Welcome to the first Spiritual Author Insight! Each week I will be interviewing a different Spiritual or Visionary Author to gain an insight into their life as a writer.
This week, I interviewed Sofie Couch, author of Angels Unawares.
What is your favourite spiritual quote?
The title of my first YA paranormal novel, ANGELS UNAWARES, is taken from my favorite quote: “Be not forgetful to show hospitality to strangers, for thereby some have entertained ANGELS UNAWARES.” -Hebrews. I think perhaps many of us have had similar experiences. Curses as a result of inhospitality seems to be a common theme in fiction. (“Sleeping Beauty” and “Beauty and the Beast”, for example.)
Who is your favourite Visionary/Spiritual Author?
I suppose the only spiritual/visionary author, (I’m assuming you mean non-fiction,) I’ve read is Dr. Wayne Dyer. But I almost think of his writing as more motivational.
Do you believe in Angels or Faeries?
Nope. I believe in an inter-connectedness – a sort of cosmic energy, but angels, heirarchy, etc? Nope. I consider my books to be total fiction. I think I most closely align with a pantheist belief system.
Have you ever had a spiritual experience, involving synchronicity, angels or Spirit etc?
Yep. I think “synchronicity” pretty well describes it. It was surreal, unnerving at first, and extraordinarily calming in the end. A stranger appeared on my doorstep looking for help with an over-heated car. This was on the same day my only sibling was dying. I was on pins and needles waiting for “the call” from the hospital. (I couldn’t be at the hospital, because I was taking care of my small children and my siblings two children.) Without knowing my history or that I was waiting on some inevitable bad news that day, this stranger launched into an exhaustive explanation about how it must have been “meant to be” – his breaking down in front of my house. He said, repeatedly, he felt my house was safe, it was a good house, with a good street number. When I asked about the whole street number thing, he explained that he didn’t put much stock in numerology, but his brother did and that his brother would have told him that this was a good place to break down. “This is a good house. This is a safe place.” Then he went on to explain how his brother had passed away about a year before, in the same hospital my brother was in, and that he died of the same disease my brother was dying from. He just kept repeating how he knew it was meant to be that he should find himself in front of my house on that day. We live in the country, off of the main road and we don’t get many random, unannounced visitors, but all of a sudden, I felt an immediate sense of calm. That’s when my phone rang and I had to excuse myself to answer it. You can guess why my phone was ringing. I was told my brother had just died. I said, “I know.”
Do you believe in life after death? Why?
Hmmm. Define “life”. Do I believe in a corporeal continuation? I’d have to say, no. But I definitely believe all that energy has to “go” somewhere.
Do you believe you came from a different realm in a past existence? That maybe you were an Angel, a Faerie or a Starperson?
The notion of angels, faeries, and starpeople are too wrapped up in tiny packages for me. And past/present – those too are too constraining for me. Every time I try to put it into words or time, it becomes too much like fiction for me, so I “keep it real” by not buttoning down anything too tightly.
Do you believe that your work is divinely inspired? That the words come from a higher source?
Heck no. A divine source would be a far better writer, get to the point in fewer than three books, and stick with a single point-of-view.
Where is your favourite place to write? What’s the view like from there?
At present, I seem to be waffling between the desk in my office and the kitchen table. Both places offer a view of the backyard and I think the deer and birds must feel as much at home as I do, because they seem to have no problem walking right up to the window and looking in. Setting is pretty important to me. Here. This is my office. (When I’m not writing YA paranormal or blogging about the same, I blog about my family’s antique shop and the renovations on our house. My office received an over-haul last spring.)
Do you schedule time to write or just when the inspiration takes you?
The thing is, I think I probably have A.D.D. I have to be involved in multiple projects at once, so if I waited for “inspiration to take me,” I’d be outside chasing lightening bugs or doodling in the sand instead of writing. That said, I’ve figured out a “routine” that kind of works for me. My “routine” begins with coffee, (began with coffee. I just gave it up which really stinks,) then I make a deal with myself that I only have to write for 20 minutes before I can check my e-mail. (Shhh. Don’t tell myself that the 20 minutes is a lie.) That twenty minutes turns into an hour at which point my timer goes off, (see? I really have to trick myself. I say 20 minutes, but set my timer for an hour,) and then I make myself get up and move around. Usually, I don’t want to stop, but I set a timer for 15 minutes, move around, (okay, okay, I eat something laden with chocolate,) then I set the timer for another hour and get back to it. Rinse and repeat. I got the 15 minute blocks of break time from www.FlyLady.com – a web-site devoted to helping people stay ahead of clutter in their homes. I nudged the process for writing and thus far, it seems to work. I am NOT an organized person. I fly by the seat of my pants, so having this trick really helps me to stay focused.
