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Interview with Isa K.

ErgoFiction recently launched an anthology ‘Other Sides’ showcasing the work of several independent, experimental web-fiction authors. Today, one of those authors has kindly answered a few questions for me. Meet Isa K:

Isa K is a writer and entrepreneur currently residing in New York. Her first traditionally published work Split-Self will be hitting the Kindles and Nooks of perverts worldwide in March. She still manages to scrape together the occasional ridiculous fanfic in between working on her hockey serial Season in the Red and her publishing venture fluffy-seme, which she hopes will rid the world of comment begging forever.

Tell us a bit about your writing background – where did it all begin for you?

For me writing is a way of putting my regrets to bed I suppose. I’m one of those people who has a thousand and one interests and career ambitions, I can’t possibly do them all. I write about the ones that are probably not going to happen so that on some level I can make them real, experience and own them forever.

What drew you to writing online fiction? Had you tried other types of publishing before you decided to go the indie author route?

Well I wrote trashy, melodramatic surrealist fanfiction for ages. I was very comfortable with the medium, but like most I didn’t really think of it as a publishing format right away.

Four years ago I was working at as bookseller (and nothing will make you more cynical about traditional publishing than a close up look at the relationship between the big guys and the bookstores) and I had just finished my first book Tokyo Roadkill. I thought to myself “there are only three people in the world who are going to want to read this book” [not because it was bad, because it’s was what’s called ‘ergodic literature’ …. very avant-garde, very difficult to read (in this case) and not really marketable … but who knows? maybe when I’m famous it will be what all the super pretentious people read in order to prove how smart they are lol]. So I did it POD, which was a lot of fun but doing it right was stressful, expensive and time consuming.

A bit later I had this story idea: a slash-friendly Shonen Jump style tale about Russian and other Post-Communism players coming into American pro-sports. But I knew already that no one would ever ever EVER agree to publish this, because the assumption would be that it should be a book for boys. The industry is only just starting to figure out that something can be marketed to women without wrapping it up in pink and sparkles, but at the time there was absolutely zero chance.

And yet I still really really wanted to write it.

I definitely didn’t want to go POD again. As reigning typo queen, I need a strong editorial hand and the problem with print is there’s a sense of finality that I’m not comfortable approaching on my own. Yet I couldn’t afford to hire an editor like I did with Tokyo Roadkill. So I thought to myself “why can’t I just write this like fanfiction?”

A couple months into working on Martin Ostrowski’s Season in the Red I stumbled across Web Fiction Guide and realized– holy shit– there’s a whole community of people doing this! After that I was converted, because along with the convenience of sweeping away the occasional error when a reader points it out, I really do enjoy having a schedule and a deadline and immediate feedback to work with.

I read your story in Other Side and enjoyed it. Is that part of a larger online world that you’ve written already?

Mifflin County Coke Blues was basically A.M. Harte’s idea. One of my completed serials– Split-Self— is about psychic vampires and human parasites (in retrospect I really should have used a different term as you utter the word ‘vampire’ and suddenly everyone is asking me why my characters aren’t immortal, can’t fly and don’t have nice retractable fangs). The main character, Clare, has a very difficult relationship with her boyfriend, Jake. Jake’s feelings towards Clare are inevitably linked to his grandmother who had the same paranormal condition as Clare. And yet I just never got around to dealing with the specifics. A. M. Harte suggested this might be a good topic for a short story and away we went.

But it’s more than backstory: I’ve been playing around with a sequel to Split-Self called The Halo that focuses more on the paranormal elements and is more traditional fantasy than Split-Self ever was, Mifflin County Coke Blues forms a nice bridge between the two and gave me some ideas for Jake’s storyline.

What are you working on at the moment?

Ugh. I’m one of those people that if I don’t have absolutely too much on my plate I will just find more work until I do. First I’m struggling through the sequel to Martin Ostrowski’s Season in the Red which may have lost its entire audience at some point when the plot got away from me … but every time I think that I get a long email from a reader or an “OMG! *squeal*” IM, so who knows anymore? LOL

Second, I sold the rights to Split-Self to romance ebook publisher Loose Id, so I’m literally sitting here with the manuscript opened in another window and a thousand and one edits to be made to prepare it for the March-ish release.

Third, since Loose Id requested I write them a second book that will be exclusively theirs (i.e. – not serialized) I’m working on a book about the ambitious and devious girls of the tech/entrepreneur scene tentatively titled “Girls on Top”

Fourth, I’ve been developing another serial about rogue freelancing spies that’s much darker than my other stuff. For the time being I’ve been releasing this on Coquette , but Coquette itself has been thrown into complete disarray by this whole ‘Oh hey how would you like a book deal?’ thing … so that’s in limbo now. And because it’s low priority it is naturally the piece I feel most inspired to write lately. Because that’s how these things work >.>

Lastly, I’m programming the new fluffy-seme completely from scratch and fighting with my programming friends about the merits of longtext columns and NoSQL.

Thanks for stopping by Isa! Was nice getting to know more about you and your writing. Good luck for the future 🙂

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