Hailing from Johannesburg South Africa, Sian B. Claven has enjoyed stories for all her life, whether she was reading them or making them. She has written for as long as she can remember, but Ensnared is the first book she decided to publish. Moving towards writing more for the horror / paranormal thriller genre, Sian has subsequently published the first two books in The Butcher Books series, Tatum and Kallista. When Sian isn’t thinking of ways to terrify people, she enjoys writing science fiction stories, poetry and rather long and gushy birthday wishes. When she isn’t working on her writing you can find her knitting, scrapbooking, reading, or playing Xbox. Sian previously reviewed for The Blithering Bibliomaniacs and still reviews in her private capacity. She clearly doesn’t know what the words rest and relaxation mean, at least not in the traditional sense.
Thank you for being on Aly’s Rockin’ Romance Reads! Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your work?
So my name is Sian B. Claven and I am a South African horror author. I grew up in a city called Johannesburg, known as Egoli or the City of gold. I started writing from a young age but never published any of my works. When my sister and her family, who I was very close to, immigrated to another country I filled the void that their absence left with a story that I came up with at the airport the day they left. Before I knew it I had written a whole book and with the help of two fantastic indie authors I set it up for pre-order and before I could say Bob’s my Uncle, I was a published author.
How long have you been writing? When did you become a published author?
Although I’ve been writing my whole life, I published for the first time on the 15th July 2017. I always wanted to be a writer and everyone was surprised when I published my first book because I had been saying for so long that I would be a published author and then suddenly I was, in the flesh! It was very exciting. Ironically though, I didn’t publish anything that I had written when I was younger which was mostly fantasy, I instead wrote a young adult horror book. And it’s been horror books ever since with the exception of one general fiction book coming out soon and one science fiction book I’m busy rewriting.
What is your writing ritual?
I get a cover. I have discovered that works best. I first get my cover and then I stare at it for a long time before I come up with the perfect story for it. Generally I’ll write a few thousand words of it and then come up with something better, scrap what I’ve written and write the story I actually need to write. I try to write more than one book at once so I’m constantly engaged with my writing so generally I’ll sit down with a cup of coffee, open the three or four manuscripts I’m busy with and take turns writing about a thousand words in each. Once I’m done a chapter it goes to my beta readers unedited so they can tell me what they think. Once my beta readers have done all chapters I go through my manuscript to polish it off before sending it to a professional editor. When it comes back from editing I go through it again before sending it to a proof reader. I think go through it once more before publishing it. I do all this to ensure I am putting out great quality stories. Oh and I ALWAYS publish on the 15th of the month.
How long does it take you to finish the first draft?
The longest it has taken me to finish a first draft I think was three months. The shortest time it has taken me to finish a first draft is three weeks. It just depends on how much time I have. I work at a job during the day so I really only get to work on things at night and sometimes I have to attend to home things or friend things or I’m busy with marketing so I don’t get to write that night.
What is your latest published work?
The last book I published was published last month, I released a book called #RIPJohn which is about a boy who gets bullied, takes his own life and then comes back for revenge. Subsequently I have finished three other manuscripts that will be released starting from this month to October. Two are ready for publishing, and one is with the editor. The one coming out this month is called Bullseye and is about a serial killer with no discernable pattern.
Can you tell us about your current WIP?
Currently I’m working on a book called Hex. This one had 8000 words in it before I scrapped it and started again because I couldn’t feel the story. What I have come up with now is much better!!! It’s about a woman who’s mother kidnaps a baby and gives it to her to run away with. Well it turns out the woman’s mother was a paranoid schizophrenic and passes on so the woman, Sharon, feels it is safe to return to town except now she is attached to her baby, and so is the whole town, including a mysterious woman who watches from the distance.
What is your favorite female character you’ve written?
Oh, that’s a tough one! My favourite female character would probably be Eleanor from Belladonna. She’s my favourite because she was an unexpected strong character. I originally wrote her as a secondary character but through the story she really developed on her own and became so important in the world I created. And she’s cheeky, I like that.
