Iffix Y. Santaph has been writing middle-grade and young adult sci-fi for the past 20 years and recently made the leap to publishing. His debut novella, the first in a six part series, is entitled Impulse and is available at a wide variety of on-line book retailers both in print and kindle e-book formats.
What five words describe you?
Geeky, adventurous, cheery, socially-awkward, creative
What are you working on at the minute? What is it about?
I am actually mid-way through books three and four in my series Forgotten Princess. Their working titles are Conspiracy and Retrospect respectively. The Forgotten Princess series is an fresh space-opera reworking of a classic fairytale whereby a princess' evil step mother is actively seeking to destroy her. Only, rather than relying on seven old guys, this princess is relying on three young friends to help her depose the evil queen and reclaim her throne. That being said, the series reaches a schism in Deception (Book 2, available in July).
In Conspiracy the princess aligns with a rogue alien on a mission to create an allied force against the evil queen. However, an invisible tag-along puts the entire mission in jeopardy. In Retrospect, the princess' friends, convinced that she has been kidnapped, race to her rescue, unwittingly setting in motion the destruction of an entire world. And it falls to them to prevent obliteration.
Which actor/actress would you like to see playing the lead
character from your most recent book?
This is a tough question, one I really hesitate to answer. Whenever I watch a movie if I see an actor, or recognize a voice I'm familiar with, I lose any sense of realism the movie is trying to create. I am not certain whether that is a unique experience for me, but that being said, I'd like to work with up and coming actors and actresses, and since most of my heroes are quite young, I think the best way would be to introduce a series of fresh voices and faces, as a strong and qualified cast. That being said, at this point, having a movie made seems like a very distant future project, since I have only begun to get my toes wet as an author.
If you could have been the original author of any book, what would it have been and why?
I tend to admire the dreams of so many authors. I just don't feel qualified to walk in their shoes. Personally, I am happy to be the author of my own works.
What is the hardest thing about writing?
For me, the hardest thing is to put myself in my character's place. There is a scene at the end of Deception where my youngest hero Toby is speaking directly from his heart about the greatest pain he has ever felt. I had to put myself in his place, and write as if I was him. This is his character defining moment, and he has another like it in Retrospect. It was hard not to write that particular scene without stirring my own emotions to match his. (It was a very difficult trick, considering I've never been, nor would ever want to be, in Toby's shoes at that moment.) I hope my readers will see what I mean, and I hope they won't hate me for what I did to poor Toby, because it was the most delicate and difficult passage I've ever written.
Any tips on how to get through the dreaded writers block?
Perhaps just a bit of assurance that a writer experiencing "writer's block" isn't alone. It doesn't make you an inept writer simply because you experience writer's block. As writers, we jump through hoops for our readers' enjoyment. Writing, as most any job, can be taxing work. But if you learn to enjoy it, coming through these slumps can be easier.
Something I have experienced from time to time, a bit of self-discovery from a few years ago, is to ask yourself, "Would my character really do this?" A lot of times, when we're forcing a character to do something they wouldn't do naturally, we experience blocks. It's our own subconscious telling us the story doesn't make any sense. But if you allow your characters to lead the story, and they may lead the story into some very uncomfortable places, you'll still know where they're going, and the writing is easier.
Where would your dream location be for writing?
I'm not picky about location. I've never written standing on my head, but I wouldn't be opposed to giving it a try. Since I'm a science fiction writer, I'm generally too involved in the world coming alive on the page to think about where I am anyhow. But there are certainly some things that help. If my character is spending some time in a cave, it helps to visit one. If my character is walking through a forest, I take a walk through the forest and I generally write about my own experiences from their eyes.
When creating characters, are they based on people in your life?
I'd like to say no. The truth is, I've been so involved with storytelling, even from a very young age, its hard to tell some days whether that was a person I met once or a character from the story I was telling. There is a scene in Retrospect where Leon is telling his mother he has decided to leave home for good. And I imagined saying those words to my own mother. I recently was told by my closest readers that most of what's on the page happened at one point or another in my own life. It's sort of strange, considering it's adventure sci-fi, but I have begun to at least consider the notion. But I can say with certainty, the more horrible a person in my story is, the less likely it is I actually know that person in my own life, because most of the people I've been blessed to know in life have been exceedingly sweet and kind. I'm more inclined to believe I've taken the situations from my own life and left the people to my imagination.
Do you read your reviews? Do you respond to them, good or bad? Do you have any advice on how to deal with the bad?
I've only just begun to receive reviews. Things are slow enough that I can respond to people who read my stories if they wish. But I respect anyone's opinion. My quest for a good story will continue even after my first negative review. I've come to accept that, even though I may not know the person in real life, there's a real person on the other side of that computer screen. Bad reviews generally don't happen out of spite. I don't want to disappoint my readers, so I will make every effort to learn what I can about what my audience dislikes. And if I can't learn anything useful, I move on.
If you couldn't be a writer, what would you be?
Really, really sad. Oh, you mean besides that. The reality is, I still don't get to consider writing a career. There are very few writers who do. My foremost responsibility in life is to volunteer. I generally volunteer seventy hours a month as a minister. Secularly, I drive three routes a week delivering candy and paper products.
What would you tell your younger self that would have helped you in your writing career?
I'm glad my younger self had the sense to wait as long as he did to start publishing books. I do wish I had known what I know now about indie publishing. Marketing indie published novels is still a challenge, but it would have been a challenge to sell even with advertisers, and the process from agent to published manuscript itself takes far too long to be a viable option these days. This way, I can share the best part of myself without catering to the whims of the big traditional publishers, and I can still experience the joy of sharing a good story with readers everywhere.
Where can we buy your work?
Createspace is an Amazon company. But they also market to a variety of other online retailers. The book is available both in soft-cover and kindle epub format. And, dear reader, if you would like to do us both a favor, ask your local library to add a copy to their collection for everyone to enjoy. This may take some time, but I value sharing my stories with a larger audience more than simply selling a copy.
How can we keep up with you?
Coinciding with the release of Deception this month, I have created an author website: iffixysantaph.com; I also use goodreads regularly, and my blog feeds directly to goodreads.com. And I have been learning to use twitter. My twitter account is @IffixYSantaph."