So today begins my weekly author interviews. First up is Anastasia V. Pergakis, fantasy author of Cleanse Fire. Without further ado:
Terry C. Simpson: What is your book about?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: Cleanse Fire is a fantasy adventure novel, although I tend to think of it as an action thriller and the characters just happen to be elves. It appeals to both men and women readers as it has plenty of fight scenes, bad-ass girls, and a bit of romance too.
Terry C. Simpson: What inspired you to write this particular story?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: My Dad served in the US Army for twenty years. As a writer, I had the urge to write a story about him, telling the world about his dedication to this country. When I began writing the book however, I realized that I could never do justice to him, or any soldier for that matter.
So, I resorted to my passion – fantasy. Now, while the story as it exists now is completely fictional, the characters and story line are all in dedication to my Dad and all soldiers who have served, are serving, and will serve in the military. It is my hope that, even though in fantasy form, the story of a soldier’s sacrifice and dedication to their country still shines through.
With all that in mind, a portion of the sales will be given to the Wounded Warrior Project.
Terry C. Simpson: What writer influenced you the most?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I don’t think any one writer influenced me. My critique partners are both published authors and they were definitely the support I needed to keep going. We talk to each other literally every day. They are two of my biggest fans and best friends. But so many other writers have been a big help to me over the years. I could never name them all. Each one helped me in one way or another. But, if I was to give credit to just one (okay two), it would be my crit partners. They’ve been with me for over two years now – everyday.
Terry C. Simpson: Tell us a little about your main characters. Who was your favorite? Why?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I’ll answer this in reverse. I have no real favorite. They’re all dear to me and hold some quality that I like.
The Kinir Elite is made up of six elves. They are the Special Forces in their country. They have unique and specialized training that allows them to handle missions of all kinds, ranging from hostage rescue to information gathering to “spy” work.
The team is led by Captain Derac Vidor. He’s feircly loyal to his country and its people. He lives and loves the military life he leads and has no urge to do anything else. He has a chip on his shoulder though. His wife died in a fire a decade before the book and he blames himself for it. So he has this harsh exterior that most find rather prickly. But his team softens him up a little and he slowly becomes more relaxed – at least as relaxed as a soldier like him can be.
Kie Shaphros also has a rough exterior that she wears to protect herself. Her childhood was dominated by fear and loneliness so she hides behind a false “bitchy” sort of attitude so no one notices. She prefers to train to doing anything else and reads battle strategies for fun.
Tyn Lamblin, Derac’s childhood friend, is the balance I think on the team. He’s calm, exuding an air of peace around him. He takes his faith very seriously, praying often – especially after a battle. He has an almost unhealthy love for his swords, but we won’t talk about that now.
The two youngest – and sometimes wildest – on the team are Jardel Olen and Aeli Edisbaan. Jardel is often seen by others as unruly and unpredictable. Fierce in battle, he would still prefer to be laughing it up with his friends in a tavern somewhere. Aeli is seen as a bubbly, air head type. She loves brushing her hair and cares a little too much about how she looks. But, she’s a genius – mad scientist sort of genius.
Last but not least is Rakan Surat. He is the veteran on the team, serving longer than all of them. He turned down the promotion to Captain (which is why Derac carries the rank). He prefers training to fun. Generally a sour sort of attitude (think grumpy old man), Rakan is often seen sitting to himself.
Terry C. Simpson: How long did it take you to write your book?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I wrote the first draft during NaNoWriMo in 2009. I let it sit for over a year, as I had another book I was trying to edit for publication. I lay that one down though, fed up with trying to fix it and getting no where. So I pulled Cleanse Fire out of the file in January of 2011.
I joined a workshop of sorts called Edit Palooza where a group of authors got to work personally with an editor for one month. It was a wonderful experience for sure and I learned a lot about how to self edit during that time. It took another two months after that for more editing before I began submitting to agents and publishers.
I submitted it around for about 5 or 6 months before I realized, I didn’t really want to go that route. It didn’t sit right with me. So, I began doing research into the indie publishing world and today, I’m pleased to say, my book is published.
Terry C. Simpson: How much of a story do you have in mind before you start writing it?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: It depends on the story honestly. Cleanse Fire I started planning at 11:30 pm the night before NaNo started. But I have another book that I spent a month world building and character developing before I started writing. It all depends on how cooperative the characters are honestly. Yes, my characters talk to me! They are the ones that tell me the story, so it’s really up to them how much information I know before I start writing. And even if I have it all planned out, they still throw in a surprise or two!
Terry C. Simpson: What is your goal for the book, ie: what do you want people to take with them after they finish reading the story?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I think every writer wants a reader to walk away from their book feeling satisfied and entertained. I’d love it if people walked away feeling like they had just been on a great adventure and like they made new friends with the characters in my book. Since my characters talk to me as if they were sitting next to me in the room, I hope that my readers feel a similar connection – like they are (or could be) a real person sitting there telling their story.
Terry C. Simpson: What was the most difficult part about writing the book?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: Oh this is a tough question! There were times where I was stuck on what to write next or a scene wasn’t coming out right, but that’s seems like a “normal” issue for a writer to have to me. It’s just one of those things we deal with in this business. And I’m lucky enough to have two crit partners, that like I said, I talk to everyday, so they were always around to bounce ideas off of or give me the missing piece of inspiration I couldn’t get a hold of.
