Kasper Interviews Authors Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown

The Intuitives Book Cover The Intuitives
Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown
YA contemporary fantasy
Trash Dogs Media LLC
July 25, 2017

IMAGINATION JUST BECAME OUR GREATEST WEAPON.

In Egypt, an archaeological team discovers the lost tomb of Alexander the Great. Seven years later, every public school student in America takes a strange new test, but only six are chosen to attend a summer program at the mysterious Institute for the Cultivation of Intuitive Cognition, where nothing is as it appears to be, including the students themselves.

Roman Jackson, 11—the lonely artist.
Sees things. Around people. Things he can never, ever tell.

Samantha Prescott, 16—the sarcastic nerd.
Isolated by a premonition even she doesn’t understand.

Daniel Walker, 17—the shy musician.
Hides his private thoughts in the soundtrack of his mind.

Kaitlyn Wright, 15—the bubbly engineer.
Can fix anything, except the one thing that matters most.

Mackenzie Gray, 17—the disciplined athlete.
Armors her deepest fears against a world she can’t control.

Ashton Hunt, 17—the frustrated gamer.
Hoping to turn pro, and a constant disappointment to his father.

But why is the U.S. government so interested in six outcasts? And what, exactly, is it teaching them to do? Now, they must band together to uncover the true purpose behind the institute—and the ancient secrets that lie hidden beneath its surface...

Before history catches up to them.

***  Author Bio  ***

Author Erin Michelle Sky

As a child, Erin fell in love with llamas and with the books of Anne McCaffrey, whose Dragonriders of Pern series inspired her to become a writer. When she finally met Anne McCaffrey at a fantasy convention some two decades later, she wept uncontrollably throughout the entire affair. She does significantly better with llamas.

Author Steven Brown

Steven spent his childhood reading anything he could get his hands on, sharing his favorite stories with his younger brothers and then acting them out, especially if this required sword fighting on horseback. When they ran out of books, he wrote his own, including his brothers as the main characters by sketching original illustrations on magazine clippings.

Together, they are Dragon Authors, writing science fiction and fantasy novels for teens and adults. You can find them online at DragonAuthors.com.

Author Interview with Erin Michelle Sky and Steven Brown

Kasper: Hi Erin and Steven, it’s so exciting to have both of you for an interview. Two for the price of one. I have met Erin on Facebook before but not Steven, and I’m keen to get to know you both.

1. Do you have a pen name and why?

Well, we write as a team, and we only write as a team. So even though we publish under our real names—Erin Michelle Sky & Seven Brown—we have a special name for the team. Together, we go by Dragon Authors. It’s our website and it’s on all our social media. It’s our identity together, and it’s a promise. Even if just as a passing reference to a painting on a wall, a dragon will make an appearance in every book we ever write.

It hasn’t always been easy to present ourselves as a team, though. Most writers who work together also have their own projects separately. That isn’t true for us. We’re stronger as a team. We come up with better stories as a team. Our work is more robust because we critique each other, and because we always respect each other’s opinion. If one of us doesn’t like something, we change it until it works for us both. We never compromise. We create. Together.

That sounds like a lot of fun

2. How did you go about developing your cover artwork?

The Intuitives was our first cover project, and it went through several stages. At first, we wanted to put our characters on the cover, but we couldn’t agree on any of the concept sketches. We came to realize that we didn’t see the characters the same way! We had described the characters without a lot of physical detail because we wanted readers to have the freedom to imagine them however they liked. And all of our beta readers had done just that, so no one could agree on how they should look! But our first rule of working as a team is that we never compromise. We listen to each other, and we come up with something better. So we started over in a brand new direction. We put the project up on 99designs, asking for a circle of runes with a feeling of mystery and ancient magic. We needed readers to get the right feeling from the cover more than any particular image. We got a LOT of fantastic entries, but the winner was the art you see on the cover now. We loved it and our beta readers loved it! Once we had that as the centerpiece, we hired a typographer to find the right title font, and we hired a graphic designer to lay out the final editions of both the hardcover and paperback, adding our author names, the blurb, and all the details we needed to finish it out.

3. What are your writing plans for this year?

We have a book called The Wendy that we’ve been writing on Patreon. It’s a complete rewrite of Peter Pan that takes place in England in 1790. Wendy Darling is the main character, an orphan who grew up to join the newly-formed British Home Office, which is secretly fighting off magical creatures known as the everlost. It’s a YA fantasy that preserves some of JM Barrie’s original lyrical style while re-imagining everything else. We’ve had a lot of fun writing it!

The first draft is finished, so we’re in the process of final revisions, moving toward publication early in 2018. Once revising and editing are finished on that one, we’ll head into our next writing project while we’re finalizing the design of The Wendy for publication. We’re always working on something!

That’s a great concept. I can’t wait to read it.

4. You sound very busy. What do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing?

We both truly LOVE writing. When we aren’t writing, we love doing other things that involve books—reading, talking about books, promoting books (not just our own books!), working with artists on cover art… We also enjoy going to the movies—discovering new stories in any form! We enjoy hiking, rock climbing, snorkeling, traveling, exploring new places. But the best part of traveling is meeting new people wherever we go, listening to their stories over a cup of coffee at a local cafe.

5. Do you have a blog?

We do! You can find it at dragonauthors.com. We’ve been reviewing other people’s books for a while, but we’ve recently started posting animated BookTube reviews. With stick figures. (It’s another one of those things we do when we’re not writing.) We started with a review of Tyrolin Puxty’s Colt Harper: Esteemed Vampire Cat (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=g7H3sZdD35c). They’re ridiculous, and a lot of fun to make!

