Meet Scott Sandridge-Author and One of Small Press's Biggest Characters
Truly, Scott Sandridge is one of the most colorful characters that you will encounter on the Convention Circuit. A very talented speculative fiction author, Scott has incredible endurance as a panelist, having gone into double figures before in terms of the number of panels he has participated in at a single Con. In fact, that is how I first met Scott, back in 2009, at ConText, an outstanding literary Con based in the fine city of Columbus, OH.
Having come to know Scott much more since, I can say that he is big-hearted, uninhibited, sometimes capable of controversy, and definitely the kind of guy that exercises his First Amendment rights with gusto. Without a doubt, he is very dedicated to his journey as an author, from the innovative use of podcasting for his Silverblade Prophecy, to his determination and fortitude. While it is true that he is a lively character in one sense of the word, he exhibits strong character in another sense, in an area that means more than all the flashy credentials that can be packed into a bio.
To cite just two examples, he came by bus for a convention that I was also attending. He carried his sleeping bag, changes of clothes and other essentials, with him around the Con, prepared to crash wherever he could for the night after the day's activity was done. He did all of this in order to honor his panel committments, despite being under great financial strain due to the horrid economy and an all-too-long stretch of unemployment he was dealing with. As always, he was very gracious in helping and being supportive of other writers, and he was an excellent panelist all through the weekend, in a very active panel schedule. You couldn't tell for a moment that he was wrestling with quite a few hardships at the time. He was a pro who soldiered onward with a smile on his face.
In another case during this general time, he once again came by bus, and, needless to say, without much in his pocket, to an out of town book signing that I was at. It was my first bookstore appearance in that town, and Scott came to the event just to make me feel welcome and keep me company, understanding, as a fellow small press author, how difficult and lonely it can be going into a new town and store as a small press author.
I could not be happier to have a chance to introduce this fine fellow to new potential readers, and I think that the following interview, within the responses, reflects the kind of true character that Scott Sandridge is, and a little about the kind of true character that Scott Sandridge has.
-Stephen Zimmer, for the Seventh Star Press Blog, January 13, 2011
SZ: Tell us a little about your published work as a writer. SS: I've had over 20 short stories published in various webzines, print magazines, and anthologies ranging from Fantasy, Horror, and Science fiction. I've also been a reviewer for Tangent Online, The Fix, and Withersin. My list of Street Creds can be found here: http://smsand.wordpress.com/bibliographyor-wheres-your-street-cred
SZ: Is there a genre that you love writing in the most? SS: I prefer Fantasy over Science Fiction, mostly because my understanding of science always seems a step behind the other SF writers. Also Fantasy allows me to incorporate my chief love of ancient history, myths, and ancient religions. But even my Fantasy tends toward the dark side (Hey! Why didn't Palpatine recruit me instead of that wussy mama's boy? Damn you, Emperor!), so most of my stories have an element of Horror in them. And when it comes to my actual Horror stories--I've been told I'm one sick puppy....
SZ: What kinds of themes do you most like to explore in your work? SS: It varies with my mood, and the themes within my work are often a subconscious endeavor. Over the years I've tackled themes ranging from redemption to betrayal, freedom vs. enslavement, the realization that the world doesn't operate in the way you had once thought, to the pros and cons of religion, science, and philosophy.
But then my Evil Twin will come up with a sordid, macabre tale just for fun. It's a Gemini thing. ;)
SZ: You are also an editor. What was your experience like being a managing and submissions editor for Double-Edged Publishing? SS: I've gained a ton of respect for all the hard work editors have to go through along with the understanding that rejection slips truly aren't personal. Sometimes you have to reject a story you actually like because of lack of funds, doesn't fit the theme you're gunning for, doesn't fit the particualr market niche the magazine is targeting, etc.
And just as writers must develop a thick skin to handle rejections and bad reviews in a professional manner, editors must also develop a thick skin as well for those rare occasions when you have to deal with an asshat. As an example, any writer who gets pissed off over feedback received by an editor and his team--to the point where said writer refers to said editor's slush readers as "retards"--then said writer no longer has any right to complain about editors not giving feedback.
SZ: Are you tackling any editing projects now, in terms of anthologies or novels? And do you work as a freelance editor? SS: No projects right now, but there might be a couple coming up in the near future. ;)
I've worked as a freelance editor off and on, plus other freelance work like SEO writing, etc. But I've yet to reach a point where I can do it full time without also needing a regular dayjob. As far as freelancing goes, I'd much rather proofread and edit freelance. Aside from an occasional nonfiction article, I'm primarily a fiction writer--it's what I love.
SZ: How has being an editor helped you as a writer? And vice-versa? SS: I can spot my mistakes more easily now....*shudders*
It also helps you gain a better perspective on market factors, etc., which then translates into better chances of targeting the right markets with your work, which increases your chances of getting a story published. Also, the rejection slips don't hurt anywhere near as much anymore.
