The sequel to Mercedes Lackey’s Hunter was released yesterday, so here’s a short Q&A with the author to celebrate! See the bottom of the post for a chance to win both of her books.

Goodreads book description:

eliteJoy wants nothing more than to live and Hunt in Apex City without a target on her back. But a dangerous new mission assigned by her uncle, the city’s Prefect, may make that impossible.

In addition to her new duties as one of the Elite, Joy is covertly running patrols in the abandoned tunnels and storm sewers under Apex Central. With her large pack of magical hounds, she can fight the monsters breaking through the barriers with the strength of three hunters. Her new assignment takes a dark turn when she finds a body in the sewers: a Psimon with no apparent injury or cause of death.

Reporting the incident makes Joy the uncomfortable object of PsiCorp’s scrutiny—the organization appears more interested in keeping her quiet than investigating. With her old enemy Ace still active in Hunts and the appearance of a Folk Mage who seems to have a particular interest in her, Joy realizes that the Apex conspiracy she uncovered before her Elite trials is anything but gone.

As the body count rises, she has no choice but to seek answers. Joy dives into the mysterious bowels of the city, uncovering secrets with far-reaching consequences for PsiCorp… and all of Apex City.

Author Bio:

8685Mercedes Lackey is the New York Times best-selling American fantasy author behind the Heralds of Valdemar series, the Elemental Masters series, the 500 Kingdoms series, and many more. She has published over one hundred novels in under twenty-five years.

Author Q&A:

• When did you first start writing?
I think when I was about thirteen or fourteen. My favorite author was Andre Norton, but it was hard to find her books locally (this was back in the dark ages when there was no internet, no amazon, and the nearest bookstore was all the way in Chicago).  So I began writing my own.

• What were some of your favorite books as a teen?
Mostly fantasy and science fiction; virtually everything by Andre Norton, but especially her Witch World series.  I also loved Theodore Sturgeon, Alan Nourse, Arthur C. Clarke, Isaac Asimov, Zena Henderson, Vera Chapman, Poul Anderson, and C.L. Moore.

• What does your writing space look like?
I have a rather cluttered desk with two monitors on it, one really big one, and a littler one to the side where I keep my chat programs.  My collection of Asian Ball Jointed Dolls is on shelves around me; I have two collections, actually, my Elven Court, and my Secret World Chronicles dolls.  I haven’t made a doll for Joyeaux from Hunter yet.  I write with a keyboard on a lapdesk sitting in a zero-gravity chair to keep pressure off my bad back.   I tend to keep the light low, as I don’t care for bright lighting.  On top of one of my monitors is a little statue of Bast flanked by two statues of Horus in his falcon form.  On top of the other monitor is a statue of Maat.

• Which scene was your favorite to write?
I had a lot of favorite scenes, but I really love the opening, where Joy looks over her shoulder and sees the Drakken closing in on her with its mouth-inside-a-mouth-inside-a-mouth.

• Which of your characters would you most like to hang out with for a day?
I think Joy would be a lot of fun, but she’d probably tire me out.  I’d love to hang out with Master Kedo, or with Joy’s Uncle Prefect Charmand.  We could all try and figure out how to bottle some of Joy’s endless energy.

• What do you do when you’re not writing?
Lately I’ve been answering questions on Quora, which is a lot of fun.  I costume and do the facial painting on my Asian Ball Jointed Dolls, and I make a lot of jewelry.  I generally send the jewelry off for charity auctions.  

• Any advice to young authors looking to be published?
Well, be prepared for a long answer, because this is one of the questions I get asked on Quora a lot.

You are more likely to be struck by lightning than to be able to make a living at writing from the very beginning.

When you start, you will suck. No one has ever been a good writer without writing about a million words of crap first. You have to learn how to write well by writing a lot and studying writing. This will take years.

Of all of the members of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, only about 10% make a living from writing. Only about half of the ones making a living from writing are making a living from writing fiction exclusively. The odds are worse than that for screenplay writing.

If you are still in school, you are very lucky!  You don’t have to worry about making a living yet.  Take advantage of that.  Write, write, and write some more.  Make writing your first priority—before you go on Facebook, before you go to your Tumblr account, before you binge on your favorite TV show or play a video game, you must get at least  4 pages of writing done.  This is because if you want to be published, you’ll have to have the discipline to write your quota, every single day.  All the people who have been published “young” have had exactly that kind of discipline—because when you have a book due, your publisher doesn’t want to hear excuses.  Make too many excuses and one day you won’t have a publisher anymore.

Writing courses help.  Workshops help.  Getting someone who is very good at critique will help.  But what will help most of all is reading—about everything, not just writing—and writing itself.  

If you are not feeling sure of your own skills yet, by all means, try fanfiction!  It’s a great place to get your skills sharper, and the advantage is you don’t have to do any worldbuilding, the world is already established for you.  Plus with fanfiction, you have a built-in audience, and you might find someone who does really good critiques there.

But above all, if you want to be published, you have to write.  Because there’s no way to publish the ideas in your head. Not yet, anyway!

Thanks for sharing and congratulations on your book!

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