I think the hardest part really was deciding when my book was actually DONE. You know, when it was honestly ready to be submitted and published. It took a lot of encouragement from my crit partners and my husband to finally let it go and begin submitting. I’m a perfectionist at heart, so it was really difficult for me to realize I had to let it go, or I was never going to be finished with it.
Terry C. Simpson: What’s your writing schedule like? Do you strive for a certain amount of words each day?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: HAHAH! No. Setting a word count each day for me would just lead to disappointment. I’m a stay at home Mom with a very active three year old son, so I write when I get a free moment. My husband is very supportive of my writing, so he’s really instrumental in me being able to write at all honestly. On his days off, he keeps our son occupied and out of hair for a few hours and I get to just write as fast as my fingers can type! So, while I don’t have a set word count every day, I do feel off if by the end of the week, I haven’t written anything. I write more in spurts, getting 4,000 words in one day…but then not writing at all for the next three. The main thing for me, is that I set a goal to have the entire first draft or edit done by a certain time – say in a month or two months, whatevet the case may be. That way, I still reach my goal, but I don’t have to stress over “Oh no! I didn’t write yesterday!”
Terry C. Simpson: What’s been the most surprising part of being a writer?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: Another tough one! I’m often amazed how supportive other writers are. In my offline life, I’m a painfully shy type of person and I don’t have a lot of friends as a result. So I feel sort of secluded most of the time. But online? Whew. I have friends from all over the world that give me advice, support me, hold my hand when I need it, and listen to me rant and rave about anything and everything. I think that surprised me the most when I got into this industry, was the shear amount of people willing to help me succeed – and we’ve never even met!
Terry C. Simpson: What advice you would give to an aspiring author?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I know this sounds a little cliché, but seriously – just keep writing! Write until you’re sick of it then write some more! If you get stuck on a book, write something else. Write a blog post even! Just keep writing. The more you write, the better you will get at it. I have 16+ novels in some stage of writing and/or editing right now. It is a long and hard road being a writer, but you are NOT alone. Sometimes it feels that way, I know. But just remember, there are plenty of other writes out there ready and willing to lend you a hand. So, just keep at it! It’ll all pay off in the end I promise.
Terry C. Simpson: What advice would you give other novelists about book promotion?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: Find something that works for you, and stick with it. There are so many ways to promote your book now a days that it can be extremely overwhelming. Manage your time wisely! You don’t want to be all promotion and no writing! I mean, what kind of writer doesn’t write, right? Another writer once told me that three social media sites is more than enough for one person to handle. Find three and go at it at full speed! Don’t stretch yourself too thin with too many social media sites, forums, groups, blogs, etc.
Also, since I promote offline as well, watch your budget! I know this seems like a common sense sort of thing, but it can be really easily to get excited and caught up in the rush and before you know it – you’re totally broke. Pace yourself!
Terry C. Simpson: How have you marketed and promoted your work?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I began setting up my ‘fan base’ years ago on twitter and facebook, so I’m posting there as regularly as I can. On facebook I have my author page and a page just for the Kinir Elite series. I also belong to a few groups for Indie authors that aren’t so much for promoting my book to the group, but they share places where I can promote or request reviews.
I got into blogging about two years ago. That in turn introduced me to many bloggers that do interviews and book reviews as well. I had a few already ask for interviews and I’m going to be sending out requests to more as well.
Then there are the writing sites, forums, and other groups online that I’m a member of, specifically geared toward my book – fantasy.
For offline promotion, this weekend I’ll be visiting the colleges here in town to put up flyers on their message boards. Since the book has a strong military them, I’m also going to be getting in contact with the infantry base here as well. Then of course there are the libraries and book stores!
So, I’m going to be really busy the next few months but it’ll all be worth it in the end. And truthfully, I enjoy it.
Terry C. Simpson: What words would you like to leave the world when you are gone?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: Oh wow. Great question. Two things come to mind. One, I have a terrible fear of being forgotten. I want to be remembered. I want to know that I touched someone’s life through my own life, actions, or even my writing, in a way that resonates with them for many years after. Two, is the fact that I lived my dream. I kept going and working hard until I reached it. And I kept going even after that. My dream was to be a published author and I am. But now, I’m reaching for more! I have more stories to share, more people to meet. When I’m gone, I want my life to inspire people. The idea that “She did it, so I can too.”
Terry C. Simpson: Have you written any other books?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: I’m writing the first draft to the next book in the Kinir Elite Chronicles, currently titled Fire Renewed. I also have another unrelated series, The Faery’s Tale Saga. It needs a major rewrite, as I wrote it many years ago, when I was still brand new to writing. It’s an epic fantasy series: quest of honor, prophecy, etc. And of course the many other stand alone novels I have: The Story of William Archer is about a knight-turned-pirate, defying the ‘evil’ King and The Ryn and Ciyme Adventures about a girl and her tiny (hyper) dragon protector trying to save her family from the vicious lizard people. I have more books in the works, in some stage of writing or editing, but these are at the front of my mind most of the time. They will be gracing the shelves soon!
Terry C. Simpson: Where can people learn more about your books?
Anastasia V. Pergakis: The Kinir Elite Website: (The team does the blogging there, not me!)
Print version will be released on Dec 21, 2011. People can preorder print versions at the website:
Other buy links: