for her stories. She has acquired Husband 2.0, the Forever Model.
She likes word play and puns and science-y things. And green curry. She would also have ALL THE KITTEHS if she weren’t allergic.
Her dislikes include talking on the phone, people trying to talk to her before she’s had coffee, and filling out the “about me” fields in social media.
Besides writing, she designs book covers for poor people and currently sells bait in exchange for free Internet and fresh produce.
- How long have you been writing?
I’ve been writing on and off since 1991, but “real” writing I suppose since 1998, which was when I first got the courage to let other people read what I wrote.
- What kind(s) of writing do you do?
I’ve written everything from drabbles (100 words precisely) to full length novels. I like to think of my work as comfort food–it makes you feel warm and fuzzy and indulgent and a little guilty, like eating a whole batch of cookie dough, without the weight gain.
- What are your goals as a writer, both small and large?
I want people to enjoy my little escapes from everyday. My husband wants me to earn enough for him to fart through silk and retire and something about a yacht?
- What inspires you?
Talking about my inspirations… okay, you’ll probably want to edit this, because it’s going to be quite lengthy. My first motivation to write — anything, ever — is because I want to read it and I can’t find it written by someone else. I never (intentionally, at least) write what someone else has written. If they’ve written it, I’d rather just read theirs, it’s a lot less work! My second motivation is related to that–for instance, if I read a book that in general is about what I want to read, but misses fulfilling my expectations, I will usually, at the very least make notes about a similar story, only one that gives me what I was missing. For example, my first m/m romance is a fairytale, Prince of the Stable. I wanted to read a gay fairytale romance and I was disappointed to find a situation where a king married his heir to a man… without addressing how the crown prince would provide legit heirs of his own. Prince address how a royal prince can have a parentally approved (more or less) same sex romance.
However, I’ve been inspired by a LARP I once participated in; songs; a name on a real estate sign; dreams; business cards (one of my works in progress was thus inspired); spelling errors; even certain places.
- Have you ever fallen in love with a character? Tell us about this romance.
Oh hell yes. Not sure if you mean my own or other writers’ characters but the answer is the same either way. My first book crush was Elric of Melnibone, Michael Moorcock. I haven’t read the books in a while, and I’m afraid to, in case they’re not the way I remember, but oh I so loved Elric. My other major book crush is Oscar Valparaiso of Bruce Sterling’s Distraction. Like, I put the book down, unfinished–twice!–because I couldn’t bear to the idea of “the end.”
As for my own characters… well, I write romance, so I guess I channel the heroine’s love for the hero (and in my m/m romances, I’m usually madly in love with both of the mains), but there is one character close to my heart–Silver Tation. He’s not a romance hero. He’s fey, clever (writing him is a challenge, probably the hardest thing ever to write a brilliant character while being somewhat less than brilliant oneself), pretty (but as he ages through the Quicksilver novellas, he matures into handsome), with a brash confidence that hides his fear/loneliness. I’m even making an OOAK ⅙ doll of him (One Of A Kind).
- How do you find or make time to write?
Ha, well, this summer, I wrote while minding the bait shop, but I usually write while hubs is at work, because he expects me to talk to him when he’s home. How weird is that??
- Do you write more by logic or intuition, or some combination of the two? Summarize your writing process.
me combination of the two. I am a firm believer in structural elements, but when it comes to process, I usually open up Scrivener and write each scene as it comes to me. Then I can shuffle them around to make sense (some never get uses as they are essentially scenes where I work I out backstory by storytelling), and then I make a list of scenes I need (my first draft are full of notes to myself like, [where were you going with this?] [do something transition-y here] [write date scene] [research this]…) I obey my notes and then try to find all the parts where the bones are showing through and add some flesh.
8. What projects are you working on at the moment?
I’m working on a short story we’ll call CinderFella for an anthology with a small press. Also getting two contemporary m/m novellas ready for submission. And waiting (oh the excruciating waiting) to hear from Carina if they want Cabaret Rollo Rouge. (a story inspired by a misspelling…)
9. What process did you go through to get your work published?
I’m both self-published (with my own publishing company because it’s a Canadian thing) and published with small presses. Basically, I wrote what I wanted to write, looked for a small press publishing that sort of thing and wrote short stories for submission calls. Still doing it that way. Going indie for the stuff that doesn’t seem to fit any publisher’s “want list” and submitting, submitting, submitting.
10. What is the hardest part of writing for you?
The waiting. Waiting for beta readers, waiting the three to twelve weeks to hear from a publisher.
11. What do you enjoy most about writing? Share your favorite work.
I often feel like I’m not really making stuff up, but rather I’m being allowed to watch the private lives of my characters. I get into their heads and basically just take dictation of their dialogue, and describe what they’re doing. Finding le mot juste, the perfect word, to describe what I “see” and “hear” is an amazing feeling. The other thing that is really great is hearing from a reader how much they liked it.
12. If you could have any fictional character(s), living or dead, on your survival team after an apocalypse, who would you choose and why?
Ugh, realistically, I would die in the first wave. I’m okay with that.
13. What is your favorite escape from day to day living?
Reading. Hands down. Reading has always had a massive element of escapism for me.
14. What are some ways in which you promote your writing? Do you find that these add or detract from your writing time?
I try to tweet something once a day (not sure how effective it is) and post to Facebook, and I try to blog at least a couple of times a month (I intended to do it weekly, but… road to hell and all that.) I also have business cards that I pin to every public bulletin board in every laundromat, variety store, grocery store…. Those don’t really detract from my writing, since I usually do them while I’m working out an “add flesh” scene (which are harder to access in my head). Or shopping, in the case of littering assorted towns with my cards.
I don’t know how effective they are, but I’ve never been one to quit because I find the learning curve is actually hidden in fog.
15. Who are some of your favorite authors? What impact have they had on your writing?
Robertson Davies, Tanya Huff, Anne McCaffrey, Piers Anthony, Terry Pratchett. At the moment I don’t have a lot of authors who are writing “must read” stuff, except Piper Vaughn and Megan Derr. I would leave it to my readers to judge what impact, if any, those authors have had on my writing.
16. Do you know the secret to originality in writing? Would you share it?
Ha, probably not. I write the stories I’d read if they’d already been written. So I guess that would be it. After all, if someone’s already written, why waste time writing it again? 😉
17. What are you currently reading?
Bring Me a Unicorn: Diaries and Letters of Anne Morrow Lindbergh
18. What do you think is the future of reading/writing?
Since it is 2016 and I still do not have a flying car, I’ve lost all faith in predictions of the future.