Welcome to Sharon Kae Reamer
Where are you from and where do you live now? I was born in Philadelphia, PA and am now an expat American living in Cologne, Germany.
Please tell us a little about your writing – for example genre, title, etc. I’m a speculative fiction writer, writing in both the fantasy and science fiction subgenres. I’ve dabbled a little with writing horror short stories and plan on doing a historical mystery in the near future. My first fantasy series, The Schattenreich, is a cross-genre work combining science and fantasy with suspense and a strong love story. It’s a curious mix of seismology, Celtic mythology, and German aristocracy.
It started out as a standalone with a sequel and then grew to five books. So the whole thing wasn’t planned. I’m not sure I’d do a series that way again, but then again, it made for a much more organic process than if I’d planned each book and the whole series. I’m a pantser, so it’s easier for me to write that way.
Where do you find inspiration? Everywhere. Seriously. A man’s face. A TV documentary. A small wooden cat was the inspiration for my current series. Odd phrases that run through my head. Looking out the window or lying in bed on my day off and just letting my thoughts wander – I do that a lot. I believe the technical term is goofing off. I prefer the term daydreaming.
Do you have a favourite character? If so why? I like most all of my characters. At times, I will think more about a certain character than another, mainly when I’m writing certain parts of the story that heavily feature that character. I even like my bad guys. It was fun keeping them evil but also giving them motivations and background.
Do you have a character you dislike? If so why? Yes, but I’m not going to tell you why or who. It would be unfair to that character. And it would hurt their feelings.
Are your characters based on real people? Not directly. There are people who serve as models for my characters, either visually or the way they talk or walk. Sometimes it’s not a conscious thing. I just get a vision of a character and I don’t know where it comes from.
Some characters are an amalgam of people I’ve met or observed. I have a couple of cameos in the series featuring real people (with changed names), but not without their permission. There are a few characters that aren’t reality-based, like the Celtic and Germanic deities and some of the other supernatural creatures.
Have you ever used a person you don’t/didn’t like as a character then killed them off? Yes, which is why I was so evasive above.
Research can be important in world-building, how much do you need to do for your books? Do you enjoy this aspect of creating a novel and what are your favourite resources? love research and have done a whole bunch of it for The Schattenreich series. I knew relatively little about Celtic and Germanic mythology when I started out, really nothing about druids or the history of the Celts. I read a bunch of books to educate myself, books about the Celts, about their mythology, about whether or not the druids really existed, about the demise of the Celtic culture.
I recently tackled the Germanic mythology and history, including the rune language. I’ve done a fair amount of reading on modern Paganism and a bit on the history of witchcraft and Satanism.
I do some reading on the Internet, but my favourite resource so far has been books. Luckily, I love to read non-fiction including history and mythology, so it was a labor of love.
For the science fiction novel I’m writing now, I have read a lot about quantum physics, string theory, extreme biology and the evolution of plate tectonics on our planet. I am a geophysicist in real life, so the last two subjects were also fun to research and gave me an excuse to buy a few books that I otherwise wouldn’t have been able to justify.
Since I live in a non-English-speaking country, I have to buy most of my reference materials. I do read some German reference books, but it’s much easier for me to read in English if I can.
Is there a message conveyed within your writing? Do you feel this is important in a book? I don’t write to theme, but themes do sometimes emerge during writing. I just try to tell a story. I don’t mind reading books with a message, but if it’s heavy-handed or if the story is just there to illustrate a certain political stance, then I’m usually not keen on it.
Sort these into order of importance: Great characters; great world-building; solid plot; technically perfect. Can you explain why you chose this order? (Yes I know they all are important…) Your order is pretty good. I’d probably put solid plot ahead of world-building in some cases, but it depends on the genre and the type of story – is it a fast-paced thriller or a deeply complex world with lots of interacting characters? Each has different demands. But great characters are always at the top of my list as a reader and therefore, that’s my first consideration as a writer. Figure out who the characters are, what their motivations are, and write the story around them.
I don’t believe technical perfection is something I ever worry about when I read. I doubt I will ever be able to achieve technical perfection in my own writing. I just try to write the best book I know how to with my current skills. That’s all any writer can do, really.
In what formats are your books available? (E-books, print, large print audio) Are you intending to expand these and if not, what is the reason? My Schattenreich series books are available in print and ebook formats and in a variety of places. I’m not exclusive to any one vendor. I would like to do audio books now that I’ve finished the last book in the series, but currently the Audible/ACX option is only available to U.S. residents. I’m researching other audio options.