Writing is HARD! Most days it’s fun, but it’s a job and you have to do it every day. Like anything, it takes discipline and on those days that I don’t write, (and yes, that does happen,) I feel like a real slacker.
Have you ever fallen in love with a fictional character?
Oooh, I love this question. Definitely. That’s the power of books! The thing is, what is real? What is fiction? Someone had to create that character on the page, drawing on personal experience. Hmmm. This is sort of like the debate about when does a robot become sentient. Here’s an example of one rung down on that ladder. When my kids discovered the Sims games, we had fun creating these cartoony characters and assigning them personality attributes. Then I started story boarding with the Sims. I can create a character, dress them, proportion them, and assign them personality traits, THEN, I can manipulate their encounters with other Sims to make them fall in love with another Sim that is totally incompatible with them. Isn’t that just one step away from creating a “Sim” – an artificial intelligence, giving it the ability to adapt to its environment, then to learn from its past and build upon experience? When does that thing become sentient? Is it still a fictional character? Okay, I’m getting too deep for myself. What was the original question?
Are any of your characters based on yourself?
There are certainly traits in many of my characters that I took from myself. We’ve all heard, “write what you know.” Well, I know me. If I created a character that was totally me, however, it would be a very short, boring book.
On Indie Publishing
What motivates you to be an Indie Author? Is it the control? The possibility of making more money? Or just because you want to get your books out there as soon as possible?
I started out as a traditionally published author and it was a very unrewarding experience. I found myself stymied for years and one day I woke up and realized I was dreading going downstairs and cranking up my laptop to write. I was ready to give up writing, and I was very, very sad about losing something that I used to love. That’s when I asked myself, “why don’t you love it any more?” I started compiling pros and cons and what I found was not that I no longer loved writing. I hated writing – query letters. I put my printed pages of fictive writing on one side of my desk and the printed pages of query letters and rejections on the other side of my desk and what I found was that I was doing more writing of queries than I was writing what I loved. And I was no longer writing what I wanted, but what the industry demanded with regard to plot. And that was pivotal for me.
I made a list of the type of business I would like to run and it was very closely aligned with a democratic business model. I wanted to enjoy an equitable distribution of the profits based on the number of hours I was putting into the work and that just wasn’t happening with the traditional publishing model. I looked at the dollar figures for traditional publishing contracts. (Some of those figures can be found at www.brendahiatt.com under the tab, “Show Me The Money”.) Then I asked myself what my own writing was worth to me if I made not a single penny. I positively wept, because I had solid evidence that my writing was the reason three different people learned to read. You can’t put a dollar amount on that! So no matter how much, (or little,) I would eventually make, it was worth it. I made the leap and I’ve never regretted it.
If you could give another Indie Author just one piece of advice, what would it be?
Cool. I just blogged about this, but let me para-phrase, (and truncate,) here: Write your first book beginning to end. Put it aside. Write another book. Write five books total. Go back and edit book number one, (with your experience of having written five books,) and when you’ve done all you can do to it, pay for an experienced editor to edit your book. While you’re waiting on the edits, start re-writing book two. Rinse and repeat. . . again. Get a great cover! Publish that puppy. Start on the next book and re-writes. Yes, FIVE books – before you publish. That’s my “one” piece of advice.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
I’m definitely an early bird. Coffee, coffee, coffee. I love my coffee. Darn, I miss my coffee.
If you could go anywhere in the world, where would you go?
I lived in St. Andrews, Scotland for a little under a year nearly 25 years ago, so it would be fabulous to return. (What I wouldn’t give for one of those “coffee towers” from that bakery on the corner.) And I have always wanted to see France. I’m a country girl and always end up back here in Virginia, U.S., but I wouldn’t object to spending a month, or two, in the French countryside.
If you won several million pounds in the lottery, what would be the first thing you would do?
Ha ha! First, I’d have to figure out the current exchange rate between pounds and U.S. dollars. (I think I’d be making out WAY better than if I had won several million dollars.) And my next thought would be, “how the heck did I win the lottery? ‘You got to be in it to win it.'”
Thank you for your insights, Sofie, where can we find you and your books online?
I can most easily be found, (along with my books,) at www.sofiecouch.com. My books can also be found at Amazon.com.
ANGELS UNAWARES: Fall for Grace on Amazon.com
MOONSHINE: The Prequel on Amazon.com
and soon, my earliest novels in the sweet romance genre, will be available at Amazon.