Name Sunshine Somerville
Where are you from
Grand Rapids, MI
A little about your self `ie your education Family life etc
I grew up running around outside, pretending to be characters I wished I could be and creating worlds I wished I could visit. I guess that never really wore off, hence getting a degree for my hobby (English Lit).
Fiona: Tell us your latest news?
I’m releasing a new short story “The Poet Heroic” for Christmas on 12/25/2015, so right now I’m busy finishing that up.
Fiona: When and why did you begin writing?
I started The Kota Series based on what my brother and I and our 2 best friends played as kids. Their mom was worried that we were obsessed and wondered what we were doing all day, so I wrote a 20 page story when I was 9. The books grew from that.
Fiona: When did you first consider yourself a writer?
I self-published my first book my senior year of college. I’d always been writing, but it wasn’t until I held my first book in my hands that I felt like I had something solid to show as a “writer.”
Fiona: What inspired you to write your first book?
The first book was very much based on what we played as kids, and the inspiration to make that story a BOOK definitely came from a desire to keep a tangible record of those stories we played.
(Also, oddly, Eminem’s “Lose Yourself” came out around the time I was waffling about taking the plunge into authorship or not, and that song I guess inspired me to take the final leap and do it.)
Fiona: Do you have a specific writing style?
I don’t think so. I’ve been told that I write Sci-Fi like a 70-year-old man, whatever that means. (lol) Considering I grew up reading Sci-Fi that was written by men of my dad’s generation, I guess that makes sense.
Fiona: How did you come up with the title?
“The Kota” is what we always called what we were playing, so it seemed most natural. The Kota are the group of long-long, mysterious people that our 4 main characters came from.
Fiona: Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?
I definitely play with the themes of free will vs. fate, and I like to make things complex in that regard. I want people to ask questions, so I try to leave a lot of wiggle room for people to think things through for themselves.
Fiona: How much of the book is realistic ?
“The Kota,” Book 1, is set on Earth, so it’s certainly the most realistic of the books in my series. It’s set 500+ years in the future, but the settings might seem familiar, although aged and ruined. I’ve always thought that people are people, no matter what, so hopefully the characters feel realistic and relatable.
Fiona: Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?
Like I said, the 4 main characters in my series are based on me, my brother, and our 2 friends. I put a LOT of our personal quirks into our characters – my alter-ego especially. There are certainly little incidents from my own life that have made it into a scene or 2.
Fiona: What books have most influenced your life most? a mentor?
Orson Scott Card’s Ender books definitely made me want to be a writer. I remember reading “Speaker for the Dead” and thinking, “I want to do this,” because I love stories that are complex and have twists that I would never have imagined.
Also, my Aunt Sharon always read books on tape for us for birthdays and Christmas, so there are a lot of books like “A Wrinkle in Time” and “The Chronicles of Narnia” that were HUGE in shaping how my creative mind thinks about story. Even as an adult, I still think of those books as being monumental.
Fiona: What book are you reading now?
Right now I’m reading “Cloak of Shadows” by CK Dawn. It’s a modern twist on the Arthurian legends. It’s amazing so far.
Fiona: Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?
From what I’m reading of CK Dawn, I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for her books in the future. Also in the Fantasy realm, I really, really enjoyed CL Schneider’s “The Crown of Stones: Magic-Price.”
Fiona: What are your current projects?
I’m really enjoying writing Kota Shorts that tie in to the main series. I have an infinite number of options for storylines, so that’s exciting.
Fiona: Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.
I was incredibly lucky to fall into an international group of authors called The Awethors (as in a combo of Awesome and Authors). They have been, hands down, the most supportive group of people I’ve ever encountered when it comes to support about writing.
Fiona: Do you see writing as a career?
I’m starting to. I’ve been doing this since I was a kid, so it’s always felt like more of an incredibly time-consuming hobby. But now that Indie Authors are such a big deal, I feel like it’s more real, if that makes sense.
Fiona: If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?
My latest book was “The Woman of the Void,” and it was actually the first book I wrote where I feel like I did things right the first time around. So no. J
Fiona: Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
I’ve always been a book nerd. I think if you’re a creative person who enjoys reading, it’s a natural step to want to write. Having family and friends be supportive of that joy as a kid I’m positive helped me develop that interest.
Fiona: Can you share a little of your current work with us?
This is the opening to “The Poet Heroic” that’s still a rough draft:
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The room is dark. A wall of windows allows faint city light to stretch into the room, but the light only reaches far enough to reveal a skyscraper’s vacant office space.
A spotlight turns on to reveal a man in his late twenties sitting in a chair, his head lowered so that his coat’s hood shields his face. He sits comfortably with his hands in his lap.
In a chair across from him sits Kaytrine Elique, known rebel hacker-turned-reporter. A Euro woman who speaks only an illegal language, she wears a headset device that translates her speech. She also holds a paper notepad presumably filled with questions. With a smirk, she turns her mohawk-ed head and looks into the camera.
Her headset translates in her own accented voice as she says, “We know we don’t have much time before this transmission is tracked by the monitors. And I have no doubt the Dominion is very interested to know the location of my guest tonight. His name is Vale Ollander. Or as most of us know him, Beathabane. Or the Forgotten Son. Or the Tyrant Twin. So, without wasting any more time, let’s hear what my guest has to say.” She turns to the man in the chair. “Sir, thank you for agreeing to this interview.”
The man now lifts his hood from his head and pushes it back to reveal his face.
Kaytrine sucks in breath at the sight of him, but she regains her composure immediately. “I’m sorry, but you look exactly-”
“I know,” Beathabane tells her with a smile. “You’re not the first to have that reaction.” He glances at the camera nervously, then to the side, where he probably has a man positioned for security.
“I’ll get right to it,” Kaytrine tells him as she glances at her notes. “Everyone knows the work you’ve been doing this past decade since…” She makes a face. “Since you came to the Mainland. You’ve helped scores of refugees. Saved hundreds of lives. But this is the first time you’ve agreed to publically speak out. Why is that?”
“I thought it was about time to show my pretty face.” Beathabane smiles. Then he takes a deep breath and sits up in his chair. “Like you say, people know the work I’ve been doing with my team. They’ve heard rumors about me, both from the Dominion and the rebels. I want my supporters to see my face and know for certain that I am alive. And I want those who distrust me to know that I’m not my twin. I want everyone to know that I will never stop working to make this world a better place for all of us. That is all I want. People have no need to fear me. I hope that my example will prompt others to join us in this fight for what is right and just.”
Kaytrine taps her notepad. “As the first reporter you’ve been willing to speak to, I have to ask – what about your sister?”
Beathabane flinches in his seat, and his jaw tightens.
Kaytrine glances at the camera. “Everyone is wondering, you know. It’s rumored that your brother brought her into the Dominion not long after you came here. If that’s true, then she’s learning to fight for the very things you’re fighting against. As a rebel, I have to wonder if that makes you view her as an enemy. And if not, how can you live with the fact that your sister is in the Dominion’s care? I would think, sir, that you would do everything in your power to rescue her. Or am I wrong?”
Beathabane pauses in thought. Then he looks back at Kaytrine calmly to answer.
Fiona: Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?
Being brief. (lol) I’m used to writing complex, epic-length novels. Writing short stories is a very recent change for me, and “The Woman of the Void” is probably the shortest story I’ve written since that 20-page sum-up I wrote when I was 9. But I’m finding that I really enjoy it. It’s just hard to shift gears and be tight and condensed and still get everything into the story.
Fiona: Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?
That’s a tough one… I’d probably still have to go with Orson Scott Card. I don’t agree with him politically at all, but I love how he tells stories. There’s always something in his books that is a twist on what I would expect, and I love that because I’m a reader who usually sees everything coming.
Fiona: Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?
I don’t at all, but I’d love to.
Fiona: Who designed the covers?
I’m artsy as well as…writer-y, so I’ve designed all my own covers so far. The 4 main books of The Kota Series each have the Kota Mark circle incorporated into the design, and I always had that idea so they’d be tied together. For the short stories, I’m trying to make each one completely its own thing, so I might hire out for ideas eventually.
Fiona: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
For “The Kota,” Book 1, the hardest part was sorting out all the years’ worth of stories and making them into one coherent story/book. It’s very episodic in each Part 1, Part 2, etc., which was the best way I felt to give the sweeping timeline some structure. But I think I got it sorted.
Fiona: Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?
It feels like I’ve learned something from each book – I’ve certainly learned along the way how to write better, from book to book. It’s also probably true that if you write a book that you’re happy with, on some level that’s the most important thing. Readers these days have come to expect certain things from a book, and it’s really tempting to cater to that audience and just give them quick entertainment that’s full of this or that. But I’ve learned that I have to first write the story for myself and be happy with it myself. If I start throwing crap in there just because I know it will help the book sell, that doesn’t feel true to me.
Fiona: Do you have any advice for other writers?
Find a group of like-minded people you can talk to about writing. It’s incredibly helpful to have people who can support you because they know exactly what you’re going through. Friends and family can only understand a small part of what we’re doing, so instead of getting frustrated with them, find writers who can give advice and share tips and talk you through your ideas.
Fiona: Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?
Thank you! It’s been wonderful to hear back from people who read my books. Keep it coming! And that goes for any author you’re reading – we all really appreciate words of encouragement, REVIEWS, and interaction on social media.
Fiona: Do you remember the first book you read?
It was probably “But No More Elephants” because that’s what I made my dad read to me over and over. Actually, I probable had it memorized before I could read.
Fiona: What makes you laugh/cry?
I have an overactive sense of humor, so I laugh at anything. Often at myself, because I’m a constant supply of source material in that regard.
I don’t cry that often, but anger for some reason seems to bring on the tears. Or any of those videos with pets reuniting with their veteran owners – I don’t know why, but that gets me every time.
Fiona: Is there one person pass or present you would meet and why?
Past I should probably say Jesus, but I’d really want to meet Winston Churchill. I tend to get along with witty old men, and I’d love to hear about the behind-the-scenes politics of his time.
Present I’d love to pick the brain of Joss Whedon because he’s kind of a nerd god.
Fiona: What do you want written on your head stone and why?
I don’t know yet. I’ve had a lot of great days and adventures, but I hope my best ones are still to come. So hopefully I’ll have something particularly monumental that I’ll want to be my final statement later. J
Fiona: Other than writing do you have any hobbies?
I draw and paint a lot. My favorite thing to do, honestly, is revamp old furniture.
Fiona: What TV shows/films do you enjoy watching?
I’m a big movie buff and watch practically everything, but my first love is always sci-fi/fantasy. My favorite shows right now are “Agents of SHIELD” and “Game of Thrones.”
Fiona: Favorite foods / Colors/ Music
Food – Indian
Color – Cyan
Music – I listen to Pop, Alternative, Folk, Rock, Rap, Blues… Everything except Country
Fiona: If you were not a writer what else would you like to have done?
Considering I got a degree for my hobby and planned nothing for my future, I’ve bene lucky to fall into “day jobs” that give me time to be a writer. But if all that was COMPLETELY void from my life, I might have gone into the medical field.
Fiona: Do you have a blog/website? If so what is it?
Sure do! It’s www.SunshineSomerville.com
The Kota Series: Complete Box Set:
The Woman of the Void: