- bestselling speculative fiction author Raven Oak is a writer first, gamer second, and everything else falls somewhere in the middle
Readers, let’s give a good, hearty welcome to this week’s guest!
Multi-international award-winning speculative fiction author Raven Oak is best known for Amaskan’s Blood (2016 Ozma Fantasy Award Winner, Epic Awards Finalist, & Reader’s Choice Award Winner), Amaskan’s War (2018 UK Wishing Award YA Finalist), and Class-M Exile. She also has many published short stories in anthologies and magazines. She’s even published on the moon! Raven spent most of her K-12 education doodling stories and 500 page monstrosities that are forever locked away in a filing cabinet.
Besides being a writer and artist, she’s a geeky, disabled ENBY who enjoys getting her game on. She lives in the Seattle area with her husband, and their three kitties who enjoy lounging across the keyboard when writing deadlines approach. Her hair color changes as often as her bio does.
Raven, 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?
A dragon. I’ve been obsessed with dragons since I was a wee lil’ one. The idea of being able to fly places, have someone to protect me or do battle at my side (particularly to flame racist and prejudicial folks!), or just curl up with for a nap—wow. I’m so there.
I would keep my kitties, so the dragon and cats would have to get along. I don’t see that being a problem as I suspect they share more likes than differences. I also suspect my partner and I would need a bigger bed. The cats already crowd us off our king size bed, but toss a dragon in the mix?
An excellent choice, if I do say so, myself.
What do you write? And how did you get started?
I write speculative fiction aka sci-fi, fantasy, and a touch of horror. Most of my books and stories end up a bit cross-genre as I love to toss in mystery or historical fiction into the spec fic world.
I’ve always written. My first publication was actually a children’s book I wrote and illustrated that was published as part of a university study on children’s literacy. Whenever I got into trouble, I made up a story to go along with it and explain what “really happened” and why it “wasn’t my fault.” Some people call those lies but in my brain, they were stories. Adventures to entertain me and keep me from thinking too hard about the environment I grew up in.
When I was twelve, I discovered the majority of SF/F, specifically Anne McCaffrey. I liked her photo in the back of the book because she looked like my grandmother and even shared the same birthday (April 1st ), plus the books I first found had dragons (my fav). After devouring the Pern novels, I spent my summer that year writing a 350+ page novel that was my own version of The Dragonriders of Pern. I didn’t know what fanfiction was but it was pretty much that. I even got map making supplies and drew my own maps. I drew dragons and characters as well. I was hooked. I’d written stories before then but never a full novel. After that book, I wrote a trilogy, and by the time I was in high school, I was writing daily of my own material (not fan-fiction). It wasn’t until college that I began to seek publication.
An excellent selection for writing! And a familiar book of inspiration!
What do you like to read?
I read most genres: sci-fi, fantasy, horror, thriller, mysteries, urban fantasy/paranormal romance, historical fiction, non-fiction, memoirs, etc. I don’t read a lot of straight-up romance unless it’s mixed into one of the other genres. Straight-up romance and erotica tends to bore me as a demisexual. No issues with those who enjoy it though! As far as my favorite reads, they shift all the time since I read a LOT, but some favs are: Rebecca Roanhorse, Neil Gaiman, Connie Willis, Jenny Lawson, and Shannon Mayer.
I see some familiar names on that list — and a few that I’m gonna have to look up.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that doesn’t work for you
Write every day
This is a piece of advice that as said, doesn’t work for me anymore, and how I’ve changed it to work for me. I used to think it was the most valuable advice I’d received, but since becoming disabled and also having Post-COVID syndrome (aka long COVID), I realize that “write every day,” is a very ableist viewpoint. I think the feeling behind it means well as I suspect it’s meant to say, “Don’t let life get in the way of writing.” We can all find excuses not to write. We’re too tired. We need to clean _. The reality is that if you don’t make time for your craft, it won’t be a craft. It’ll be a hobby that you never get around to. It’ll be the one chapter book you never finish. So I would rephrase that advice to be, “Make time to work on your craft. Even if it’s five minutes a day on the bus to work. Steal the time where you can and be okay with how that looks for you.”
