Hey there, Insiders!
Today we have an interview with Pippa DaCosta, an author of “kick-ass urban fantasy novels with conflicted characters, breathless action, and no-holds-barred dialogue”, who has a whole bunch of awesome books out there for you to discover.
Break the ice and tell our readers who you are and what kind of thing you write.
Hi, I’m Pippa, I write urban fantasy with a twist and fast paced sci-fi packed with morally ambiguous characters. What does that mean? Action, battles, intrigue, sex, bad good-guys, good bad-guys; you get the idea.
How do you approach your stories; do you plan everything out before starting, or are you more a fly-by-the-seat-of-your-pants kind of a person?
A lot of what I consider my best work comes out of the blue, like a slap in the face. My most successful series grew from one opening scene. I didn’t have a plan, didn’t outline, just sat down and got the words out of my head before they drove me insane.
But, once I have the basics worked out, I do roughly plan future books (beginning, middle and end – it helps to know where you’re going with a massive series), but I don’t write scene-by-scene outlines. I find it kills the surprises for me (and the reader). My rough outlines often change. I find the really great characters take on a life of their own, and usually know what they’re doing, even if I don’t.
Tell us about your most recent release, and why the heck our readers should give it a shot.
Girl From Above #4 Trust is my most recent release, due out in a couple of weeks. It’s the last book in a crazy sci-fi series my readers have likened to Firefly, Ex_Machina, and Killjoys. The series starts when ex-con, smuggler, and fixer, Captain Caleb Shepperd finds a synthetic stowaway on his ship. He’d quite happily toss her out the airlock, but she’s worth a lot of cash, and cash is king in the nine systems. Unfortunately for Caleb, the synth was sent to kill him, plus his flight-partner is a drug addict with her own secrets (who he’d dearly love to get in the sack), and his brother—a Fleet Commander—might prefer Caleb was behind bars—again.
Caleb’s crew are all bad guys; which makes them so darn fascinating.
What’s the biggest influence on the kind of thing you write? Another writer? A TV show? Some other thing that is neither of those two things?
I’m influenced from everywhere, and I’ve been writing since my early teens, so I have a patchwork of great ’80s and ’90s TV shows and movies to draw from. My first loves have to be 80’s cartoons, like Thundercats, X-Men, Battle of The Planets etc. A lot of the sci-fi shows stick with me today, Farscape, Battlestar Gallactica. I tend to gravitate toward the more gritty shows with fascinating characters. As for any one writer who’s influenced me. Well, it has to be Stephen King. Not so much his books (I prefer his early work), but the man himself. He’s a prolific writer, and he knows his shit. I admire his work ethic.
Gosh, this changes weekly. Today, it’s Deadpool. So, so, funny. It breaks all the rules, and I love that about it.
When people started comparing my scifi series to Ex_Machina, I jumped at the opportunity to watch it on a flight back from the US (I live in the UK), and absolutely loved it. Very clever, and subtle story-telling. Brilliant.
What was your favourite book as a kid?
The Last Unicorn. It’s a brilliant little story, I highly recommend it, even today. Again, it goes against conventions and tells the story of a unicorn who discovers she’s the last of her kind. She goes on a quest to find the other unicorns, and is turned into a human girl by an inept magician. It all sounds quaint, but in fact it’s a wonderful example of a book going against the trends of its time. (I also loved the fact it doesn’t have a traditional happy ending).
Another book I enjoyed as a kid (when I wasn’t sneaking a look at my mom’s Stephen King novels) was First Flight by Chris Claremont. I didn’t know it at the time, but he also wrote for the X-Men. This was my first ever sci-fi and it featured a tough, female captain in a first contact scenario. My first thoughts, as a pre-teen, went something like; holy shit, scifi isn’t just for guys, and Lt Shea (the main character) is my effing hero. I haven’t read it since. I have no idea if it stands the test of time or if I’m looking back with rose-tinted glasses, but it sticks with me today, and it opened my eyes to kick-ass unstuffy scifi.
