My ALLi author guest this week is A.D. Starrling, a UK-based author who grew up on the Island of Mauritius, where her hyper-achieving family left her little choice but to become a doctor, so that's what she did. But Starrling found a way to combine the logical and artistic parts of her mind as an indie publisher of fantastic and thrilling tales. What do the paranormal and medicine have to do with each other. Listen on, and A. D. Starrling will explain.
Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast: A.D. Starrling Interview
For self-publishing advice and news, alongside indie author interviews, subscribe to the ALLi podcast:On Inspirational Indie Authors, @howard_lovy features @ADStarrling, a UK author who grew up on the Island of Mauritius. She found a way to combine the logical and artistic parts of her mind as an indie publisher of fantastic tales. Click To Tweet
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Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast: About the Author A.D. Starrling
AD Starrling’s bestselling supernatural thriller series Seventeen combines action, suspense, and a heavy dose of the paranormal to make each book an explosive, adrenaline-fueled ride. Her spin-off urban fantasy series Legion has been compared to Jim Butcher’s The Dresden Files. If you prefer your action hot and your heroes sexy and strong-willed, then check out her romantic military thriller series Division Eight. When she’s not busy writing, AD can be found eating Thai food, being tortured by her back therapists, drooling over gadgets, working part-time as a doctor on a Neonatal Intensive Care unit somewhere in the UK, reading manga, and watching action flicks and anime. She has occasionally been accused of committing art with a charcoal stick and some drawing paper. She can be found on her website or on Twitter @ADStarrling.
Inspirational Indie Authors Podcast: About the Host Howard Lovy
Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 30 years, and has spent the last eight years amplifying the voices of independent publishers and authors. He works with authors as a book editor to prepare their work to be published. Howard is also a freelance writer specializing in Jewish issues whose work appears regularly in Publishers Weekly, the Jewish Daily Forward, and Longreads. Find Howard at howardlovy.com, LinkedIn and Twitter.
If you’re a published indie author who would like to be interviewed by Howard for the Inspirational Indie Authors podcast, you need to be a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Then contact Howard, including your membership number, explaining why you’re an inspirational indie author and what inspires you.
If you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization.
Inspirational Indie Author Podcast: Interview Transcript: A.D. Starrling
Howard Lovy: I'm Howard Lovy and you're listening to Inspirational Indie Authors.
Every week, I feature a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors to find out what inspires them and how they are an inspiration to other authors.
My guest this week is AD Starrling, a UK-based author who grew up on the Island of Mauritius, where her hyper achieving family left her little choice, but to become a doctor, so that's what she did.
But Starrling found a way to combine the logical and artistic parts of her mind as an indie publisher of fantastic and thrilling tales. What do the paranormal and medicine have to do with each other? Listen, on and AD Starrling will explain.
AD Starrling: Hi, I'm AD Starrling. I am an urban fantasy and supernatural thriller author.
I have been an indie author since 2012, and I currently write under two pen names, AD Starrling and A.M. Salinger. I grew up on the Island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean and I currently have dual nationalities, so I have a British nationality and Mauritian nationality still.
I think the first time I ever thought about what I wanted to be in my life, I was 12, and I think it was one of my teachers at school who asked me, what do you want to do in the future?
I come from a scientific family and very much a scientific background, most of the people in my family went in the sciences and a lot of them are educators as well, teaching at primary and secondary school level and also at university level.
So, I think if I remember correctly, at the age of 12, I wanted to be an artist. Unfortunately, my claims to being an autistic was squashed in secondary school by my father who insisted that I went down the path of science, rather than art. So, unfortunately, I didn't score very high in art when I was in secondary school, but I got A+ everywhere in the sciences and the literature.
By the time I was ready to graduate from high school, I had very much committed to following a path and a career in the sciences, and my primary interest at that time is not something I ended up following, but something that still interests me and something that I explore a lot in my supernatural photos, and that was genetics and genetic engineering. So, that was, for me, the future of where science was going to be heading within my lifetime, and I could see a lot of things happening with genetics and genetics engineering in the future, even then.
Howard Lovy: She comes from a scientific family, but also has artistic leanings, which was a source of conflict with her father.
AD Starrling: It wasn't within myself as much as it was within the family, because my family is very strict, and by that, I mean, my father was a very, very strict man, and emphasized academic performance above everything else. So, for me, being the, kind of, A* pupil in my school meant a lot to the family in terms of reputation.
Howard Lovy: Eventually, she relented and went off to medical school, even though it wasn't really on the top of her list for career choices.
It didn't hurt that she was among the top students in her country, which earned her a free ride scholarship to any school she chose.
AD Starrling: I didn't accept it straight away, which my father was very angry with me about it. I said to the government, can you give me a week to think about it, and then that week I literally just spoke to loads of people.
I spoke to lots of doctor friends I knew, and also to people in the university of Mauritius to see that, if I came back with a degree in genetic engineering, what kind of future could I have in Mauritius, because you're not taking engineering is not typically something that's avant garde. So, in the end, everybody kind of advised me to go down the medicine route, and so I accepted the scholarship and chose a university that I think most people were quite surprised by, but there was a particular reason behind it. So, I went to Newcastle university, Newcastle upon Tyne is a former industrial city in the Northeast of England, and the reason I chose it was because it was very far out there, kind of in the middle of nowhere, and I quite like that kind of place. I didn't want to be in London. I didn't apply to Cambridge or Oxford or Imperial, I didn't want to go to any of those universities, I wanted somewhere a little bit far out there surrounded by fields and cows, which is kind of where my halls of residence was. We were in the middle of a field, with lots of cows around us, but not far from the city center.
Howard Lovy: Starrling decided on neonatal pediatrics, working with infants in intensive care.
Meanwhile, on the side, she continued to practice another kind of specialty; medical school did not cure Starrling of her urge to write.
AD Starrling: I was very good at the languages when I was in school.
The first time I wanted to write was when I was, I think I was 11 or 12, and my English language teacher had given us a challenge about writing a story about out holidays. I wrote this story about a holiday, and I gave it to my father who absolutely trashed it and said it was completely unbelievable, none of that could have happened. And I did say to my father, it's a work of fiction, dad, anything can happen in a work of fiction, and because he poo-pooed it so much, I actually went on to write more, and that's when the writing bug struck.
By the time I actually graduated from high school, I'd already written two books while I was in high school. They were books that would never see the light of day, and I unfortunately left those manuscripts in Mauritius when I came to the UK and my parents got rid of them.
At med school, I did start a story and quickly realized that medical school whole life was not compatible with writing life.
So, what I decided to do very early on in my medical career was, I decided that I would write when I retired from medicine, which was going to be in my mid-sixties and I was determined that that would be what I would do for my own pleasure during my retirement age and with the aim of potentially getting published, if there was a road to get published.
Howard Lovy: Well, obviously Starrling did not wait until retirement before she began her writing career.
What happened was the confluence of many things, including a back injury she suffered and subsequent depression. It forced her to take stock of the direction of her life and career, and she was not happy with the way things were going.
AD Starrling: It led to a period of my life where I didn't want to get up and go to work, and I'm not that kind of person. I normally wake up before my alarm goes off and I am in and out of the shower, having breakfast, and out of the house within an hour. I'm not somebody who dilly dallies in the morning.
When I reached a stage in my life where I didn't want to get out of bed to go to work, I knew something was wrong. So, I sat myself down and analyzed what was going on and I realized I was looking at the next five years before I became a consultant pediatrician with dread, because I was looking at the people around me who worked there, who were consultants, and I thought, I do not want to be you. This is what I've aimed for the last 10 years, and I've only got another five years to go to get to the top of that ladder, but I do not want to climb the rest of that ladder to get there. And that was a big wakeup call for me.
It took me six months after I realized this to actually make the shift, and in that time, I spoke to a lot of people, friends, not so much my family, because they would have been absolutely horrified at the prospect of leaving medicine. So, I deliberately only spoke to my big sister, because she understood me and just lots and lots of friends, and also lots of doctors in Newcastle that I worked with, and I was amazed by the amount of support that I received to make that decision.
Howard Lovy: The shift didn't happen right away. First, she took a job in the pharmaceutical industry, then she came back to medicine and traveled from hospital to hospital, and it was while she was traveling on a train that the idea for a book first came to her; a couple of characters seemed to talk to her and would not let her go.
But given her scientific mind, Starrling first did extensive research on all her publishing options.
AD Starrling: So, after three months I thought, okay, you can do this, but you need to set yourself a time limit. So, I set myself six years. So, that was 2006. So, from 2006, I started writing and I said, in six years, you need to sit down and see why you're at, how many books you've written, whether you've managed to get a publishing contract and an agent.
