My ALLi author guest this episode is EJ Fisch, a science-fiction author who spent fifteen years working on a series that merges sci-fi with mystery and thriller in a combination that has earned her devoted fans. Her writing journey began with role-playing games, then she transferred those stories to self-published books, which she also designs herself.
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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: EJ FischOn the Inspirational Indie Authors podcast, @howard_lovy features @EJFisch, a science fiction writer who sprinkles in mystery and thriller to devoted readers. Click To Tweet
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Inspirational Indie Author Interview: EJ Fisch. About the Author
EJ Fisch is a long-time action junkie and fan of the science fiction genre. She’ll readily admit that she has a vivid imagination, which can be both a blessing and a curse. She has been writing as a hobby since junior high and began publishing in the spring of 2014. They say write what you like to read, so her Ziva Payvan series combines her two favorite genres—space opera and spy thriller—and has been lauded for its grit, compelling character development, and many twists and turns. When she’s not busy writing or working her day job as a data analyst in the medical field, she enjoys listening to music, working on concept art, reading, gaming, and spending time with her animals. You can find EJ Fisch on her Website, Newsletter, Facebook , Twitter, Instagram, and Goodreads.
About the Host
Howard Lovy has been a journalist for more than 35 years, and now amplifies the voices of independent author-publishers and works with authors as a developmental editor. Find Howard at howardlovy.com, LinkedIn and Twitter.
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Read the Transcripts — Inspirational Indie Author Interview: EJ Fisch
Howard Lovy: My guest this episode is EJ Fisch, a science fiction author who spent 15 years working on a series that merges sci-fi with mystery and thriller, in a combination that has earned her devoted fans. Her writing journey began with role playing games, then she transferred those stories to self-published books, which she also designs herself.
I'll let EJ Fisch tell her story.
EJ Fisch: Hi, I am EJ Fisch. I am a science fiction, thriller author. I have written the Ziva Payvan series, which is, I like to call it, space opera meets spy thriller. It's very character driven, exciting, action packed, with a futuristic vibe, and perfect for fans of Star Wars, Mass Effect, The Expanse, you name it.
So, I'm born and raised here in Southern Oregon. I've always enjoyed reading. I'm trying to remember when I really first started liking writing, probably fourth, fifth grade. I started telling stories, and I remember really enjoying a project we did in fifth grade. Our teacher had us write and illustrate a storybook, and we had to bind them and cover them in class, and so we ended up with an actual finished book, and that was a really fun project. I had to go read my book to the sixth graders, which was very intimidating back then for my little 11-year-old self.
Howard Lovy: EJ went to school at Oregon Tech to study IT., but she was also able to take classes to satisfy her hunger for literature.
EJ Fisch: I started in software engineering and was not happy with that and switched to IT with a health information emphasis. So, I didn't go to school for creative writing by any means, but still got to take some kind of cool writing courses. I actually got to take a really fun science fiction literature and film class that happened to fulfil a couple of humanities credits that I needed senior year before graduation, and that was cool. We got to read some books that I probably wouldn't have picked up otherwise. We read Snow Crash, Neuromancer, and Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep, and then we watched Blade Runner and The Matrix, and it was a cool class. It was more cyberpunk than what I typically like in my sci-fi, but it was still really interesting.
Howard Lovy: What EJ enjoyed about IT was the way it helped her with problem solving skills.
EJ Fisch: First of all, I ended up with a really good scholarship for women and minorities in the engineering fields, and after I left software engineering, I was like, oh, no, I need to pick a different major that will still let me keep this scholarship.
So, honestly, that was most of the motivation behind my switch to IT, but I really liked the problem-solving aspect of working with tech and data. I've ended up being a data analyst, database admin in my day job, but actually in the healthcare field. So, I'm doing exactly what I went to school for, and how many people can say that?
There's just something fun about being able to see behind the scenes in a database and see how a system works on the back end and put all the pieces together. In the software engineering, the year I spent there, I was the only girl in pretty much all of my classes, except for the general like math classes and stuff.
But then in the IT field, the health information option was a really small group of us, and the year I graduated, there were only three graduates in that field, and it was all women. So, that was interesting. I ended up making some friends, and it was cool to see other women thriving in that field, I should say.
Howard Lovy: But what really got EJ on the writing path was role playing games with friends.
EJ Fisch: I actually started writing more seriously back in junior high or so, 7th, 8th grade. It actually started with role playing with a couple of friends via AOL instant messaging, which was of course so popular back in the day. We had a Star Wars fan fiction game going, and we would act out this story via AOL messaging, and then I would take our transcripts afterwards and novelize it. So, I was writing this story that we were making up and I was like, this is fun, and it was really good practice developing deeper characters, deeper complex plot issues, and as junior high school passed, I started wanting to dabble in more of my own work, independent of that game I was playing with my friends.
