Today we are sitting down with Tami Veldura, author of Spring Tide. Hilarious and thought-provoking, and Tami is an author you don’t want to miss!
1.What began your love affair with LGBT books?
My discovery process was pretty gradual. A friend of mine in high school introduced me to the concept of slash fanfiction, which was a fascinating corner of the internet that was writing stories nothing at all like the romances on my mother’s bookshelves. They were still love stories but they addressed questions and situations that were both new and familiar to me. I’m asexual, but I didn’t have a word for it at the time, and the slash community I found was doing all kinds of weird and wonderful things with the concept of romance and sexuality that I’d never heard of. I didn’t realize until much, much later, that I was craving to explore these concepts.
I don’t know how I first came across M/M romance being published in the ‘real world’ but I do remember that it was my mother who sent me a link to a publisher that released M/M works and the concept that there was an actual branch of publishing just for M/M blew my mind. I HAD to participate. My whole life plan swung around to focus on publishing M/M work right about the time Amazon introduced their new-fangled Kindle thing and all of a sudden it was feasible to make a living publishing on your own.
I have never looked back. It started, and remains solidly with M/M, but my interest in LGBT stories has recently expanded to include other parts of the rainbow thanks in large part to joining the Tumblr community. I know Tumblr has a reputation that’s unfavorable, but for me, stumbling around was gently eye-opening and gets to claim credit for my current identity as asexual.
Slash, M/M Publishing, and Tumbler are probably the biggest milestones of my LGBT history and to anyone who knows me, the fact that all three of these are internet-based would be no surprise.
2. Are you an artist in any other mediums?
I am! I prefer digital painting but I also sketch, do watercolor, acrylic paints, colored pencils, and I’m willing to dabble or try just about any other fine art medium. Like most artists I know, I picked up a crayon when I was young and the rest is history. I’m largely self-taught with occasional bouts of instruction from whatever free source I can find.
When deciding on a college, I was largely conflicted between a fine art degree and a writing degree. I chose writing because I can bullshit an essay and pass, but I can’t bullshit a painting, so it was more likely that I’d be able to succeed with a writing degree!
I don’t regret the decision, college was a LOT of fun for me. I learned so much. Less about how to write and more about how to learn to write, which I find far more valuable.
On the other hand, pursuing writing so single-mindedly leaves me with little time to explore art with the same dedication and I’m constantly wishing I could do more art on a regular basis. I need a time-turner, I think.
3.What do you consider your biggest writing success so far?
Oh, Perihelion is my biggest personal success, no contest. That book tried to kill me in the writing of it but the whole thing was a labor of love and is absolutely a product of the time I wrote it. When I first started drafting Perihelion I had been on Tumblr for maybe a total of three months, I had just watched the entire series of The West Wing, and all of these political,social, and racial justice conversations were mixed up in my head.
I poured everything in Perihelion and I think it shows. It’s a book I’ve wanted to write for YEARS but never really had a plot suitable for it. It’s a big world, a vast world, and I wasn’t sure I knew how to encompass that. It’s 50k, which I consider large, but my writing is very spartan so 50k for me is 70 or 90k for someone else, making Periheilion a very dense book.
Maybe it suffers a little for that. I don’t think I have enough perspective on it yet, and maybe I never will.
4. If you could live in any of the worlds you’ve created, which one would it be?
Man, I’d be hard pressed to pick between Perihelion and Blood In The Water. Because on one hand THE FUTURE but on the other hand, PIRATES with WITCHES.
I’d probably settle on Perihelion just because I’m less likely to come down with scurvy or something.
5. If you could have lunch with any three fictional characters, who would you pick?
1: Shakespeare– it’s a pseudonym and the writings were likely the work of 3 or more people, so the character of Shakespeare is definitely a fictional construct that we’ve given a lot of weight in the current century. I’d like to have lunch with that fictional construct. I’d just let him talk while I listened.
2: Esha, from Perihelion, because she’s me but better and I want to hear about her life as a desk jockey in such a key position for the entire galaxy.
3: Corvo, from Dishonored, the video game– I’ve got this on my mind at the moment because they’ve announced Dishonored 2 and we’re getting more information about the plot. But suffice to say that Corvo, the bodyguard of the queen, somehow fathered the Heir to the throne and then all kinds of shit went down as a result. We know almost nothing about him and I love the crap out of the game and the story and the art and I want MORE.
6. What is your writing process like?
Kind of a mess, to be honest. For self publishing, I outline, draft, edit, send to betas, edit, send to proofreader, and then publish. If it’s going through a press I outline, draft, edit, send to the press, revise, send back to the press, revise a second time (usually proofing), and then it’s published. That’s the bare structure of it and those steps never really change. Sometimes the revise/edit cycle happens several times. On occasion I’ll write something for one press, it doesn’t work out and/or I get the rights back, and I’ll tear the thing apart for substantial revisions before releasing it a second time and/or submitting to a new press.