Six years later in 2012, I had written two and a half books, which I had rewritten over and over again after submitting to agents. I'd also had lots of positive feedback from my submissions to trad pub, and I submitted, not just in the UK, but to the US as well.
And then what happened in 2012, which was my official review year, by then I had read an article in The Writing Magazine, which is a British writing magazine I had subscribed to for six years, and I'd read an article about Joe Konrath, who was a gentleman you may or may not know about, but he was one of the authors that basically started the trend of indie publishing.
So again, I spent a couple of months researching indie, and at that time, which is something I'm very grateful for, in 2012, the number of resources out there online for anybody considering indie publishing, it wasn't massive, it was there, you could find it if you looked for it, but it wasn't as gigantic as it is now.
So, I really pity the authors who are looking at indie publishing these days, because there is just too much information there now, there are podcasts and blogs and websites and books, and it's a lot of information, and a lot of the first-time authors that email me for advice complain about that, and I feel very grateful that in 2012, there were only a limited number of resources I could access.
That's how I discovered The Creative Penn, Joanna Penn's blog, Kristine Kathryn Rush and her blog, Dean Wesley Smith's, her husband's blog, Joe Konrath and a few others, The Passive Voice.
Howard Lovy: Not only that, even her father, before he passed away a year and a half ago, got to see his daughter as a published author, and he didn't even seem to mind that the books are the complete opposite of science, dealing with the supernatural, the paranormal and the mythical.
AD Starrling: So, fantastical stories were something I'd been reading heavily in my twenties and thirties. So, unsurprisingly, when I started writing, that's the genre I chose.
The series I eventually published though, was very different from that. So, my former PA and I, Kate Fulton, who's still a good friend of mine, and I often argued about how to define the Seventeen Series because she kept saying, no Ange, they're more fantasy than thrillers. And I kept arguing with, no, they're action thrillers with a supernatural twist to it.
So, branding that series was very hard for me initially, because it had such a clear focus on the action/adventure and the thriller element, but then I added immortality and religion in it. So, where those two meet is pretty much my personality, on the one hand the action, the adventure, the thriller, it's all stuff I've watched and read since I was a child. So, I was very heavily into action films when I was kid and a teenager, still am. There's a lot of science in the Seventeen Series, there's quite a lot of genetic engineering that's in it as well, that's from the science part of my mind. The other aspect, so the supernatural, and particularly the heavy religious, well, not heavy, I would say, my fans know that there's a lot of very subtle religious references in the Seventeen Series. It's a little bit more obvious in my second, pure urban fantasy series, which is Legion. And that is very much kind of my personal belief and mindset, and the way I was brought up.
So, I'm from a religious point of view, born into a Hindu family and still a practicing Hindu, and Hinduism has a lot of interesting tales and myths and legends about its gods and goddesses. Reincarnation is a pretty big thing in Hinduism, that's something that forms part of my writing as well, the reincarnating of the souls.
So, the reason I write the stories that I write, it's very much a representation of my personality and my religious beliefs, and also kind of what I hope for the future. So, that's how I ended up writing those books.
Howard Lovy: So, finally AD Starrling has found a perfect balance between her scientific side, her religious side, and the part of her that just likes a good thriller.
Angie has found an outlet for her artistic side as a book cover designer.
What gives her the biggest thrill though, is that it's a combination that seems to resonate with the readers.
AD Starrling: I think it's very humbling for every author when readers enjoy your stories so much, you know, I get a lot of messages and emails from my fans, and it's always a humbling experience to realize that the stuff coming out of your head brings people so much joy.
In my Facebook super-fan group, whenever I release a new book, I'm obviously very active in my group. My fans will often tell me a week after release that they've read the latest release twice or three times over already, and it always boggles my mind that they do that.
And they always say to me, the reason we do that is because we read it so fast, because it drags you along so fast, that we're kind of afraid that we've missed important bits. So, we go back and reread it, and that's always a compliment because most of them, the minute they pick up my book, they will finish it in a day.
If you're a published indie author who would like to be interviewed by Howard for the Inspirational Indie Authors podcast, you need to be a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors.
Then contact Howard, including your membership number, explaining why you're an inspirational indie author and what inspires you.
If you haven’t already, we invite you to join our organization.