Everything is bigger in Texas, including the futures of authors Christina R. Williams and Clint Thurmon. Together they have co-written the book series, Superi, which has already garnered a large fanbase. Wanting to learn more about this fantasy series as well as how they approach indie publishing, I was able to interview Christina and Clint for ScifiPulse.
Nicholas Yanes: When you were children, what were some stories that you two loved? Are there any that you still enjoy?
Christina R. Williams: I remember, growing up, being incredibly bored with elementary school books. However, I had a house full of historical romances waiting at my fingertips; courtesy of my mom. By the age of ten, I had my favorites: Janelle Taylor and the Grey Eagle series, Cassie Edwards and the Savage series, but I discovered another love along the way. Thanks to the beautifully strange and twisted mind of Jane Roberts, and her collection of poems titled, If We Live Again, my true passion was inspired, and so began my journey through the poetic greats: Frost, Dickinson, Poe, Shakespeare, Cummings, Hardy, Wilde, Twain…I fell in love. I haven’t read a historical romance in more than a decade. I favor the writing of R.A. Salvatore, Terry Goodkind, Robert Jordan, a little Pierce Anthony, a pinch of J.R. Ward, and even a little P.C. Cast, but they all share second place to poetry.
Clint Thurmon: The Giver was my favorite, and yes, I still love it. I was blown away when they made the movie.
Yanes: Given that you both have kids, how does this affect your story telling? Do you ever use your kids for audience testing?
Christina R. Williams: My babies are not really babies at twenty, eighteen, and sixteen, so they have relatively little effect on the day-to-day of my writing. However, they are all IN my writing. Tristan’s character development throughout the Superi series, runs parallel, in many respects, to the personal growth of my oldest son. They are both big, strong, strapping boys that struggle to find balance with what they CAN do, verses what they can live with having done. Shashara, feisty and spirited, she desires more than anything to heal hurts, and yet she feels as if everything she touches is set on fire. Beautiful, intelligent, I cannot help but compare her to my daughter. Now, my youngest son, in my mind he is Davad, but he sees himself as more like Set. I suppose, if you combined Davad’s looks with Set’s personality you would find my boy. While as beautiful as the other two, he has an “old soul”, like Set, and it shows. And yes, they have all spent three years as my captives, listen, reading, offering advice and perspective, but I am incredibly proud to say that my youngest LOVES the series. His support and encouragement is invaluable to me.
Clint Thurmon: Actually, I named one of my characters after my son, or was it…I named my son after one of my characters…? There’s a story there, one too long to tell here. One of my sons has read the books, but though Superi is a YA series, I’m forced to wait for most of my kids to get a little older to find out what they think.
Yanes: You are both residents of Texas, a state known for its unique culture. What is the writing community like in your regions?
Christina R. Williams: Honestly? I’ve never thought about it. I see no difference based on region. Our community, like our imagination, is vast; world-wide and beautiful in its variations. I’ve found nothing but kindness and helping hands, encouragement and shared knowledge. I think you get out of people what you put in to people, and yes, there must be a little salt to balance the sugar, but all in all, the Indie Community is sweet.
Yanes: Clint, you created a series called “Superi.” What was the inspiration for this world?
Clint Thurmon: ADHD…Ha-ha. My brain, it never really shuts off. So, it’s 2009, and I’m stuck in my office, my car, a plane; aka -my day job-, and random ideas began accumulating and taking direction. I wrote them down. Superi, a Latin word for Heaven; that is where it began, but if you want to know the history, you’ll have to wait for the books.
Yanes: Co-writing anything can be difficult. How did you two learn to collaborate?
Christina R. Williams: Clint and I are opposites that find themselves arriving at the same place. He is boldly confident- I am quietly so. Without fear, he decides what he wants, and fights for it. I will stand and fight, but it would be a lie to say that I did so without trepidation. There is a motto, of a sort, that streams through Superi: “To lead one must serve. To serve, one must lead.” That is how Clint and I work. I respect the fact that Superi is Clint’s world, and make no move to overthrow him, and in return, I am given a creative freedom that allows me to play in this incredible world to my heart’s content. We respect each other’s strengths, and recognize our own weaknesses, and in so doing, Superi gets the best of both of us.
Clint Thurmon: Christina calls it, “Speaking, Clint”. We discovered her secret talent while writing our first novel, Reborn, and she’s been writing/translating my bad, broken English into these beautiful novels ever since.
Yanes: The Superi books take place in a large and thoroughly developed world. How did you two go about building this world? Are there any classic stories you turned to for inspiration?
Christina R. Williams: As I said, Clint built the world, I just made it pretty. I’m not sure if I pulled from the classics, per say, but yes, I’ve pulled from my favorites for inspiration. Here’s an example. When Clint first described to me the Fera race, and what he wanted from them, my first thought was of the Trollocs in The Wheel of Time series by Robert Jordan. Though I believe it was both to our credit, and to our disadvantage, P.C. Cast and Stephanie Meyer, are as close to YA as I’ve ever read; school required reading aside, of course. This created a challenge for me, but it also left me with an un-biased, un-limited, canvas to create upon.
Clint Thurmon: This is the question I love people to ask. Read Superi, read Reborn, and you will know that the world you’ve entered came from my mind alone. It wasn’t until the story had developed to the point of needing a gateway, a rift, that I worried about cross-over at all. As to Superi’s denizens, there are no humans. The races created have never been seen, and though Superi is new, they each have a history that is thousands of years old. The curses, and the gods who cast them, will have familiar names, but the stories they will have to tell after encountering the Superians, will be ones never heard before. Superi, it just came to me, and I ran with it.
Yanes: When people finish reading one of the Superi books, what do you both hope that they take away from the story?
Christina R. Williams: In Reborn, Tristan is different; he’s one of a kind, and it makes him a target. As parents, and decent human beings, Clint and I are adamantly anti-bullying. Superi is the story of an outcast who becomes more than a hero, he becomes a leader, one determined to abolish the lines of all segregation to create one glorious people. Superi is about the value of honor, loyalty, and integrity. It’s about love in all its many forms, and the power it holds to overcome. If I had to choose one thing for our readers to walk away WITH…? It would be a broader perspective, a greater insight, to what our own world could be if we rose above the things that keep us divided.
Clint Thurmon: That family is important, and while blood has little to do with being family, commitment is everything. That despite the vulnerabilities love sometimes leaves us with; things like fear, the emotion and commitment does not change. The Five, as they are called in Superi, are family, and yet what binds them is thicker than blood; they were bound by commitment, and the love that grew from that was inspiring. Though I created them, they changed me, and I like to think I’m wiser for it.
Yanes: Given your experiences promoting the Superi series, what have you two learned about the self-publishing world?
Christina R. Williams: *GRINS* I’ve learned that there are oceans of us, and that to think you will not drown before you learn to swim is a fantastical delusion that will leave you shipwrecked and asking… What just happened? The good news is, someone will help you up and dust you off. Someone will, offer you floaties, and help you learn to tread water. Eventually, you’ll swim well enough to make it to ship, and there you will learn to sail. Such a skill requires time to master, but it’s nice to look around and see so many other vessels sailing towards the same horizon…One that sees our ships docked on the banks of success.
Clint Thurmon: I earn a living in an industry where people work for money, title, advancement, but in the Indie world, we do what we do because we love it. Generally speaking, Indie authors are nice people, and despite our differences we have a commonality that unites us. We’re not willing to sell out. We’re not willing to let mainstream tell us how to write, what to write, while taking royalties they have no right to.
Yanes: On this note, are there any key bits of advice that you would both offer to people just starting their self-publishing journey?
Christina R. Williams: Grow a thick skin. You will need it. Learn to bend when you must, but never let yourself break. Never think you know it all, for that only reveals your ignorance. And if you find this advice too bluntly stated, or feel it was given in too harsh a tone, I suggest you start at the beginning and read it again.
Clint Thurmon: Far too many to list, but if I had the time to make one for you, here’s what would be at the top: Do not listen when people tell you that you’re not an author if you’re an Indie, unless it’s to make note of their ignorance. Always pay an outside editor to look over your work, and then hire another one to check the work of the first; a good editor is priceless. Life is too short, and there’s a lot of hate out there, so if you love writing then do it. Laugh with your characters. Cry with them. Cheer them on in the face of adversity. Have a little fun.
Yanes: Finally, what are you currently working on that people can look forward to?
Christina R. Williams: Well, Clint and I are working on the 5th and final book in the Superi series. I’m working on, what will be, my 3rd poetry collection. I have a world of my own waiting in the wings, Cyfan, that promises to be a very, very, long series… Ha-ha, and Clint has at least five more books to add to the world of Superi. There will be a trilogy of Set’s story…all grown up, and a two-part backstory, (The story our readers have begged us to tell), of Beth, Matthew, and Jacob. I should say, however, that there will be nothing YA about them.
Clint Thurmon: Book 5 in the Superi series. It’s my favorite so far. You’re going to love it.