Horror Tree Presents… An Interview With EA Copen
Ruschelle: So, how do you pronounce your first name? It’s a family name, isn’t it? I bet it stands for something really bitchin in another language. Is it German? How about Icelandic? Never mind, I bet it’s Tattooine!
E.A.: I wish! I have the most boring first name in the universe, which is why I go by initials in the writing and publishing world. I like to keep people guessing and add an air of mystery to my otherwise very mundane and quiet life.
Ruschelle: You have a fantastic series with four books written and more to come! What was your inspiration for the Judah Black series?
E.A.: Thank you! I write mostly what I want to read. I really like to write about normal people in extraordinary situations. The most important aspect of Judah Black is that she’s a single parent. There aren’t a lot of kickass moms in urban fantasy, and I thought I’d like to read that so I wrote it. I created the world she lives in as a response to a question I had after reading tons of urban fantasy books myself: How would the U.S. government really react if we suddenly found out supernaturals lived among us? Someone would have to police them, right? How might they solve supernatural crimes? What kind of conflicts does that create?
Ruschelle: Do you insert real people from your life into your characters? For example, have you based a character off a friend, foe or relative’s characteristics, thought processes and behaviors?
E.A.: Sort of. I lift certain personality traits from people and usually try to mix it up a little so it’s not so obvious. Every character, even the bad guys, have a piece of me in them, too.
Ruschelle: How long does it take for you to create one of your novels? It looks like you published a few in 2016 and 17 alone!
E.A.: It really varies a lot, and not just because they’re all different lengths. One of my shortest novels actually took the longest to write because I spent so much time doing research. It’s set in the wild west, so I had to make sure all the details were right. I can hammer out a rough draft in 15-30 days if I do all the research and planning beforehand. The editing and revision process usually takes a few months.
Ruschelle: Wow, I’m jealous. A draft in 15-30 days? I’m still sputtering through the first page of a 15 page story! I am part turtle. Back to you…Since you have written about both…If you were to be bitten by one who would it be: Werewolves or Vampires? And don’t be stingy, give me a reason.
E.A.: Definitely werewolves! I really don’t like blood, and I’d miss being in the sun for sure. That’s one thing I have in common with Judah, I’m afraid. I really don’t like vampires.
Ruschelle: YES, another werewolf girl. You mention you a trained puppeteer! A gal after my own heart. We are sisters from another mister. Can you elaborate on your background?
E.A.: It’s a really weird skill, isn’t it? I got involved with puppets as a pre-teen in a church group I was part of. As an introvert, I’ve never been big on being in the public eye. Being a puppeteer was a way for me to be part of show business without being seen. It was a lot of fun.
Ruschelle: What was the puppet or show that made you want to be a puppeteer?
E.A.: I actually don’t recall who it was, but it was a ventriloquist act. It was hilarious, and I thought it was a great way for the person to make fun of themselves. Turns out, I’m not a good ventriloquist, but I’m ok with marionettes and other puppets.
Ruschelle: Ventriloquist puppets give me the heebe-jeebees. That Twilight Zone episode took care of that. But would you like to see any of your books acted out with puppets? If so which one?
E.A.: I’ve never really thought of that! All the puppet shows I’ve ever done were for children, and nothing I’ve written so far is appropriate for children at all! I know there are more adult-oriented puppet shows, but I honestly think of my books more like television series, or even as anime sometimes. I’d rather see them adapted like that.
Ruschelle: You write in many different genres and do some sweet mash ups. Do you find that one genre has more fan support than others?
E.A.: So far, I’ve had a lot of support from the urban fantasy and paranormal thriller crowd, but I was really surprised by the number of people who loved my horror western, Beasts of Babylon. The response was a little overwhelming. I had many people who don’t typically read horror tell me how much they enjoyed it. It was recently selected as 2017’s Book of the Year by A Drop of Ink Reviews and I know she doesn’t normally read horror. The weird west/horror western community is much smaller than urban fantasy, but so far I’ve really enjoyed writing for them.
Ruschelle: Do you have one sparkling shard of advice that has enriched you and powered you through being an author?
E.A.: It’s not one specific piece of advice, but rather a whole book. Whenever I feel a little lost, I go back and read The Alchemist by Paulo Coehlo. It’s a sort of parable for people searching for their purpose in life, chasing their dreams. Being an author is hard, and there are so many opportunities to give up or give in. The book and many passages from it have gotten me through some rough times. I really think everyone ought to read it at least once.
Ruschelle: You have gone from a strong female lead to a male main character in your book Kiss of Vengeance and then back again to a female lead. How did you find your ‘male voice’ and do you prefer writing as the dominant female lead?
E.A.: I do not actually! I prefer to write male lead characters. They always come easier to me. Maybe it’s because I’m surrounded by men and boys. I was raised by my brothers and dad. I’ve always been a sort of Tomboy. Often, if I write female characters, they’re not hyper-feminine either.
Ruschelle: How many more adventures do you see in the world of Judah Black?
E.A.: There will be lots! The Judah Black Novels—the main series, that is—is slated for 12 books total, but I have a spin-off series that takes place in the same world and focuses more on the werewolves. If I can, I’d also like to write at least one book set in the same world, but taking place in Europe to see how countries elsewhere dealt with supernaturals suddenly coming out. I’d like to do at least twenty books set in that world, but we’ll see.
Ruschelle: Do you see a cross over happening with any of your books? That could be really sweet! Judah finds herself in the world of Anastasia Thorn from your new offering Beasts of Babylon?
