There’s always some risk when taking a chance on a new author. You become so familiar with other established voices and worlds, their unique styles, that you aren’t sure what you’ll find once you open a cover (or flip the digital page in your eReader of choice) with someone’s name you don’t recognize. But if you don’t take that chance, then you might miss out on discovering an exciting new voice or connecting with a character you never knew before that author introduced you to them. That author could be your new favorite. A name you buy instantly as soon as you hear about their latest upcoming release.
If you don’t take that chance, then you’ll never know. I’m always on the lookout for new voices in YA and NA, whether they’re published traditionally or indie authors.
And authors are just as anxious about you reading our books. It’s kind of like having this play on a loop in the background while we foist our newest creations on the unsuspecting public:
It’s terrifying to let your hard work go into the world, out of your hands and into a stranger’s. As an author, you’re constantly torn between complicated feelings of joy and being mortified that your words are out there for anyone to see. That your book now exists as a real, tangible thing, and not just a vague collection of ideas and scraps of dialogue that once took up space in your head. Will they like it? Will they hate it? Are the characters relatable enough? Is there a plot hole I missed? The worries never end no matter how long the book’s been floating out into the unknown, away from your inner circle.
The author is taking a risk, too. It takes bravery and vulnerability to set your stories free—stories of your heart that you’ve fallen in love with long before readers have, that you’ve spent months or years poring over to get just right. We have to somehow summon that courage, smother the self-doubt, and believe that we haven’t just written the story for ourselves. (Even though we absolutely do that first.) Every story will find people who love it as much as the person who wrote it. Someone will pick up that book because it spoke to them or it helped them because they needed an escape. Maybe it made them laugh, cry, or they saw something of themselves in those characters.
It might take some time for that to happen, to build trust between the new author and their reluctant new readers. But every new adventure starts with a little risk. Especially the fictional ones.
Although I’ve been writing on and off since I was about ten years old, and publishing short stories for the past couple of years, my urban fantasy Baptism of Fire is my debut novel. This is the first time I have a completed, original full-length story that’s out in the wild, so to speak, beyond those who’ve been familiar with my work through other means like fanfiction. It’s scary as hell, and also the most rewarding thing I’ve done. I’m still learning about publishing and my own writing process and what works for me. I think with every book I write and publish I’ll always be learning something new and honing my craft. As with anything else, writing takes practice. I think it’s important to keep an open mind and let each draft teach you how to be a better writer than you were while working on the last story.
Since I’m a debut author, I can safely assume that most people reading this post won’t be familiar with my work. So, you’re probably wondering…what can you expect when picking up one of my books?
I write New Adult and Young Adult genre fiction—typically urban fantasy, paranormal romance, and historical fantasy, though I also love to dabble in science fiction/fantasy or horror. Blending across genres is one of my favorite things, though whenever I stick to a certain genre I try to follow what’s expected of it while offering something new.
My stories are very detail-oriented and description heavy, but not over-the-top. I just really enjoy writing lush descriptions and sensory details. Whenever I’m building a world, I like to make sure it feels lived in, alluding to more beyond the scope of my characters. If you like to be dropped into a world where you can experience everything right there with the protagonists, then I’ve got you covered!
I often create atmospheric, cinematic visuals, interesting settings, and explore dark themes. (But never anything explicit; I stay far away from using sexual assault, rape, or anything like that as plot devices.) A lot of my character arcs involve emotional conflict. I play around with angsty plots and protagonists dealing with their own demons (outside of the paranormal ones). Angst is my specialty, of sorts, but I don’t believe in killing characters for shock value or before they’re able to earn their redemption in a realistic way. Even if things look bleak—I do put my characters through a lot—it’s important to me that the payoff is worth the emotional or physical toll it takes to get there. For both the characters and the readers.
I love characters with secrets, characters who drop a metaphorical bomb in the middle of the plot (or…Hellfire), characters who are morally gray or straddle the line between monster and human. And monsters who revel in the fact that they’re monstrous, or monsters who hate what they’ve become. I also try to have inclusive ensembles of characters across different ethnicities, races, and sexual orientations. LGBTQIA+ rep, especially asexual representation, is super important to me so I write a lot of ace protagonists. In Baptism of Fire, my protagonist Nix is biromantic asexual. It’s just one facet of her character, and while it’s shaped how she experiences attraction, it’s not the central focus of her story. But it’s important to normalize characters like her simply existing in genre fiction.
On a lighter note, I enjoy writing sarcastic banter between found family ensemble casts, picking apart complicated family or sibling relationships, slow burn romance with a side of mutual pining, and soft boy action hero types. I could probably go on and on about story tropes and AO3 style tags for my current works in progress, but maybe I’ll save that for a different blog post. I’m passionate about using good story tropes, and I think the recent trend of adding tags popularized in fanfiction writing is so helpful, not just for authors, but for their potential audience.
Aside from my debut urban fantasy series, I’m working on a paranormal romance trilogy at the moment. And I can’t wait to share these stories with all of you. I hope you’ll take a chance on a new author, especially from our wonderful, talented community of indie authors. It’s also #ReviewMay, so if you did read a book from an indie author—or any author, really—please consider leaving a review. Your words could really help a book reach other readers who might be willing to take a risk and enjoy a story from a new name.