Stephanie Gillis is a Minnesotan-born, Colorado-raised, linguistics degree holder, dinosaur enthusiast and writer of the Ashport Archives: Search for The Phoenix. When not writing she can usually be found playing with her two puppies, Lucy and Pi, filming youtube videos, singing loudly in the car, or getting far too competitive playing tabletop games with her sisters. Having lived abroad in Japan for many years she loves all things Japanese with the exception of natto (fermented soybeans) and the giant bugs. You can learn more about her life in Japan via her youtube channel @NipponQ.
Stephanie A. Gillis
1. When did you first start writing?
I've been writing since middle school. It started with just little fantasy stories that I would get inspired to write because of a movie or a tv show I was watching. I loved Sailor Moon as a kid so there were quite a few magical girl stories I wrote back in middle school.
2. What genre(s) do you write? Do you plan on venturing outside said genre(s)?
I usually stick with in some form of fantasy. I've always had a strong interest in all things mythological and magical. I've had a few ideas outside of fantasy with a couple science fiction and a few drama/slice of life kind of stories but haven't been as passionate about those projects as I find myself when I write fantasy or urban fantasy.
3. Why do you write? What goals do you have for your writing?
I write mostly to get the ideas out of my head. I'm one of those people that lies awake for hours in bed because my brain won't shut up. It comes up with all sorts of ideas, bad, good and ridiculous ideas. Some of them turn into full-fledged stories, other's sit in the draft folder never to see the light of day again. Eventually I hope I can get those ideas out and making them into physical stories I can share with others. I suppose my ultimate goal is just sharing the story so someone else can experience the ideas in my head and I won't have to keep them to myself.
4. Why did you decide to go the self-publishing route? Would you ever publish traditionally?
I went the self-publishing route because I wanted expediency. With this book I wanted to accomplish a long sought-out goal and to feel it physically in my hands without waiting years for a big publishing company to make it happen. At the time of publishing my book I had just come back from living abroad and wanted a fresh start, I was looking for a job and trying to get back on my feet. I needed a sense of accomplishment and self-publishing helped me reach that goal far sooner than traditional methods would have. Now that I have accomplished that goal, I hope to use traditional methods for other books in the future but I enjoyed the experience and having full control of my book that self-publishing provides.
5. What does being an indie author mean to you?
To me it means being part of a community of people that really care about their work and their audiences. It means having a closer connection with my audience without barriers. I feel more accessible and approachable as an indie author.
6. What was your publishing process like?
It was a lot of research, that's for sure. As a first-timer I started with a lot of google searches trying to figure out the process, which companies to help produce the book weren't scams, and what was going to work best with the nearly non-existent budget I had. I'm very lucky that I have a talented artist for a sister who designed my book's cover for me and who was also with me every step of the way helping me whenever I got confused or frustrated in the process. The biggest hurdle were formatting for me since i was doing it all by myself without using any of the services provided from createspace. Every time I would submit the book I'd find a new formatting error and would have to go through the whole process again and again. It's definitely a long and tedious process but made it easier for me because of budgeting and I was in total control.
7. What was it like publishing your first book?
Terrifying, to say the least. Most of the time I think people will hate anything I create. I face this judgment a lot on my youtube channel but this was an entirely different pool I was getting myself into. There's always that hope that the book is a great success but then there is the fear that everyone on the planet will hate it. For now, I'm very pleased with the reviews I've gotten thus far and I hope that my book can reach other readers who will enjoy as much as the others have and as much as I enjoyed writing the story.
8. Does your occupation play a part in your writing?
Not for me, no. I work with dogs and other animals and their owners for my day job which I enjoy immensely but I don't like incorporating it into my writing because I don't want anything bad to happen to a puppy in my story. I turn off movies if the dog dies in it and my books tend to write themselves once they get going so I wouldn't want to risk it. My previous occupation of teaching English in Japan, does play a role in this book but on a very minor scale.
9. What would you say to a writer that is struggling to publish?
Do it. Have faith in yourself. Whether you want to go the indie route or traditional, go for it. You may get rejections but that happens. Keep pushing. If you're sick of rejections, go the self-publishing route and no one can tell you no for that. Don't focus on the fame, focus on the book, focus on what you want out of it, focus on the story.
10. Anything you want to say to your readers or any closing statements?
I just want to say thank you to everyone who has supported me by reading the book. It means a great deal to me to know that other people know the story, can relate to characters and want to share it with other people. I hope those who haven't yet read it will enjoy The Search for The Phoenix and will enjoy the upcoming books in the series and those outside of the Ashport Archives series.