The main character of my series actually started as a minor side character in that Star Wars fan fiction, and then I said, you know what, I really like this character, I think I could do a lot with her, and I plucked her out of that Star Wars story and started developing this unique universe for her.
I actually finished writing the first book, the story that would become the first book in the series, my senior year of high school, believe it or not, and then ended up sitting on it for years until about halfway through college, and I was like, you know what, I've been putting all this work in writing, and I should do something with it. So, that's when I decided to start pursuing self-publishing, and I wanted to get these stories out there and be able to share my work with people.
Howard Lovy: There was never any question on whether she'd go with self-publishing. She wanted to get her stories out the fastest way possible, and she learned as she went along.
EJ Fisch: I made the mistake of not taking any time whatsoever to build a network or a platform before I published. Like I said, I didn't do much research about it first, which I still consider a mistake to this day. So, everybody who read it at first was just family and friends, people who had heard that I was doing this.
But I gradually started having other people pick it up. People were recommending it to other friends that they knew who liked sci-fi, and just very gradually it started reaching more people, which was really cool to see, and was mind boggling to me at the time because I'd really never shared anything I'd written with everyone, except the friends that I started doing the Star Wars fan fiction with.
They were pretty much the only people who'd ever read anything I'd written, so the fact that there were actual strangers out in the world reading my work, I was like, wow, this is crazy.
Howard Lovy: EJ's books are a mixture of sci-fi and mystery, thriller.
EJ Fisch: I keep my science fiction on the soft side. It's more leaning toward space fantasy. It's not hard science fiction by any means, but my characters are part of a military special operations squad, so they're constantly going on missions and there's lots of espionage involved, so the military aspect makes it feel more like military sci-fi, but it's still got the softer side.
It's more based on Star Wars than The Expanse is harder sci-fi, for example. So, there's a whole lot of mystery involved, but it's all taking place in this futuristic setting on another planet with these superhuman, non-human people.
Howard Lovy: As for spreading the word, EJ has developed a network with fellow writers.
EJ Fisch: I've had several other authors, fellow authors, that have read my books and I've read their books, and we beta read for each other and have developed this network. So, everybody shares each other's work, and spreads one author's work to their readers, and it's been a really cool kind of spider web method of reaching new people.
And the deeper I've gotten into my series, the bigger my audience has gotten and I still, in the grand scheme of things, don't have that big of an audience, but the audience I do have is very loyal and enthusiastic and supportive, and sometimes that's almost better than having a big audience of, maybe you've had hundreds of thousands of people read your book, but nobody cares enough to interact with you or be all that enthusiastic about what you're doing.
Howard Lovy: And EJ puts the self in self-publishing, including designing her own books.
EJ Fisch: I do pretty much everything myself. My two consistent beta readers are both fellow writers who have some editing experience. So, I actually don't hire out for any professional editing, which, maybe this is a hot take, but depending on an author's skill and experience, I don't necessarily think professional editing is an absolute requirement, but I also do all my own cover art and all my own interior formatting for both the eBooks and my physical books in paperback and hardcover. It's a process I love to hate because it gets tedious at times, but it's also really cool to be able to hold that finished book in your hands and be like, I made this myself.
Howard Lovy: Meanwhile, EJ continues her day job, where her co-workers are aware of her double life.
EJ Fisch: I've got my day job as a data analyst in a clinic, one of the local clinics here, and people there are actually really supportive of my writing. Our chief financial officer, every time somebody new comes into the clinic, she has to come introduce them to me and be like, this is our resident author. Of course, it's embarrassing, but it's pretty cool to have that support system, even at work. Several people there have read all my books, and one of them, one of my co-workers is actually one of my beta readers. So, that's fun.
Howard Lovy: Also fun was the release of her latest book, which finally brought everything together for her and the story she was telling.
EJ Fisch: It was the most recent book. It was the fifth book in the series, which was, in so many ways, the absolute culmination of everything that had happened throughout the rest of the series. So, for me, it was also the culmination of everything that had been going on in my brain for the past 15 years, developing these characters and figuring out what I wanted to happen to them, where I wanted them to go, and I was just really proud of both how the book came out and how people received it. People were very enthusiastic, not only before it released, but after it released. I think it was widely accepted as possibly the best out of the five books, and that was really rewarding.
Howard Lovy: EJ's advice to other authors, if you have a story in your head, there is nothing preventing you from publishing it.
EJ Fisch: Just do it. There is absolutely nothing stopping you. I would suggest reading up on self-publishing and seeing what some of your options are, seeing what methods some other people have used. Obviously, there's no single correct way to go about it, and there's no single recipe for success, unfortunately. There's a lot that just has to do with luck. But yeah, just dive in. If you want to share your story, then you can share it. You have that ability, that freedom, and that's why I love self-publishing, is you're not having to wait for anybody else's say so, basically. You get to do everything on your own terms if you want, and that freedom is really the best part of it.