Sophie Schiller was born in Paterson, NJ and raised in the West Indies amid aging pirates and retired German spies. She was educated at American University, Washington, DC and now lives in Brooklyn, NY. She is currently hard at work on a sequel to Spy Island and a historical novel set during the Great Game in Tibet.
What inspires you to write?
A desire to tell stories that have never been told before.
Tell us about your writing process.
A lot of research goes into writing an historical novel. You want to capture the right mood, setting, details about daily life, attitudes and behaviors. Then you have to weave all the events into a seamless blend that comprises a story. It’s a process that takes many years.
Character sketches come first as the plot starts to come alive. I make general outlines of the story, then I storyboard the scenes by drawing pictures on index cards, and then taping the cards to the wall in proper order. That’s when the true story really comes alive in a seamless plot. Incidentally, that’s when the true work of writing really begins.
For Fiction Writers: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?
Sometimes I hear my characters’ voices. I squeeze my eyes shut and hear them speaking in a certain scene that I’ve been working on for months and months. I hear them speaking as if the scene were in progress, like in a play. If there’s a paper and pen nearby, I write it down quickly before I lose the inspiration. Moments like these are a precious gift.
What advice would you give other writers?
Carry a little notebook with you. When you get an inspiring thought, write it down. It could be the start of a good short story or maybe even a novel. Also, learn to trust your voice.
How did you decide how to publish your books?
I’m an avid reader of the Wall Street Journal. When I read about the enormous success that Darcie Chan and Tracey Garvis Graves experienced by self-publishing their debut novels, I decided to use their experience and self-publish mine as well. The control you have over the finished product is incredible. New authors should avidly read up on the publishing industry by reading blogs written by experienced writers and literary agents. They sometimes give amazing advice. Keep up with changes in the industry; things happen fast. You have to always stay one step ahead of the curve.
What do you think about the future of book publishing?
The future of book publishing has never looked brighter. There are so many young people really interested in novels and blog about them after school and on weekends! This is something that the baby-boomer generation could never even fathom. When we were in school, we read in solitude, not able to share our reading experience with other readers outside of our limited social circle. Nowadays, readers and writers can connect and learn from each other. Writers can tailor their books to the needs of the market and the market yields enormous influence over output more than at any other time in history. The great thing is that book publishing is being molded and shaped to better serve the book-buying public. It’s a win-win situation for everyone.
What do you use?
Professional Editor, Professional Cover Designer, Beta Readers
What genres do you write:: Spy Thrillers, Historical Fiction
What formats are your books in: eBook, Print
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