Dear Writer-Friends,

I've been self-publishing since 2011, and I've shared the knowledge I've gained in two books: the Indie Author Survival Guide, Second Edition, and For Love or Money. I'm not an indie rockstar or a breakout success: I'm one of thousands of solidly midlist indie authors making a living with their works. These books are my way of helping my fellow authors discover the freedom of indie publishing. Write on, writer-friends!

S.K. Quinn, Independent Author of Science Fiction

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Monday, June 18, 2012

Meet Becca Campbell, author of Foreign Identity

Today I’m chatting with Becca Campbell, author of Foreign Identity, a science fiction New Adult novel published earlier this month. New Adult is a classification of book just a step up in age from “young adult” and generally has characters in their early twenties. First a little about Becca’s book, and then we’ll dive into some writerly conversation. Check out the GIVEAWAY at the end!


Foreign Identity
Cold. Confusion. Fear. This is how it all begins.

Waking up without your memory in a cell and bound by chains is terrifying.

Two nameless strangers, a man and a woman, find themselves imprisoned together. With no memories of their own identities, let alone their captor and tormentor, escape is the only option. The pair faces a bizarre labyrinth of rooms and clues that confuse more than they explain. Every discovery only brings more questions.

Who captured them? Why were they taken? What does their captor want from them? What can the riddles mean?

Who are they?

Lacking allies and options, the duo must learn to trust one another. Mazes, puzzles, and even strange, lurking creatures force them to rely on their wits--and each other--for survival. But survival isn't enough. They need answers.

Will the answers be enough? Will the truth bring them closer together, or drive them forever apart? Will discovering their identities finally bring them home?

Me: Becca, I love that you have three boys (like me!), your husband is a musician (very much NOT like me), you paint as well as write (I am SO not an artist), and yet we both ended up writing science fiction. In reading your bio and perusing your website, I can feel the waves of creativity rolling off your life. Tell us a little bit about what inspired you to write Foreign Identity, and why you chose to write a novel your reviewers are calling “science fiction/thriller/romance.”

Becca: The idea for the story began with a ten-word writing prompt on a writing blog. After using the words and writing the initial post, I continued the story on the blog, adding to it twice a week. I used the latest writing prompt for each scene, forcing myself to fit the words in. Sometimes they directed the story and other times I molded them to the ideas in my head. More than half of the novel was written in serial form, one 1000-word (approximately) scene at a time. I wrote to a pretty big cliffhanger and then wrote the rest of the story in private, saving the final reveal for when I would publish the book.

When I wrote that first post I had no idea of the plot or where the story would lead. For me that made it fun and exciting to work on. I love mysteries and puzzles. So as a creative experiment, instead of starting Foreign Identity with an outline, I started with a problem and worked to find the solution.

Once I’d decided to start with a problem, I needed to figure out what that problem would be. What situation could I throw a couple of characters into that would be complex and seem impossible? My answer was this: chain them up in a nondescript chamber and strip them of all their memories. And to top that off, leave them devoid of interaction with their captor and without any clue if they even had a captor.

Perfect. (Insert evil writer laugh.)

After that, it was just figuring out how to solve my poor characters’ dilemma. How would they escape? Once they did, what would be waiting for them? At that point I came up with a full back story and an elaborate scheme for why they might be in such a situation. But instead of ending the mystery then, I used clues that raised more questions than they answered. The television show Lost was a great example of how to write a properly suspenseful story without completely frustrating the viewers.

Me: I love the idea that pantsing your way through the story might be a great way to create something with lots of “surprises” for the reader. I’m a big fan of plotting now, but I’ve pantsed my way through several stories (which then required a lot of rewrites). Do you prefer plotting or pantsing, or do you mix it up for different stories?

Becca: I’ve written two novels via pantsing and two via plotting. I much prefer the latter. It’s fun to experiment as I go, but I’ve since realized (as you mentioned) that the less I’ve planned out a story beforehand, the more editing and rewrites it’s going to need.

I’m a pretty organized person, so I typically create an outline that’s a full chapter-by-chapter long synopsis, listing each scene before I begin writing. I even break the climax of the book down to six individual points. This helps me tremendously. Detailing all this doesn’t make it law though, it just gives me somewhere to begin. I always have to change things as I go, sometimes adding or deleting full chapters. It’s important for me to be flexible.

