I have a very special guest on my blog today.
B. S. H. Garcia releases her debut novel, Of Thieves And Shadows, on June 1, 2023. It’s the first installment of The Heart Of Quinaria, an epic fantasy series.
I was among the lucky ARC readers who got to read this gem of a book before it’s released. To say I was impressed would be a huge understatement. And I’m beyond thrilled to have this opportunity to chat to this incredibly talented author about her books and her writing journey.
This is the best part of being in the writing community, by the way — meeting amazing people and having a chance to connect with them and talk to them about their stories, their fascinating worlds and characters, their dreams, and their writing life. Peeking into the magic of storytelling, essentially.
So I’d like to express my gratitude to B. S. H. Garcia for taking her time to answer my questions and revealing some of her secrets.
Could you tell us a little bit about yourself, please?
Sure thing! I currently live in the PNW—Bend, OR, to be specific—though I’ll be returning to Colorado’s mountains within the year. So far, I’ve been 88% successful at keeping two tiny humans, two cats, and a smol doge alive, so I guess I’ve got that going for me. I like mead, movies, and mountains. Somewhat of a cosplay fanatic, thanks to my talented husbean (no, that’s not a typo). Books are life, obviously. I’ve only published fantasy, but I do intend to delve into sci-fi and horror down the road. If I’m not nerding out or lost in the woods during my once-a-month free time slot, I’m probably staring at the same page for an hour straight, debating if that’s a good place to indent a new paragraph.
Books are life. Couldn’t agree more!
How and when did your writing journey start? What is the thing you enjoy most about writing?
I failed at music and acting and moved on to the next best thing.
I mean, the above are true. I had a stint in Hollywood and landed a stellar calculator commercial—don’t you dare look it up. Some of the small roles were fun, and so was theater, but the pressure proved to be too much for nineteen-year-old me. Walking into a room and being told no before you even start your lines is sobering.
After completing an English degree and deciding I did NOT have the patience to teach, I looked for other ways to utilize both my degree and my renewed interest in creating. I’d written off an on my whole life, including many short stories, but I didn’t sit down to crack out my first novel until 2018. It came surprisingly easy to me, but that’s probably because the story had already been kicking around in my mind for nearly a decade at that point. I had a recurring vision of a scene—what is now my last chapter of OTAS—and I had to get it out.
Coming back to the original question, storytelling is what got me into writing. I’d been making up and orchestrating stories in various mediums since I was a little kid, and writing soon followed. But I wasn’t one of those people who always wanted to be a writer. I wanted to be a creator, a storyteller. And I guess I’ve always been.
As far as what I enjoy most about it, that’s a bit harder to nail down. For one, it’s my primary form of creative self-expression. It’s also a way for me to process life and my place in it. What I didn’t initially expect and have come to enjoy, however, is the way writing connects me to people. I’m introverted and struggle to begin relationships, especially in my adult life. Writing allows me to be my most vulnerable self in ways I can’t in-person or through spoken word. Having someone reach out to you and let you know how much your story means to them is one of the best feelings out there. It’s this unspoken kinship between the author and the reader. And now it’s my favorite thing.
I know that feeling. It’s absolutely amazing! To me, that’s the best part of writing. And what’s the most rewarding part of being a writer for you? Also, what’s the most challenging part?
Again, having readers reach out to me is probably the most rewarding thing. I haven’t even released yet, but the handful of advanced reviewers who’ve gone out of their way to let me know they’ve enjoyed my writing means the world. I don’t think they realize just how much their positive feedback can affect a writer and help them keep going when the road gets tough.
On that same note, one of the most challenging things can be juggling negative or even critical feedback. Once the book is out of beta stages and ready for publishing, you can’t do much with negative responses besides take notes for future projects. I’m someone who could keep perfecting a story forever, so I’d say that just accepting something is as good as it’s going to get is hard for me. But I’m getting better at letting go, and hopefully I can learn to accept negative reviews without absorbing them or letting them drown out all the positive ones.
Oh, yes, I can definitely relate to that. The struggle with perfectionism is never-ending in my case.
Why did you choose to self-publish your books?
I think for a lot of indie authors, it’s about creative control. We want to decide which version of our story goes out, who edits it, have input on the cover, the release date, etc. I did query for a while and ultimately received an offer from a small press, but I turned them down after careful consideration. Aside from the creative control aspect, I didn’t feel comfortable signing over my rights. Unless you get a six-figure deal with a Big 5 press, I (personally) don’t believe they make you a priority, and so few authors even earn out their initial advances. I decided I was the best champion for my book. I wanted to be able to write all the stories in my series, guaranteed, the way I want, on the schedule I want, and hire the best cover designers and editors. I will admit that it’s been a learning curve. Some days I want to scream, trying to juggle it all. But the truth is the thing that frustrates me most is marketing, and that’s something I’d have to do even if I was trad published. It’s just part of being a creator in our world today. So far, I have no regrets about my decision, and I’m excited to see where my journey takes me.
There’s a lot to juggle. Trust me, I’m right there with you, screaming. And at the same time, it is the most exciting journey ever. It’s most definitely worth it!
Please tell us about your books! How did you come up with the idea of the fascinating world of Quinaria? How long did it take you to write your first book?
