Text transcript of my interview feature with Cathy Stucker as she discusses with me on issues of interest. Cathy Stucker is a literary blogger who keeps a lookout for emerging authors and literary issues.
*Tell us something about yourself.
I am from the island of Penang, Malaysia. It is a former British colony. In my case I found that the more effort I put into the language the easier it became for me to master it. I also discovered a knack for writing in the process. Sometimes it’s just like music or art or even cooking. The language chose me as a medium and I embraced it!
How did you know you wanted to be a writer? How did you get started?
I’ve been working at my writing skills ever since my teenage years. I studied English Literature and excelled in it while at school. The idea of becoming a writer started around the same time. I thought to myself, “Some day those words will be mine not some one else’s on the pages.”
Why did you choose to release under the name Dominae Primus?
It’s like a brand that I intend to build up. Also it’s my manner of separating my creative side from my mundane side.
If I were to release under my full name, readers might have preconceived notions about what I write and that is something that I prefer to avoid. As Dominae Primus I stay clear from those search-for-identity, clash-of-cultures, archaic-scandalous-traditions writer.
*What is your most recent book? Tell us a bit about it.
‘Absolutely Done’ is my most recent book although !Attention! was released a little after. ‘Absolutely Done’ is my first full length work incorporating action, comedy, mythology and spirituality. It is propelled by the themes of good, evil and retribution with some imagined settings.
The prequel to ‘Absolutely Done’ is ‘Second Chances’ a mock fairy tale. It’s light compared to the harder action sequences in ‘Absolutely Done’.
What inspired you to write this book?
In ‘Absolutely Done’, I wanted to portray Death as a fallible character, not the all powerful Grim Reaper. He also needs a break from the job every now and then. So he gets some help from Absolute, the unconventional Angel and his sidekick, Trench Coate. I wanted a story with some comical aspects rather than heavy hard core action all the time. Then you also have Lady Hope who packs a punch when in a fight. We make fun of mythology and turn their attributes to our favour when formulating the fantastical aspects of the story. Action takes place in our world, in fantastical landscapes, reaching its peak in the outer regions of the Underworld.
How did you choose titles for your books?
Sometimes it’s the name of the setting as in ‘Granary County’, a satire of the Western genre. At times it’s a play of the main character’s name such as ‘Absolutely Done’. The title may also be the main theme such the mock fairy tale ‘Second Chances’ or a play of the main theme in the humorous action release ‘!Attention!’. It’s more straight forward in ‘Daily Doses and Vital Verses’ since it expresses the contents of both poetry and thoughts written in prose.
What obstacles did you encounter in getting your books published? How did you overcome them?
Like all writers I encountered obstacles almost every step of the way. I’ve had the chance of being considered by notable literary agencies and publishers but in order for these agencies to take you in, you have to convince an entire committee, not just several members of the committee. I find that very unfair. I cannot be expected to change myself just to fit the requirements of a committee who might have set ideas about how and what a writer should write. There’s no pleasing every one.
Also the catch 22 of literary agent and publisher prior to getting published is a nuisance.
I got to know my ebook enabler and retailer when I contacted Research in Motion, the makers of Blackberry which in turn recommended them. I believe in getting my works out there now rather than wait indefinitely for some agency to pick you out. If there’s any agency or publisher out there they’ll know me after I have released my works.
Do you have any writing rituals?
I wouldn’t call it a ritual. It’s more of a discipline. Making notes, jotting down snatches of conversation, drafting sequences and then writing them down when I have adequate material. It all seems disjointed at first, but more will come if one worked at it. It’s a little puzzle that has to be constructed one bit at a time.
How do you come up with the names for your characters?
I try to frame them in humorous terms, deliberately give them a plain name or have some reference in their name to their attributes. It takes some thought to come up with names.
Did you learn anything from writing and publishing your books?
You have to be satisfied with the final draft. You have to trust the people who handle the digital format customisation for ebook releases.
I know how to apply for a publisher’s licence, how to obtain a unique ISBN for each book and how to have the same information captured for retail channels.
Creatively I have control but once it’s out there, it’s up to the market forces, support from readers, reviewers and media channels to spread the word.
If you were doing it all over again, what would you do differently?
Less emphasis on short stories. I would not have signed up with my first literary agent who was a fraud. It happened before we had Internet access.
What types of books do you like to read? Who are your favorite authors? Why?
I’m a very eclectic reader so I don’t normally follow someone unless they’re constantly appealing to my taste and ideals. My current picks date back some years.
I also enjoy action comics as in war themed illustrated comics from the UK. I’ve read those since I was a child. Seeing a girl reading those raises eyebrows. Most will think it’s a passing fad. But seeing a woman reading those shatters stereotypes.
Another feature I enjoy is spiritual fiction such as selected works by Kahlil Gibran, Paulo Coelho and Jostein Gaarder.
Are you working on your next book? What can you tell us about it?
I am collecting and working on material for two divergent books based on a common thread. They may not have the same cast always but there is always a constant character who emerges in the stories. Readers will find a secret world beneath normal perceived reality. Some elements may be fantastical, but the stories that develop, the portrayal of aspects of human behaviour, occasionally controversial themes explored make them believable. Some of the oft repeated values and ideals that civilised society preaches are fallible. You have to make your own way in this world, among the moral, immoral and the spaces between those extremes.
*What is the best advice you could give other writers about writing or publishing?
Keep writing and get exposure. Don’t always follow conventional publishing paths because that may take forever and you don’t have forever! Don’t ever forget that ambition because without it there will be no drive.
Who is the perfect reader for your book?
People who enjoy wit, action, comedy with some spirituality and philosophy in the mix. Ages 12 and above!
Where can readers learn more about you and your books?
My ebooks are available for an international audience through kobobooks.com
For more on my released works, visit my weblog at http://dominaeprimus.blogspot.com/