Me: Sounds like you plot a lot the way I do (now)! My last “outline” had 16,000 words of ch-by-ch outline before I couldn’t stand it anymore and had to start writing! Now that Foreign Identity is out, what is your next step? Are you planning a sequel, or is Foreign Identity a stand-alone book? Do you have other novels in the works? And can you tell us a bit about Consortium of Worlds, your anthology?


Becca: Foreign Identity is a stand-alone work and I don’t plan on a sequel (although some readers have surprised me by asking about one).

I have several other books in various stages of edits. The next novel I plan on publishing is a new adult/urban fantasy story titled Gateway to Reality.

The story is about an art college graduate who wishes he was a successful artist but is stuck in a mediocre life. When he discovers that life as he knows it is only a fictitious construct created by his subconscious mind and that true reality exists in his dreams, his entire paradigm shifts.

The story is set in Chicago and much of it revolves around The Cloud Gate, the famous mirrored bean-shaped sculpture in Millennium Park. If you liked The Matrix or Inception you’ll enjoy this story. It’s scheduled for publication this October.

The Consortium of Worlds is a collection of speculative fiction short stories by several authors in The Consortium, a non-profit organization with the goal of supporting artists. Consortium Books is my publisher for Foreign Identity.

The first chapter of Foreign Identity was published in A Consortium of Worlds #1. A Consortium of Worlds #2 features Not the Norm, my short story set in an alternate world where the majority of the population has supernatural abilities due to genetic engineering. The story explores what it is like to be one of the few who lack superpowers in a world that considers them handicapped or “sub-normal”. The characters face off against government agents that are directed to hunt and exterminate them.

Me: Ah, Kira from my Mindjack Trilogy can relate to that “sub-normal” label that gets applied to people without the reigning powers-that-be! And pretty much every mindjacker can sympathize with being hunted down by the government. :) Sounds like you have some great stuff coming up! I’m excited to read The Cloud Gate, since Chicago is right in my backyard (also the setting for the Mindjack Trilogy). I want to see what you do with “The Bean!” :)


One quick, last question: indie publishers often find success with series, building on their fan bases with a work that carries the same characters through a series of three (or more) books. Have you considered writing a series, or are you inclined more towards stand-alone novels. Why/why not?


Becca: Funny that you asked. The other books I’ve written (the only ones I haven’t mentioned yet) happen to be part of an urban fantasy series called Flawed. It focuses on people who have superhuman weaknesses (yes, you read that right). I plan on publishing Empath, the first book in the series, sometime next year.

Empath is the story of a young woman whose mind is constantly plagued by the emotions of everyone around her. Deciphering her own desires when she’s around her friends—especially a guy with a serious crush on her—is hard enough. But that’s nothing compared to facing the psychopathic killer that has his eye on her.

Flawed: Outsider and Flawed: Protector are books two and three in the series. Each book focuses on a different character although the cast crosses over between the stories. I may add more books to the series although I haven’t planned others yet. (Book two is finished and I plan on writing book three in November.) I anticipate the popularity of this series to eclipse that of my other books.

As far as whether I’m more inclined to write a series versus stand alone books, I pretty much just take the ideas as they come. I’ve enjoyed both and don’t prefer one over the other, although I do tend to get more attached to my characters who are part of a series.

Me: Your Flawed series does sound awesome! I can see I will have to keep an eye out for your new releases in the fall and years to come! Thanks so much for chatting with me today, and I wish you luck with Foreign Identity – although I have a feeling you won’t be needing it.


Becca is giving away an ecopy of her novel Foreign Identity plus a copy of her short story Not the Norm (previously in the Consortuim anthology)! Enter the Rafflecopter below before midnight Tuesday (open internationally). If you can't wait to win (um, like me), you can buy Foreign Identity for $0.99 on Amazon and Barnes and Noble!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

30 comments:

  1. Great interview, ladies! Becca, Foreign Identity sounds like a highly engaging read. Congratulations!

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  2. Congrats, Becca! I love hearing that a published story started off with a writing prompt. We just never know! :)

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    1. Thanks! Yeah, I know. Never know where inspiration will strike but when it does, I pounce on it. :)

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  3. I have only read a couple of short stories in E-form.

