I kicked off a short new series of author interviews earlier in June when I chatted with Samanatha Heuwagen. This week, I’m talking to Katika Schneider, a fantasy author.
I met Katika, author of The Afflicted Saga fantasy series, at RavenCon this past spring. She kindly agreed to answer my questions about writing, publishing, and her process! I’ve been slow to get this posted–lots of travel and life getting in the way–so a big thank you to Katika both for both answering my questions and patience on getting this live. If you want to connect with Katika online, all of her social links are at the end of this post.
1. Tell us a bit about yourself!
I am an epic fantasy author and reader. I am a dog lover, an equestrian, and have been informally dubbed “Mother of Chickens.” I collect garden gnomes and eat a lot of cheese.
2. What have been some of your biggest challenges as an indie author?
On the creation front, blurb writing and formatting will probably be the death of me. On the marketing front, I have trouble with balancing promotion with creative energy. Every minute I spend on social media is a minute away from my characters and the chance of getting sucked into the social media black hole. I’m still building my tribe of hardcore readers, but am not the type to market myself aggressively.
3. What made you decide to go the indie route?
Mostly the fact that I’m a control freak. While I’ve got mad respect for those who pursue traditional publishing, I know myself well enough to trust that I’d be unhappy being told that I have to alter the vision I have for my stories to suit current trends. I’m terrified of the idea of giving up the rights to any of my IP. These days, even traditionally published authors often have to foot their own publicity, which would have been the one perk (to me) of traditionally publishing, so I figured it’d make more sense to stick to the indie route.
4. When did you start writing? When did you start publishing?
I started writing in 4th grade. Up until that point, I’d struggled with school, but my 4th grade teacher always set aside an hour a day where we could explore our creativity and learn about different types of stories and how to build our own. From there, I never stopped writing and school became a joy to me. My writing carried me through junior high and high school, and I began building my series, The Afflicted Saga, my freshman year of college. In 2015, a jarring life event made me realize I needed to get a move on and begin publishing, and I released my debut novel, Devotion (The Afflicted Saga: Tale of the Fallen, Book I) in April of 2016.
5. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
A little bit of both. My writing time is my happy time. Even when I’m knee-deep in editing. Creating and watching the world unfold before me is exciting and beautiful, but it also drains a lot of mental energy. Where I run into trouble is that I often try to overload my plate between loft production goals, committing to help other writers (even when I know I don’t have the time or energy to do so), and still trying to live life. This is where my exhaustion comes from. But the creation process and the polishing process are quite enjoyable to me.
6. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Not starting the darn book. I’ve run into a lot of “dreamers” since I’ve been published, enthusiastic folks who tell me all about their stories. Their excitement is real and beautiful, but they often sort of timidly say that they either don’t know how or where to start, or that they don’t have the time. The truth is, none of us popped out of the womb knowing how to write or where to start. Sure, natural talent can be a thing, but this is very much so a talent that can be learned and cultivated. The time thing, I can only answer by saying that I don’t know how much someone’s story means to them, so I cannot tell them how to prioritize their lives to make time to write. What I can say, though, is that nobody else can write the story inside of you, at least not the way you envision it. And if you don’t write that story, when you’re gone, so is it. And I think that’s a terribly sad thing to think about.
7. How many unpublished and half-finished books do you have?
Unpublished, but coming in the next few years: 3 books in Tale of the Fallen, 6 books in another Afflicted Saga series, and 2 stand alone (one in The Afflicted Saga, one not)
Half-finished books: 3 in The Afflicted Saga, and an epic DBZ fanfiction I’ve been writing since high school that will never see the light of day (it’s my guilty pleasure I turn to when I’m stressed). I’m also working on a co-authored portal fantasy, though I’m not sure how many volumes it will end up being.
Finished, but unlikely to ever be published: I’ve got a YA draft and a dystopian trilogy floating around, but I have no plans on going back to publish them. They were more of experimental playgrounds than anything else.
8. How many hours a day do you write?
It depends on what I’m working on at the moment. I probably spend at least 6 hours a day (often on weekends, too) doing something related to my books, whether it’s writing, editing, reading, researching, or marketing things. When I’m in Creative Mode, though, I’ve been known to average about 10 hour work day to the point that I need alarms to remind me to eat.
9. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
This is where being an epic fantasy author’s a little unique compared to several other genres. I spent the better part of ten years creating the world of Abaeloth and developing the systems and lore that it’s built of. Since I discovered this world and what makes it work, staying grounded in what I’ve established as law tends to overshadow traditional research. As a result, I typically don’t invest much time researching in the traditional sense before I begin writing. I often don’t even do much research until I’m in my second draft. I like to trust my characters and see where they carry the story and then when I get to my second draft, I’ll begin fact checking. It doesn’t hurt that my reading background and active hobbies and interest often compliment aspects of my novels.
10. What’s the most difficult part of the writing process?
Endings are often hard for me. I don’t like letting go. I don’t like to say goodbye, even if I know there will be a sequel. It’s like being on a grand adventure with all of your best friends and then your mom comes and tells you that it’s time to go home.
11. What are you working on now, and when can readers expect a new book from you?
I am currently working on Defiance, book 4 of The Afflicted Saga’s Tale of the Fallen series. It’s roughly 2/3 of the way through its second draft, and I’m hoping to have it published (or at least have the release date formally scheduled) by the end of the year. As I mentioned above, I’m also working on a yet-unnamed, co-authored portal fantasy. It’s still in its fledgling stages, but it’s shaping out to be a pretty fun ride.
A big thanks to Katika for taking time out of her schedule to answer all of my burning questions! It’s always a pleasure to host authors on the blog.
The Afflicted Saga is available on Amazon.
If you read The Afflicted Saga series, don’t forget to leave a review!
If you want to follow Katika on social media, you can find her at:
Author Central on Amazon
|Goodreads||Katika Schneider’s Profile|