Hey all! Today, I’m so excited to be hosting and interviewing Ceillie Simkiss on the blog. Ceillie is the author of the Learning Curves novella series, which you can read my review of the first here!
Today, her fantasy novella An Unexpected Invitation was released. If you’re interested, we’ll not only be talking about her new release, but also her writing and more!
Ceillie Simkiss is a queer and neurodivergent author and freelance writer based in southern Virginia. She has bylines in the Danville Register & Bee, VIDA Magazine Culturess and Global Comment. She blogs regularly on CandidCeillie.com and is the owner and editor of LetsFoxAboutIt.com.
She loves nothing more than curling up in bed with a book and her many furry creatures, but playing silly video games is a close second, even though she’s terrible at them. If anyone wants to reach her, she spends way too much time on Twitter as @CandidCeillie.
I will be bolded and marked with AC, and Ceillie’s answers will be CS. I hope y’all enjoy this interview!
AC: Hi Ceillie, thanks again for being on the blog! Can you tell us more about your writing, such as the Learning Curves novella series or your new release, An Unexpected Invitation?
CS: Hello! I’m so glad to be here! My books have been described as soft and sweet. They tend to skew towards romance stories because I’m a panromantic asexual cis woman and a lot of romance novels make me feel like I don’t belong among them. I started writing Learning Curves because I wanted a romance where a woman like me would fit in and not feel ostracized by the plot.
AC: You include important representation in all of your releases. How does representation affect what and how you write?
CS: I think long and hard about what representation to include in my stories, and how it should be done. In my first series, Learning Curves, I gave each of the characters pieces of myself, and that’s something I’ve continued in my current books. I always try to make sure that what I’m doing with my writing is true to the culture that I’m writing about, even when that culture is my own.
AC: What is your writing process like? Panster or planner? Do you participate in events like NaNoWriMo or writing sprints?
CS: I’m more than a little all over the place when it comes to the writing process. I do a lot of writing sprints with some groups in Slack regularly, but I don’t ascribe to either plotting or pantsing fully.
I fall hard into the ‘plantser’ category. I very rarely plan ahead further than a vague scene by scene outline, but I can’t work without some sort of plan. I like to write a short paragraph about what I want each scene to be and then I just roll from there.
AC: An Unexpected Invitation was released today, congrats! What was the inspiration behind this novella, and what was your favorite part of writing & releasing it?
CS: I was originally inspired to write this after I did one of those predictive text tweets. The tweet was “I’m an old friend coming in the mail today.” https://twitter.com/CandidCeillie/status/1056512401598808064
I started thinking, what if someone had a reason they couldn’t travel quickly in a fantasy world that didn’t have cars or planes. Then I realized that even if they didn’t have those, people would still get motion sickness like I do whenever I ride in a car (without driving) or get on a boat. I had a great time writing that into this and figuring out exactly how I’d make that happen. Several friends helped me nail down how to make it work.
Of course, I originally intended it to be a 5,000 word short story, but none of my stories ever wind up being as short as I intended them to be. This is about 3 times longer than that even without the excerpt of the novel in the same universe. I’ve been super nervous about releasing it, but so far everyone has really loved it! It’s been a lot of fun.
AC: What’s your favorite part of being an author overall? Least favorite?
CS: I really love being able to say “you know, that would make a really good story” and then actually do something with it. Like, I get to create stories out of nowhere! It’s great! It’s also a lot of hard work and a lot of wracking my brain and being convinced I’ve forgotten how to write.
My least favorite has to be twofold. If you follow me on twitter, you know that I had carpal tunnel surgery in December, thanks to way too much writing and too little self-care for a long time. After leaving my job last year, I’ve been doing a lot better, but there was enough damage done that it wasn’t repairing itself. So, it does some physical damage to your body and that sucks a lot.
The other part is marketing. When you’re an indie author, you kind of have to market yourself and your books all the freaking time. You also have to put a lot of work out in a short period of time in order to get the best results from the various stores’ algorithms, and also do advertising for all of that work. It’s a lot.
It’s not so different from being a blogger, but it is at the same time. It gets super complex – and expensive. But it’s a business, so there had to be a business-y side of being an author.
AC: Do you have any other works in progress or upcoming releases that you’d like to hint at?
CS: Actually, I have a full novel coming out in March in the same universe as An Unexpected Invitation. This one was inspired by Zendaya’s 2018 Met Gala dress. It features two separate romances, one between a nonbinary tailor and a delightfully soft male blacksmith, and one between a lady knight and the trans man who is second in line to the throne. It’s delightful and I’m positive everyone will love it! Here’s the preorder link!
And I have about…. Six other projects that are between just outlined and half finished. They’ll get finished sometime in the near future.
AC: Learning Curves is a contemporary romance, while An Unexpected Invitation is fantasy. Is there something about these genres that drew you in? Are there other genres you’re interested in writing in, or do you think you’ll stick to contemporary and fantasy?
CS: I read in pretty much every genre except horrors and thrillers. I have several different things planned in a variety of genres – I have a polyamorous asexual f/f/f triad romance set in space outlined, a couple of short stories set in the same universe as An Unexpected Invitation and A Knight to Remember
AC: I usually try to end these interviews with love being spread around. What are three (or more!) books or authors that you want to recommend to readers?
CS: Well, this book features an aroace main character, so I’d like to take this time to promote some aroace authors! Authors I’d like to recommend today are Claudie Arseneault, Lynn E. O’Connacht, RoAnna Sylver and Polenth Blake, all who write amazing ownvoices aroace fantasy characters. If you are looking for more characters who identify on the aro and ace spectrums, check out Claudie’s fantastic Aro Ace Database!
AC: Thank you again for doing this interview!
CS: Thank you for having me, Avery!
Interested in Ceillie’s work? Below you can find additional information on An Unexpected Invitation, released to the world today!
Published: January 31st, 2019
Synopsis: via Goodreads
Beatrice has always struggled with motion sickness in any form of travel. That’s why she made sure that she lived on the island of Maredudd, where she only rarely needs to get anywhere using anything other than her own two feet. However, it doesn’t make it easy for her to get anywhere in a hurry.
She gets called away for urgent help healing a friend who got bitten by an unknown creature and gets surprised by an unexpected invitation to a childhood friend’s wedding. She’s almost positive she won’t be able to get there in time, or in good shape enough to be able to attend the wedding.
However, with the help of two unusual friends and a little bit of magic, she’s going to try everything in her power to get there, even if it will be an unusual journey.
Thanks for stopping by!
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