Favorite male character?
My favourite male character is definitely Alex from Buried. He is the main character and he is just awesome. He was based on a part of me that falls in love with gruesome historical research and it shows in the book. He doesn’t care much about anything else except the gruesome facts and proving they are real. I adore him. Pity…
If you had to list one of your biggest/weirdest quirks while writing, what would it be?
I get terrified by my own writing. No, I’m being serious. I write scenes that scare me so much that my #AuthorBestie who always writes with me has laughed her bum off because I start getting shaky while I type, I go pale white, my eyes widen and I eventually need to take a break and play bingo or solitaire or watch a cartoon because I terrify myself. Oh, I also tend to talk out loud to my characters when they don’t cooperate.
Do you listen to music and/or make a playlist while you’re writing?
Sometimes and I post those playlists on youtube so if people are interested in listening to the music that I wrote to while they read then they can. I normally only turn to music when I specifically have a lot of words to write because I’m near a deadline or when I have writers block and need some inspiration.
Who are your favorite authors?
I have so many! But let’s go with my top traditional authors which are JK Rowling; Stephen King; Rick Riordan, JRR Tolkien and Patricia Cornwell.
My top indie authors are Toni Cox (who I stalked until she friended me hehehe); Ashleigh Giannaccaro; Yolanda Olson; Sarah Key and Scott Burtness.
What inspires you to write?
I always seem to have a different answer when I’m asked this. Sometimes I’ve said its just within me and I have stories to tell and other times its because its something I’m passionate about. Right at this moment though I would say that what inspires me to write is definitely the number of people reading and enjoying my books. I get super excited when I make people happy and if I’m doing that through my books, then I’m doubly as stoked.
Where do you interact with your readers the most? (i.e. Facebook, Instagram, newsletters, etc.)
Definitely through my facebook group and my facebook page, I’m always on facebook and I’m very friendly online so I chat to everyone! I also communicate once or twice a month through a newsletter which everyone can respond to. I respond to any messages I get on instagram or twitter and of course you can contact me through my website. I try make myself as available as I can to both fans, readers, and aspiring authors who are just looking for some advice on what to do.
Can we stalk you? (hey, at least we asked nicely!) If so, please provide your Amazon, Goodreads, and social media links.
Sure. You can sign up to my newsletter on my website contact page. Please feel free to stalk me, I’m always happy to see new faces.
Here is a list of all the places you can stalk me along with their links:
Thank you so much again for being here! Any advice to aspiring authors before we let you go? (we know you’re busy!)
Yes I always like to give aspiring authors three pieces of advice I received when I first started.
Firstly – Just write. Stop going back to try and change things and perfect things and make things tie up. Just write the first draft. Do not stop. Do not look back. Once you’re done you can edit it.
Secondly, don’t ever PAY someone to publish your books for you. That is vanity publishing and in general circles is considered a scam. Either find a traditional publisher who will take you, through an agent or not, or self publish. Never ever EVER pay someone to have the rights to your book and publish on your behalf. You’ll have no say or control over what happens and you’ll be lucky if they make you any money.
Lastly, when you start getting reviews, and this is important – THEY ARE FOR READERS. Say it with me, reviews are for readers, not writers. Not everyone will enjoy your work, you WILL get bad reviews along with good ones. If you insist on reading them do so with a pinch of salt. Separate constructive criticism that will improve your writing from people just being A**holes and trolls, and don’t let it doubt your self worth as an author.
Thanks for having me guys and have a rocking week.
As I always like to say… Don’t forget to lock your doors.
Sian B. Claven
Books by Sian B. Claven
The Kiara Books
The Butcher Books
The Asylum Series
The Watcher Series
The Demon Cat Khristmas Specials
Killer Kitteh Khristmas
Belladonna – Available for Pre-Order
A Spacehiker Adventure
MURDER MYSTERY TITLES
Bullseye – Available for Preorder
Amazon Profile Link: amazon.com/author/sianbclaven