ESCAPE – An interview with Susan K. Hamilton

Hi people, good to be back on the blog. To start off again, here is an interview with SFF author Susan K. Hamilton about her latest anthology book, ESCAPE.
Below is an author bio of Susan:

Susan K. Hamilton is the author of three novels in the fantasy genre: Shadow King, Darkstar Rising, and The Devil Inside (forthcoming  in 2019). Shadow Kinglanded on the Top Ten finalist list of the 2016 Launchpad Manuscript Competition out of over 1,000 entrants from 24 countries, and was published by Inkshares in October 2018. The Devil You Don’t reached the Top 25 finalists list the following year and will be published under the name The Devil Inside. Susan lives near Boston, Massachusetts with her husband and cat. An avid equestrian, you can often find her at the barn when she’s not writing. She rediscovered her love for writing at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst when her writing teacher freshman year told the class that their last assignment was “to write something creative.”
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And some info about the Writing Block, whose authors developed the anthology:
Behind the scenes at Writing Bloc there are six people: Michael Haase, Becca Spence Dobias, Cari Dubiel, Robert Batten, Christopher Lee, and Jacqui Castle. They’re all authors in various stages of their careers. Their goal is to help indie authors by fostering connection, and providing the support needed to navigate the often-times-overwhelming world of publishing.
And some info about ESCAPE!:
“ESCAPE! It’s something that we all crave. Life in 2018 is loaded with stress, worry, and regret so, of course, these themes are old friends of the independent writers of the Writing Bloc Cooperative. In the first collection of shorts presented by Writing Bloc Publishing, twenty up-and-coming authors illuminate the varied nuances of ESCAPE! The result is nothing short of pure alchemical gold in the form of the written word.

These twenty gripping tales, running the gamut from science fiction and fantasy to political satire and literary fiction, illustrate the many faces of escape, escaping, and escapism. In a curiously deep look into the human psyche, they examine the urge to leave our present circumstances behind as well as how that instinct both aids and hinders our lives. Drop the drudgery of daily life by diving headfirst into this stunning collection, and you might just find that ESCAPE! Is right around the corner.

Featuring shorts from: Tahani Nelson, Grace Marshall, Kendra Namednil, Susan K. Hamilton, Deborah Munro, Daniel Lee, Christopher Henckel, Michael James Welch, Evan Graham, Patrick Edwards, Peter Ryan, Mike Donald, Christopher Lee, Jason Pomerance, Durena Burns, Cari Dubiel, Becca Spence Dobias, Ferd Crôtte, Jason Chestnut, and Michael Haase.”

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And here is Susan –

1. Is this your first time compiling an anthology book? What was your experience? 

This is the first anthology I’ve participated in, but to be honest the founders of Writing Bloc came up with the initial idea and orchestrated the logistics. But every writer who has a story in ESCAPE! was part of the production: we all edited each other’s stories, one of the members created the cover and the layout.

I’ll confess I was a hair skeptical at first. I remember doing group projects at school and those didn’t always go so smoothly, but in this case it was a great experience. There were a few hiccups along the way, but all of the writers were really supportive and interested in making the anthology the best it could be.

2. Can you tell us a bit more about ‘Writing Bloc’? 

Michael Haase founded Writing Bloc in conjunction with five other writers in different stages of their careers. The goal of the group is to help indie authors succeed by helping them connect with other writers and by providing the support needed to navigate the world of publishing, which can be overwhelming at times.

I knew several of the other founders– Becca Spence Tobias, Cari Dubiel, Robert Batten, Christopher Lee, and Jacqui Castle — through interactions we had on Inkshares, and when I learned about Writing Bloc and what they were trying to accomplish, I knew I wanted to be part of it.

You can find more information on http://www.writingbloc.com, including articles, book reviews, resources and information on listening to their new podcast.