Agreed! The idea behind it seems to be to make it a priority, not that you should follow it at the detriment to your life and/or health.
Name one commonly accepted piece of writing advice that works for you
Kill your darlings.
I think many misunderstand this piece of advice though. It doesn’t mean take your favorite scene or sentence and erase it. More that if you write something that isn’t advancing the plot line or character arc forward, no matter how much you love it, it needs to be removed or reworked so that it moves everything forward. If you love the scene that much, find a way to reinvent it or add a sentence or two that works it into pushing the plot or characters forward.
Indeed! Deleting something just because you love it is absurd. But, recognizing if your scenes serve the story… and editing out the ones that don’t are crucial for pacing.
Shameless Self-Promotion time!
A few of her wide array of stories out there (check out her amazon page for more!)
Amaskan’s Blood (Book I of the Boahim Trilogy)
Five minutes made all the difference.
Two sisters. Two loyalties. One path together…assuming Adelei follows her destiny.
Since childhood, Adelei’s been trained by the best holy assassin in the Little Dozen Kingdoms, Master Bredych of the Order of Amaska. Her sister, on the other hand, has a life of privilege. The life meant for Adelei, a life she wants nothing to do with.
Now, a seasoned and respected Amaskan, the Order needs her for a mission she may not survive. The job is nothing short of a suicide mission, one serving no king, no god, and certainly not Justice. She’ll be erased from the Order and for what? Who’s behind the plot to wipe out the royal family of Alexander? And why does the Order care?
They say the truth depends on which side of the sword one stands, but they never said what to do when all the swords are pointing at you.
Amaskan’s War (Book II of the Boahim Trilogy)
Newly crowned Queen Margaret struggles with the loss of her father as the Kingdom of Shad’s army marches for her border. But when the Boahim Senate refuses to step in, civil war threatens to break out across the Little Dozen Kingdoms.
A harrowing journey reveals her greatest fears and unearths the Boahim Senate’s darkest secret, leaving Margaret sure of one thing–neither she, nor the Little Dozen Kingdoms will ever be the same again. Now to secure the balance, Margaret must fight corrupted powers, old and new, and step into a role she never wanted: War Queen.
Will she continue to follow the Boahim Senate’s orders? Or will she break the holiest of tenets in hopes to free her people?
Class-M planet in the middle of no-where. Dust, dust, and more dust. Unless ya circled ‘round to the more habitable region, you’d be stuck without a ship to anywhere. ‘Round the corner though, you could find everything from ship parts and dried food packs, to roast dog and the rare bi-cycle. Hell, you could even buy yerself a gen-u-ine religion if you were so inclined.
The ultimate tourist trap. And here I’d taken the bait.
When Eerl stepped off The Marzipan, he was one of a billion tourists on Bay-zar. He expected to shop for rare artifacts from war-ravaged Earth and maybe study at the grand library, but not even his background in Human Studies from the University of Tersia could prepare him for what came next:
A military beefcake with a grudge, a wartime conspiracy, a stolen ship, a galaxy full of prejudice, and at the center of it all, a young human named Mel in search of the truth.
Her search for her past and his quest for knowledge take them across the stars as they uncover the darkness and fear in us all.
And, in Jeff Sturgeon’s Anthology:
2091—The Year the Earth Changed
As Yellowstone erupts, sending humankind into an extinction level event, countries, cities, the elite, and the privileged race to the skies in order to survive the coming ice age. As some scientists focus on floating cities, undersea colonies, and space exploration, others delve into the darkness of genetic modification and new evolutions of humanity.
It is now YE 210 and over two centuries have passed since the day that changed the world and many global trade routes have resumed. More and more floating cities have become connected and many wait to be re-discovered by brave airship captains and crews. Dangers lurk in the skies as well as the ruins scattered around the world like half-forgotten memories of a time that has become myth.