I wrote a dystopian romance book about a forbidden love between a young activist and a government employee for a corrupt bureau, set in a world where the government must control overpopulation by deciding who lives and who dies.
Have you always wanted to be a writer?
Yes. When I was five, I wrote a terrible short story about a star that watched over the earth and made everyone good. When I was seven, I wrote an equally terrible story for a second-grade assignment about an evil witch that became good; and embarrassingly enough, it ended up in the newspaper. I knew that I loved telling stories. But as I grew into adulthood, I learned that I also loved marketing and helping other people tell their stories. That’s when I decided to get into the publishing industry.
Tell us about your book, and the story behind writing it.
It’s a crazy rollercoaster that spans over several years. I had a rough upbringing, and I was living on my own by the time I was 17. I got by for a few years through couch surfing; but at 19, I found myself living in my car. The area that I was living in was going through a population growth spurt, so it was hard to find work and a place to live. To make matters even more interesting, Occupy Chicago was happening. The Divinity Bureauwas the product of protests, personal angst, and a love for dystopian fiction.
What’s the biggest challenge about being a writer?
For me, writing required a lot of personal reflection. I think my best writing occurred in the darkest moments of my life. Nowadays, I don’t always have time to let myself fall apart like that. Yet when I do, it’s always very rewarding because it gives me a chance to build myself back up to the person that I want to be. Getting it out on paper is also very rewarding, as it gives you a chance to take readers the experiences that they wouldn’t have had otherwise.
Do you have a specific writing space?
I do 95% of my writing in my apartment, which is a 250-square foot studio apartment in downtown Portland. It’s so small that I don’t even have a full fridge, just a mini fridge! But the view of the city is amazing and it helps keep me centered.
What’s your number one piece of writing advice?
I think the biggest thing is to be authentic. If you’re omitting something or changing something because you’re worried it might offend someone, they’re probably not your target audience anyways.
What books do you currently have on your bedside table?Thinking, Fast and Slow by Daniel Kahneman
Who have been your biggest writing influences and why?
J.K. Rowling. She was the first author that I started following – and I started following her career by the time I was ten! I admired how authentic she was and how she didn’t hold back who she was. She also didn’t hold back telling people where she got her inspiration. Knowing that she got the idea for Harry Potter on a train just made it so much more real for me.
How do you market your writing?
I think the most important thing is to identify your niche. If you try to market to everyone, you’re going to appeal to no one. Once you’ve identified your niche, the rest should fall into place. I reach out to a lot of blogs, but I try not to think about it as marketing. Chances are, the person on the other side loves books and reading just as much as I do!
Lastly, something fun. What’s something our readers might not know about you?
I have three tattoos, including a chest tattoo that I sometimes regret. The chest tattoo is a quote from Doctor Who that says, “900 years of time and space, and I’ve never met anyone that wasn’t important.” I regretted it for years until I met Matt Smith and managed to get a photo with him! Now, it’s a great conversation piece.
By Tessa Clare
Roman Irvine is a disgruntled IT Technician for the Divinity Bureau, a government agency that uses random selection to decide who lives and who dies. In a world where overpopulation has lead to pollution, a crippled economy, and a world in crisis, he’s accepted the bureau’s activities as a necessity… until he meets April McIntyre.
April has every reason to be suspicious of Roman. He works for the Divinity Bureau, which sent her father to an early grave. But he’s also sweet and loyal, and unbeknownst to her, he saved her life. As Roman and April fall deeper in love, the deeper they’re thrust into the politics of deciding who lives and who dies. Someone wants April dead. And the bureau’s process of random selection may not be so random after all…