Lee S. Hawke is a Sci-Fi and Fantasy author whom I (Ashleigh) met through a Facebook NaNoWriMo group. Hawke has a few awards to their name so if science fiction or fantasy is your thing, you should probably keep an eye out for this author.
When did you start writing?
When I was young, I was both an avid reader and an indiscriminating one. That meant that I was reading epic childhood classics like The Hobbit and Watership Down at the same time as I was devouring scrumptiously trashy adventure stories. So when I was nine years old, I wrote this gorgeously horrific ‘novel’ called Dark Secrets. It was about glorified versions of my crush (at the time) and I, along with several other characters, getting sucked into a computer game and enslaved by evil aliens who had destroyed Earth in another timeline. There was a very heroic battle scene at the end and everything. I’m very pleased to say that I’m fairly sure I’ve already deleted the last copy of it from existence (it was on a floppy disk, ah, the days) and so that monstrosity will never be released onto the world.
So yes. That was my ignominious start. I tried to write another fantasy epic series between 10-12, but my real moment came when I was in primary school and we were asked to write a poem. It was a pretty pathetic piece, in retrospect (I think it was about clouds?), but my teacher looked at it and referred me to another teacher for private sessions studying poetry and other classics. She introduced me to The Highwayman and the delusion that I was a talented writer, so from then on I decided to sell all my free time (and my soul) to chase this dream.
Do you plot out your books or do you just sit down and write?
When it comes to short stories and poetry, I tend to just sit down and write. It’s usually because I get this electric shock of an idea, and I know roughly already how I’m going to execute it, and I can make the rest of it up as I go along.
I can’t do that with longer pieces though. I’ve only managed to finish one so far, and that involved a lot of sitting down, plotting, writing, exercising the more colourful range of my vocabulary when the plot changed on me, going back to re-plot, etc. So I guess I’m an annoying mixture of both methods?
What is your least favourite part of the writing/publishing process?
The actual publishing part of it, and all the nitty gritty details involved. I’m a perfectionist and a pessimist and maybe a little obsessive (like most people, I think) and so I keep second-guessing myself and uploading multiple files, and then finding something infinitesimal that I want to change and going back and redoing the whole ting. Or sometime, the mistake isn’t so infinitesimal, and that’s when I remember that I have no idea what I’m doing and that I’m just making everything up as I go along. And then I get sad. And then I get tea. And then I try again. Rinse and repeat.
How many books have you written, and which is your favourite?
I’ve only published the one book so far, DIVISION: A COLLECTION OF SCIENCE FICTION FAIRYTALES. Theoretically it should be my favourite since I think it’s my best, but I also hate it right now because I’ve been staring at it for about two weeks straight trying to find everything wrong with it and then fix it. I might love it again after I forget about it for a few months. This is also the reason I probably shouldn’t be a parent.
In terms of other books I’ve written and completed (because if I go into the unfinished ones, we’ll be here forever), there’s the thankfully destroyed one I mentioned earlier, Dark Secrets (shudder). Then there’s the first installment of the fantasy epic I wrote between 10-12 (don’t ask, it was about alternate dimensions and elves and a really long-winded fight to the death with evil doubles). Then there’s the one I just finished the first draft of last year during NaNoWriMo 2014, a more adult adventure fantasy about a broken heroine trying to commit suicide via final mission.
Truth be told, I’ve had more luck with my short stories and poetry. I’ve been fortunate enough to snag a few local and national writing awards/mentions, and recently managed to get my short story The Changeling and the Sun published in the semi-professional Ideomancer Speculative Fiction Magazine.
Do you have a favourite author? If so, who?
Oooh, that’s tough. I love a lot of authors, and many of them have influenced my writing and my life. If I had to pick, though, I’d choose Neil Gaiman. He’s sort of my literary idol. Aside from the fact he seems to be an all-around decent bloke who actually genuinely interacts with his fans, his stories all consistently have this element of the haunting and the magical which I try to inject into my own writing.
Which authors have most influenced your writing, if any?
Neil Gaiman, undoubtedly. Also Garth Nix, Margaret Atwood, and Kurt Vonnegut. And David Eddings and Leigh Eddings, because they really sold me on fantasy. John Scalzi, whom I discovered only recently but love. They’re the ones at the top of my head, but there are so many more that I’m doing a great disservice to right now. Ah well.
