Authors

"When it comes to authors,we may hide ourselves from others but within our pages, our true souls emerge." - Nicole Hill
"I want a Vampite of my very own. Until I find him, I'll just keep writing him into existence." -Nicole Hill
" I write like people talk. It may not be perfect but it's damn entertaining." - Nicole Hill

Wednesday, April 17, 2013

#Indie Spotlight of Sascha Zaman @SaschaZamani Author of Magic's Shadow

The Artist


Sascha Zamani

Magic’s Shadow, the first book in a fantasy trilogy, is the current project that I’m releasing. I have a Kickstarter campaign (http://tiny.cc/MSkickstarter), which is running till May 1 in order to raise funds for the Magic’s Shadow book launch. The funds raised will go towards editing, cover art, character artwork, formatting for print and e-book versions, ISBN fees, and book launch promotion. The first three chapters of Magic’s Shadow can be downloaded for free at: http://tiny.cc/PreviewChaps.

Where Sascha Creates

Tustine, CA (AKA the border of Irvine and Tustin). I’ve moved around a lot on the West Coast. I actually completed a loop: Starting in Pasadena, I moved to Hawaii when I was 2 months old – where I grew up. My family then moved to Oregon, in the suburbs of Portland, when I was entering Junior High. After I finished High School, I completed the circle by heading back to Pasadena to attend Caltech where I got my undergraduate degree in Mechanical Engineering. After college, I migrated a bit south to Orange County, and I have been here since.

The genre that now gets to claim her

Fiction – in particular Fantasy and Sci-Fi. Magic’s Shadow is purely in the Fantasy category as the setting is high-magic, so technology hasn’t really had a chance to develop as anything that it could do, magic can do better. Afterall, why build a bullet train when you can pay someone to teleport you there?

That being said, I do really love both genres and don’t find them entirely separate. Whether you are writing Fantasy, Sci-Fi, or more challenging a combination of both, it requires the author to develop a complex set of rules for how things work in their world – sort of the “physics engine” of the setting so to speak.

I would say that Star Trek (one of my favorite TV shows as a child), especially the original series, is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy fusion as often times the Enterprise was faced with adversaries that appeared to have mystical powers (drawing heavily on Greek Mythology). It was always explained as the race having more advanced technology. But, for that matter, I think technology is often viewed as magic until people are able to understand how it works.

Some of the other projects I’m working on at the moment include a steampunk post-apocalypse world that is a Sci-Fi/Fantasy blend as well as a series of time travel shorts that lean much more to the Sci-Fi side of the spectrum.

In her own words, her book is about? 

Magic’s Shadow is a book about a group of individuals that end up becoming adventurers through strange twists of fate and then have to attempt to “save the world” while often being on the run from “the good guys”. Most of the heroes and the villains are shades of grey characters that are fairly approachable and very human – despite some of them being what most stories would cast as monsters. It’s a book that would appeal to anyone who has ever played a role-playing game (as it has a lot of gamer humor and the heroes don’t always make the best decisions, which leads to a comedy of errors/”misunderstandings” that most table top gamers are very familiar with) as well as people who enjoy high-magic fantasy worlds with complexly integrated plotlines.

Does Sascha follow the rules? 

I have a bit of a strange writing style. I typically have to write from the beginning to the end and don’t skip around on scenes. I typically have a fairly complex storyline in my head before I start a story but don’t do your standard outlining. I think possibly because I tend to write very entangled plotlines that develop fairly organically during the writing process. Once I’ve developed characters, I find that they tend to write themselves as I throw them into the different scenes and scenarios. For instance, I found on my current novel, Magic’s Shadow, that I had a particular character, Zephyr, which I always wrote late at night as she tended to lend herself to a more ethereal sense as well as dream sequences given that she is a powerful sorceress that is struggling to control her powers and often has visions, through images or her other senses, that she doesn’t totally understand. Other portions of the book were written mainly while I was flying on airplanes (I had a job that kept sending me cross-country at the time.), which was kind of strange. I guess it kept me focused on writing and definitely kept me from going crazy due to being cooped up on a plane for extended hours.

Has she ever written anything and thought; ” The world has got to see this!” ?

