Welcome to week SIX of Indie Author Spotlight by The Edifying Word. We’re switching genres this week to sci-fi, with a sort of thriller twist. I used to think I didn’t read sci-fi (I wrote a post about that once), but really I find myself reading and enjoying it more and more. Doesn’t hurt that my 8yo seems to like it, so I end up reading some with her, too. I’m please to introduce you to EJ Fisch, who will talk to us a little about herself and her writing!
One of the coolest things about putting together this series is that I’ve gotten introduced to so many new books. I’ve been doing my best to read at least one book from every author I feature, so when EJ Fisch expressed interest in participating I picked up her first book, Dakiti, which I just finished a couple of days ago. I really enjoyed it, and do plan to read the rest of the series.
So, broadly speaking you write sci-fi. After reading Dakiti, I feel like it’s a little bit of a cross with thriller, though. Are all your books a hybrid like this one?
You’re right, my sci-fi comes with a twist. My current series, of which Dakiti is the first book, is character-driven space opera with kind of a spy/military thriller twist—lots of action and intrigue, but happening in a fictional galaxy with a cast of superhuman characters. All of my future story ideas are also sci-fi but have varying subgenres like post-apocalyptic and cyberpunk.
Tell us about your books and where we can get them!
My Ziva Payvan series—the aforementioned space opera/spy thriller mashup—is currently available on all major ebook platforms and in paperback. The saga begins with an elite operative (the series namesake Ziva Payvan) being forced to team up with the brother of a man she killed in order to stop a threat to their world. Shenanigans ensue. The main trilogy consists of Dakiti, Nexus, and Ronan (+ an omnibus edition containing all three), and then there’s Fracture: Ziva Payvan Legacy, Part 1. Embers, which is part 2, is still in the works and I’m aiming for a year-end release. While all five books are technically part of the series, I consider the two Legacy books kind of a collective sequel to the main trilogy.
I really enjoyed Dakiti, and I was shocked when I heard when you wrote it! Can you share with readers when you started writing?
I’ve been writing to some extent since I was probably 10 or 11, but I didn’t really start writing “seriously” until I was in junior high and even high school. A couple of friends and I had this goofy Star Wars roleplaying game going via AOL instant messenger in 7th and 8th grade and I used to take our chat transcripts and novelize them. It was at that point that I started to think, “Hey, I could probably write a real novel-length story if I wanted.” I started developing some new characters and some new plots and experimented with some little one-shots. I actually wrote the majority of Dakiti during high school, then spruced it up fairly extensively a few years ago when I decided to pursue publishing.
Seems like writing has been a part of your life for a long time. Why do you write?
Frankly, I think I’d go insane otherwise. I admittedly have a very a vivid imagination and am always thinking “what if,” so creating new worlds and characters is a constructive way for me to explore all of those ideas. Writing just feels like the natural solution. It’s an outlet.
Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I gave pantsing my best shot when I first started developing the two Ziva Payvan Legacy books, and looking back on it, I really should have known better. I’m a plotter at heart, and I ended up wasting an enormous amount of time (we’re talking like three years—yikes) before I finally went back and wove what little material I had into a detailed outline. After that, I was able to progress much more smoothly. An outline serves as a roadmap for me, and I’ve always had to at least have a high-level list of major scenes/events before I even begin a new project. As I’ve worked on Embers, I’ve created an outline for each chapter, leaving space for extra notes because it never fails that I come up with more ideas for little details I don’t want to forget. I’ve really enjoyed using the GoodNotes on my iPad so I can sync it with my phone and jot things down wherever I am.
How do you fit writing into your life?
I have a day job, so it can sometimes be tricky to fit writing into my schedule. When I’m really on a roll, I usually don’t have much trouble finding the time, but more often than not, writing is competing with several other hobbies for the limited free time I have. I’ve gotten to where I do all my drafting in Google Docs so I can access my work from pretty much any device at any time, and I think that has really helped. Even if I’m not actively working on the story, I’m still connected to it.
It’ll take me a bit to get through the books you’ve already published, but can you share anything about your upcoming projects?
Embers is definitely my primary project right now and I’m planning on it being the final installment in the Ziva Payvan saga (with “planning” being the keyword—I wasn’t originally “planning” on Fracture and Embers even existing, but here we are). One of my future ideas is for a semi-comedic sci-fi adventure/heist story I’m describing as “Ocean’s Eleven in space,” and then I’ve got a space-opera-meets-post-apocalyptic story idea that will involve a bounty hunter guild and a character who belongs to another race featured in my current series. Then there’s kind of a near-future-Earth cyberpunk/psychological thriller idea I’ve actually had longer than the others, but it’s not as big of a priority as they are.
Currently, one of my biggest dreams is to have my books adapted into graphic novels. I’ve been really into the Lazarus graphic novel series by Greg Rucka, and every time I read it, I think my material would be perfect for that sort of thing and I imagine how cool it would be to see it visualized on the page. It’s one of those things that I could probably do myself if I tried, but it would take me a thousand years and I’d have to devote all my time solely to that project. And if someone else was developing it, I’d be hovering constantly to make sure it was done the way I wanted. So while it’s a nice dream to have, I’m not taking it super seriously at the moment.
I don’t tend to read graphic novels, but I can see how your books would fit really well, and it would be really neat to see visual representations of the different species and their characteristics. You mention you’d do it yourself – are you an artist as well? What other hobbies do you have?
Yes! Digital art is a big hobby of mine. I do all of my own cover art and concept art, so even when I’m drawing instead of writing, chances are it’s still somehow related to the story. I’m also a sucker for story-based RPGs, but gaming is dangerous because if I get caught up in a new game, I typically don’t get anything else done, regardless of how much I want to. I keep saying I’ll have to make myself finish Embers before Assassin’s Creed: Valhalla comes out this holiday season or it’s never going to get done. Ha! And, of course, reading, but that tends to fall by the wayside a lot.
What’s your favorite genre to read? Favorite books?
They say write what you like to read, so it should come as no surprise that I enjoy reading a) sci-fi and b) thrillers (bonus points for a combination). Space opera is definitely my favorite sci-fi subgenre, but I’ll read most types of sci-fi if a given book’s premise grabs my attention. I love Hugh Howey’s Silo trilogy and have enjoyed a number of space opera works by other indie authors, such as G.S. Jennsen’s sprawling Amaranthe saga and Joel Shepherd’s Spiral Wars series (which I’ve fallen miserably behind in, I fear). My CP T.A. Hernandez also has a great dystopian thriller trilogy with a dash of sci-fi. On the purely thriller side, I’ve really enjoyed David Baldacci’s Will Robie series (government assassins, anyone?). The plots feel a little far-fetched at times, but the two protagonists are wonderfully written.
What do you want readers to know about you?
I’m always up for connecting on social media (links below). I’m happy to discuss my books, characters, or just chat about writing and reading in general. And it’s always fun to connect with people over other random mutual interests. Sometimes it feels like I spend more time tweeting about video games and cats than I do about books.
Would you like to be featured, too? Please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org!