I plan on releasing a few short stories in the near future, and will do ebook format exclusively on those at first. If I get some requests for print, then I’ll consider it.
I’d love to have my books translated into German, but it’s financially beyond my reach at present.
Do you self-edit? If so why is that the case? Do you believe a book suffers without being professionally edited? I have all my writing professionally edited. My very wonderful editor, John Kenny, is as much The Schattenreich series as I am. He’s helped me shape the series, and I can’t imagine having gotten this far without him. I hope he will continue to edit my books in the future. I feel like I won the lottery finding him right away. I’ve learned so much from having him edit my books. It’s money well spent.
I do a lot of self-editing as well both before and after sending my manuscripts to my editor. There are different types of editing for different phases of writing, and I’m still learning how and when to use them.
Do you think indie/self-published authors are viewed differently to traditionally published authors? Why do you think this might be? Yes.
Because self-published works are not considered to have been ‘curated’ for the most part. It’s true. But many readers don’t seem to mind that.
Do you read work by self-published authors? Yes. I don’t really pay attention to publishers any more. I look at the cover, at the subject matter, at the description. If it’s something I think I will like, and the price is right, I’ll try it. I read on a Paperwhite as well as in print (but increasingly more ebooks all the time) and find that many trad-pubbed ebooks are too expensive for my budget. I read a lot (my Goodreads goal is 100 books this year – I probably won’t make it, but I wanted to try). Generally, I’ll take a chance on any author for under 5 bucks. I will not pay more than 10 bucks for an ebook unless it is a non-fiction book that I can’t do without.
What are your opinions about authors commenting on reviews? How important are reviews? Good question. I think reviews are important but perhaps not in a direct monetary sense. I do not comment on them. I once contacted a reviewer because they made a statement about one of my books that was factually wrong, but I don’t think it’s a good idea. If I know the reviewer, then I might say something to them personally about my choices, but never criticizing their review and my policy is to not make comments as a public statement. The only comment I allow myself to make to any reviewer, in public, is ‘thank you’.
But I would be lying if I said a bad review doesn’t bother me. I do try to take it for what it’s worth and then just move on.
When buying a book do you read the reviews? Yes. But I don’t always take them seriously.
What are your views on authors reviewing other authors? It’s okay. We do it. It’s not always optimal. I review books on GR – mostly from authors I don’t know and less often from authors I do know. If someone I know asks me to review their book, if it’s a genre I read a lot in, I will usually say yes. I mostly use GR as a reader and so I think that reviewing books there is a thing I can do as a reader without having to feel bad about it. As a rule, I don’t review on Amazon any more.
What experiences can a book provide that a movie or video game cannot? Books are better for getting inside a character’s head, for expressing complicated emotions, for allowing the reader to absorb content at their own pace. Movies are watched usually all at once. In a video game, the pace can be controlled to a certain extent, but books are better.
Movies and video games are also visually oriented. So if a writer is doing his or her job, they can provide the reader with a complete sensory perception of a world, and this is especially important in the speculative genres. You can get that to a certain extent with movies and video games, but books are waaaaaay better. I much prefer to read sex scenes rather than watch them (with certain exceptions). I can control what I visualize and how I visualize it.
What three pieces of advice would you give to new writers?
- Write as much as you can.
- Don’t be afraid to make mistakes.
- Don’t give up.
Most authors like to read, what have you recently finished reading? Did you enjoy it? I just recently finished The Martian, by Andy Weir. I did enjoy it, which surprised me. It was our book club selection for February (four women who read SFF – yes it definitely counts as a book club) and probably is not something I would have picked up otherwise.
Do you have a favourite movie? Impossible to name just one!!
The Raiders of the Lost Ark is at or near the top of the list.
The Hunt for Red October
Gone with the Wind
Star Wars – IV-VI
Music and Lyrics
Any Cary Grant movie, even the bad ones – I’ll watch them anytime.
Do you have any pets? My European shorthair, Ramses, 17 years old
Can you give us a silly fact about yourself? I’m easily startled. Earthworms and grubs used to terrify me. But I’ve learned to get over that. I scream like a girl on roller coasters and in the movies when a scary part comes and in traffic when my husband is driving and I get spooked by another car making a sudden move. Makes him angry. I don’t blame him.
Book links, website/blog and author links:
Books 1-4 of The Schattenreich: