Greetings everyone and a very Happy New Year!
I thought I’d start 2017 with some author interviews. I love getting to know new writers and hearing about their work, so to start off, please welcome Sci-fi author Bonnie Milani.
Who are you and what do you do?
I’m the walking definition of a masochist: a benefits broker specializing in micro-businesses under ObamaCare who is trying to build a professional reputation as a sci fi author.
What is your book about?
Which book? Sorry, couldn’t resist. My latest is ‘Cherry Pickers’, a teen girl’s light-hearted coming-of-age story – with spiders. Very large, hopelessly romantic spiders.
Why did you choose to write your book?
Y’know, I don’t think we choose our stories; I think our stories choose us. In the case of ‘Cherry Pickers’ I’ve had one of the main characters, Sam, nested in a corner of my mind for more years than I’m willing to count. Finally decided to let the poor guy out. So, of course, now I’ve got another whole set of stories growing out of this one.
Cherry Pickers is only $0.99! You can grab a copy here:
You can read my review of Cherry Pickers at the end of this post.
What kind of research did you do?
I’ve sold other stories set on Sisyphus, the world-setting for ‘Cherry Pickers’, so I’d already done the research on the basics of the world itself: size, gravity, atmosphere, chemical composition, etc. I’d also researched arachnid characteristics & behaviors – which was a challenge, considering I’m a total arachnophobe. But the research led me to peacock spiders, & with that I had the ammunition I needed to work out how the Sissy culture would operate. To give you an idea, here’s a link to the peacock spider’s mating dance: https://www.cnet.com/news/two-adorable-new-spiders-found-meet-sparklemuffin-and-skeletorus/ Just TRY not to think of John Travolta!
What was the biggest challenge in writing the book?
Time is always my challenge. I have at best 1 hour a day, so progress tends to be slow. Drives me up the creative wall. But it’s proof that determination & plain ol’ stick-to-it-ness eventually wins the day.
What was the best part of writing your book?
FINALLY getting it to where I felt it was right. I THOUGHT I had it right on maybe the 4th rewrite, so I sent it off to my editor. Oy, was I wrong. Oh, OUCH was I wrong! She sent back four single-spaced pages of just where & how severely wrong I was, along with commentary in the MS itself. Exceedingly painful experience – but very, very necessary. The story just would not have fulfilled itself otherwise. I realized that after I finished reworking it.
Thought I’d slip in Bonnie’s award. Wow!
Do you have any advice to give authors who wish to self-publish?
Oy, do I! Perhaps the most important advice I can offer at all is to realize that posting your doc to Amazon does NOT equate to genuine self-publication, not if you want anyone to take you seriously as a writer. Agreed, simply getting a MS up on Amazon is quite enough of a chore on its own, but it’s far & away the least, last, & most malleable item in the production chain.
If you’re serious about becoming a professional writer then you simply must learn the craft and write to a professional standard. And that’s HARD, believe me. I can tell you from experience that fiction writing is a thousand times more difficult than non-fiction. I was writing NON-fiction for publication back in high school. Waaay back in my twenties I was writing feature pieces for Science Digest, Peninsula, Mankind, The Atlantic City Press, as well as various other newspapers. In college I wrote an early environmental fairy tale that was picked up and used by the NJ Dept. of Education for grammar school children. All exciting, professional work – and none of it even a fraction as challenging or just plain HARD as one fiction story.
Long story short: if you’re an aspiring author, then invest the time and money in yourself and your talent to learn how to make your stories WORK. Learn three-act structure. Learn character development, world-building, throughlines, the works. Have your work edited by a professional in your chosen field. Then swallow your tears (maybe with a glass of scotch or two) when your best efforts come back bruised and beaten. REWRITE. Cry or swear some more. Then send it back to be edited again. It’s hard, and it’s not cheap, but you’ll feel it when your story is ready to stand on its own and face the world. Mind, then you have all the mechanical posting & proofing & such to face – but by then you’ve got something you KNOW is good enough to justify the effort.
Wow, that answer kinda got away from me! Hope your followers find it helps!
I’m sure they will, Bonnie, thanks.
Do you have a favourite author? If so, what is it about their work that you like?
In sci fi, it’s C.J. Cherryh, hands down. Her tightly-plotted, women-oriented sci fi is what drew me back into writing after I’d given up for far too many years to help my husband build his business as well as starting my own insurance agency.
Outside of sci-fi, my favorites are the classic women authors: Jane Austen (‘Pride & Prejudice’ RULES!), Charlotte Bronte (‘Jane Eyre’), and of course, Harper Lee (‘To Kill a Mockingbird’)
What are your future writing plans?
I have another novella started. After that, I plan on returning to the ‘Home World’ universe and completing the rest of the series. Considering that universe has churned out about two generations worth of tales so far I figure that’s going to keep me busy for a lot of years to come!
Thank you Bonnie.
For more information about Bonnie and her books go to her Amazon Author page:
My review of Cherry Pickers:
Starship Troopers meets Arachnophobia
I enjoyed this book a lot. I loved the idea of giant spiders being the main characters alongside their human counterparts. Bonnie Milani successfully makes you care about these large arachnids just as much as the human ones, as all her characters are utterly believable.
It was a fast paced read full of suspense, humour and wonderful descriptions of the alien world that made the narrative come alive.
The alien arachnids are both lovable and horrid. I hated the Sissies, but I adored Sam, the spider, he was funny and sensitive. I did feel sorry for Tsk, who’s fate was to become Kekh’s next mate. A thing he dreads, for obvious reasons.
The heroine Nikki is feisty and fun and she relates the story in a jaunty manner as she tries to sort out her role in the complex mating rituals and sinister schemes she has been drawn into. I shan’t spoil the plot, but I was hooked from the beginning to the unexpected end.
This is a great read for anyone who enjoys sci-fi with a difference.