Interview and Giveaway with Author, K.S. Augustin

I’m delighted to have as my guest, the feisty and fascinating K.S. Augustin. She has agreed to submit to my nosy questions and is generously offering a free epub copy of her most recent release, War Games, to a random reader of this blog. So sit back, relax and enjoy.

Dooley: Tell me a little bit about yourself. Who is KS Augustin?

Augustin: First off, thanks for hosting me here, Diane. KS Augustin is essentially a mongrel. I got called that at school and it’s true. I’m a mix of Asian and European genes, mores and cultures, which would drive anyone crazy…so I decided to start writing instead! So far, it’s kept me sane. Well, relatively anyway.

Dooley: When did you start writing and why?

Augustin: I could say that I think there’s a genetic component to the writing bug. Not the whole thing, but definitely a component. The Augustins have been known to be writers and I suppose I follow in a couple of my ancestors’ footsteps. I “published” my first story in Primary-6 when it was included in the school’s annual magazine. It was a bit overwhelming having high school seniors coming to me in class and asking if it was okay to include my story in the magazine! I still remember that feeling of primary-school terror mixed with pride and excitement. The story itself was a little crime tale, which I haven’t really written since. Hmmmm, something to think about. Thanks for the prompt, Diane!

Dooley: You’ve lived in many countries. How has all this globetrotting affected you as a person? How has it affected your writing?

Augustin: I started out as an Army brat, so I was used to moving around from a young age. I think that’s now translated into a low boredom threshold when it comes to surroundings so yes, we tend to move countries the way other people might change houses. How it’s affected me is by showing me just how similar everyone is. Sure, the outward trappings may be different, and there may be certain culture-specific ways of expressing emotions or ambitions, but the underlying human psychology is the same. We all want to be loved, we all want to be appreciated, we want to help our family and friends. Those things don’t change, no matter what country we live in.

This is a very important part of my writing, I think. It gives me hope that I can, for example, set a story on an alien planet and yet everyone will be able to relate what the protagonists are going through. In other words, globetrotting has filled me with a kind of warm glow towards humanity…as long as I stay away from the news.

Dooley: Of all your published works, do you have a personal favorite?

Augustin: My personal favourite is always the last release! Then, six months down the track, I’ll be wondering why I didn’t do this or that and my next release becomes my favourite. Writers can be fickle like that.

Dooley: What do you feel are your strengths and weaknesses as a writer?

Augustin: Hmmmm. That’s an interesting question. Strengths? I think I’m a good writer. A couple of my editors have called me a “precise” writer and I like that. Weaknesses? I turn out very jerky, very choppy first drafts. Sometimes, when I’m going over my drafts, I’ll think to myself: “What the hell was I trying to say here?!” I’ve also got to curb my tendency to go adverb crazy. And, every novel, there’s usually a word or two that I seem deeply attached to. Luckily, editors have picked up on such over-use and have hit me over the head with it, for which I’m eternally grateful.

Dooley: Who are your favorite authors and why?

Augustin: Yeah. Right. I don’t really have any favourite authors. It’s like having heroes. I don’t have any of those either. (I subscribe to the Pappy Boyington philosophy on heroism when he said: Show me a hero, and I’ll prove he’s a bum.)

So while I admire Doris Lessing and what she tried to do with the Canopus Archives, I think it got a little too “smart” for me in places. I like some of Iain M Banks’ work but, lately, he’s degenerated into unedited tedium. I’ve always had a lot of respect for M John Harrison but he lost a fan with his treatment of the female characters in “Light”. Richard K Morgan turned out a brilliant debut with “Altered Carbon” and then I think he took the path of least resistance with “Market Forces”. I’ve been a huge fan of Lois McMaster Bujold’s Miles Vorkosigan books, but I think she phoned it in with “Cryoburn”. Do you see what I mean? There are individual books that I think are great but, just because a couple of books are good, doesn’t mean that I consider the author one of my “favourites”. Nobody’s on auto-buy. It also depends on my mood. Today, I might be in the mood for a Vonnegut; tomorrow, for a LeGuin or Lackey. It all depends. Incidentally, my favourite colour is grey, so make of that what you will!

Dooley: What books are on your current to-be-read pile?

