Lou Aronica, former Publisher of Avon Books and Peter Miller, President of PMA Literary and Film Management, Inc., is the proud new owner of a new independent publishing house named The Story Plant. The house, dedicated to commercial fiction and author development, will publish its first two books, American Quest by Sienna Skyy and Capitol Reflections by Jonathan Javitt, in the fall of 2008.
We interviewed The Story Plant’s debut author, Sienna Skyy, author of American Quest, to find out more about her, her book, and this exciting new publishing house.
Thank you for this interview, Sienna. Can you tell us a little about yourself and how long you’ve been writing?
Thanks, I am delighted to be here. I’ve been writing for as long as I can remember, telling stories before I’d even learned to read. I had golden luck right from the start, as both my maternal and paternal grandmothers were expert storytellers. My sister and I were a rapt audience. When we were just toddlers, I started telling fairytales to whoever would listen, and she would draw pictures of the fairy worlds. To this day, I’m a writer and she’s an artist. We both live outside of Gotham City, which is itself a strange kind of fantasy world. I firmly believe it’s full of fairies and goblins and gnomes.
Do you write full-time?
Yes. I’m fortunate to make a living doing this, because I’d be doing it regardless.
Can you tell us a little about your latest book, American Quest?
American Quest is a tale about love, evil, magic, and the fate of humanity. It centers around Bruce and Gloria, a young couple with uncommon depths of passion for life, the things they believe in, and each other. But they fall prey to a dark force - there are hordes of demon-like creatures called Maculs who look for ways to defile human virtues. If the Maculs achieve a certain degree of success, they gain power over humanity. Enervata is one such Macul. He abducts Gloria and lays a trap of seduction and temptation, trying to turn her to his side and lay down her love for Bruce and all that she cherishes. If Enervata succeeds, he enslaves the entire human race; but if he fails, he will kill Gloria. Bruce learns that his only hope is to find the Four Pillars of Humanity. He embarks on a quest to find the Pillars, fight Enervata, and save his true love.
Do you ever get writer’s block and what do you do when that happens?
Yes, writer’s block has snuck up on me a time or two. I usually find that it occurs when I’m up against a problem that I might not even be aware of. Perhaps I don’t really have a fix on a character’s personality, or the sequence of events isn’t ringing true. To me, writer’s block can be a good indication that I need to step back and take a careful look at what’s going on. If I feel I’m having trouble because a character is too wooden and I don’t understand the motivations, I’ll play around with it a little.
For example, suppose I have a character named Simon Pepper, an insomniac truck driver whose wife is about to leave him, but he feels powerless to do much about it because he’s away in his truck all the time, eating out of cans and trying to pay off debts. And suppose Simon picks up an enchanted hitchhiker who makes a bargain with him, telling Simon he will grant him something he dearly wants, but he must give up something he dearly loves. I, as a writer, have to truly understand who Simon is in order to describe how he navigates through this. Is he a recovering alcoholic who was able to transfer his energies into bike riding in order to fight his addiction? Does he have an uncommon ability to twist balloons into elaborate animal sculptures? I need to know these kinds of details about Simon’s personality, even if they never show up in the story itself. A good way to figure it out is to list a few scenarios, and ask Simon how he’d handle them. Something like this: What would Simon do if he won the lottery? What would he do if he found out his wife was cheating on him? If I was standing next to him in an elevator and the power went out, how would he react? I’ve found that if I hang out with a character through five or so scenarios, I understand who I’m dealing with, and I’m able to move past the block.
Do you write mainly by day or by night?
My favorite time to write is in the morning. That’s when my mind feels fresh and clean. On a perfect day I get up, walk my dog, go for a run, and then shower and get to writing. Of course there have been many times, especially when writing American Quest, that I have kept the stream going straight until bedtime. As much as writer’s block can be a problem, barreling ahead too long when you’ve got momentum can be equally as tough on you. Too many days like that and you’re at risk for burn-out. I believe it’s important to take care and keep a steady pace that you can maintain every single day.
Can you tell us a little about the publisher who published your book? How have they been to work with?
This has been just an incredible experience, because I was lucky enough to have been selected to write the debut book for a brand new publishing company with a unique approach. It’s called The Story Plant, and the company is focused on developing new creative voices for books and film alike. My publisher, Lou Aronica, is a living legend in the business, and he’s coached me through every step of the process with encouragement and a drive for excellence. It’s like working in a boutique-style support system but with top-tier distribution and market reach.
What’s next for you?
I am delighted to be getting ready for the sequel to American Quest. The next book delves deeper into the strange world that parallels ours, where forces of good and evil exist in pure, magical forms. That world is ruled by fantastic and terrifying creatures. The new book is called Otherworld Quest, and you can look for it in 2009.
Thank you for this interview, Sienna! Do you have any final words you’d like to share with my readers?
Thank you! I’d like to encourage folks to keep creating, keep reading, and keep sharing what you’ve learned with the rest of us.