Interview by Katharine Eliska Kimbriel
Founding member of Book View Café, Sarah Zettel, writes in multiple genres with multiple pen names; everything from hard SF as C.L. Anderson, fantasy and paranormal mystery as Sarah Zettel, sensuous Regency Romance as Marissa Day, Steampunk and YA. She served as Managing Director of BVC during our birth pains and first expansion into cooperative publishing.
1.) We’ve all heard the story of Book View Café’s origins when twenty or so female science fiction and fantasy writers on a professional mailing list asked the question: “How do I increase my web presence?” What did you feel you could contribute to the growing list of needed tasks and what possessed you to take on the job of herding this passel of cats?
A.) Sheer madness. No, seriously, I was not in a great place when I helped start BVC. I was what gets called “between jobs.” I’m a full-time writer, so in my case that meant I had no contracts. I needed two things–I needed a way to get my back list of books back out there, and I needed a positive project I could work on while waiting to hear back from assorted editors. The project that became Book View Cafe came along at the exact right time.
2.) You were instrumental in developing the Shadow Conspiracy anthologies. What about Steampunk brought you into this subgenre?
A.) There are two reasons to write in a genre, the first is because you love it. The second it because it kinda ticks you off. Steampunk kind of ticks me off. I get very tired of zombies and un-examined gear-oriented, magic pretending to pass as science. This desire mixed with being reminded that Ada Lovelace, who was the mother of modern computer programming was also the only legitimate child of Lord Byron, who was in turn, at the house party where Mary Shelly started writing Frankenstein… and it was all just too much for the muse to resist.
3.) What do you consider your most important contribution to BVC?
A.) Finding a programmer/web developer who was willing to work for love and get us an initial site up and running so we could find out if this show we were putting on in our little barn might actually play on Broadway.
4.) Your professional life looks overwhelming. Is there anything you regret not being able to do during these past five years?
A.) Write fast enough.
5.) Given the amount of writing you have completed in the last five years while working with BVC and maintaining a family life with an active young person in the house, how do you organize your life to give you writing time?
A.) I am very lucky to live in a town with a co-working space. Co-working is where a group of people, generally freelancers and remote workers get together and rent an office. This gives me a dedicated workspace free from the pressures that being in the house always seems to exert and also ends the isolation that a lot of freelance workers feel. As soon as I joined, my productivity jumped way, way up. Plus, of course, I have an enormously supportive family.
6.) What is the most valuable lesson you have learned from BVC?
A.) Anything worth doing, is worth doing together.
7.) What is next on your list of books coming out or writing projects you are working on?
A.) The first book in my YA historical series, Palace of Spies comes out on Nov. 5, 2013. I am so excited!
8.) Any closing thoughts about what you want for the future of Book View Café?
A.) I think the future is going to be enormously exciting. Thanks to the great work by our author-members, BVC’s impressive catalogue of award winning and bestselling books has gone out around the world. I expect us to be able to continue to take full advantage of the new opportunities the internet offers authors