Thursday, August 29, 2019

Q&A with Francesca Burke, Author of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes

Today I am hosting an interview with Francesca Burke, author of The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes.

Francesca is posting her novel on Patreon one chapter at a time.
You can find her Patreon page here

On to the interview . . .


When did you start writing?

I first started writing fan fiction when I was 12 (hi, Maximum Ride/Camp Rock/Twilight fandoms circa 2007) and gradually began trying to write original stories as well. 


Why did you decide to release The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes chapter by chapter through Patreon?

Initially I wanted to be traditionally published; I pitched to agents and heard either nothing or rejections. After undertaking much-needed edits, I decided that I could either re-pitch or have some fun and put it out myself. I have my own stationery business and I’m self-employed, so I’m used to undertaking projects by myself. I was already on Patreon, so I thought that putting the book on there over a long period of time might be a sustainable way to build a writing career, as well as being a fun way to fund an ebook. Part of patrons’ money goes to me, part goes to the Make The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes an Ebook Project, and all patrons get little extras as well as the chapters—I name characters after patrons, send them videos and things I’ve made. Having that sort of close relationship with readers isn’t necessarily as possible with a traditional publisher.

How have you found using Patreon in this way?

Slow! Patreon is a really slow burn for me as I don’t have a huge following on my blog or social media. The hardest bit has been convincing people to read the opening chapters, which aren’t even on Patreon—they’re available for everyone to read here. Once people read the opening chapters, they’re often quite into the story and the idea of creating an ebook, and they’re happy to join in. But getting people to pay attention, in a world with 82727262 different demands on people’s time, has been even harder than I expected.

Who is your favourite character in The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes?

Don’t make me pick! Possibly Violet, who we meet in the third part of the book. She’s kind of an enigma and quite hard to write but I like her a lot. I really like the witch in the third part of the story as well.

What was your favourite part of writing The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes?

Finishing it. Kidding, kidding. Ish. I really enjoyed writing the final couple of chapters; in the initial drafts of the very end of the novel, the whole story kind of came together as I was writing.

Do you have any works in progress/a sequel in the works?

Nope! People who have read to the end want to know what happens precisely after the final scene, but for now I’m not telling anyone… not unless the BBC wants to make a six-part Sunday night drama about it.

What are your hobbies?

Most of my hobbies (writing, designing sarcastic stationery) have become part of my everyday life with the aim of being financially viable; I don’t exactly make a lot from them though, so really they are hobbies with the potential to be lucrative in the long run. I would still do them for free if no one was paying any attention, so I suppose they are still hobbies. No one’s ever going to pay me to read, so reading is probably my last true hobby!

Do you have a favourite book or author?

Maggie Stiefvater’s The Raven Cycle is probably my favourite series; she’s a fantastic author whose skill you can see improve from her first novel to her most recent. I absolutely love The Raven Cycle and really admire Maggie as a person. I also love Khaled Hosseini novels; they make my stomach hurt but in a really good way.

Do you have any advice for new writers?

I think I am stealing this from Neil Gaiman, who himself probably learnt it from someone else (it’s something I think all writers learn from experience, whether we want to or not): you can’t edit what you haven’t written. Even if you’re stuck on a scene or plotline or character, write to the end of the scene or the paragraph or the chapter. You can always come back and change it or polish it or use it as reference material. But if you don’t write, you don’t have anything at all.
Also, expect to write approximately two thirds more than will end up in the final draft. Most of the material from The Princess and the Dragon and Other Stories About Unlikely Heroes was just me figuring out the story and my characters. A few years ago, I hated being told that I would write more than would end up in the final draft (I’ve heard a couple of authors say that). I thought that all the extra words were a waste of time—and I have repetitive strain injury in both hands, so I don’t like to waste time at my keyboard—but they all contribute to the finished story.

 About the Author

Born in Rochford, Essex, in 1995, Francesca Burke is a writer, stationery designer, marketing consultant and enthusiastic collector of My Chemical Romance albums. She's written about travel, dogs and quarter-life crises on her blog, Indifferent Ignorance, since 2009. It’s statistically likely that as you read this she is thinking about making a cup of tea.
She lives in Southend-on-Sea with her MCR albums, a several bottles of nail polish and a passport she likes to mention has quite a few stamps.


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