Let's start with you telling us a little bit about yourself, Zathyn.
I’m an eccentric creature. Fashion-wise, I’m an eclectic mix of androgynous Goth, glam-rock, hippie, jeans and T-shirt, and ‘whatever the hell I feel like wearing’. Personality-wise, I’m a mix of over the top extrovert and quiet introvert. Writing isn’t my only love, and I have a restless soul. I can’t ever settle on only one thing, I need variety. Which probably explains why I’ve failed miserably at relationships! I divide my time between writing, art, and dancing.
What would people be most surprised to learn about you?
I’m related to Judy Garland, which means I’m also related to Liza Minelli. I guess this explains my calling to be on stage performing my own versions of cabaret, and own sparkly shoes like ruby slippers.
When did you start writing, is it something you've always been interested in, or did it develop later in life?
I can’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories. As a child, I wrote. As a teenager, I wrote. It was always my plan to be a published author and a dream I never planned to let go of. Of course, when I got older and wiser, I realised dreaming about it wouldn’t make it happen. Neither would writing stories that weren’t polished enough for publication. That’s when I packed up my pride, kicked my ignorant ego out the door, and sent a manuscript to a professional appraisal/editing company. I was offered a mentorship from one of the company’s editors, on the arrangement that I took on board what she said, worked hard, and agreed that raw talent was not enough to build a writing career on.
I worked with Carolyne for two years. In many ways, she tore down my glass house of cards, but did it in the most encouraging, educational way. Where I’d thought my writing was good, my eyes were opened wide to all the errors. Carolyne taught me a lot, and I’ve always said that she was the force that inspired me to better myself. She was the one who took a dream out of my head and held it in front of my eyes. Made me see it could be my reality, but only if I worked my butt off, was professional, and always remembered that being a writer is a constant work in progress.
Has it been everything you thought it would be or not?
I’d be lying if I said yes. It’s been completely different to what I thought it would be. In many ways better, and in many ways more difficult. Prior to being published, I existed in a naïve world where I believed authors were mysterious creatures. That people only really knew a pseudonym on a book cover. Naturally, I was in for a shock when The Curtis Reincarnation was released and I soon learned this wasn’t the case at all. I wasn’t prepared for it in the slightest. It led to complete burnout very early on in my career.
On the other hand, many amazing things have happened that I never predicted. Like meeting wonderful people, fellow authors and one-on-one interaction with readers. Going to conventions like GRL. These things have become highlights of my life. To have someone hold my hand, tell me with tears in their eyes how much my words have affected them… I mean… wow… it’s astonishing and humbling.
However, I’d built up an imaginary picture of what I thought my life would be like once I was published. That included spending hour after hour, week after week, year after year, happily writing books. This wasn’t to be. I learned a lesson about myself, and that is I’m not the recluse I believed myself to be. I can’t dedicate all my time to writing, and trying to only makes me want to quit altogether. So, I accept there other things I want/need to do, and I accept I’m not a prolific author. To maintain my love of writing, and the quality of what I put out there, I have to fulfil other dreams as well.
How did it feel when you realized that your very first book was going to be published?
Elated! Excited, thrilled, nervous, and relieved. My first published book was The Curtis Reincarnation, and it was released as serial fiction first by Torquere Press. I remember getting an email from Torquere, and gritting my teeth before opening it, fully expecting a rejection. It was an email saying the original submission had been read three quarters the way through, then been lost, and could I resend. It wasn’t 100% certainty they were going to send another email with an acceptance, but I did feel some weight lifted off my shoulders. I figured if they’re already read three quarters, and wanted to finish reading it, that had to be a good sign. Thankfully, yes, I did get the acceptance email a couple of weeks later.
What's your favorite part of writing a book?
Typing ‘The End’. Which, I know, sounds dismissive of the characters and plot, but it isn’t. Typing those two words at the bottom of a finished manuscript is akin to saying, ‘I did it!’ For some authors, writing flows easily and they can write a novel in a few months. For me, it can take a year or more. Although I love my characters in the same way every author loves their characters, the brutal truth is that I’m kind of ready to move on after a year. This is probably why sequels are not my strong point!
Do you get time to read for pleasure? If so, which books do you enjoy?
It’s quite rare for me to pick up a book to read. For a dyslexic it can feel more like a chore than a pleasure. Having said that, there are exceptions and books I’ve read and loved. Mostly, though, I tend to read non-fiction. I can be a nerd in that respect. So, given this, and referring to the previous question, research would also be a favourite part of writing a book.
Are there any other genres you'd be interested in writing?
There are a few non-fiction topics I’m quite obsessed about. I’d like to try my hand at writing about those under another pen-name. I’d also love to write screen plays.
Please tell us a little about your most recent release.
Inside His Reflection is my first book with Wilde City Press. It’s a story that challenged me as a writer, both emotionally and technically. To bring the main character of Elijah Benson to life, I had to bleed on his behalf. It definitely isn’t fluffy romance, but it absolutely is a love story. In fact, there are two love stories woven into the plot.
‘Reflection’ is a story of Elijah’s attempt to pick up pieces of his life, in spite of his life almost being taken from him in a murder attempt, and taken from him due to a police protection program. He’s lost everything, can make no move to get it back, and instead of seeing himself in mirror reflections, he sees someone who died ten years ago. When the whole world blames Elijah for crimes he didn’t commit, it takes the love of one man – Harry – to give Elijah the strength to break and then put himself back together.
It’s not erotic fiction. Once again, I stuck to my guns and wrote true to the character. This isn’t a story where sex had a place in the plot.