Given my pending book launch, I’d be rather remise if I didn’t say Magic’s Shadow, but in all seriousness, it is true. For me, I really need to feel that way in order to complete a novel. This is actually the second book that I’ve started, but the first one that I finished. Fifty pages of my “first book” live on my hard drive, which I will probably revisit at some point after I finish the Magic’s Shadow trilogy. The reason that I stopped working on my prior book was that there were some plot issues that bugged me and while it was turning out to be an interesting story, I was not able to figure out how to integrate everything (I tend to be my worst critic). It was a fantasy/sci-fi story, which looking back with 20/20 hindsight had about enough of a story arc to make a good short story and was too ambitious of a fusion world for a first novel attempt. It did serve a very good purpose as it did teach me a lot about world building and integrating a magic system into my stories, so I do think that Magic’s Shadow benefited from the process. I think from the experience of writing Magic’s Shadow as well as the majority of the first draft of the second book in the trilogy, Darkside’s Light, I have figured out what to do with my “first book” and it will probably see the light of day as a short story once I have some more time to go back and do some heavy editing.

Does she have an editor and Cover Designer or does Sascha do it herself?

I’m definitely hoping to. As long as my Kickstarter is successful, I’m planning on hiring a professional editor and cover designer. While I do some graphic art and consider myself fairly good at grammar, I don’t create book covers for a living so there are many people who are far better at it than I am, and I think that it is always best to get as many sets of eyes on my writing as possible before publishing. While I want to go the Indie route to preserve intellectual control of my works, I want to offer a book that is as professional as any offered by a big name publisher.

Who can we thank for making Sascha hear her calling?

Neil Gaiman – I went through a time period during college where I didn’t read a lot, largely because I was focused on school work and spent most of my reading time on textbooks. I hadn’t read anything by him before, but I picked up Good Omens because I stumbled upon a web review that intrigued me. I really enjoyed its quirky humor, which led me to pick up more of his books as well as start working on Magic’s Shadow.

Does she write her characters or do they write themselves through her, and does Sascha ever write herself into the characters?

I find that my characters typically write themselves through me. Once I’ve developed their backgrounds, what their character motivations are, and how they respond to certain situations, I just put them into the scenes along the plotline, and they decide what they are going to do. I’ve had certain scenes where I started writing them thinking that they were going to go one way, but the characters refused to go along with my plans and steered me down entirely different paths that tied into the overarching plot as well as their character development a lot better than the way I had initially planned the scene to go.

In terms of the whole writing oneself into my characters, for me, it’s typically more the other way around – I use some of my characters’ names as screen names for video game characters (I think I have the entire Magic’s Shadow cast as characters in Diablo III). That being said, I think it is impossible to be completely separate from your characters as they are your creations, but I try to keep them as distinct as possible because the last thing anyone wants to do is read a story with a bunch of little Sascha Zamani’s running around in it. I sometimes loosely base my characters on people who I know in order to have a more fleshed out personality and background, but even so it tends to be certain aspects of individuals combined to form a unique character in its own right. As a writing excercise, I’ve often gone through Myers-Briggs personality tests for my characters in order to get a better feel for the psychology behind their actions. Of the Magic’s Shadow main characters, one shares 3 out of 4 personality traits with me, two only have 1 common personality, and the other two have half of the same personality traits – I’ll leave you to guess which are which. This was particularly interesting as the character that scored the closest to my personality type actually didn’t answer any of the questions the same as me, so I was a bit surprised to find a similarity of base character traits. Given the insight it provided, I now sometimes use this as an exercise to get past writer’s block.

Is writing her full-time job or is she “Keeping her day job”? So to speak.

Currently, going back for my MBA and writing is my full-time job. I’m hoping that it will continue to be as I’m a big fan of ramen. Well, actually I’ve developed a bit of aversion to too much ramen, but storytelling is what I love, and I hope to be able to make a full-time career of it. Regardless of whether it becomes my full-time job, it is my passion, and I will continue to create stories as long as I have a story to tell.

In the world of Indie, marketing is very difficult, especially if you don’t have the funds to pay for it. Has Sascha found a great free way to market her work that she thinks other Indies will benefit from?

Sadly, I don’t have a perfect solution to the indie marketing issue that we all face, but I believe that it comes down to creating a good network of people who you support as well as asking for support when you need it. I’m currently trying my luck with crowdfunding through Kickstarter (http://tiny.cc/MSkickstarter ), so we will see how that goes. currently, it is looking fairly promising as the project has reached 14% of its goal.

Since Indie authors don’t have the agents and publishers backing us, we need to stick together. However, the indie community is a lot larger than traditional publishing, so I honestly think that it is the wave of the future.

Links to find and follow Sascha's work: 

Feel free to contact me at any of the following places you will find me on the web. I’d love to hear your feedback on the first three chapters I have up on the blog as well as any of the other excerpts, so please don’t be shy with the comments.

Twitter: @SaschaZamani
Kickstarter for Magic’s Shadow: http://tiny.cc/MSkickstarter

Read Free Chapters Here! 

Magic’s Shadow Preview Chapters: http://tiny.cc/PreviewChaps