In December of 2016, I released my first book into the world. Little did I know that there was a lot more work involved in self-publishing than just good writing and a pretty cover. One of the first things I did was join a Facebook group for urban fantasy authors. It was such a warm and welcoming place to visit and I discovered not only a great support network, but some amazing authors.
One of the first authors to stand out for me was E. A. Copen. She currently writes for several series, including the Judah Black series and her latest weird west book, Beasts of Babylon, while keeping us urban fantasy authors in line on her Facebook group.
She likes cats, coffee, snowy mornings, accents and Tarantino movies.
As we all should.
What drove you to write your first book?
I write the stories I want to read. Usually, whenever I start any new project, it’s because I read a book that wasn’t particularly satisfying, or I find myself saying, “Wouldn’t it be cool if there was a book about…?” For a long time, that’s as far as it ever went. Something didn’t have a satisfying ending, so I rewrote it in fanfiction. I’d daydream a lot about writing books, but never really put the effort into finishing them.
Then, one day something just kind of clicked. Why am I daydreaming about writing these books? I can do it. The only thing standing in my way of writing, publishing, and turning these dreams into a reality is me. It was like someone flipped a switch in my brain. I got up the next morning and wrote the first draft of my very first published work in 3 days. It was rough, and terrible, but I knew it had good bones, so I took the next step. The rest, as they say, is history.
What is your book series about?
I have two different series out right now. The first one, the Judah Black Novels, is about a federal agent who solves crimes on a supernatural reservation in Texas. It’s what you’d get if you took Supernatural and crossed it with X-Files. They’re fast paced supernatural mystery thrillers with a strong dystopian vibe.
The second series is weird west. The first book in it, Beasts of Babylon, just released. It follows Anastasia Thorne on her quest for revenge against Native American monsters in 1890’s Wyoming. They killed her, killed her children, and now she’s back from the grave to have her revenge. If you’re looking for a darker tale with hints of paranormal horror set in the wild west, this one’s for you.
What writing most energizes you? What exhausts you?
I love writing about the underdog, particularly people who are backed into a corner by a corrupt group in power. I love writing any story or scene where the heroes get to peel back a layer of the world and peer at the ugly truth underneath. Most of all, I love writing stories that will make you question everything. There are no good guys and bad guys in the worlds my characters inhabit. Just people.
I do find writing romance exhausting. It often takes me two or three days to make it through a single kissing scene. I’m definitely not a romance writer!
What part of you do you feel leaked into your books?
My need to question everything, of course! I never accepted any answers at face value as a kid. The worst thing my mom could do was answer my questions with “Because I said so”. I’ve always felt the need to know why things are they way they are and to answer the burning questions like, “What if it wasn’t that way? How would things change?” In that way, I suppose I’m a bit of a rebel. I need to take the world apart and see what makes a society tick, but then I need to throw a monkey wrench into the machine just to see what happens. I guess that’s curiosity for you.
What made you want to write speculative or fantastic fiction?
It happened by accident mostly. I grew up on Star Wars and Stargate so fantastic worlds has always been a part of who I am. Like I said, I started writing in fanfiction so I just kind of kept going with that.
I wound up starting in urban fantasy because that’s what I was reading at the time, and because of the Twilight craze, believe it or not. Everyone around me was saying anyone could write a better vampire story than Twilight so I thought, “Why not me?” The story isn’t a vampire story anymore, but those were the roots of the Judah Black universe.
Does your family support your writing and/or subject matter?
My husband does. He’s amazing. When I needed a little extra money to take out ads, he started pulling extra shifts at work to get me an advertising budget. He’s my alpha reader, and probably my biggest fan. My kids mostly just wonder why mommy shuts herself in her office all the time.
My sister is also a writer and we often swap projects to beta read, which is amazing, especially since she’s so talented herself.
Best money ever spent as a writer?
Every penny I’ve ever given to my cover artist and more! Ravenborn is amazing! I can’t tell you how many compliments I get on my covers. She’s really helped make these books what they are. As long as I’m making books, I hope she’ll be my cover designer.
If you could tell your teen self one thing, what would it be?
No matter what anyone says, you are good enough. Your best is good enough. Don’t let the bastards get you down, to quote Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale.
Your favorite under-appreciated novel?
The Arena by Santana Young. Normally, I’d say Dangerous Ways by R.R. Virdi, but it’s finally starting to get some of the recognition it deserves.
If you didn’t write, what would your dream job be?
They say those that can’t do something teach it. That’d be true in my case. I wanted to be a writing teacher when I was seven and that still hasn’t really changed. I love writing and I’d love to share that passion with other people any way I can.
I can’t thank E.A. Copen enough for coming here today and sharing her insight with us! I love to see spouses and partners getting involved in their loved one’s careers and passions. It’s such an uplifting feeling, but damn, adding extra hours at work is true love.