A couple of weeks ago I was skimming through something or the other on Goodreads and came across a blurb for the book CORE* by Teshelle Combs. I was instantly intrigued because quite frankly, the word “dragons” always snags my attention. Of course, being the nosy bitch I am, I did some snooping, which in this day and age of over-sharing is super easy, and found out a little more about the book and the author.
This is Teshelle. She looks like fun, non?
I thought she sounded kind of cool so I reached out to her about possibly doing some cross promotion for each other since we both have books coming out soon. I wasn’t sure if she would respond or think I was some weirdo, but she did (although her response doesn’t necessarily mean she doesn’t think I’m weird) and so here we are.
Teshelle’s latest book, THE SYSTEM, launched yesterday and she was nice enough to let me interview her about the book, her writing process and a whole mess of other stuff. Check it out.
The System sounds like such a unique concept. What was your inspiration for The System? I see the word algorithm and instantly think math. Are you a math whizkid yourself?
Haha! No, I’m terrible at math. Just god awful. But I do love philosophy. So one night, I started thinking about Aristotle and the value he placed in arithmetic. I began to think, “what if the world really is made of math? What if our thoughts, our movements through space and time, our bodily functions, maybe even love and hate, are all products of equations?” That’s when Nick was born. Someone who could tap into such an equation and slip through time just a little. And shortly after, I thought up Nessa–a slacker who doesn’t even know what the word ‘algorithm’ means and somehow ends up in the System anyway.
Describe The System in six words.
Lose yourself. Find each other. Survive.
Nick or Nessa? Do you have a favorite? Is it possible to choose between the two?
They’re both my narrators, and I love them so much. But…Nick. He’s got so much darkness to him, so much depth. There are layers and layers to him that make writing for his character so intriguing. Nessa is funny, kind, reactive, and explosive, but Nick? Nick is my tragedy.
How long did it take you to write The System? How was the experience? Do you tend to be an outliner or do you tend to be more free-flowing with the writing process? Which comes first – the story or the characters?
The story and the characters sort of birthed each other. The idea to use algorithms and the creation of Nick and Nessa couldn’t have happened independently. And I never stick to outlines, so I just stopped doing them a while back. I like to research a ton, then just write whatever I come up with.
The first draft took two weeks. I tend to binge write when I’m on to something. But then I deleted that manuscript, started from scratch, wrote a few more drafts, ran it through my editors, and polished it up a few times before it was ready. Took about two years.
You and your husband recently welcomed a baby boy into your lives. Congrats. And get ready – boys are wild. (I’ve got a six year-old crazy man) How is parenthood treating you? How are you finding the balancing act between being a parent and being a writer?
I just read this question, quickly put my laptop down, hustled across the room to grab my laptop cord before Jaxter could get it into his mouth, walked him back across the room and put him down beside the loudest toys imaginable, hurried back to my laptop, and started answering the question. Oh wait, hold on…here he comes again. Okay, now I’m back.
In other words…I love it! Jaxter is 8 months old, and he’s my best friend. He’s nuts–loud, funny, poopy, drooly, dancy, all smiles and laughs and sweetness. My husband and I are having a blast with this kid. Yes, he makes it a lot harder to actually get things done, and I’m writing about three times more slowly now, but he’s worth it.
When I’m writing, I tend to forget everything and just kind of disappear into my characters and my stories. But every so often, when I pop my head out and look around, I feel a little lonely out here as a woman of color writing paranormal fiction. What has been your experience as a woman of color writer?
I too forget that there’s a world outside of my stories. I do know a few female writers, and a couple of them are brown like me, but I tend to forget all about that sort of thing. That’s the beauty in being an author. It’s not about me! It’s about my stories, and those stories connect me to other authors who give their stories right back to me. I love our writing community, and I love that we can all share our experiences when we run into each other amidst the proverbial bookshelves of our lives.
The indie author game is both incredibly rewarding and insanely exhausting. I’ve found that meeting other writers and chatting about our experiences is so helpful and rewarding. Any tips for aspiring writers you would like to share?
To my fellow indies: when you feel like you’re getting lost in the hurricane of marketing, networking, and formatting, when you’re discouraged by that bad review or that looming question…“oh, so you don’t have a publisher?”…remember.
Remember why you write. Because you love it. Because you can’t not write. Because you’re inspiring the people who read your work. Because being indie is freaking cool. Because this is your dream. Because you’re a writer.
If you want to find out more about Teshelle, snag some of her books, or just say hi, here are a few of her links:
*By the way, I read Teshelle’s book, CORE, and loved it. See what I had to say here: review of CORE