Very clever.

6. How do you develop your characters?

I guess you could say we develop our characters together, but they have this strange tendency to develop themselves. When we hit on the right things—the right habits, the right family, the right home, the right nickname, etc.—we both know it. It’s a strange kind of magic in and of itself, how we both know when we’ve hit on something “true” about them. We end up knowing FAR more about our characters than ever makes it into the novel.
We know their secret wishes and dreams. We know the people and events they have been inspired by, even though they’re too embarrassed to admit it because no one else around them would approve. We know what they consciously want, and we know what they say they want, and we know what they really want but have forgotten even for themselves because they just don’t think it’s possible. But we never feel like we’re making any of that up. We feel more like we’re quietly sitting and listening until we can hear the truth of it.

7. What music do you listen to when writing?

That’s an interesting question because it gets into how we write as a team. We start with a brainstorming session together to create the overall concept for the project, including the intended audience, the main characters, the world they live in, and the overarching plot line and themes for the work.

Then Steven drafts the chapter-by-chapter outline. He likes to develop a specific soundtrack to listen to for each individual book while he goes through that process, to capture the overall feel of the story. Once the outline is done, we go over it together, looking for holes, shoring up subplots, etc.

When we’re both happy with it, Erin turns it into hard copy one chapter at a time, and we go over each chapter together as it’s written, looking for more holes, fixing internal inconsistencies of both plot and character development, etc. Erin doesn’t listen to anything while she’s drafting copy. For her, music interferes too much when she’s trying to hear the voices of the narrator and of each individual character.

Once the draft is complete, we revise together, adding, removing, and revising entire chapters as needed within the context of the book as a whole. Sometimes our characters take on a mind of their own during the writing process, and the story needs to be revised based on that input!

Finally, we put the manuscript onto a tablet in e-book form and read it all the way through one more time—out loud—to make sure the copy flows smoothly, fixing any “stumbling blocks” where a reader might feel the need to start a sentence over again. Once we’ve both signed off on that process, it goes to our editor.

Gee, it sounds like the team approach is really working for you.

8. Have you used any real events or places as inspiration for your writing?

Definitely! Some of these would be spoilers so we won’t mention them specifically, but there are several real-life locations portrayed in The Intuitives, for example, which takes place in the modern-day United States. And we’ve done extensive research on the historical world in which the action of The Wendy takes place. Like which parts of Dover Castle existed in 1790, what fashions were in style, and which carriage routes ran out of London.

Sometimes the real-life things we find seem too amazing to be a coincidence. But it’s too early to give those away. We’ll have to wait until our books have been out for a while before we can share those secrets. We hate spoilers as much as any other readers!

9. Which scene from your book do you like best and why?

That’s a great question! The scenes that stand out the most for us are not necessarily big, climactic scenes. It’s the small things that tend to stay with us. A moment of profound trust between two characters who never would have noticed each other under “normal” circumstances. Or the comical results of a misguided parent with the best of intentions. They’re scenes of everyday life, the kind of moments you might remember fondly of a friend or loved one because that’s who our characters are to us.

10. Do you prefer ebook or hard copy?

Other authors love us because we like to own the physical copy and read the electronic copy, and we read on different electronic devices, so together we buy at least three copies of every book. Not to mention that we’ve been known to buy a hardcover to sit untouched in our permanent collection as well a paperback that we can throw in a backpack when we’re doing some rough hiking and don’t want to risk our electronic devices falling off a cliff.

***  Author Quick Quiz  ***

Favorite food:
Steven: sushi
Erin: ice cream – preferably in neon colors, with unlimited toppings

Silliest saying:
Steven: frak, from Battlestar Galactica
Erin: piss-damn, a phrase used by one of the characters in The Intuitives

Best holiday spot:
Steven: Boulder, CO
Erin: I love the mountains, and I love the beach. I couldn’t pick just one.

Favorite song at the moment:
Steven: “In a Blackout” by Hamilton Leithauser + Rostam
Erin: “Come a Little Bit Closer” by Jay & the Americans (from GotG2)

With writing, are you a plotter or (seat-of-your) pantser?
We are now plotters, thanks to Steven, for which Erin will be eternally grateful.

Star Wars or Lord of the Rings?
Steven: Lord of the Wars
Erin: Star of the Rings

Best superpower?
Steven: Professor X power combo
Erin: teleportation

Number one thing to do on your bucket list:
We don’t have a bucket list as much as an ongoing mission, which is to bring as much happiness to people with our stories as we possibly can.

 

Thanks Erin and Steven for stopping by for this fun interview.  It was great to learn how your differences combine into a powerful writing force.  All the best for your new release which is available for pre-order now and will be released on July 25th.  I hope it is a best seller.
Interviewed by Kasper Beaumont, author of the Hunters of Reloria fantasy series. www.huntersofreloria.weebly.com

***  Dragon Authors’ Links  ***

Book Links to The Intuitives (now available for pre-order. Release date is July 25th):

Book Link to Wendy:
Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/DragonAuthors

Dragon Authors Links:
Blog:  http://dragonauthors.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/DragonAuthors
Twitter:  https://twitter.com/dragonauthors
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/dragonauthors/
Tumblr: https://dragonauthors.tumblr.com/

346 total views, 13 views today

  • Fabulous interview

  • CDyess Writes

    What a great interview! Love learning more about the authors, thank you.

  • It’s so rare to find a writing team like that! Many thanks for the introduction. And it’s so funny to read about the Intuitives one day after reading someone’s claim on the news that they’ve found Alexander’s grave (they haven’t, IMHO, but that’s for the archaeologists to decide).