What can I say about Sophie Masson? She has been incredible since I asked her to do an interview. Happy to talk to me and the first professional author to agree to read my novel. Plus she does write quite nicely as well! I must get around to meeting her in person to shake her hand and thank her for her many kind words.

Sophie is a mainstay on the Australian fantasy and young adult market for twenty years now and has just released Moonlight and Ashes as well as a short story ebook.

It is my pleasure to present Sophie Masson to you in interview form.

What genre would you like to write a book in (that you haven’t yet)?

I love ghost stories and though I have written short stories in that vein, I’d love one day to write a ghost-story novella(the novella seems to suit that form rather than the long novel). I’m also quite keen to write mysteries/thrillers for adults(have written several for young adults and children.) I have a few ideas in that vein. But we’ll see.

Where do your ideas come from?  Do you have a standard formula for plots or do stories come to you as a whole construct?

No standard formula at all. The stories speak to me themselves; they are sparked off in all sorts of ways, seeing something, hearing something, something I’ve read, a dream, an experience: each inspiration as varied as each story itself.

When you start a new story, do you have a title for it?  Does that trigger the story?

Sometimes yes, sometimes no to the first part of the question. It depends! But I suppose the majority of times I do have an idea for the title and though it doesn’t trigger off the story as such it’s part of that organic early process and helps to fertilise things!

Do you see the future of fantasy and science fiction as bright?  If so, which authors are driving it?

Yes, it’s a growing area and also one which is becoming more and more varied and diverse. There’s so much cross-pollination of sub-genres within it and also books that defy all genre categorisation. In terms of which authors, well there’s too many to list, but some(and I’m only listing some) of the great Australians are Juliet Marillier, Kate Forsyth, Margo Lanagan, Garth Nix,  Sean Williams, Richard Harland..Great overseas authors include of course Suzanne Collins, Philip Pullman, JK Rowling, Stephenie Meyer, but there’s lots more who I really enjoy such as the lovely mix of hardboiled detective and fantasy in the work of Jim Butcher, the fabulously dark world of Marcus Sedgwick(his My Swordhand is Singing is fabulous–now there’s REAL vampires!) and the absolutely extraordinary work of Russian author Sergey Lukyanenko whose Nightwatch series is the best thing I read in years, combing gripping storytelling, vivid characters, a sardonic streak of very Russian humour, and excellent writing–a mix of light and dark that is absolutely addictive.

What themes are being overused?

Vampires! Eugh. I’ve always hated them–and the whole vampire romance thing makes my stomach turn. Who wants to be the love object of someone who wants to feed on you as though you were a rare steak? Blergh. But I loved Segdwick’s My Swordhand is Singing because it has the genuine creepy, cold feel of the genuine vampire story, not this pretty-boy stuff!

Are movies of books ruining the book?

No. Real readers make up their own minds; lazy people who don’t read might be drawn to the book if they love the movie. On the other hand they may not. That’s human nature.

Do you see ebooks threatening traditional publishing?

Only if publishers lose their nerve and go all-out to just publish e-editions and ditch print which would be an incredibly stupid move. Otherwise e-books are a perfectly useful adjunct to print publishing; and can also bring new opportunities for authors. One thing I have to point out, which may seem counter-intuitive but is based on my (fairly wide)observation is that the younger generation are not all that attracted to e-books; digital media to them is about music, movies and social networking, not reading. It is the older generations(between 35-60 especially)who are driving the boom in e-publishing. Younger people, when they do read, are still reading print books.  They just aren’t getting into the e-book reading habit. And that to me is why it would be a worry, if publishers should be panicked into dropping print in favour of e-books.

Do you prefer to read established authors or debut authors? How do you choose which ones to read?

I don’t mind whether an author is new or established, though of course with an established author you may already have a good idea of what to expect, which is good(or not, depending on your mood at the time). I base my choice really on what kind of story it is–if I’m taken by the concept or outline.

What is it about fantasy that appeals to you?

It is such a rich and exciting area: you can do so much with it, and approach really deep and difficult themes in a way that isn’t heavy at all.

Can I get an autographed book? (lol)

Of course!

Do you have a group of people that you show a new story to? How much impact can they have on the whole story?

I rarely do that–usually the first person to see my completed new story is my editor. Occasionally though I have sent chapters around to a couple of writer friends, if I particularly want to gauge their reaction to something. But generally it’s all very much a self-sufficient process.

Do you set yourself a word limit for each book?

Well often the contract will state a preferred limit(I usually sell a book these days on an outline and a couple of sample chapters.)

Do you have a target each day?

Just to work until I feel happy with what I’ve done! That might be one chapter, two chapters, half a chapter or a scene.Nothing formalised though.

Do you write constantly or have breaks between books?

I write pretty much constantly, though I might have a week or two off. Usually even in that time I have to do other things anyway, like write articles or blog posts or answer interview questions 🙂 Yes, I’ve just finished a book, this week: Scarlet in the Snow, a companion novel to my recent fairytale thriller Moonlight and Ashes.

Do you have characters running around your head?  Do they dictate events and their histories to you?

Absolutely. I hear all these voices all the time, lucky we writers have a free pass on that eh! 🙂 Quite often they DO dictate events–because in fact I believe that plot in its essence is actually the interaction of characters, whether that interaction is good or bad, open or secret: and so what a character is likely to do really does determine what happens.

After so many books, how do you keep them unique?

I don’t know. They just are like that. Each is very much itself. It’s a part of that wonderful exciting mystery that is creative inspiration.

What is your biggest (self-imposed) time waster?

The Internet in all its glories–email, Facebook, Twitter, blogs, websites,You Tube,  buying online, looking up stuff. You name it. It’s a time waster in a way but also absolutely necessary. And leads to many unexpected and wonderful things that impact on me creatively too.

Do you remember the first time you saw your book in a shop?

Yes. I was so thrilled! I kept going back to see if it was really true. And looking for the book everywhere I went. I imagined it was going to set the world on fire of course and sell millions of copies. Everyone does, even if secretly. You get over it. And if you can keep getting published, as I’ve been lucky enough to consistently do for more than 20 years now, that is the very best result. I’m making my living doing what I was born to do–and that’s a wonderful thing.

Do you read other people’s writing?

Yes, of course. I’m a reader as well as a writer. It would be very boring indeed to read only your own books, much as you love them!

Would you read mine?

Why not?

Sophie Masson can be contacted via:

Twitter:  @SophieMasson1

Her Web Site:  http://www.sophiemasson.org/

Her Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/Sophie-Masson/e/B001H6OXBI/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_2?qid=1345242334&sr=8-2

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