Author Interview: Isobel Starling

Author Interview: Isobel Starling

I am currently reading the MM romance, ‘As You Wish’, by Isobel Starling. This is number one in her series of ‘Shatterproof Bond’ novels. Thoroughly enjoying the read, I was delighted when Isobel offered to be the subject of an author interview. I shall be publishing more of these over time, but here are the questions I asked, and her replies.

Please tell us a bit about yourself and your background
I was born in Germany while my father was stationed there, and spent most of my childhood abroad moving around Germany every two years. During my teens, my family returned to the UK, but it felt completely alien to me. In my early twenties, my parents moved to Dublin, and I accompanied them. I studied for a degree in Fine Art, majoring in sculpture, and had a twenty-year career working as a freelance artist for public art commissions, festivals, and for theatre and film.

I moved to the UK during a long period of artist’s block, and I started writing in 2013. I love writing more than I did making art and so now I write M/M Romance, thrillers and comedies full-time.

Who, or what, first inspired you to write?
Author Robin Hobb first inspired me to write. I read her epic fantasy series “The Tawny Man” Trilogy and the ending just felt ‘wrong’ to me. I knew nothing of FanFiction, but when I left my review for the final book in the series, I saw one reviewer say that he wished he could find FanFic with an alternate ending. I thought it was an interesting idea. I had written poetry before, but I hadn’t written a story since doing my GCSE’s in 1988. So I sat at my laptop and, initially to please myself I wrote a fantasy story of what I’d wanted to happen with these characters I’d loved so much. The story became 30,000 words in the style of Robin Hobb. It came so easily, and I wanted to see what other fans thought. I uploaded the story to the fan fiction website ‘Archive of Our Own,’ where fans can share their stories, and was inundated with messages saying how much readers enjoyed it, and the writing. They thanked me for giving them the ending they’d dreamed of, which was very touching. I decided then to write a novel, and I haven’t looked back. I am just about to publish my thirteenth and fourteenth books over the next few months.

Where does your inspiration for a story come from?
I have a Gay Romance thriller series “Shatterproof Bond” which, once started, evolved on its own. The start of the story hinged on the catalyst effect of my characters Sam Aiken and Declan Ramsay meeting at a Scots wedding, and once these men found each other, their lives changed forever, and the real story began. Their world is contemporary, so many strands of things- political, societal that are going on at the moment are woven into the stories.

I also have an as yet unfinished fantasy series which is written in a completely different voice to that of my usual M/M work. The mainstream fantasy genre lacks diversity, and so the story has a whole host of diverse characters. There’s a lot of world building involved, layers of magic, past and present event story arcs, and individual character stories that weave into a bigger picture. Fantasy is a hard nut to crack, so I am reluctant to let the books out until I am completely happy with them.

What is your writing process?
I am part ‘pantser’ and part ‘planner.’ Initially, my stories come to me as scenes in dreams. I write them down and keep writing until the flow exhausts itself. Then I start planning and work out the jigsaw puzzle of the story. I like to research a lot and absorb as much information about the subject matter I am writing about. Then I write and also edit as I go, and it’s a back and forth process until the story is complete. It sounds messy, but it works for me!

Can you list your favourite books (by other authors) and say what attracts you to them?
My major book loves are fantasy:

I love nearly everything written by Terry Pratchett, his imagination, his humor, and the colorful casts of characters have given me so much joy over the years.

‘The Farseer Trilogy’ and ‘Tawny Man Trilogy’ by Robin Hobb, these books were quite an obsession. I adored the dynamic between bastard Prince Fitzchivalry Farseer and his best friend, known as ‘The Fool.’ Their love for one another really pulled on my heartstrings.

Other favorites are ‘The Name of the Wind’ By Patrick Rothfuss, and ‘The Lies of Locke Lamora’ by Scott Lynch, which are both exceptionally written, sharp, witty and mysterious.

What have been your experiences with publication, indie, self, traditional or otherwise?
I decided that the best strategy for me to gain a living wage from writing was to self-publish my English language work and then seek foreign translations with publishers. This strategy is currently working well for me. I am with Deadsoft Verlag in Germany, Juno Publications, and Reines- Beaux in France, and Quixote Edizioni in Italy for my translations. I have also moved into audiobooks, and this year I will have seven of my books in audio.

I would probably be termed as a hybrid author, as I self-publish and am with publishing houses. I enjoy Self-publishing. It’s a steep learning curve, but I don’t see it as any less worthy that being published by a traditional publisher. I can write what I love, get it to market quickly and then let the audience find it. There is no ‘wait a year for publication,’ which readers love because they know that when I have finished a book they only have to wait a month for it to be on sale. It keeps them engaged and is great for sales. I also like having control of all of my rights and being able to experiment with pricing and book covers.

The most difficult part of being an author is marketing. It doesn’t matter if you are with a publisher or self-publishing, we all have to jump into marketing these days. I wish I had a marketing team who would do it for me, as its time consuming, but its part of the business.

What are you working on now and what’s coming out next?
I am currently finishing a contemporary M/M Romance called “Sweet Thing,” which will be released in September. It has already been signed for translation into French by the publisher Reines-Beaux, and will be published by them in 2018. Then I am back to working on book #5 in the ‘Shatterproof Bond’ series, titled “Powder Burns.” I also have a Christmas short story that will be published in November. American readers of Gay Romance are very keen on their holiday stories and love a happy seasonal ending!
And back to me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I am totally absorbed in ‘As You Wish’ and am looking forward to the others in the series. If you want to follow Isobel and find out more about her books, here are the links you need.

And back to me: Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions. I am totally absorbed in ‘As You Wish’ and am looking forward to the others in the series. If you want to follow Isobel and find out more about her books, here are the links you need.

Isobel Starling:  Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Amazon

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