3. How does, according to you, the theme of this book, ” Escape “, stay relevant in the modern world? 

I think pretty much everyone wants to escape every now and again. We’re all faced with pressure from work, pressure at home, pressure at school. Having the chance to get away, even for just a little while, has tremendous appeal. Plus, it often seems like all you see on the news is bad news–finding a way to escape from that gives us a little bit of respite from the real world.

4. What are your favourite books and what would you advice your readers to read after Escape?

Wow, I have a lot of great books that I love. A series I always loved is the Keltiad from Patricia Kennealy Morrison. The books are called The Copper Crown, The Throne of Scone, and The Silver Branch. I think they’re out of print so you’d need to find them used — but they’re a great blend of sci-fi and fantasy.

Many of the Writing Bloc members have books out as well (and several have forthcoming titles)… a couple that come to mind are The Seclusionby Jacqui Castle, The Last Faoii by Tahani Nelson, The Phantom Forest by Liz Kerin, and Women Like Us by Jason Pomerance. (And I’m going to beg forgiveness of the other members since I can’t possibly list all of their books here!)

And of course, if you like dark urban fantasy, I would certainly invite you to check out my latest: Shadow King.

5. Do you think a sort of sequel, could arise out of this book? Another anthology with even more gripping tales? 

Yes! A new anthology is actually in the works right now. We’ve just started group edits on the next Writing Bloc collection of short stories: DECEPTION! 

Many of the authors featured in ESCAPE! are back for this new collection, but there are also quite a few new voices that I’m really excited about. I anticipate DECEPTION! will be available for readers at the end of 2019 or early in 2020.

6. Being a successful SFF author, what advice would you give to your fellow indie soon-to-be-authors?

You’re going to need to be patient, and you’re going to need to develop some grit. Everyone runs into roadblocks and rejections, even writers who have had things published in the past. Being persistent and keeping things in perspective will be really important for you — not everyone will like your material (not everyone will like mine, either), and that’s okay.  You aren’t going to make every single reader out there happy. Tell your story, your way.

The other thing I’d say is keep an open mind. There is more than one path to get to your goal — I got connected with my publisher through a competition. Had I not taken a chance on that, I might never have crossed paths with them. So make sure you look at all the doors you can go through, not just one.

7. What was the inspiration behind Escape? 

For this answer, I’m going to paraphrase a little from the introduction to ESCAPE! As readers, we dive into books to be swept away and dropped into a world that is new, exciting, and a total escape from our normal lives and thoughts. As writers, it is similar–we want to escape into an alternate world, but we want to bring readers with us, to show them around, and to have them relish spending time in our world. But writing can be a lonely world. You get engrossed in your work. You write, you refine. You refine some more and by the time you’re on draft seventeen, you’re a little lost and lonely–and the perfect escape is in the company of other writers, like the ones I’ve found in Writing Bloc.

8. Why do you think that an “escape” is essential in our world and how do your promote these theme via the book? 

I do think escape is essential in our world. We all need the chance to get away, regroup and recharge. If we don’t, life just starts to fray you at the edges too much.

One thing I really love about the ESCAPE! anthology is that each author has his or her own unique concept of escape or escapism. Some are very literal, and some approach it from a very different angle — plus there are a variety of genres represented in the stories so there is a little something for everyone.

9. When can we expect you back on the bookshelves again? 

The new Writing Bloc anthology–DECEPTION!–should be available at the end of this year or early 2020. On a personal note, my new dark fantasy, The Devil Inside should be going to the editor in the near future which would mean it will release in 2020, but I don’t have an exact date quite yet.

10. How do you “Escape” from the daily drudgery of life ?

Of course I have my writing–and reading as well, but one of my favorite ways is riding. I’ve loved horses since I was a little girl and I am fortunate enough to be able to ride three afternoons each week. I can have the worst day at the office, but by the time I’m done at the barn, I have a whole new outlook on everything.
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Thank you for your time, Susan. Congratulations on ESCAPE and we look forward to DECEPTION. 
Check her out here –
You can check out Writer’s Bloc here –

And remember to check out ESCAPE here –

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