I am thrilled to introduce American author S.J. Moquin to the blog at the busy time of her life when her novel, Remebrance is being launched by publishers Dark Stroke Books. Firstly, thank you very much for agreeing to an Author Interview with me, SJ. Please can you tell my readers a little about yourself?
My name is SJ Moquin. I’m a mom of seven. I live with my husband, our five youngest daughters and a small zoo (4 adorable Morkie puppies, 2 kittens, 2 geckos, 1 bearded dragon, and 2 guinea pigs!) in beautiful East Tennessee in the foothills of the Smoky Mountains. My oldest daughter and son are gone from home but always pop in to see what we have in our fridge or pantry. I have a never ending to-be-read pile, love creating magical worlds full of diverse genres and characters. I write mostly fantasy and science fiction mixed with a dash of adventure, action, and dark mystery, as well as a bit of humor and a good dose of sweet romance.
What inspired you to become an author?
For as long as I can remember I’ve loved reading. Sometime around my mid-teens it was just inevitable that I started trying to mimic the thing I loved and write my own stories. From those early stories that I made my friends read, to later when I wrote silly stories for my own girls, something clicked and I realized I really enjoyed having an outlet for my overactive imagination.
What is the best thing about being an author?
I think the absolute best thing is connecting on a deeper level with readers. Knowing that somehow the words I’ve written touches them is such a humbling feeling.
What is your writing routine like?
Right now, chaotic. It’s summer and all 5 girls are home all day. But normally, I set a daily word goal for new writing and write in short sprints until I meet that goal each day. I also try to work on rewriters and edits at some point in the day as well. Overall, I’m an evening/night writer so usually from 4pm on I’m working on something writerly related.
How much time do you spend on research?
Oh! Tons! I love the research part of a book. I’d say anywhere from a few weeks to 2-3 months (sometimes more) of research goes into a book long before I start writing it.
How much of the book is planned out before you start writing it?
I fall in line more with a plantser. I do research, save notes for characters, worldbuilding, and locations, have full Pinterest boards of images that inspire me, and often have detailed character bios before I write. But I am not an outliner. I just can’t bring myself to commit the inspiration of the book to a structure prior to writing. I know the beginning and most of the time the end. Then I write and usually the middle falls into place naturally.
What do you think is most important when writing a book?
I know every author has their own favorite thing to write but looking at it from a reader’s point of view, characters are very important. If the reader can’t relate on some level to the character, it doesn’t matter if you have the best plot or most amazing worldbuilding. So to me, I definitely do a lot to create characters that will hook a reader’s attention and then set them in a fantastical world.
What is your latest book about?
Remembrance is a coming-of-age sci-fi adventure that is full of action, dark mystery, and a little sweet romance. It is set in the far reaches of a distant galaxy 90 years after Earth’s last survivors flee the dying planet. The story is centered around 17yo Gwelle who, together with her friends and the boy who broke her heart, must unravel a deadly secret threatening their new home before it is too late.
What inspired it?
I’ve always been pulled toward fantasy and sci-fi even as a child watching Star Trek for the first time, so when I got a chance to write a short story about origins in space, I jumped on it. So before it was a full length YA sci-fi novel, Remembrance was a 3000 word short story written from a prompt for a writing contest. I can’t remember now if it won or even had an honorable mention, but one thing did happen. I couldn’t get the story out of my head. A year or so later when I finished my current project, I knew exactly what I was going to work on next.
I took that short story, kept the characters, a few lines, and the general idea of them finding a new home world and started from there. The rest is history.
Any new books or plans for the future?
I am currently editing my urban fantasy series Bloodlines in hopes of publishing it next. It is a twist on fairy tales, myths, and legends set in our world full of action, mystery, romance, and adventure.
What genres do you read most often?
Fantasy is my go-to genre, but I do read science fiction, romance, contemporary, and mystery.
Is there anything else you would like my readers to know?
Remembrance is available now on Amazon in e-book and paperback. And I love hearing from readers so my DM’s on Instagram/Twitter are open as well as my email. My contacts can be found on my website http://www.sjmoquin.com/ Thank you so much for having me, Val.