SZ: Tell us a little about how you came about your podcast fiction project, and how it has gone for you in terms of gaining you new readers of your print work? SS: As far as my podcast novel projects (The Silverblade Prophecy can be found here: http://pankea.wordpress.com/the-silverblade-prophecy-book-i-of-the-messiahs-war-trilogy and here: http://sbp.mevio.com), you can blame The Snarky Avenger, Taylor Kent(http://thesnarkyavenger.com), for making the suggestion that I podcast my novel out. Overall, it was a good idea--over a third of the novel were originally a collection of short stories, and the blend of Epic Fantasy with Dark Fantasy and Horror makes it a hard sell to begin with (after all, where do you put it on the bookstore shelf?).
Since putting it out, it's had over 15,000 downloads and counting, so people are definitely listening to it. I've even had some feedaback--ranging from "It's boring!" to so-so to "AWESOOOOMMMMEEE!!!!!". But I have no idea how many readers it's gained me. All of my published work has been in magazines and anthos,so how much my stories have contributed to those sales is unknown to me. But I'm pretty sure my 2 1/2 fans have read them. ;)
SZ: What do you think life will be like in the near future for small press and self-published authors, in terms of the state of the industry? I want to ask this answer in two parts.
SZ: First, the positives: SS: The Internet has provided at least a competitive, if not even, playing field in regards to promotion, etc., that allows the small press and self-publisher to compete against the big boys--the first time in human history this has ever been possible. And it doesn't take much to become internet savvy enough to take advantage--just a basic understanding of Keywords and SEO.
Still, nothing beats physical face-to-face interaction with fans, other writers, and editors/publishers, so that part of the business will never change.
SZ: Second, and feel free to be candid, the negatives: SS: Internet 2.0, need I say more?
Whatever negatives that exist with the Internet in it's current form is nothing compared to what will happen if the Telecom companies, or the government, succeed in their plans to censor and/or control the information on the Internet. While we should certainly remain vigilant to their schemes, I personally don't think they'll succeed. The People have had a taste of the freedom the Internet provides and won't let that go quietly. In short: you can't stop the Signal.
Eventually, it'll get to the point to where no government on Earth can keep secrets from their own citizens, let alone from each other, and I see that as a good thing. Only darkness need fear the light of knowledge.
SZ: I met you at ConText, where you were doing a zillion panels. What are your records for doing panels at a Con? Total and panels back to back on a single day? SS:Not counting author signings? 11 total at MARcon in 2010 for all three days. But at 2009's Context the mass autograph signing also doubled as a panel so I did 6 panels in a row on that day, which was also the most number of panels in a single day. At 2010's Context, they probably felt I needed a break from superpaneling, so they only gave me five for all three days. I certainly don't recommend anyone to do so many panels at a single convention, it can wear you out big time. I just do it because I'm a masochist, and my Evil Twin likes to watch me suffer. ;)
SZ: What, in your opinion, are the best opportunities that good Cons offer aspiring writers? SS: A chance to meet others in the field, and to learn from their advice. If you go only to "advance" your career, well, good luck with that. I personally don't recommend it. Make friends with people first, and the opportunities will eventually present themselves.
And, for published writers, take a bit of time to hang out in the Gaming Room once in a while. It's fun to play board games with people who read your stuff. ;)
SZ: Will print and eBooks co-exist, or will it be a fully digital publishing realm? SS:In the near future, they'll co-exist. While I like to be optimistic and believe that eventually all publishing will be digital, I doubt people will let go of their dead trees until after here's no more trees left to kill--and then there'll be no more us. Humans are funny like that.
But who knows? Maybe hemp will get legalized again and thus the trees can finally be saved. (hint, hint).
SZ: What are your current projects in fiction, in terms of what you are working on and what is on the horizon to be published? SS: I put myself on a two month hiatus on fiction--something I sometimes do when I feel myself getting burned out. As much as I'd love to write all day, every day, my poor wee brain cells can't handle it. I sometimes need a vacation. That, and politics often sidetracks me (while also adding more fodder for my fiction writing--go figure).
I currently have the first two books of a trilogy to shop around to agents and publishers, and outlines for about half a dozen other novels, and ideas for a dozen or so more. I'm also running out of short stories to sell, so I need to write more of those as well. I'm also thinking about writing a short story collection of stories that take place in the same world as my current Messiahs War trilogy of podcast novels, involving characters--both major and minor--that appear in the trilogy.
And, of course, I'm still in the middle of producing The Messiahs War II: Emperor of Vangaard as a podcast novel (and try to get it finished before I move to Texas this February--erm, remind me to try and be more realistic with my self-made deadlines).
There is an anthology coming out, hopefully soon, with one of my flash fiction stories in it, featuring none other than Yavar Thain. The antho was supposed to have been released back in October,but it keeps getting delayed for some reason. It happens.
SZ: Where can people find you and your work online?