S. A. Baker is a healthcare worker and recovering professional musician who spent eleven years touring around North America and despite popular opinion, he really does know how to smile. From early on, he excelled at telling stories and won several local writing awards before being bitten by the rock and roll bug. When not writing, Baker plays bagpipes competitively (no, really) and thinks about learning to fly fish. Winterbourne is S. A. Baker’s first novel and is the introductory story in the Winterbourne saga.
Thanks so much for coming!
Thanks for having me, I love what you’ve done with the place.
LOL! You’re too kind 😉
Let’s begin with an easy lob: can you describe for us the moment that launched you on your writing journey?
This particular venture started with the National Novel Writing Month (NANOWRIMO) contest where the idea is to write the first draft of a novel in a month. I didn’t make the deadline due to computer errors (due mostly to pilot error) but once I had finished I let it sit for a month or so, went back and re-read it. I found myself forgetting that I had written it and thought I would try to do “something” with it. But really, I don’t remember a time when I wasn’t writing stories or making stuff up. I have clear memories of playing with Star Wars figures and G. I. Joes with my friends and creating very vivid scenarios for them to be involved in. From there it went to full on stories, to Rock and Roll songs and now back to stories.
Oooo! I love Rock and Roll 🙂 And I’ve also participated in the grueling task set forth by NaNoWriMo – I commend you highly for picking up that particular gauntlet to run screaming while naked and on fire… well, at least that’s how it feels sometimes 😉
Do you find that your ‘day job’ influenced your writing? If not, what are the main influences to your writing?
My “day” job is a huge influence on my stories. I work the night shift on the memory care unit of a nursing home. Working the night shift, bordering on chronic sleep deprivation (you never get enough sleep) can cause your mind to go to very strange, wonderful, and sometimes terrifying places. Now throw people living with various forms of dementia into the mix and it makes for an almost never ending resource of inspiration.
Fascinating. You must love what you do in order to work though that kind of schedule. Many of us know that it’s no cake-walk helping our elders live a dignified life under those circumstances. And me… I just need my sleep (8 hours in fact to be 100% operational on a given day), so that in-and-of-itself is a miraculous feat in my books!
Having such an inspiring and time-consuming day job, what did you find were the most challenging aspects of bringing your book to life?
The writing of the story, the initial bashing through is the easy bit for me. I have the framework of it pretty well fleshed out before I ever put pen to paper. Refining it and staying within the logic of the frame work I have created can sometimes be challenging. I think the hardest part for me is the editing process. ‘What do you mean that doesn’t make sense? What do you mean I can’t use “she” 17 times in a single paragraph?’ The editors at Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications are wonderful, supportive people who I am certain dread editing any dialogue I have written.
LOL! I laugh because I’ve been on both sides of that coin 😉 Even as a freelance editor I still need someone else to look at my work from a fresh perspective – and trust me, we authors get so close to the story that it lives in our brains and we don’t see these things even if we’re trained to.
Who is your favourite character? Can you describe for us an interesting moment in the development of this character?
I guess my favourite would have to be Robert Downey Jr., he is quite a character! Really, if I had to pick one of my own it would easily be Ezra. I think he represents what we all want… what we all hope, that no matter how gigantically you f**k up, there is redemption out there. He began as a very one-dimensional character, a toady or henchman, and blossomed into the foul-mouthed father figure he is now.
Robert Downey Jr. is without a doubt a character both on and off the screen 😉 But Ezra… wow! He sounds like the kind of guy a reader would love to hate.
What was the most difficult scene for you to write? Try to describe your efforts without revealing too much or ‘spoiling’ the moment for future readers.
During the editing process, I was informed that one particular chapter was all talk and no action, literally. It was a ‘what do you mean it isn’t good enough?’ moment. I was a little incensed at first but I had faith in my editor’s instinct. It compelled me to come up with a short scene that is both heartwarming and vicious. It’s one of my favourite scenes now. Trust your editors, kids. They are editors for a reason!
Heartwarming and vicious? Now that sounds intriguing!
You’ve highlighted the many infuriating talents of your editor at Science Fiction and Fantasy Publications, do you have any insight for us regarding the publishing industry and the route you chose for publication (traditional publishing vs. self-publishing)?
I didn’t go the self-publishing route on purpose. I knew that I could go that way and that some writers have been very successful in their efforts, but I wanted to go the way of traditional publishing. The feeling of receiving an email that says ‘we would like to publish your book’ is nearly indescribable; the fruition of a lifetime of dreaming suddenly made tangible. If I had any advice to give about publishing, it would be don’t give up. With SO many publishers accepting unsolicited manuscripts now, don’t be discouraged if the first one or the first one hundred reject your book, if it’s a good story, somebody will reach out to you.
That’s very sage advice. Let’s see if you have any oregano in your pantry too 😉
What have you found to be the most challenging aspect of publicizing yourself and your work?
I got a good deal of experience self-promoting in the Rock and Roll world, directly and indirectly. It’s easy to talk about things I am passionate about.
You’re lucky to be able to have that self-confidence. Many writers of fiction tend to be on the quiet side and find talking about themselves one of the hardest things to do.
So, what drew you to the Urban Fantasy genre?
I don’t know that anything drew me to this genre in particular. Until recently, I didn’t know I was writing urban fantasy or what defined it. I just write the kind of stories that I enjoy, strong characters based in some reality with the unreal bleeding through in greater amounts as the story progresses . I have always told my daughter that real magic is everywhere, you just need to know how to see it.
And lastly, what projects are you currently working on? Can you reveal or give any juicy hints?
I’m nearly finished the next book to take place in Winterbourne. You might call it a prequel, of sorts, to the first one. The third book is already starting to push its way into my consciousness, so it won’t be long before I start on that one too. There are many stories in this town and I’ll keep telling them as long as I can.
It’s great to hear that fans of your work will have much to look forward to 😀
It’s been a pleasure chatting with you today S. A.. Thank you again for stopping by and sharing your experiences and stories with us.
Connect with S. A. …
All Davis wanted was a job. So when Winterbourne Home advertised a position for an evening personal care worker he jumped at the chance. Little did he know that another, higher profile position waited for him; that is if the homicidal director of the home did not take it from him first.
Winterbourne Home, once Winterbourne Asylum for the Mentally Insane, is the setting for S.A. Baker’s Urban Fantasy filled with wit, humour, and a little bit of sass. Don’t let this book slip from your grasp as Baker takes you on a ride from the strange to the absolutely fantastical. His depiction of urban fantasy is one that sets this author apart from others.
Winterbourne, taking place in the back drop of an old age home, answers the question, “What happens if Death retires?”
This book will become one of your prized possessions as it covers not only if there is life after death, but how we pass into the afterlife. Do we lift into a tunnel of light or are we devoured by those who await our passing. Is there a line up for the afterlife, and if so, do they play elevator music in order to entertain us?
Winterbourne, a joy to read if you can only stop smirking long enough to get through each chapter.