- A creator of universes, a destroyer of worlds, a leader of fanatics, a killer of men, a healer, a composer, a magician… A WRITER.
Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
AJ/Angela Super earned two Bachelors’ degrees from the University of Idaho in the Creative Writing and Theater programs. She has been an author since she was old enough to write (and illustrate) a stapled-together ABC book, which she still has packed away in a box of childhood memorabilia. Currently, she lives in Kansas with her husband who is a High School Graphic Arts Teacher and fuzz-brained kittiots. She loves to make costumes, cosplay, and occasionally she plays D&D or MTG with teacher-friends during summer vacation.
Angela is inspired by Ursula K. LeGuin’s The Dispossessed and her two feisty grandmas, and she devours sci-fi and fantasy in every medium. She is an active member of the Twitter writing community, and also works with several amazing writing groups, frequently getting to read and critique wonderful unpublished work.
AJ, thanks for agreeing to be here today. Most interviews start off with the boring stuff, but I know what readers REALLY want to know.
If you could have any pet (real/fantasy/no-allergies/no worries about feeding it) what would it be?
Kitties. Give me ALL the kitties! I am a fan of small cats, big cats, spotted cats, striped cats, voids, gold cats, danger-floofs, fast cats, ALL the cats. I love their personalities, their independence, their aloofness. I love the fact that even the small ones can shred a human pretty good. They’re very resourceful, and while house cats especially are child-like in their dependence, very smart. But overall, cats have this JOY about them… They play; they’re curious. And domesticated cats LOVE. They’re affectionate. I would dare say that even wild cats are affectionate within their prides. I would love one day to have a free-roaming rescue in a rural area for domesticated cats.
Having recently gotten a new cat of my own, I totally get that!
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write science fiction and space opera. I started, like many of my peers, by writing a very bad Star Wars fanfic in college. It has since been cannibalized into another book and completely changed in everything but action and concept. I also tried to write this terrible pre-dystopian THING THAT SHALL NOT BE NAMED and has been permanently trunked around the same time. I just wasn’t ready back then.
Then around 2014 I decided I was going to dedicate my time to writing. I had been having some mental health issues that had just been determined to be a disability so I couldn’t effectively work a typical 9-to-5 job anymore, and even part-time jobs were becoming difficult to handle, so I needed something to fill my time that I could “schedule” my day around. Disciplined time has always been helpful for me, and I LOVE writing, but I hadn’t had time to do it since college. And that’s how I started my first disaster of a book that I actually finished. I love that book. I’m going to de-trunk it and edit it one day when I have the chops. It was a complicated mess of a book and I want it to be a successful one. I didn’t have the ability to write it when I did, and maybe down the road I will.
In any case, two books after that came Erebus Dawning, and I knew it wouldn’t be for agents so I did a quick wide agent query that went nowhere and started querying publishers. The rest is another exciting story…
“They” say you have to write a lot of bad words til you can get to the good words. It sounds like that was more literal than one might hope for you, but I’m glad you’re to the publishing stage!
What do you like to read?
Right now… I read a lot of debut authors. However, that isn’t what I like to read for relaxation. One of my favorite authors right now is Michael Mammay. I’m on his third book Colonyside. It’s a space opera with a little bit of a military bent (but not really); it’s actually super hard to quantify because of the slight military flavor it has. I love it! It’s so character driven with a plot that keeps you on your toes. One of the debuts that I’m really into right now though is Katherine Forrister. Her book Lodestone is a Beauty and the Beast retelling with a way more feminist take.
I’ve got a lot of debut authors on my to-read pile, I’m hoping to get to them soon.
What’s one bit of writing advice you’d like to share?
This is querying advice, and I’m gonna get into a “controversial” space about this. I volunteer for a query critique forum and no two of us really agree on this, because we were all taught differently, or told by “professionals” differently at one point or another.
My “good” advice, such as it is, is to put your metadata at the top of your query with your personalization to the agent. The reason being, there are so many of us out there who “accidentally” query the wrong agent. This lets the agent know right away if the book is in their representation purview… as well as whether or not you are over/under word count, know your market with your comps, and have any idea what the agent is looking for or can connect with them within the personalization. I think putting metadata at the bottom of the query makes agents (and publishers) have to skim for pertinent information that they need up front. It saves them time and effort, and maybe even a little heartache if they kinda like a concept but don’t rep it or find out it’s 30k too short/long. Putting it at the bottom, in my opinion, is kinda like obscuring the facts of your book so you can get some kind of leg up. I think honesty, and acting honestly in ALL things, is the best way to operate… Especially in this business where it’s so hard to get transparency… But I find that if you have a transparent and honest attitude, not only do people appreciate it, but they also reflect it back to you. And it starts with the query, how you format it, and how you connect with the agent you are querying.
Obviously, if they ask for the stats first, I’d put it there. But, otherwise? I completely disagree. It’s all on the same page and they can glance at the end if they really want it. You should be doing your research and only querying stories in the desired genres to the agent. Your story should sell itself and then the stats paragraph reinforce that. I find that people with amazing comps are more likely to do that, or if you’re personalizing your query letters. But. 90% of personalization is 5 minutes worth of research style pandering: “I’m querying you because I saw on your #mswl you’re looking for a story in this genre.” Then again, I always think the story should come before all else. In publishing, no 2 agents agree on what their perfect query letter looks like, and no 2 mean the same thing when they talk terms.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
Erebus Dawning: A Space Opera Adventure (Seven Stars Saga Book 1)
Those who can destroy a world can control the universe.
Everyone wants the Star of Erebus. Space-pirate Nyx Marcus is no exception. With it, she can prove to her father that she is worthy of his legacy.
But she’s come up empty-handed aboard the space-ship Thanatos and now Malcam, her father’s First Officer, is mutinying. As Nyx flees with a loyal skeleton crew, she discovers that the planet-killing weapon, named after one of the seven gods, is more than what it seems.
Erebus isn’t a simple weapon. It’s an ancient AI and a technological god.
With the oppressive Queen of the Protectorate and new pirate captain Malcam searching for the Thanatos and Erebus, the AI god has more surprises for Nyx. Waking dormant AI code in Nyx’s blood, Erebus reveals they are family and Nyx is the head of the Seven Stars pantheon. Now Nyx must learn to control her power without sacrificing her own humanity or give her enemies a new way to oppress the known universe and lose the family she holds dear.
A Star Reborn: A Space Opera Adventure (Seven Stars Saga Book 2)
The strong rise.
AI/human hybrid Nyx Marcus must find her sisters, taken by the new Protectorate. She’ll stop at nothing to protect her family. She’ll even use her powers to their fullest… and deadliest.
Discovering more AI family members, Nyx navigates building an army to rescue her sisters. But her growing family isn’t as simple as it seems.
When Nyx discovers a new rival is pulling the Protectorate’s strings, she finds she has nothing to lose. With a burgeoning cult following her, and a clone army in the wings, Nyx has the power to wage another AI War. She must choose to use her power to protect her family, or to burn it all down for revenge.