Free Author Interview: Astra Crompton

Author Name: Astra Crompton

Where can we find your book, First Born?  It is available on CreateSpace, here: https://www.createspace.com/3672901
It can also be found on Amazon.com, here: http://www.amazon.com/First-Born-Astra-Crompton/dp/1466236523/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1317274704&sr=1-1 (Here you can read through a few pages in preview so that you can get a taste of my writing style!)
And if you want it signed, if can be purchased directly from me at various conventions, or through my website, here: http://www.astracrompton.com/gallery/forsale.html

How much does it cost?  $15.00 is my listing price, though some distributors may fluctuate that as their margin requires.
Tell us a little about your book.  “First Born” is a work of inspired fantasy set on an original foreign world complete with races, culture, language, religion and magic. It follows the life of a child intended to be sacrificed, who instead survives and lives under a Curse that cannot be shaken. A tale of self-discovery, love, unwavering hope and faith, it is sure to touch hearts and fascinate minds. As a side-note, I completed all aspects of this book myself, including the world design and writing, the cover design and execution, the illustrations throughout the book, the translations, the recipe offered in its end pages, even the map!
 
Do you have any upcoming projects?  Indeed! This book was actually an unexpected child. I have some 15 other novels in various states of planning, as well as two currently running graphic novels, a series of short stories, (not counting my non-written endeavors). The next creations to look for are the first print volume of Angel Down, one of my graphic novels and Dreamscapes, my collection of autobiographical dreamings as a collection of short stories.
What has your journey as a writer been like?  It has been a swift and steadily improving adventure! I began to write novels at the age of 15, and soon after I began, I stumbled across the fantasy setting, Ul-Zaorith, that would become the stage for my series of novels. I spent some 10 years developing the world, learning about the alien peoples that lived there, the languages they spoke, the scripts they wrote, their history, heroes, magics and gods. It has been a fascination that has greatly inspired me through song, cooking, sewing and art. I hope to continue offering its tales to the world, and hope to kindle love for it in others.
Why did you choose to self publish?  I initially harbored dreams of being discovered and scooped up by some great publishing house, becoming a best seller, being able to write full-time… And while the dreams of success and support from my craft have not changed, I am now rather sold on self-publishing. The level of detail, depth and design that I require from my works is hard to pursue when a big publisher wants just ‘words that will sell and that’s it’. Choosing the correct fonts, insetting self-created illustrations, including supplementary material, having a say in my cover design – all these reasons spurred me to forgo the big publishing houses and simply complete the work myself. Having my finished book in my hands, being able to flip through my pages and see my vision made real has been so rewarding.
Would you do it again?  I intend to! In fact, I have another manuscript going through the preparation phases now!
Please share some advice to help future authors.  Don’t be afraid to improve your work. There are a lot of little things that can take your manuscript from being a lack-lustre pet project to being a professional book – be patient and allow all of these things to be pursued and polished. Don’t book events until you have the perfect book right there in your hands. Get as many people as possible to read the drafts and proofs before you okay the final product – guaranteed they will catch something you’ve overlooked. Love your project, and don’t be afraid to show it, but be humble and understand that not everyone will love your work as much as you do. Don’t get discouraged. A wise man once said: success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm. 
 
Who is your favourite author and why?  I have a few favourites, simply because they have each inspired me. In chronological order of discovery:
Michael Moorcock. The veritable king of sci-fi and fantasy, he is arguably the man who invented the multiverse and who pioneered modern aspects of epic fantasy. His vision for fantastic vistas, races and cultures so mirrored what I myself was creating, that reading his works (Hawkmoon and Corum especially) I for the first time thought, ‘I can do this!’ 
Guy Gavriel Kay. A sensual and poignant writer whose characters were the sorts of people that moved a reader, caused them to feel love or loss, and to weep at the trials that befell them. His elegant blendings of Earth-inspired settings were vivid enough to lift the imagination but grounded enough to believe it history. 
Joe Abercrombie. Reading his work has been perhaps the most influential from taking my tales from Tolkein-esque doldrums to swift and exciting reading. He took every author convention and broke it – and in doing so taught me to have no fear in being true to the story as opposed to convention. His dialogue is whip-sharp, his characters gritty, his action deliciously real. Seeing how artfully a tale could be wrought enabled me to perceive the otherwise overlooked aspects of a story. 
 
A few others I would recommend: Douglas Adams, for his humour, tongue-in-cheek commentary and glib narration; Neil Gaiman, for his brilliant creations, humour blended with macabre and fantastical scenes; R. Scott Bakker, for his deeply complex settings, intricate plots and Machiavellian characters; Alexandre Dumas, a master of intrigue, romance and adventure; Anne Rice, for sensual, sumptuous characters, easy writing and occult themes.   
 
What was the process you used to write your manuscript?  My method is the same for every one of my writing projects:
I begin with a focal character – the person I wish to follow. I make notes on the key points in the person’s life, then I widen my scope to take in their city, country and world at that time to understand where things stood on a political, or magical, or militaristic level to better understand the causes for and repercussions of their actions and choices. Inevitably these critical points involve others, and I investigate these others, learning about them and through them about the main character(s).

I continue this pattern until I have far more information than I’ll actually use in the tale. Then I start at the beginning – usually starting with a title – and I begin to write. I always write chronologically, because my writing always ends up looping back and connecting with things that preceded, tying everything together more neatly than I could ever plan intentionally. I loop through every key plot point like stringing beads with my words until I finish the first draft. Throughout this process I pause during tirades and re-read what I’ve written, cleaning it up as I go. When the manuscript is fully written, I read the whole thing through from the beginning, rewriting and streamlining, re-ordering sentence structure and correcting inconsistencies as I go.
During this stage, I often have many notebooks and files to keep track of time, seasons, ages, movement of other characters in the background, language translations etc. When this combing is done through the whole, I read it through again to make sure everything is accurate and pertinent. Then I go through it with my husband and pick it apart in the editing process. From beginning to end, each book goes through about 6 drafts to reach a finished state. Then comes the illustrations and formatting – a whole new barrel of laughs!

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