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Monday, April 30, 2012

Author Interview - Sue Bolich

Please welcome author S. A. Bolich to The Far Edge of Normal!

S. A Bolich is a fulltime freelancer with a number of published fantasy stories as well as many nonfiction articles. A native of Washington state, she resides there again after serving six years in Germany as a regular army military intelligence officer. She graduated summa cum laude from college with a degree in history, which she confesses was greatly aided by devouring historical fiction of every era and kind through her formative years.  Her first novel, “Firedancer,” was released in September 2011.  Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless Skies, On Spec, Damnation Books, and Defending the Future IV: No Man’s Land, among many others, and is upcoming in the anthologies Gears and Levers and The Mystical Cat in 2012. Her newest novel “Windrider,” Book 2 in the Masters of the Elements series, is due out in Spring 2012. Currently she is working on “Seaborn,” the third book in the series, due out in 2013, as well as a high fantasy stand-alone novel and an alternate history series using an unexplored explanation of what really happened in Salem, Massachusetts in 1692.

1. How can we find you? Website, Facebook, Twitter, blog, etc. - please share your public links.

You can find out more about me and my work at, which includes links to my published short stories as well as my novels. You can also listen to me read from my novel Firedancer and its upcoming sequel, Windrider, at my website. The links are on the home page.

I am on Twitter @suebthewriter
I am on Facebook at
I write a regular blog series entitled Horses in Fiction to help writers more realistically put horses into their stories. You can find on at my blog “Words from Thin Air” at 

2. Tell us about your writing - What genre do you prefer to write? What books, stories, other publications that you've written are your personal favorites? Anything new coming up?

I started out to write historical fiction but somehow ended up writing fantasy, alternate history, and science fiction instead. Go figure! I love anything with an historical slant but I also write swords and sorcery, high fantasy, soft SF, military SF, and what I call “other world” fantasy that is not set on Earth, like my first novel, Firedancer. I think the possibilities in fantasy are just so endless that as writers we should not limit ourselves to the usual breakdown of subgenres and tropes. I have published urban fantasy, steampunk, Weird Westerns, dark fantasy, high fantasy—you name it, I like to write it. I also combine genres at will, which makes a lot of my stuff hard to classify. One of my as-yet unpublished novels is a Civil War ghost story that is also magical realism. I just write whatever I’m inclined to write. I’ve learned not to fight the muse, as she invariably sulks if I do.

My very first published story, “Where Magic Lives,” which appeared in On Spec back in 2002, was an Honorable Mention in the Year’s Best Fantasy and Horror that year and remains one of my favorites. It’s about a writer who dies and her characters come to her funeral. Death holds a big fascination for many people. I think the reason so many books and movies choose it as a theme is because it helps to defuse death’s terror, or at least make it comprehensible. It’s—maybe fun is not a good word—but at least interesting as a writer to explore all its facets. “Kraken’s Honor”, which was published in Beneath Ceaseless Skies [] in December 2009, is also a favorite of mine because I really got to indulge my love of words and beautiful imagery in it. Also, it was written right after my dad died, and it became sort of my personal therapy, wrapping in themes of love and loss on top of the heroic fantasy storyline.

As to what’s new on my personal horizon, I have a new novel coming out this spring entitled Windrider, the sequel to my first novel, Firedancer. It is Book 2 in the Masters of the Elements series from Sky Warrior Books, in which fire, water, earth and wind are all actual living, thinking creatures at odds with the humans of my fantasy world. The hero of Windrider must battle the angry manifestation of Wind known as the Hag, but unfortunately, he has lost the ability to wield the magic that can tame her. He finds out the hard way that anger is almost never a persuasive bargaining position!

I also have stories coming out in a couple of anthologies this year, the Gears and Levers steampunk anthology and The Mystical Cat, which is, of course, all about cats. I’ll have links to those on my website when they’re available, so stay tuned.

3. What about you as a person? What do you do to relax? Favorite movies or tv shows? Hobbies?

I don’t have time for the hobbies I used to do, since my main hobby, writing, has turned into my living. I do still have two horses that I ride whenever I can. I grew up riding bareback and western and took up 3-day eventing and dressage as an adult. Mostly I trail ride or ride dressage now but I don’t show anymore. I like to draw, I used to play the piano, and needlework was a passion at one time. Now I relax by walking and puttering around with my endless landscaping projects. Maintaining my 20 acres gets me outside and working, which is good, and I love being outside.

I don’t watch a lot of TV, but I confess to a guilty passion for NCIS and Criminal Minds as well as Supernatural. I read a lot of historical non-fiction in pursuit of my research. I majored in military history in college so it is a continuing passion that accompanies my service as a military intelligence officer in the Army way back when.

4. What gets your creative juices going? Do you write to a music, and do you want to share your playlist?

Deadlines get my attention... I enjoy writing challenges like the twice-yearly Short Story in a Week challenges put on by my writing workshop, Other Worlds Writers Workshop at Those force you to use five words submitted by the members in a short story, and you have to write it in a week, so it jumpstarts the muse and forces her, grumbling, out of bed. I’ve sold quite a few of those stories, actually. I vary between needing silence when I write to needing music in the background. If I am especially scattered and distracted I put on music, which I am told is actually a normal thing for women. We were made by nature to have a macro-focus on our surroundings to keep track of the kids and know all the dangers and opportunities in the area (and they call us scatterbrained!). Using one sensory input like music can help tune out our instinctive need to absorb input from everything around us. I listen to classical and soundtracks of all sorts, anything instrumental, as I tend to want to sing along if I put on anything with words in it.

5. "All writers must have cats, especially if they write fantasy or speculative fiction." Do you have a stand on this one? Any cute pictures of your kitty or other pet?

How can one live without cats, hmmm? I have four wandering in and out all the time and vying for space around me on the couch. I do also have a dog and two horses, but they’re too big to fit in my lap.

6. What organizations do you recommend for those wanting to become writers? Any advice you'd like to share about writing?

Find a good writer’s workshop in the genre you write in. A mainstream group is not a good fit for a fantasy writer, and horror and mystery each have specific requirements for the genre that you should understand if you are going to write those. Picking a workshop like Other Worlds gets you in with a readership who understands what you’re trying to do and can help steer you clear of creaky old ideas or bring out the best in what you’re trying to accomplish.

There’s really only one maxim to writing: Finish it and boot it out the door. I have let too much stuff molder for far too long in the drawer, only to see someone else make it big with the same idea. No editor can find your wonderful work if you don’t dangle it in front of them.

7. What writers inspired you to become an author?

My favorite authors as a teen were Rosemary Sutcliffe and Andre Norton. One wrote historical fiction, the other science fiction and fantasy. Now do you see why I ended up writing historical fantasy?

8. Any special appearances or events coming up that you want to mention?

I’ll be at Miscon in Missoula, Montana over Memorial Day weekend. The rest of the year is still up in the air.

Thanks for stopping by! It's been a pleasure getting to know you.