My writing and critiquing group buddy from Egoboo WA, Sarah Lee Parker, has just had her first short story published in the new anthology from Musa Publishing, Jack Gorman Gets Cut By A Girl, (along with stories by Nancy di Mauro, Goldeen Ogawa, Heidi Berthiaume, Keyan Bowes and Brandie Tarvin). Sarah has kindly dropped in to chat about writing, travels, dinner parties and the naming of Jack Gorman.
Welcome, Sarah! I know you’ve just been published in a new anthology from Musa, but could you tell us a bit about you first. Who is Sarah Lee Parker, and what made her start writing?
When I was thirteen, I saw Labyrinth for the first time. And I grabbed an A4 school book, one of the huge ones, and I hand wrote a sequel. It was a novel, it was huge. To start with, Jareth had a twin, Jake, and they both wanted Sarah… *grin*
I have been writing novels since then. I stopped for about ten years when I took on full time work, got married, completed my degree, and had children. Now I’ve got some added colour to my life, my novels are very different creatures!
And you know, now I think about it, a novel about Sarah and magic-wielding hot twins might just be the sort of thing I could do well… it would be a very different story to my 13 year old version!
I found writing erotica to be something I am always comfortable with, and have been writing erotic snippets for my friends’ benefits since high school. Now it’s a decade or so past those days, and I still love to write and I still love to write a lot of different things including erotica. My Labyrinth fanfic was, of course, fantasy. I didn’t finish it though. My first completed novel (the next one I wrote, in Year Ten, so I would have been 14) was science fiction and about nuclear war finally destroying civilisation and humans living in three domes. These days I tend to write fantasy novels and science fiction short stories, and I’m really pleased that even now at the very beginning of my writing career, I have attained a little notice with some local awards (a Tin Duck for my Zombie Blogging) and also won an Honorable Mention from the Writers of the Future for a science fiction story I wrote for them.
You’ve been a mover and shaker in the Perth speculative fiction scene for years, as well as being awarded (twice) and appreciated as a convention organizer and panel speaker. How has this high level of ‘connectivity’ influenced your development as a writer?
Conventions have shaped who I am. It was at the local SF convention that I really started to learn a lot about boundary shaping and development, which I find crucial for my writing. I also had ready access to an amazing number of supportive people who helped me in innumerable ways. So many people believe in me, and that belief is humbling, keeping me going even when I hate my sentence structures and will scream if I use the words “said,” “the” or “and” one more time.
I also find that I draw energy from crowds and places such as conventions, and so many people give energy and ideas freely. I walk out of conventions wanting to give back, wanting to create and write and run more conventions. For a number of years, I would experience a post-convention depression, as I would be living my dream at the convention, where I knew every one and had awesome discussions until 4am, would watch the sun rise, go to panels of thoughtful and interesting discussions which would spark off more ideas… and then to go back to a workplace was a difficult transition. So I have been working for the last decade to close that transition space. I no longer feel like the convention is the only place where I am using all of my talents, and I no longer have that post-convention sense of loss. And using my talents and developing them in the ‘other world’ sphere has meant returning to my first love – writing, and working on it as a serious career.
How did you get to work on the ‘Jack Gorman project’ (and should he be called Gorman or Gormless)?
My husband and I have a system with our money, where we get a small allowance every month to spend as we liked. When he started a new job, he also got overtime, and since it was an imposition on all of us, we agreed to divide that cash between us as a bonus, to make life a little nicer after enduring a week of calls. This was a great idea… except the overtime paid much, much better than either of us expected.
He was fine – he loves his tech and is happy to buy it and other things, but I have enough stuff in my house. I didn’t know what to do with this stockpile of money, but I love travelling, and I love to have goals, so I decided I was going to go to World Fantasy Convention 2011. It would be my first trip overseas in over ten years. It would be the first trip away from the family. It was going to be wonderful and awful, and it was such a high goal that I knew I was going to have to stretch myself to get there.
And yet. Then I did it.
Carol Ryles and I went to San Francisco and then San Diego for WFC2011. And we had a ball. My plan was to go, have a great time, and if I found an editor or anything, I expected it to be at four in the morning when we were drunk in a bar or a room party or something… and that was an if. I don’t have a publishing history, and I tend to stay home and ‘work on my craft’ so I am a complete unknown.
And it turns out, I was sober when I met Celina. (Yes, I was surprised too!) And yes, I had no idea she was an editor. I spent a lot of time enjoying the holiday and talking to random people in the spa. I met Gini Koch there and we had a great chat, and then once the convention was over, I ended up at dinner with a whole pile of other authors, and the Jack Gorman anthology grew from there. Celina has written the best summation of the night in her prologue, so I won’t repeat it here.
Also: I really pushed for Gorman because it was so close to Gormless! I don’t know if that’s an Australianism or what but it made me giggle every time I had to write his name!
What has your experience with Musa been like so far?
I am seriously impressed with how smooth it has been. Celina has done a wonderful job in wrangling us all, and the online editing system has worked like a dream. The Musa authors have been really warm and friendly, and every questions has been answered promptly. I am really pleased to be a part of the Musa family now, and I love that Musa comes from a position of positivity. By this I mean there is no competitiveness between authors, and every author helps to make each individual product a success.
Do you have other writing currently underway and what are your goals for the future?
I have completed my e-Book 7 Steps to A Meal Plan Your Family Will Love, and will be getting back into my house work avoidance blogging plus working on promoting the Jack Gorman anthology. I am currently working on my Skintree fantasy novel, and I am really excited about some of the themes and ideas about personal space and boundaries I am exploring in Skintree. After Skintree, I’ll be working on finishing off the Selkie romance.
Long term, I want to keep writing. I love it, and want to keep doing it. I’m exploring self publishing with the Saucy Sarahs books and hope to explore more traditional publishing with the fantasy books. I know I can write novels now, and I have spent years working on my craft, and I already have some very heartening awards that tell me I am on the right path… perhaps this year I will actually stop practicing and start putting things out there!
Tell us about “Jack Gorman Got Cut By A Girl’:
The anthology is available from Musa Publishing, and contains six linked stories. Mine is the last story, called ‘Jack Gorman Is Dead.’
Jack Gorman would rather spend his time swilling brewskies, scoring with the babes, and watching football. Instead, he’s been cursed by sword-bearing girl he harassed while on a bender.
Now, karma is dragging Jack’s sorry ass across time, space, and alternate histories. The curse can be broken if Jack manages to learn his lesson, but Jack is nothing if not consistent. From small California towns to a steampunk past, a magical future, and a space odyssey of narcissistic proportions, Jack flirts and drinks his way across reality only to discover that girls with blades are everywhere.
Will Jack ever break the curse? Or is he doomed to an eternity of getting cut by girls? Regardless, Jack still can’t get a break. As he learns the hard way, karma kicks ass in all timelines.
I hope you enjoy the anthology! You can find out more about Jack Gorman and his travails by clicking here, or if you’d like to know more about me, I write over here, and avoid housework over here. Hope to see you around!
Thanks for an inspiring peek into your vibrant world, Sarah, and good luck with all your writing ventures.