But the writing? The actual drafting, fingers on the keyboard part of it? Most of the heavy lifting happens during the outline phase. I used to be a panther; I got nothing done. I’m convinced these two statements are directly related. My outlines start like bullet points. I know Maria works at a bar. I know Tom is a local cop and Maria’s bar is his watering’ hole. At some point there’s a meet-cute. Later down here there’s a kidnapping. Tom’s series of work-events echos Maria’s personal life, yay parallel structure! And then.. maybe down here there’s a betrayal. And then happy ever after!
There’s a lot of gaps at that early point, and sometimes I’ll put actual white space on the page to visualize those gaps. I throw in ideas or thoughts or bits of dialogue as they come to me, massaging the outline until I have at least a paragraph of notes on each scene of the story. My draft isn’t going to be exactly what’s going on in the outline, but the more emotion and detail I can put the outline, the better off my draft is going to be from the start.
I draft as fast as humanly possible. I actually dislike the drafting process. It’s slow, I get lost in my head, distracted, I don’t want to be stuck doing this, it’s the Worst Thing Ever. So I write like mad. Several thousand words every day. The more detailed my outline is, the better I can visualize the scene. If I’ve done my outline right, I have notes for what I need to foreshadow and/or subtext. I’m pretty good at foreshadowing, but a lot of my subtext is accidental still. I need to practice that.
I don’t tend to revise my outline once I’ve gotten started. It’s happened before, when I realized the story I was telling was WAY too long for the wordcount I was allowed to use, but generally I can ballpark my final wordcount off the outline and be within 5k, so if I know how big the story needs to be, I can fix the problem in the outline phase before I start writing.
I assualt my drafts, there’s no other word for it. I don’t go back and re-read, I don’t edit as I go, I don’t worry about sentences not working–ok, let’s be real, I’m always worried about sentences not working, but I ignore that voice really hard and keep going anyway because I can’t fix it now, but I can fix it in edits. I trust myself to fix it in edits. I make edit notes as I write so that I won’t forget to fix it in edits but I Do What It Takes to only go forward. I’ll even make in line notes for things I need to look up or details I don’t remember because I can fix it in edits.
I love editing. Revising a story is my strength and I adore going through a manuscript from top to bottom and addressing all the points being brought up by my editor/betas. I love reworking the text to make it stronger. I love finding lines where I don’t know What The Hell I was thinking because This Way is obviously so much better. My outlines are solid, so my drafts are also solid, I’m usually not dragging chapters or scenes around thinking they look better there. I’m editing at the sentence level, sometimes addressing tone or motif. I’ll forget half-way through the book that I’m supposed to use ocean metaphors for this character so I’ll do a lot of that kind of tweaking.
Proofreading is fast for me. I trust my proofreaders and I can tell when I’ve made a style choice I want to keep. I do that kind of thing consiously, so on the rare day it pops up in my proofreading phase I can reject the change and move on. Proofreading I can turn around in a matter of hours.
Publishing is a lot of fun. There’s some stress of waiting and omg-is-it-really-ok-or-have-I-lost-my-mind? leading up to publication day. But I’ve only ever had good responses to my launch days and maybe that’ll settle down with more practice.
7. What does your writing space look like?
The couch! I live on the corner of the couch all day for hours and hours. It’s a little funny, since I have an office. It’s a standing desk with a treadmill and I adore it, but I don’t ever use it for writing. I will use it for editing, but generally it’s a gaming and art rig up there.
The couch is brilliant. I have a little side table to put my food, the sliding doors let in a lot of sun, and if I really need to I can rotate and take a nap!
I love to death a good space opera or high fantasy. I’ve only managed to write one of the two, but I have a genius high fantasy story in my head and one day that two will come to life. I grew up on scifi and fantasy. I’ve read almost none of the classics (Dune and Watership Down come to mind) but I’ve always been just utterly enthralled with big worlds and big stories. I’ve devoured whole series on a regular basis. Reading is a skill I have mastered. Give me three door-stopper tomes every day and I’ll crack through them. I’ve had to pack an extra bag of books on vacations just so I don’t run out of reading material. Let me tell you how awesome reading books on my phone is!
I fall in love with books on a regular basis and I don’t think I have one that stands above the others in particular. My latest love-affair is with Jack of Thorns by Amelia Faulkner, but I remember being profoundly moved by the Captive Prince trilogy by CS Pacat, Bloodraven by PL Nunn, and a long time ago, Redwall by Brian Jacques.
9. What was your favorite book as a child?
Harry Potter. I literally grew up on Harry Potter. Book 1 came out in the states in 1998, I was 11 years old and those books WERE my hogwarts letter. The final book came out 2007 when I was 19 or 20, so my entire formative years were defined by these books. They completely warped my idea of what a successful series could look like. My goals went from ‘I want a book on a shelf in B&N’ to ‘I want a theme park based on my book!’ There is absolutely no logic left. I’m a Slytherin. I will make it happen.
10. What advice would you give writers who are starting out on their journey?
Finish the thing! Finishing is not any harder than starting a thing, but count how many times you’ve finished something and count how many times you’ve started and I’ll bet you’ve had a lot more practice starting than you have finishing.
Finish a thing. Anything. It doesn’t need to be good, it needs to be done. You make it good in editing.
Finish the thing because your readers will thank you and you can’t go anywhere with your work without finishing!