Also, to be honest, several mind-blowingly amazing fanfiction authors. These include Eliezer Yudkowsky, author of the cult Harry Potter and the Methods of Rationality, Susan Carhart, author of the epic Victory at Ostagar, whoever writes under the pen name callalili (they have breathtaking Assassin’s Creed WIP called Bitter Leaves and Blossoms Bright). Also an English-as-a-second-language author who writes Avatar the Last Airbender fanfic under the pen name Adridere; the sheer poetry, humour, magic and heart-lancing truth in her writing never ceases to leave me in awe. And last but not least, the lady who writes under the pen name Lightning on the Wave, who wrote the mindboggling AU re-imagining of the entire Harry Potter series: The Sacrifices Arc.
I read a lot to keep inspired, and also because I really enjoy reading, and the above authors do that.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
Are you kidding me? I’m an egotistical, angst-ridden author who just spent several days pouring my depleted little soul into words. Of course I read my reviews!
I respond to the good ones depending on where they’re posted, if only to thank them for their time and to try to connect with my readers. I’ve decided from here on in to never respond to the bad ones. I don’t think there’s a way to do it without seeming passive aggressive, defensive, or just pathetic. So I’ll deal with them the way I deal with most things in my life: whinging to my family and friends, crying into my tea, using their names as characters who die horrible deaths in my next story, and moving on.
What literary character do you most admire?
… am I allowed to mention a character from fanfic?
If I’m not, then I’d pick Katniss Everdeen. I admire her selfishness and her cowardice, and how she transcends both and is still actually pretty damn heroic. Also, how she survives through PTSD and the worst emotional traumas. As someone who would probably give up in the event of the zombie apocalypse because of the sheer horror of it, that sort of grit is pretty inspiring.
If I am allowed to pick a character from fanfic, then Bronwyn Cousland from the epically amazing Victory at Ostagar. Now SHE is a leader and a heroine, an archetype that I wish I saw more of in fiction. She brings together natural enemies, she’s a diplomat, she struggles with being ruthless and also too merciful, she’s great with a sword but even better with inspiring the people around her to be better in a craptastic world besieged by the embodiment of human evil (darkspawn). And she faces up against terrible, terrible odds and just keeps going. I just… I can’t even. I’ve read so many amazing books by amazing authors, JK Rowling, Neil Gaiman, Suzanne Collins… but Browyn is by far my favourite character, ever. You can find Victory at Ostagar in epic e-published format on Red Hen Publications under The World of Dragon Age, and more by the fantastic Susan Nance Carter on her website.
What writing advice have you been given that has helped you the most?
That’s a tough one, I’ve been given a lot of excellent advice that has helped me to get to where I am. So I’m going to be generous and share the two pieces of advice that have helped me the most.
The first one is to eyeball yourself and ask if you are actually serious about writing, and then acting accordingly. Mine’s a pretty common story. I held onto this dream of being a talented writer for so long that I didn’t actually do much writing, I just talked and thought about it. It wasn’t until I realised that I was graduating and had a full-time job around the corner that it really hit me that the dream wasn’t going to happen if I didn’t take it seriously. And I’d be looking back in twenty years’ time, regretting everything.
The second one is to do with plotting. I used to have a terrible time with my longer pieces of figuring out how to get from my beginning to my epic ending. Then I stumbled across this great formula: Challenge. Action. Disaster. Essentially, every scene needs to present a challenge to my characters, they need to act on that challenge, and that act needs to bring about some sort of physical, emotional or mental disaster. This repeats up until the very end when they either catastrophically fail, or succeed. It sounds formulaic, but it actually makes for a ripper of a ride, is an excellent device to torture characters with, and I love it.
What do you have planned next for your writing?
After DIVISION, I’d originally planed for a 7-episode adventure serial about a girl who discovers she’s a superhero in a fantasy city. But I start full-time work in another field in late February, and I realised pretty quickly that juggling both would be unsustainable. So I’ve decided to go with LICENCE REVOKED: a cyberpunk novella that’s been burning in my head for a while. It’s set in a dystopia where corporations own people, about a girl who gets her licence to exist suddenly revoked and has to run around the city dodging private armies and corporate mercenaries to find out what the hell is going on. I’m looking forward to it, and hopefully planning an April 2015 launch. Oh, and as a shameless self plug, if you sign up to my newsletter here (I promise never to spam you), you can get it for free when it lands.
Also, just come chat to me in general and hang out!
Facebook: Lee S Hawke
Goodreads: Lee S. Hawke (author page)
Google+: Lee S. Hawke
You can get DIVISION: A COLLECTION OF SCIENCE FICTION FAIRYTALES now on Amazon.
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