I briefly touched on this a few questions ago, but the whole idea began with a daydream. Ever since I was a child, I’ve played out stories and built characters in my head. As I grew and left toys behind, my initial vessels, I began to visualize characters in my mind instead. I’d often have my most vivid ideas occur on jogs or hikes. Something about my body moving allows my mind to free itself up. So, the idea for the story began by visualizing my MC, Elaysia, at a pivotal point in her life. It didn’t stand out to me at the time; it was something I did with many characters often. But she was one of the ones who never left. I continued on with my acting career, quit that, started a new career, got married, completed a college degree–all without writing my story. But when college ended and created a gap in my once homework-filled evenings, I decided to replace with something for me. Thus, Quinaria was born. I spent a solid month world-building every night and weekend, and it only took me two months after that to write a 120k story. It seems so crazy to me now, five years later, that it just poured out of me like that. Of course, I was in a different place with no kids and a mostly chill job. Then, between several moves, job changes, pregnancies, and births, editing was off and one for years after that. I wanted to give up so many times, and I actually tried to. I’d set my story aside for months and say, “this isn’t going to work for me,” or, “other people, better people, write.” But my characters never left me alone. So, it’s their fault I’m here today.
As far as the ideas for the world-building itself, a lot of that came from a place of selfishness. There were elements I rarely came across in reading that I desperately wanted in my story, and that led me down rabbit holes of research, which (I hope) translate into quite a unique and believable world. And while the initial world-building set the cornerstones of my first draft, I continued to expand upon that over the following years. In fact, I still do today. Every time I draft a new bit, I get a little deeper into my world. You don’t even want to see all my word docs, post-it notes, journal entries, and Pinterest boards. It’s a chaotic nightmare of world-building vomit. Ha.
Well, the mind-blowing level of world-building in your book definitely shows how much work you put into it! Also, I loved the characters! Who are your favorite characters? Anyone you can personally relate to, or maybe someone you have a lot in common with?
My characters are like my babies, and like a good mom, I love them all equally. At least, I’m supposed to say that, right? They all have a bit of me, which can’t be helped, I suppose. And I have so, so many. Epic fantasy club. I’m obviously partial to my POV characters. I’ve spent the most time in their skin. But there are plenty of secondary characters I can’t imagine the story without. See how I’m still not answering the question? If I had to choose, Zavik has a special place in my heart. He’s my little cinnamon roll. But the story wouldn’t exist without Elaysia. So, maybe them. I probably relate to them the most, too.
I love this. He is a cinnamon roll! And one of my favorite characters.
If you had a chance, would you like to live in the world you created?
This is a tough one. It would depend on when in my world’s timeline. Far enough back and in the right place? Sure! Where OTAS kicks off? I’m not sure I’d feel safe anywhere for long.
True. Not the safest place. On the other hand, neither is our real world these days…
As far as I know, you are currently working on book two. When can we expect it?
You are correct! Unfortunately, drafting has been sidelined while I prepared for launch, but I do plan to dive back in hardcore as soon as OTAS is out in the wild. Book two will (fingers crossed) release about a year from now. Given the scope of my stories and the limited time I have to write, I can’t commit to more than a book a year at this point. I am, however, hoping to release novelettes or short stories in between each main series installment, so you will have those to look forward to.
Given your circumstances I’d say it’s incredible you can do a book a year! But I must admit, I can’t wait. I miss the characters and have to know what happens next!
As a reader, what is your favorite genre, and what are some of your favorite books?
I’d be a hypocrite if I didn’t say fantasy, right? Lucky for me, that’s true! I enjoy just about everything under the speculative umbrella, though, sci-fi and horror included. I also have a soft spot for classics, some historical fiction, and I actually love a good non-fiction, most often in the science, writing, or history categories. I really cannot begin to choose my favorite books. There are far too many. I can tell you that I’ve recently been reading some solid indie books (yours included!), and I’m turning to graphic novels when I need a breather in between large books.
Thank you, it means a lot to me. I also read (and aspire to write) multiple genres.
What advice would you give to aspiring authors?
Find a writing community or build one. This has been the single most important factor in my success and the only reason I’ve made it this far. Writing is solitary, the act itself, but the stress surrounding it doesn’t have to be. I don’t know what I would have done without all my writer friends. Their support, insight, and advice have made this dream a reality. Do not, I repeat, DO NOT go it alone. Find your people.
Amen to that! I keep saying that it doesn’t have to be a lonely journey. And the support from the writing community is something I will forever be grateful for.
Last but not least… what’s your idea of a perfect writer’s day?
My dream day has yet to happen, but I imagine it would go something like this: I’d wake up in a cabin in the woods/mountains. Alone. Just me and nature. I’d stretch, brew some coffee, and go for a walk/hike. I’d return and write for a few hours, then break for lunch/snacks and some yoga. Write some more. Read. Read and write. Write and read. Go on another walk. Drink some wine. Read, write, self-care, repeat. This a dream scenario to me because I so rarely have time to myself like this. I may not even get that much writing done, but damn, it would be good for my soul.
I think you just described my perfect writing day. At least we can dream, right?
Well, this was an absolute pleasure. Thank you so much for your time! I’m your number one fan, waiting impatiently for the sequel. Meanwhile, I’m wishing you all the success with your upcoming release!
Dear readers, I hope you enjoyed this interview. You can find B. S. H. Garcia here:
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And let’s once again take a look at this masterpiece:
Of Thieves And Shadows releases on June 1, 2023. You can preorder your copy now, and if you sign up to the author’s newsletter, you’ll also get a free prequel to this story, From The Ashes. It’s a beautifully written novelette that could be read as a standalone or as part of the series.