Crista McHugh on Writing, Publishing, and the SPFBO

Award-winning and best-selling author Crista McHugh’s novel A Soul For Trouble is one of ten fabulous fantasy novels in StoryBundle’s Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off bundle.  Fellow SPFBO author William Saraband (Shattered Sands) had a few questions for her about the novel, her writing process, and the SPFBO experience:

William: Your book, A Soul for Trouble, is an interesting mix of two big genres: Fantasy and Romance. In your view, how do these two forces complement each other?

Crista: Romance and Fantasy are not mutually exclusive from each other. If you look at many fantasy books, there are quite a few romantic couples. Westley and Buttercup. Aragorn and Arwen. Eowyn and Faramir. Rhapsody and Ashe. Janelle and Daemon. Richard and Kahlan. I just happen to like a little more of a happy ending in my stories than say… G. R. R. Martin. After all, if the hero saves the world, s/he should get the guy/girl, right?

A Soul For Trouble Cover Final

W: Sanity, or the lack of it, is an important part of the plot. What fascinates you about this particular element of human existence? How well does Trouble face her challenge, in comparison to how you would do in her place?

Crista: I’m a doctor in real life and have seen a variety of mental illness in my practice. Although some people are happier being disconnected with reality, there is this primal fear of losing control of one’s mind. In A Soul For Trouble, I explored this fear from the beginning where Trouble sees the prior Soulbearer and knows what lies ahead for her. But on the flip side, there have been many academic studies done proving that woman are better at handling activities that involve pain, endurance, and multi-tasking than men, so Arden (Trouble) should have an upper hand over the prior male Soulbearers simply by being a girl. She stills fears her fate. She still fears the influence Loku has over her. But she has this inner toughness to combat these challenges and a no BS tolerance that helps her deal with Loku. And I don’t think I would’ve handled her situation as well as she did.

W: This is only one of many books which you have successfully self-published over the years. What elements do you find most appealing in the whole process, and are there any downsides?

C: I love the control. I can schedule my books around my work and family schedules. I control the covers and the contents. I can discount books when I want. But the downside is that I’m responsible for everything – I can’t just let someone else deal with it.

W: After self-publishing one of your books, do you ever find yourself plagued by second thoughts?

C: Always. Even after the book is in the wild, I sometimes revisit it a few weeks or months later and wonder if I should’ve tweaked something or changed a scene or a cover or even a character’s name. But the great thing about self-pubbing is that I can make those changes

W: The SPFBO contest, put together by Mark Lawrence, was a completely new experience to most who were involved. How did you benefit from it?

C: I loved that I had a chance to meet new readers and bloggers through this contest. There are so many books out there these days that contests like this help readers identify some of the best books out there.

W: In terms of your writing experience, are you a methodic person, or do you ust let your creativity flow as you go along?

C: I am both a plotter and a planner. I treat my writing like a career. I plan releases, sales, giveaways, etc, so I can do what’s best for my career. And since my writing time is limited, I find that sitting down and knowing what I have to accomplish in that scene helps get the words flowing and on the page.

W: Finally, a second edition of the SPFBO is in the works. What would you say to those writers out there who are thinking about giving it a go?

C: Definitely give a go! You have nothing to lose and so much to gain. But make sure you submit your best possible work – great cover, polished stories, catchy blurbs and opening pages.

To discover more about A Soul For Trouble, and the additional nine winning novels of the Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off, check out StoryBundle.  The bundle is only available for another 13 days!



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