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  4. Not sure what it is about this cover, but it hits me with both creepy, intrigue, and fun. Yeah, fun?? Chalk it up to me being weird.

    Best of luck, Becca, with this book!

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    1. Glad you like it. My good friend and design-savvy friend Anna Howard worked her magic to create it. Creepy, intriguing and fun sounds like a good combo to me--so thanks!

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  5. This sounds awesome, and I always love more ebooks to read!

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  6. Oreign Identity sounds like a fantastic book,I love the premise for it.

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  7. Foreign Identity ...sorry I was typing and walking.(I recommend it.)

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  8. Great interview questions from Ms. Quinn and lovely answers from Becca. I definitely relate on the pantsing/plotting bit. Can't wait to read Foreign Identity. It sounds, well, thrilling! XD

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  9. I have only read a few on e-copy that I have recieved. Thanks!

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  10. Yes, all the time! I love anthologies!

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  11. Great interview! I just loved Becca's novel, everyone should read it!

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  12. Sounds great!! New Adult, I have not heard of that one before...very interesting...Thank you

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  13. Hi, great interview :-) I sometimes buy anthologies/short stories in eBook format, depending on the topic and the author. I like to have a few around to read during the week when I'm editing and just have a few minutes to read here and there. I mostly real full-length novels, though - I prefer the development that can be done in them.

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  14. That books sounds awesome, and I'll have to look into it!

    I'm a pantser myself, if you take that to mean that I don't write a plot out first. But, I've got it all in my head. It's like it's being pulled by horses and I'm holding all the reins - but if I put the project on hold or get distracted, they'll get tangled and the chariot'll be pulled over! So that's why I tend to write books pretty quickly - to prevent that from happening :D

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    1. Oh, and also -
      I don't read short stories or anthologies very often at all, whether in paperback or e-book form. However, there are exceptions. My only published work so far was a short story in an anthology as an e-book - so I read that anthology :D

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    2. I can definitely relate about having to get the first draft out quickly. My problem is slightly different than yours though, it's more an issue of losing momentum. If I write a book too slow I'll lose my drive and passion for the story and it's hard to regain it. That's why I love writing novels during NaNoWriMo (and why I created JuNoWriMo, so I could get two fast-paced novel-writing sessions in per year).

      Thanks for the comment!

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  15. This book really sounds great! :D

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  16. I prefer hard copies of books due to the fact that I read quicker that way, and because I like how they look on my shelf but getting a kindle for Christmas was a really good thing to happen because I will read stuff on it mostly because I spend a lot of time searching out free or cheap books on there and its a great way to be introduced to new authors.

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    1. I got my Kindle right after Christmas, too, and I can see why a lot of readers aren't necessarily giving up hard books, but are switching a big percentage of their reads over to electronic. It's just so easy--and much cheaper in the long run!

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  17. I really enjoyed the interview.

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  18. I occasionally will read anthologies and short story collections. I will read them on my Kindle ut perfer them in a hardbook that way I can skip around and not necessarily read the stories in order.

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  19. I buy them whenever I can find them. I love to read and review them. I find it to be a challenge to review a short story or collection. I like them on my kindle because I can set it down and not lose my place.

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  20. Becca - all these book synopsis sound wonderful - not just Foreign Identity! Great to get a glimpse into how your mind works, and the way you go about writing. Can't wait to see where these books take you (literally and figuratively!!

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    1. Thanks so much, Angela. I can't wait to share them with you. :)

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  21. Foreign Identity sounds fascinating, but I can't wait to hear more about Flawed. I love that you write stand-alones and series; sometimes I just want a book that has a beginning, middle and end so I get the immediate gratification and other times I want to re-visit the characters. Will definitely be checking your stories out.

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    1. Thanks, Erin!

      I'm so pumped to publish Flawed and it's practically killing me to wait until next year. But I have a publishing schedule for a reason and I'm going to resist the urge to break that schedule, even if it means getting my books out there early.

      So for now we'll both have to wait, but I'm really looking forward to getting this series out there. It's the one that's closest to my heart and the one I think has the most potential to draw a great readership.

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