She came into the world screaming and she left it much the same way. A hole of unimaginable force and pressure had opened up in the fabric of reality, swallowing her as the whale swallowed Jonah. He stood on the edge of never, staring hard at the bleak black void. Other scientists had come and gone. The government too. All had shaken their heads and left him standing there, no hope in their eyes or their hearts. She was gone, they said. Gone to some other place and some other when. It was his fault. His relentless pursuit of the truth about this chasm of nothingness that had suddenly appeared on the outskirts of a lonely desert town had led them both to this inevitable end.- AR Declerk from her work in progress, Red Shift.
Among the Indie and small press authors that I follow, one AR Declerck stands out as one of those that never fits into a box..The excerpt above is from her latest work, Red Shift, which she intends to shop out to a small press when it’s finished. Her SFR Bound to You, is quirky and paranormal and scifi all at the same time. There’s tech, ghosts, and the best, most real romance you’ll have read in a long time. Her steampunk is elegantly plotted and beautifully drawn into this picture book fantasy world where science and magic blur together. She’s an author that will break your heart and feed your mind, but won’t be found in a brick and mortar store very often
And, she’s an example of what we miss when we discount the Indie pubs.
It’s funny because Indie music is cool, taking it’s roots right from the coffee house scene of the nineties. We revere those albums that are indie. It’s become rather more of a recommendation than a stigma. Books haven’t had that transition yet into the realm of the cool.
I sat down with Ms. Declerck to get her take on this wild work in progress and some of her other works, and her feelings on the small press world.
Me: Would you say as an author you’re pretty aware of the traditional formula for books that are commercially lauded? Do you feel the pressure to conform to that standard in order to “go mainstream”?
I am very aware of the formula for books (in the romance market, especially) that are currently commercially lauded. Walking through the bookstore I see about 90% of the books that stick to the “this will sell” recipe. As a reader, I could name hundreds of books by very well-received authors that have nearly the same plot device or over-used tropes. The only things that are varied are the character names and occasionally the sub-genre. Some of these books are by my own favorite authors and I have bought and paid for them myself. BUT—I have also given up on a lot of authors I previously loved, because every book I picked up became a Mad Libs project of “insert hero name here”, “insert adverb describing her eyes here”. I began to worry that authors were so afraid to write the REAL story because it wouldn’t sell.
Me: When you sit down to write what is it you most want to convey in your work?
The most important thing to me when I write a book is authenticity. Even in the most outrageous of settings I want my readers to be really, truly emotionally devastated by my words. Drawn into the world with the characters they love, or love to hate, and riding along with them through every chase, punch, fight and near-death experience until the bitter end. Some day I will write a novel that every single reader will HATE me for—and they will read it over and over again because it couldn’t have ended any other way.
Me: Do you consider yourself an artist?
When I think of myself I don’t think of an artist. I think writers are craftsmen. We don’t sit down and create something beautiful the first time, like a talented painter. We have to sharpen and hone our skills. We have thousands of half-finished pieces that never see the light of day before we can let anyone see
There was so much to talk about we just ran out of time, but Declerck left me with one thought that stuck. It’s the thought that, I believe, defines Indie writers. The need to choose writing independence over the almighty dollar. They do this in the hope that they can make enough to justify the time they put in.
I gave up the idea of a cookie-cutter trope-filled romance and decided to write the stories I love instead. My greatest hope is that readers will find my stories, fall in love with my stories (and me) and tell all their friends. Who then tell their friends. And sometime down the road, I build a readership that doesn’t care (nay APPLAUDS) my reckless disregard for all those supposed “writing rules”.