Augustin: I’m going through a number of Ellen Datlow-edited anthologies at the moment and having the time of my life! They’re great! In addition to that, I picked the three books off my bedside table to answer this question and, besides Datlow, they are: “The Outsider” by Colin Wilson, “The Cowards” by Josef Skvorecky, and “Beyond Growth: The Economics of Sustainable Development” by Herman E. Daly. I’m also waiting on “Engineering Infinity”, a hard sf anthology edited by Jonathan Strahan, that I ordered recently from The Book Depository.

Dooley: Your latest release is War Games. What is it about?

Augustin: Laisen Carros is an undercover agent for the Fusion. She’s been sent to Menon IV to essentially lose a war without making it appear that she’s losing a war. The problem is, she’s done some questionable things in the name of her mission and thinks she’s beyond redemption. Her rationalisations are growing thin, she’s got personal demons from her past she still hasn’t dealt with and she’s starting to wonder if there’s any difference between her and the people she’s supposed to bring down.

Just as she’s going through all this self-doubt, Lith Yinalña comes along. Lith is everything Laisen isn’t. She’s idealistic, passionate, energetic. She believes in things. And part of that impassioned belief is the task to kill the person Lith believes Laisen to be. So you have two people on opposite ends of the spectrum, if you will. And much to each other’s dismay, they start falling in love with each other. But, of course, this doesn’t happen in a vacuum. You have all the politics and machinations of the military structure thrown in as well, so it’s a case of double- and triple-think, as Laisen tries to get out of this whole mess alive. How will she do it? That’s what you have to read War Games to find  out.

Dooley: You’re self-publishing War Games. What prompted that decision?

Augustin: I was offered a contract by a well-respected small (print) press for the novel and ended up walking away because several of the contract clauses were ludicrous, in my opinion. War Games got shelved. Then, last year, self-publishing became the major topic amongst writers, agents and publishers. And I thought: hey, why not? I contracted professionals early this year to do the cover art and editing and here I am!

Dooley: What does the future hold for KS Augustin?

Augustin: The thing about self-publishing is that you have to commit to the hamster-on-the-treadmill work ethic. As a general rule, it looks like you have to have steady output for two or three years before anything starts to pay off. So, by publishing War Games, I’ve essentially locked myself into a particular groove for the next three years. I’ve got a pure space opera due to come out at the end of this year (Quinten’s Story) and another one, and a cyberpunk thriller, planned for 2012 (Genesis: Republic Diplomatic Corps and Overclocked, respectively).

I’m also writing an urban fantasy series under the pseudonym Cara d’Bastian. I started this project at the beginning of 2010 and then I just dropped it and walked away when I read about Cindy Pon’s difficulties with her books, featuring a minority protagonist, and the white-ing of covers, and so on. Under such circumstances, there just didn’t seem to be any commercial potential for a UF series set in south-east Asia with Asian characters and south-east Asian mythologies. Well, when self-publishing came up, guess where my thoughts led? 🙂 The first book in the series, The Check Your Luck Agency, is currently back with me after some pointed comments from my Developmental Editor. It’s due for release in October, with two more books planned (Return of the Hantu and Night of the Pontianak) for release next year. It’s going to be a head-down-bum-up, as Australians like to say, three years. We’ll see whether it pays off.

Cara d’Bastian’s blog:
Facebook/Twitter: ksaugustin

Augustin: Thanks again for having me here, Diane. I hope I didn’t piss off too many of your readers. 😉

Dooley: I’m sure they’re enjoying you as much as I am. And wondering how they win a free e-pub copy of War Games. All you have to do is comment: about those beautiful covers, her taste in books, the literary controversies that were linked to, anything at all. I’ll throw all the names in my high tech randomizer (also known as a hat) and announce the winner in a week or so. Can’t wait to read those comments!


About Diane Dooley

Writer, Mother, Geek
This entry was posted in Author Interviews, Science Fiction and Science Fiction Romance, The Book Pile. Bookmark the permalink.

18 Responses to Interview and Giveaway with Author, K.S. Augustin

  1. Thanks again for hosting me, Diane. I’m here if anyone has any questions…..

  2. You always give such interesting interviews, KS (and Diane, you always find fun guests!). I think it is so exciting, the opportunities opening up to authors and readers, with this brave new world of publishing. Was it hard to become your own publisher? What did you find the most challenging about the process? What did you like about it?

