A.R.K. Watson

A.R.K. Watson began writing with both arms in braces as a broke college student. Her love of the written word drove her to start a business aimed at popularizing good books, while writing sci-fi and fantasy herself.
She is an American living abroad in South Korea, a world traveler, and an absolute and unrepentant nerd.

Her first published story, The Dunes won an Honorary Mention from the Writer’s of the Future Contest.

Her excerpts from her first published novel, The Vines of Mars earned her admittance to the highly competitive, Yale Writer’s Conference.

Her forthcoming book is The Cyber Exorcist and the Mermaids of the Mississippi, the first in a series.

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How long have you been writing for and how much of that time have you spent writing fiction?

I began in earnest shortly before graduating college.

What’s the average word count for the books you write and how long does it take you to write your average book?

I have only my 1st novel and some shorter pieces out. Given that I live abroad and am having children its impossible to guess what my output will be in the chaotic future.

What is your writing routine (Do you have a daily word count goal? Do you write whenever the spirit moves you?)

I have a to-do list. Sometimes that means I write. Sometimes I edit or do the boring clerical publishing work.

How much do you research for a book before you start writing?

I research as I write. And quite a bit bith for my scifi colony series and my paranormal cyberpunk series.

What do you find most difficult about writing a book?

Protecting my time. Daycare is an essential. After that its work but its pleasant work. As long as I take care of myself outside of writing I know I trust myself to get it done when its time to take a seat at the desk.

Which of your books are you most proud of and why?

My debut novel, The Vines of Mars. I know I have improved since writing it but I am beyond relieved my 1st book doesn’t suck.

Which of your books was the most difficult to write and why?

The Vines of Mars- because it was my 1st and it took a few years before I understood what I was doing. Other works are still difficult but I am not starting from scratch like I had to do at the beginning.

Which self-publishing platform do you like the most and why?

Amazon. Its comprehensive, adaptive and offers a better royalty cut than the others.

Would you publish with a traditional publisher if they contacted you? Why?

Quite possibly. I would depend on the press and if my vision of my career lined up with their goals and vice versa. I wanted to indie publish first so I could learn the process inside and out. I like the reach and esteem traditional presses can bring but I wanted to understand what they do first, both so that I won’t get conned by some no-name scam artist and also so I can be an effective business partner and team member for those honorable presses. Publishing is work that requires a team and a team works best when everyone has a degree of understanding and respect for the other member’s roles.

How many unfinished or unpublished works do you have?

1 novella in beta reader stage Some outlines of sequels to that novella series 1 short story 3 novel sequels to The Vines of Mars, one of which has a 1st draft done and in serious need of revision.

Do you prefer creating stand-alone books or series?

I prefer standalone stories but I am working on sequels because that seems to sell better.

What’s one character you wish you would have created? What do you find compelling or interesting about this character?

Jane Eyre & Emperor Phillappa Georgiou from Star Trek DS9– both characters of integrity. Even those of grey morality interest me greatly.

What book do you wish you would have written? Why?

The Martian Chronicles- Bradbury is THE inspiration for me. I love how even his sad stories radiate joy.

Do you find it challenging to write characters of a different gender, race, or culture than you? Do you do any special research for these characters?

Yes and no. I usually have no problem connecting to them when I focus on an emotional issue we share in common. It is more work to read books from that communtiy and find sensitivity readers but honestly writing an all white cast in space would feel so unrealistic I would find it harder to do.

What does success as a writer look like for you?

This is changing for me as my life circumstances change so I will say that right now I am reassessing that. Finding readers who follow my worlds is the immediate goal.

Writing can be a lonely job. Do you take any special steps to ensure you remain part of the world?

I have a child and husband and dog and when the baby isn’t in day care 3 days a week I am out exploring Korea with other members of my expat community.

Constantly sitting and writing can be physically debilitating. How do you take care of yourself, physically?

The toddler and dog do a lot of this for me throughout the day. I also do yoga regularly.

Do you read your reviews? How do you deal with bad ones?

I do read them- after my husband reads them 1st and tells me which I can read. I have snuck glances at a few bad reviews tho and honestly they have for the most part been from people searching for a different book than the type mine is so I am glad they are helping other readers make an informed decision. I think that is what has led to a lot of recent positive reviews– that people went in knowing it was their type of bookbased on the previous reviews- both good and bad.

What books have you read that were particularly inspiring?

The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury, Jane Eyre by Charlotte Bronte, Engraved on the Eye by Saladin Ahmed, The Sparrow by Mary Doria Russell, and many many others

Do you have a favourite author? A favourite book?

I reread The Martian Chronicles and Jane Eyre every 1-2 years.

Do you plot your stories in great detail before starting to write, or fly by the seat of your pants?

I do a lot of pre plotting and then fly off a little in the 1st draft. Revise and replot the 2nd and then its generally set.

Of all the characters in your stories, which is your favourite?

Evaña Villalobos- an old mexican xenobiologist with a LOT of personal issue. Wasn’t the best mom or neighbor but doesn’t hold back when she makes a decision. A woman of multiple worldview conversion but her integrity shines throughout.

Have you based any characters on real people? If they found out, how did they respond?

Mostly off of dead relatives. I actively avoid basing characters off real people especially living family.

What’s the best thing about being an independent author? The worst?

The decision making power is the best part. The worst part is not having a sounding board or outside point of biew on the story and marketing you’re attempting.

Do you make a living selling your books?


What advice would you give to a new author?

Take care of your mental health, let yourself learn and work at the pace that makes sense for you and be humble enough to learn but not so much you forget the story you came to tell.

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