E.A.: Several fans have suggested it! However, while there are some similarities between their worlds, they’re in different universes. I haven’t yet figured out if/how they might be connected. There will be crossovers between various characters in the Judah Black world. Dal O’Connor from Kiss of Vengeance will have an important role to play in the fifth Judah Black book and beyond. The werewolves from this spin-off series I’m working on, The Silver Bullet Chronicles, are already inherently tied to some characters from the Judah Black Novels, so they’ll definitely have to meet. Readers will see the consequences of decisions made by one set of characters in one book ripple into others.
Ruschelle: If you could visit any of the worlds you’ve written, which one would it be? Or is there one you haven’t written yet that makes your little black heart skip a beat?
E.A.: I have a space opera series coming out in a few weeks, and I think I’d actually pick one of the worlds from there, Clevennia. It’s the main character’s home planet, but readers won’t get to visit it until the second book. Clevennia is sort of what you’d get if you took the Iron Islands from Game of Thrones and populated it with a bunch of characters from Celtic myth before arming them with blasters, spaceships, and laser cannons. Exploring the different planets, people, and cultures in the Broken Empire series has been one of my favorite things about writing.
Ruschelle: Guilty By Association has been made into an audiobook. That’s fantastic. Explain the process. Is that your sexy voice reading to us?
E.A.: Oh, no. That’s Jennifer Harvey Hupf. There are a lot of things I can’t do that are part of the publishing process, so I have to hire someone else to do it for me. She’s a professional. When I decided to do an audiobook, I set everything up through a company called ACX and invited narrators to audition. I got a few auditions and let my fans help me pick who they liked best. She did her recordings—and that side of things is a complete mystery to me—and a few clicks and forms later, it’s all set up. It’s a painless process. Just takes a while.
Ruschelle: I read in this beautiful interview bloggosphere that you just recently purchased model art for your book covers from Neo Stock. How do you choose the models from what you’ve created in your fantastic imagination?
E.A.: It’s hard, especially since I write characters who aren’t always 20-somethings. Judah is a little older, in her 30’s. Stock art that isn’t over-used is kind of difficult to find. When I heard NeoStock was launching their cinematic stock art collection, I had to have some. Dean Samed, who runs NeoStock, created a group for authors and cover artists to make requests. We got to tell him what kind of photo shoots and models we were looking for, and he did a wonderful job taking that into account for his photo shoots.
Ruschelle: You have yet ANOTHER offering locked and loaded, Broken Empire: Aftermath. Can you slip our readers a little hors d’ oeuvres before the real feast begins?
E.A.: There’s a sample chapter available if people are interested in reading the first chapter before it officially comes out! You can read it by signing up here: https://www.subscribepage.com/EACopen_scifi
I’ll say it’s very different from my other work. It has some heavier political overtones. I call it Game of Thrones meets Mass Effect. It’s very much like that. You have various factions across two empires vying for power, scheming against one another. The main character, Timothy Val, is a guy caught in the middle who just wants to live his life, but gets pulled into the struggle after defying an order to execute innocent civilians after a battle. And while everyone is busy squabbling, there’s an ancient, destructive force building up power in Dark Space, waiting for the right moment to strike and wipe out all sentient life in the galaxy.
Ruschelle: You mentioned earlier that Broken Empire is a Space Opera!! Explain this concept or I’m going to assume they all sing…so I’ll also assume it’s going to be an audiobook. LOL
E.A.: Technically, Star Wars is a space opera, and so is Dune. If you like those kinds of stories, you’ll like this. Space opera is a genre where there are usually big empires with big problems that the characters must solve. There’s romance, space battles, and sometimes a very slight hint of magic. In Star Wars, The Force is a sort of space magic. I have characters who have their own powers that will change the universe. One lady is a slave who can see a person’s past by touching them. There’s a mercenary alien immune to fire. Genetically engineered assassins, people coming back from the dead… Space opera takes all the grand, sweeping landscapes of epic fantasy and brings them to space with a touch of technology.
Ruschelle: Consider me schooled. You are a prolific writer! How do write so quickly and eloquently? We need to know what deal you made with the devil or Jin or politician….and how can the rest of us get in on it.
E.A.: Lots of practice, I suppose. I’ve been writing since I was four years old. Finished my first book (a very bad Star Wars fan fiction) around 10. I’ve made plenty of mistakes and had lots of opportunities to learn and grow. I also have the advantage of not having a day job. I’m either writing or editing 9 hours a day, 5 days a week. Most of the time, I have multiple projects going at once in different stages. I have 2 books finished right now in different revision stages, and two more that I’m writing.
Ruschelle: It’s been a pleasure getting to know you and discover your fantastic worlds. Where can your newfound fans find you and bow down to your awesomness?
E.A.: The best way to stay up to date with what I’m up to is to join my mailing list. Readers get a free novella in the Judah Black universe, Perfect Storm, for signing up. https://dl.bookfunnel.com/es7rcdbclj
Next to that, they can like my author page on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/EACopen/
They can also join my fanclub on Facebook where things are a little less formal: https://www.facebook.com/groups/1002317576536616/
I’m also on Twitter: https://twitter.com/authoreacopen
And Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/authoreacopen/
I’m currently building a new website, but the old one is here: www.ea-copen.com
If readers are just interested in receiving new release announcements, the best place to do that is to follow me on Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/e-a-copen
Thanks for having me!