I’m delighted to welcome Pippa DaCosta to my online home. I first met Pippa at the London Book Fair earlier this year, where I was struck by her huge energy, enthusiasm, intelligence and good humour—she may not be very tall, but she is a towering talent, as her USA Today successes prove. Pippa DaCosta is a hugely prolific hybrid author, scoring her first success with her Veil urban fantasy series, which she self-published in 2014. She has also published four space opera books in the Girl from Above series, and another four in the Soul Eater series. But Pippa crosses the divide between indie and trad publishing, and has also had work published by both Bloomsbury and Random House Germany. Pippa DaCosta’s work has been featured in the Galaxy Chronicles anthology, part of the Future Chronicles series. Determined to keep her options open, Pippa continues to publish fantasy and science fiction both independently and traditionally.
1. What sort of writing do you most love to do? Include as much as you like – fiction (including genre), non-fiction, blogging, copywriting, academic, courses, poetry etc.
I’ve been writing urban fantasy and scifi since before I knew these genres existed as anything outside my head. At school, I’d be found with my Sony Walkman headphones on, head down, pencil scratching furiously over line after line, until I’d filled reams and reams of paper with stories. I even drew my own covers. That was twenty five years ago. I’ll be honest, not much has changed! Instead of a pencil and paper, I use a laptop. And I don’t ‘draw’ my own covers. You really wouldn’t want to see me try! I still lose myself in stories like I did back then. And it’s always scifi and fantasy because that’s what I love. I really couldn’t write anything else.
2. How long did it take to earn your primary living from writing (if, indeed, you do) and what were the major obstacles you have had to overcome?
In my first month publishing, I earned around $30. That was February 2013. I made a heck of a lot of mistakes and I had no idea what I was doing, but I wanted to get my book out and and if it sold a handful of copies, that would be great. $30 was awesome! I had no idea that my life was about to change. I know that sounds dramatic, but it’s true.
I remember the first ever fan message. It was a simple Facebook message and it said, “I’ve read Beyond The Veil and I love it. When is the next book out?” Such a sweet little message. I almost cried. It’s one thing to see the sales, it’s entirely another to have fans reach out and contact you. As an author, there’s really nothing like it. Anyway, I digress.
When did I start making decent cash? I was about to publish my second book and Bloomsbury approached me (Harry Potter, Throne of Glass etc). They wanted the series for a new imprint. At this time however, I could see how sales of the series were building. I knew I had a small but growing fanbase who were waiting for the next book. If I signed it over to Bloomsbury, the series would have to be withdrawn from sale and reworked, and I wasn’t sure I wanted to do that. Plus, I could see the potential. Having coming from a marketing background, I wasn’t afraid of advertising, and I’d been doing my research for months. I knew I could make it work. I walked away from that deal. I was going to do this alone and if I didn’t earn a living in two years, then I’d throw in the towel. (Bloomsbury picked up a later series of mine, London Fae). With three books out and more on the way, sales really started to gain momentum. Now, with fourteen titles to my name and annual earnings in the six figures, I can safely say I won’t be throwing the towel in anytime soon.
3. Briefly describe your writing and editing process. Are you primarily a plotter or a ‘pantser’?
I do plot, but I leave it very fluid. But I pants too. My outlines are bullet points, so that I know the skeleton of the characters, the plot, and the journey. The rest usually falls into place as I write. I trust in my characters, and my gut, but I also know when to put my foot down and sweet the story back on track. It can be pretty terrifying, to trust that my process will click into place, but it hasn’t failed me yet.
4. Which writers, living or dead, do you most admire and why? (As many as you like, but just a couple will do.)
I picked up Stephen King’s On Writing when I was in my teens and was surprised to learn that everything he recommended, I already did. It was that shock that I didn’t have to be a rare unicorn to succeed. King was doing it and there was nothing groundbreaking or unobtainable in his formula, so why couldn’t I? He also doesn’t give two hoots about what anyone thinks of him or his genre fiction. He just keeps on being King and writing for his readers. I respect that. I grew up reading anything I could get my hands on. Chris Claremont wrote a book called First Flight. I think I picked it up second hand at a garage sale/bric-a-brac sale. It’s not a ground breaking scifi, but it is a cracking good story, and as young teenage woman, to read about the female Lt. Shea as a kick-ass main character, I loved every page.
5. What advice do you wish you had been given when you set out to become a writer?
A couple of things. Go ahead and make mistakes, because that’s how you succeed. If you don’t make mistakes, you’re not trying hard enough. Also, all the writing rules out there… Take them all with a pinch of salt. They’re more like the pirate code (guidelines). Appreciate your own voice, because that’s what sets you apart from the bajillion other authors out there. Every story has already been told, it’s the voice that makes it different.
6. Why did you decide to take the indie route?
Anyone who knows me knows I’m a bit of a control freak. I saw the potential and it was the right time for me to give it a go. I’d been writing my whole life, but the little girl I’d once been, tucked away in a tiny Devon (UK) village, didn’t have a hope in hell of being “discovered”. Then I grew up—as we all do. Got a job, turned it into a career. Life got in the way of writing until I became a mom of two little girls and I needed something else to keep me sane. I’d always dreamed of being a writer. It was time to take that dream and make it a reality. If a traditional publisher noticed me, great. If not, I didn’t care. I was doing it, one way or another. Mistakes and all. And here I am, living that dream. I wouldn’t have it any other way.
Where to find Pippa DaCosta:
Pippa DaCosta’s website: http://www.pippadacosta.com
Pippa DaCosta on Twitter: https://twitter.com/PippaDaCosta @PippaDaCosta
Pippa DaCosta on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pippadacosta/
Pippa DaCosta Book Links:
Pippa’s Amazon author page: http://amzn.to/2qjXqcG
Thank you for your time and inspiring answers, Pippa!