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Wednesday, March 15, 2023

SPFBO Finalist interview: Abbie Evans

Book links: AmazonGoodreads

AUTHOR INFO: Abbie Evans grew up in Wellington, New Zealand, and spent many years travelling the world before settling back down in a small New Zealand seaside town. She writes queer-centred fantasy stories that have been described as adventurous, fun, chaotic, and “too gay to function.”

Publication Date: August 3, 2021 Page Count: 293 

Abbie Evans grew up in Wellington, New Zealand, and spent many years travelling the world before settling back down in a small New Zealand seaside town. She writes queer-centred fantasy stories that have been described as adventurous, fun, chaotic, and “too gay to function.

Thank you for agreeing to this interview. Before we start, tell us a little about yourself.

Hello! Thanks for interviewing me. I’m from New Zealand, and I’ve recently resettled here after living in Germany and Spain for a long time. I worked as a translator for years while writing as a hobby on the side. I love languages, animals, and making up crazy fantasy stories.

Do you have a day job? If so, what is it?

My current 9-5 is admin assistant at a hotel. I’m lucky it (sometimes) has enough downtime for me to get some writing in.

Who are some of your favorite writers, and why is their work important to you?

I’m a big fan of Madeline Miller. Her writing is so immersive and pulls you right into the world from the first page. I also love Naomi Novik, who’s fantastic at creating lived in worlds. Kate Elliot is another one I find so imaginative and subversive. I like anyone who can pull you into a different world.

What do you think characterizes your writing style?

Oh, this is hard to answer about my own work. I think it’s quite straightforward, with humorous elements and maybe a bit of quirk thrown in. For Mysterious Ways, the plot goes in several unexpected directions and there’s plenty of mystery.

What made you decide to self-publish Mysterious Ways as opposed to traditional publishing?

My book is kind of unconventional and I think publishers would have pushed me in a more conventional direction, which I wouldn’t have been happy with. I didn’t want them trying to change the story I wanted to tell. But probably mainly because I’m much too impatient for traditional publishing!

What do you think the greatest advantage of self-publishing is?

Being in full control of the final product. You can do whatever you want to do without worrying if it fits in the right marketability box, and it’s so much faster and more convenient than traditional publishing.

On the other hand, is there anything you feel self-published authors may miss out on?

All the industry expertise you’d get from agents and publishers. It’s tough being responsible for everything on the business side when you have no experience in that and really just want to be writing.

Why did you enter SPFBO?

I entered once before and got cut early on, which made me determined to write a better book and try again. I was trying to prove to myself I could do it.

What would you do if you won the SPFBO?

Probably re-read the announcement several times to make sure it was real. Then celebrate, then realise I’d better hurry up getting the sequels finished.

How would you describe the plot of Mysterious Ways if you had to do so in just one or two sentences?

Woman dissatisfied with the system goes to absurd lengths to fix things. Reluctantly forms an alliance with her nemesis, many shenanigans and adventures are had.

What was your initial inspiration for Mysterious Ways? How long have you been working on it? Has it evolved from its original idea?

As a curious person, the saying “God works in mysterious ways” always bothered me. I thought, what if someone decided to find out what, exactly, those ways were? And somehow a whole book was born out of that. I wrote it over eighteen months, and that objective stayed the same, but the plot definitely evolved in directions I wasn’t expecting.

If you had to describe it in 3 adjectives, which would you choose?

Adventurous, unique, colourful.

Is it part of the series or a standalone? If series, how many books have you planned for it?

It’s going to be a trilogy, but the first book works as a standalone.

Who are the key players in this story? Could you introduce us to Mysterious Ways’s protagonists/antagonists?

The protagonist is Isabella, a commander in the city watch. She’s passionate about bringing murderers to justice, but disillusioned with the way the city watch operates and starts to realise the whole system needs a shake up.

Then there’s Cerys, a con artist who loves to make problems for Isabella and cause a little chaos, and Theo who’s Isabella’s sidekick. He’s a stickler for the rules, but a loyal and supportive friend.

How did you select the names of your characters?

For the loooooongest time I was using placeholder names because I couldn’t decide. (Literally “Jane,” “Sue,” and “John.”) I have to have been writing a character for a while before a name that feels right for them comes to me. Once I know the sort of person they are, I give them the name that feels right for them.

Does your book feature a magic/magic system? If yes, can you describe it?

Magic is more of a background feature in the book (for the mortal characters at least), but it’s used as a class divider. High status people are rewarded with magical elements that make their lives easier, while those with a lower status are not granted this benefit.

What’s your publishing Schedule for 2022/2023?

I hope to publish the second book in the trilogy in 2023, but I can’t give an exact date at this point!

Thank you for taking the time to answer all the questions. In closing, do you have any parting thoughts or comments you would like to share with our readers?

Thanks again for interviewing me, and thanks to all the reviewers and people involved with SPFBO who give self-published books the opportunity for more exposure.


Anonymous said...

Congratulations on being a finalist from Aotearoa New Zealand - as the lone kiwi judge in SPFBO I'm always excited to see NZ entries in SPFBO.
(I think you may be the 2nd Aotearoan author to make the finals)


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