Author Spotlight Interview: Rene Astle
Today’s interview is with the sci-fi, fantasy and urban fantasy author who writes as Rene Astle and C. Rene Astle. It was an honor to learn more about her publishing journey, approach to writing and life outside of all that. We hope you enjoy learning more about Astle’s books and consider adding one or more to your TBR!
HG: How would you describe yourself to somebody who isn’t familiar with your writing yet?
RA: I write what I love to read: scifi and fantasy books driven by outsiders, the odd ones, trying to make their way in the universe. Add to the mix a dash of action and a kiss of romance.
I love dashes and hate semi-colons. And I’ve been known to use conjunctions at the beginning of sentences. I write in Canadian English – I have a whole blog post about.
HG: What inspires your stories and why is that important to you?
RA: Ideas come from all over the place – the latest science news, a snippet from a biography, a dream (seriously, Bloodborne Pathogens started in a dream), a walk in the park. Anything can help fill the creative well but the ideas really start to coalesce into stories when I get a scene in my head with a couple of characters interacting – often that scene never makes it into the book, but it gives me that sense of the characters that I need.
HG: That’s fantastic! What feeling do you hope readers are left with when they finish one of your novels?
RA: Like they’ve had a good meal, satisfied … but not so full they don’t want more.
HG: Oh, I LOVE that answer! Okay, switching gears, tell us a bit about your publishing journey. Has being an author always been your dream job?
RA: I’ve been a storyteller for as long as I can remember, and I always enjoyed creating pictures with words. I left off writing for a number of years after high school but came back to it when I had the idea for Bloodborne Pathogens. It still took a long time to finish that first book.
HG: What have been the challenges you’ve faced in your publishing career?
RA: I knew pretty early on that I wanted to go the indie route, from what I heard from other authors who were on the journey before me. But it can be a challenge knowing where to start as an indie author – you’re basically running your own business, possibly off the side of your day job desk. Luckily, my mom is also an author and had led the way publishing MG fantasy so I could learn from her. I also have a friend who’s an indie author, and we’ve been able to share lessons learned along the way.
HG: That’s great. Is there anything you’d do differently? Advice to aspiring authors?
RA: I don’t know that I’d do anything differently – every mistake is a lesson learned, right? And I’ve learned lessons along the way. So, things I would tell my past self:
- Don’t go with pen names that are basically the same (I thought I was being smart, and I suppose it still might be but time will tell).
- You don’t have to do all the things – try different things, yes, but if some don’t work for you, no matter how much others swear by them, it’s okay to leave them by the wayside and try something else.
- Find support from fellow authors who have the same mindset, whether that’s in person or online. I was in a writing group for years, and have partnered with another author in an author’s collective.
But, really, the most important thing is to write.
HG: Truly great advice. Thank you for sharing those bits of wisdom. Please tell us a little bit about your actual writing process. Does it differ for dark/urban fantasy vs scifi? When and where do you write?
RA: My process doesn’t differ by genre. That said, I’ve developed as an author over time. The dark fantasy was written earlier in my author career, and my writing process has evolved. I used to be more of a pantser, or discovery writer. I’ve since turned into a plotter. My first dark fantasy book took 5 years to finish once I started working on it, while I was able to draft the first scifi book during Nanowrimo a few years ago and publish it the next year. That said, even though I consider myself a plotter, I still find lots to discover along the way.
HG: What can you tell us about any other projects you have in the works?
RA: I’m focusing on the scifi series – I’m currently working on book 3 with a few more in the hopper. But the shiny new idea takes me back to the dark fantasy. I have a spinoff series I’m itching to write, starring one of the side characters from my first series. I have a problem where I often fall in love with the side characters and their stories … I already have ideas for a scifi spin-off as well. It’s a good problem to have.
RA: It’s funny. Although I often look at pictures of celebrities as I’m working up descriptions of characters, there’s only two across both series that I have a clear celebrity in mind for, and they’re both from the Lyra Cycle. I’ve always pictured the niece from Arrested Development (Alia Shawkat) as Tink and Viola Davis as Captain Rebeka Mino.
HG: That’s fantastic. For fun, before we wrap up, let’s do a fast five! First one…cookies or cake?
RA: Cookies. No, cake. No…pie! Bumbleberry in particular. With apple and rhubarb.
HG: Yum! Bonfire or fireplace?
RA: Fireplace. I can be warm front and back but still have the ambience.
HG: Night out or night in?
RA: 100% night in. I mean, I like a night out occasionally, but to recharge the battery? A night in.
HG: eBook, paperback or audiobook?
RA: Yes. I used to be very much team paperback. But the convenience of ebooks has won me over. I don’t listen to audiobooks so much despite being a big podcast listener.
HG: Pool or ocean?
RA: Ocean any day. I’m fortunate to live by the ocean, though I’ll only swim in it on the hottest summer day in a protected bay – otherwise, it’s just too cold. But I find there’s something so soul-refreshing being by water.
HG: Soul-refeshing indeed. For readers that want to find out more about your stories and keep up with you, where should they go to connect or learn more?
RA: You can find me at my website, where you can find links to social media and where to find my books. You can also follow my new newsletter on Substack or the one with the other author I’ve joined forces with.
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