What can we look forward to in the future from you?
I’m currently working on a graphic novella titled HAI-21 (Pronounced Hay-21, and it stands for Human Artificial Intelligence, model number 21). I wouldn’t describe it as full-on science fiction, but it is set in the future. The concept of the plot is an idea I’ve had circling around in my brain for years. I didn’t want to write it until I was certain I could do it justice, as it deals with the ethics of artificial human emotion/intelligence in androids. And, of course, there is a love story woven in. I hadn’t planned to write a sequel to HAI-21, however two of the secondary characters had other ideas. So, it seems the HAI-22 graphic novella will be next on my to-do list.
Anything you want to say to your readers?
Thank you to my readers who have loyally stood by me since the beginning, and encouraged me to keep going when burnout stopped me writing for a while. Thank you to my new readers, who are discovering me and my books for the first time. Without you, I’d be nothing. You make what I do worth doing, and my gratitude is endless.
A recent release:
Inside His Reflection
A blind date leaves Harry reeling, and another date goes as badly. Scars on Elijah’s face are clues of a broken soul, yet Harry can’t walk away. Not even when he learns Elijah sees a dead man in mirror reflections.
Elijah’s sanity snaps. Blamed for crimes he didn’t commit, Elijah has already survived a brutal murder attempt and now hides under a Protection Program. Harry must have faith he is innocent and fight for Elijah’s stolen rights. Can Harry do this without losing his mind, his own rights, and the man he loves?
Excerpt from Inside His Reflection
Harry pulled out a chair on the opposite side of the table and forced a smile he hoped looked easy-going. “Hi.”
Ian pinned him under an intense, intimidating gaze.
“I’m Harry. You know… the guy you’ve been waiting for.”
Closing the magazine and watching closely, Ian lifted an eyebrow. “You’re confident.”
“I try to be.” Even the man’s voice was sexy, and Harry’s heart set up a hard thump behind his ribs. “To be honest, I really just wanted to get this meeting over and done with as fast as possible.” He twirled a saltshaker. “I have to leave tomorrow morning. Well, I guess I don’t have to leave. I was planning to. Not that I want to rush this or anything.”
Ian’s posture stiffened. “How gracious of you.”
Harry winced. “That did sound like I’m rushing things, didn’t it?”
“I was awake at four this morning.” In comparison to his chicly dressed, gorgeous blind date, Harry felt drab. “Been a hectic month. I’ve spent it inseminating fifty-three cows. It’s pretty strenuous work.”
The dark, arched eyebrow rose further upward. “I should say it would be.”
“You’d know what it’s like. You would’ve done the same thing with sheep.”
“No, I can’t say I have.”
“Really?” They were talking, getting a conversation going, and Harry kept speaking rather than risk another awkward lull.
“I’ve heard sheep are more difficult than cows. Not sure if that’s true or not.”
“A mystery I’m positive I’ll never be the one to solve. Do you do this type of thing often?”
“Only during mating season.”
Ian appeared confused. “There’s a specific season?”
“Depends whether you work on the controlled method or whether you let nature take its course. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of it. Farmers have been doing it for years.”
“I was talking about…” He waved a hand over the table. “This. Do you do this often?”
“Oh, sorry.” Now Harry was positive Ian must have been wishing he’d never agreed to meet him. “You’re the first.”
“I’m strangely flattered.”
Setting aside the saltshaker, Harry twirled a sugar bowl instead. “When I first saw you, I almost walked out.”
“Now I’m grossly offended.”
“I mean because… I wasn’t expecting you to be…” Flustered and embarrassed, Harry prepared to leave. “I’m sorry, Ian, this was a bad idea.”
Freezing before he could escape the chair, Harry felt blood drain from his face. “You’re not Ian Fairweather?”
“I thought you were someone else! Sorry, I feel like a moron.” Harry took the slip of paper from his pocket. He needed to explain the mix up rather than have this other man assume a total nutcase sat at his table. “I was supposed to meet a dark-haired guy sitting here, next to the palm.” He slid the paper across the table, tapping it with his index finger. “At two o’clock.”
“The two is a three. You’re supposed to meet him at three o’clock not two o’clock.”
“Great. Now I feel more stupid.”
The nameless stranger handed the paper back.
“I can’t believe I told you I spent a month inseminating fifty-three cows.”
“That was almost my cue to leave.” Still not one hint of a smile on the guy’s face. “However,” he continued, I decided to grant you leniency. Fifty-four cows would have been a deal breaker.”
Harry grinned. “I live on a cattle farm.”
“Yeah.” This wasn’t going to go anywhere. Harry picked up his wallet. “I can tell you’re riveted. Anyway…”
“Interesting it was cows not bulls. I presume you mistook me for a blind date. Given this, it’s interesting you spent the month with fifty-three cows and not fifty-three bulls.”
Maybe the gorgeous man in the expensive designer black suit and purple silk tie didn’t want Harry to leave yet. “I’d like to point out, I didn’t inseminate them personally.”
He glanced down, then away. “Good to know.”
Baffled, Harry wondered if the guy struggled to be polite or struggled to make friendly conversation. An empty coffee mug sat beside an empty plate, meaning he’d finished lunch and could, if he wanted to, stand up and walk out. It appeared he wanted to remain at the table. If he wanted to stay, and he’d figured out Harry was gay, perhaps this hot stranger was gay, too. Harry couldn’t believe his luck. What were the chances?
“You know my name. Are you going to tell me yours?”