What comes first for you with a story, concept or characters?
Depends on the books. But it’s usually the characters, and then the concept. As I mentioned above, my urban fantasy series grew from a single scene featuring just two characters. It was the conflict between those two characters that sparked the surge of ideas, which eventually turned into the five book Veil Series.
What are you reading/watching/playing/hiding from right now?
I’m neck deep in edits and first drafts. I hate working on more than one project at a time, but I always seem to be juggling drafts. I’m currently writing the first draft of my new urban fantasy series, while editing my Bloomsbury fantasy, and formatting my final scifi book. Plus, I have a handful of other projects bubbling away in the background. One is with my agent, another I just don’t have the time to write, but I commissioned a book cover for! There’s never a dull day!
What made you decide to go indie, and what do you see as the benefits of indie?
I’m indie and trad published. I went indie first simply because I wanted control. And I freakin’ love that I choose my editors, I work with the cover designers, and I get my book to readers. It’s all on me. Clearly, I’m a control freak (my husband could have told me this years ago, but I’ve only just figured it out). The benefits really are the control. I run the promotions, I monitor sales on a weekly basis and I can adjust my strategy according to fluctuations in the market.
Who is your favourite fictional character, be it from books, TV, comics, movies or games?
Can I name a few? I’m naming a few. If anyone can name where all these feature; you get a fictional point!
(Is anyone else super excited for the FF7 remake?!)
Tell us about a great indie book or two that you’ve read:
Oh my gosh, I’m currently reading Debra Dunbar’s Imp series, and I absolutely adore it. Very reminiscent of the Charley Davidson series, especially the humor.
D’you listen to music whilst you write? The TV on in the background providing a pleasant white-noise babble? Or d’you DEMAND SILENCE WHILST YOU CREATE FROM NOTHING.
Music. Always music. I’m writing this while listening to Fat Boy Slim’s Weapon of Choice, because that’s the way I roll. I love Two Steps From Hell and Thomas Bergerson for epic Fantasy and scifi scenes, but I also listen to Taylor Swift, 30 Seconds to Mars, Fall Out Boy, Red, Dance, Rock, Dubstep, pretty much anything. I have playlists for every book. Playlists help ground me in those different realities, especially if I’m working on multiple projects. In my teens, I would spend hours hunched over a notepad, pencil-writing stories, my Walkman feeding my ears Haddaway, so sue me.
Which of your own works are you proudest of?
Wings of Hope. It’s a short prequel to my Veil Series. For this, I had to write from a demon point of view, in a demon world. It’s brutal, and graphic, but in many ways beautiful. The main character rises from slavery. It was technically challenging as well as emotionally difficult. To date, it’s the book I’m most proud of. There’s a special place in my heart for Wings of Hope.
What’s you’re writing schedule like? Are you super regimented, butt-in-chair every day, tip-tapping away for hours, or an airy-fairy ‘when the muse strikes’ sort of a person?
I write every day. No holidays. No exceptions. Sometimes that might mean 400 words, other times it’s a 10,000 word day (first drafts). It’s a full time profession and business. I write when the kids are at school. When they’re back, I switch to marketing, and in the evening I squeeze in another hour of writing. If I’m on a deadline, or I have a proofread back from an editor, I’ll work all weekend to get it formatted and published. It sounds like a lot. It is. But I effing love it. Thankfully, my husband is understanding. It helps that the writing pays some bills 😉
What’s your number one piece of advice for anyone reading this who is considering going the indie route?
Pay for an editor.
Seriously. Writers are too close to their own work to see the faults. And there are always faults.
Tell me a ‘classic’ book that you’ve not been able to get through:
Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Ugh. Have you read it? Jeez. Bram really loved the sound of his own voice.
So what treats do you have in store for readers next?
Many, many goodies. More crazy scifi, more fantasy with the urban, and dragons! Everyone loves dragons. And gods. You name it, I’m working on it.
I’ve only just begun 😉
Check out Pippa’s work HERE