  3. bellastreet says:

    Oh, I love adverbs too! I sneak in as many as I can, then grieve when my crit partners make me ax them. LOL

    Great interview. I own In Enemy Hands but haven’t started it yet. Looking forward to it!

  4. Cathy Pegau says:

    I love what you said about “…set(ting) a story on an alien planet and yet everyone will be able to relate what the protagonists are going through.” Relating to the characters is at the heart of any good story, but moreso, IMO, in SF or F. The Otherness of the world an author builds can be as out there as you can imagine, but when it comes down to it, the reader wants to relate to the characters.

    Great interview! And congrats on the release!

  5. AnnaM. says:

    Love the cover of your new book.

    Your philosphy about heroes and authors is the way I am with music. I like a lot of songs but there’s no one artist whose every song I like.

  6. Hey there Pauline! Sorry for the late responses, everyone, but it’s about 7am here for me. I’ve been sleeping while all of you have been commenting.

    Great questions Pauline. Because I’ve started and run my own businesses for years (from an IT consultancy to a bookshop to a gym and martial arts’ school), the move to being my own (micro) publisher wasn’t a difficult one. From not having my own venture for a few years, it was actually very comforting taking that on again. The most challenging aspect hasn’t gone away and that’s the abject fear as you near the end of a project. It struck me with WAR GAMES, the day before I began uploading to various etailers, and I just know it’s going to strike me every single time since. Have I done this well enough? Is the cover art perfect? Will readers even like the story? What I like is what I like about running all my previous businesses–the control and the ability to say, “This is all mine and I’ll stand or fall by it.”

    Groan Bella! Welcome to the Adverb Overuser Support Group. We should have a logo or something. LOL You’ll want to read the sequel to IN ENEMY HANDS and it’s not written yet. (I’m not being egotistical here, just a friendly warning.) Sorry about that.

    Cathy, congrats on your release as well! Yes, I believe this is one way that SF can really improve. It’s about time we showed the kids with gadgets that “relating” can be more important than a loving description of “inertial dampers”! (Not that I don’t like inertial dampers, but balance…there needs to be balance!)


  7. bellastreet says:

    My name is Bella and I’m an Adverb Overuser, but there’s nothing wrong with that. LOL

  8. Diane Dooley says:

    Another member of the adverb abuser club, here. Love ’em!

    Bella – KS speaks the truth for In Enemy Hands needing a sequel. It’s a terrific read, though. I loved it.

  9. Pingback: War Games is released! « Sandal Press Blog

  10. Hey Anna, how did you sneak in there? 🙂 You’ve given me the opportunity to plug the wonderful, the versatile Valerie Tibbs of Tibbs Design for the fantastic cover! I’d recommend her to any author in a heartbeat, except I don’t want to get muscled out when I need my next cover done! LOL

    • Diane Dooley says:

      That was my fault. Didn’t notice Anna’s comment awaiting approval. Sorry, Anna!

      Too late, Kaz! I’ve taken note of Valerie Tibbs name. War Games is far and away my favorite of your covers.

  11. Hee hee. Wait till you catch the NEXT cover! It’s for an end-of-year release called QUINTEN’S STORY. I’ll put the cover up next week.

    • Diane Dooley says:

      I read the teaser for Quinten’s Story that followed War Games on my Kindle edition. It had the cover, too, but in black and white. I’m looking forward to seeing it in color. And damn, woman, I cannot wait to read the rest of the story!

      Re: War Games. I loved the little scene break thingummies you used. Very effective. Thoroughly enjoyed the story, too. Glad you’ve got a backlist. That’ll help while I’m waiting for Quinten’s Story to be released.

      • Yeah, that’s the problem with e-ink. At the moment, b&w is the rage, which is a bit of a shame. After a disastrous experience with my first e-ink reader (the display began fading within 18 months), I’ve chosen LCD devices ever since. I have to charge them more often (once or twice a week) but I prefer them, esp. as I do most of my reading in bed at night.

        Thanks for the comments on the “thingummies”! LOL That’s all part of my evil branding strategy for Sandal Press. Glad it appeared to work.

  12. Pingback: Friday giveaway news | Fusion Despatches

  13. The book sounds fascinating. Just wanted to stop by and wish you the best!

  14. Diane Dooley says:

    The winner is Anna M. And are you in for a treat. I read War Games while on vacation recently and it was terrific!

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