Grace Bridges owns Splashdown Books, and is an incurably voracious reader. She is also a science fiction author and has two published books: Faith Awakened (2007) and Legendary Space Pilgrims (2010). Grace is a New Zealander of Irish descent and a multilingual do-it-yourself force to be reckoned with.
A graduate of the University of Auckland and a translator by trade, she spent eight years globetrotting chiefly in Europe while working for the police and also completing her first novels. She has lived in Germany and Ireland, but now resides in her original homeland with a cat and approximately six boarders within sight of several volcanos. Often found staring into trees in search of a tui, she is a mystic wordnerd, urbanite hermit, and a writer of futuristic dreams that mess with your mind.
Catch up with her at Adventures of the Space Kiwi.
A history of all her publications, including short stories available online, can be found here.
1) What's it like to work in publishing from New Zealand?
Not as hard as you might think. Sure, there are all sorts of challenges that include technicalities such as coordinating with team members in different time zones, but also the inability to attend in-person events in places where they are most likely to succeed. Fiction doesn't have a good grip in NZ, though I am slowly infecting my friends!
It's all made possible by the miracle of global distribution and printing in America when that's where books are wanted. In that sense, I could be anywhere to publish, and in fact have done so from Germany and New Caledonia. Later this year I plan to be in the USA to connect with my team and supporters, continuing to publish as I travel.
In terms of my own writing I suppose it's hard for me to gain personal notoriety so far from my main target market, even if this is more a cultural barrier than an actual practical one. These days, distance makes no difference, but norms and trends and ways of thinking do form a kind of basic disconnect when it seems that society prefers to look inwards. Even in little things - some people are irritated by my British spelling and vocabulary, but others adore it, and I intend to persist because it's definitely part of my style.
2) You have two novels out. What sort of readers would most enjoy them?
People who enjoy experiencing other cultures and having their horizons broadened, for a start. Not just because I'm an international writer with settings beyond the familiar, but also because science fiction in and of itself is an exercise in expansion of the mind. That said, my stories are always rooted in reality in one way or another. We don't have to go very far from our own lives and current technological potential to find a mind-blowing new idea. I'm all about bringing the two together: ordinary familiar humanness, and some fresh aspect that gives a new slant on what we thought we knew. In short, readers who like to reflect and savour are those who have reacted most positively. I've been told that my tales stay in people's memories long after they finish reading.
3) What else have you had published, and what is coming up?
I have short stories in a number of anthologies (print and ebook), and have also published some of these as Kindle singles. There's also Aquasynthesis, a collection of Splashdown authors, which I edited and which includes three of my stories (and it won a silver medal in the Anthologies category of the 2012 Next Generation Indie Awards). My Amazon author page lists all these books. This year you can expect three more anthology appearances: "Second Site" in Year of the Dragon (Diminished Media; eds. Randy Streu/T. & J. Ambrose), "An Ear for Danger" in The Book of Sylvari (Port Yonder Press, ed. Chila Woychik) and "Fungus Among Us" and "Tell-Tale Signs of a Wonderful Life" in The Cross and Cosmos (Marcher Lord Press, eds. Glyn Shull/Frank Luke). And I'm working on about three novels at various stages, too - all related to my first book, Faith Awakened. Two of those are finished and I hope to get at least one published by next year or so. I'm also thinking hard about the sequel to Legendary Space Pilgrims but it'll probably be a while in coming.
4) What are you writing right now?
Foray number four into the world of Faith Awakened is well underway, and I'm loving the ride more than ever before. This time I am making even more of an all-out effort to put more of myself into the words. That's been challenging at times, to pull experiences out from my very darkest places and capture the full impact on the page, but it may just be my best work yet. I'm also keeping a hand in the shared world of Avenir Eclectia where I try to write a flash fiction piece every so often. That's very interesting, because although I came up with the storyworld concept and basic situation before inviting others to write for it, we now have over 180 stories and less than 10 of those are my own work. So I have to keep a close eye on what the others are writing, in case something changes or maybe there's a character I can bring into my storylines.
5) Why are you a publisher as well as an author?
I was a writer first, of course, and got my start playing around with self-publishing. I really got to like the process of making books - design, typesetting, etc. - and wished I could do more of it, but I didn't have another novel anywhere near ready. At the same time I knew many authors in my genre were struggling to find a publisher, and not because of lack of quality! It was their weirdness that made them a hard sell. So I brought my skills to a gap in the market and started pumping out the stories. As to whether I'll publish any more of my own work in future, well, that remains to be seen. It's nice to have that as an option, but I am actively pursuing other possibilities.
6) What is it like to sit on both sides of the table - as author and publisher?
I adore helping people's dreams come true, by getting their books in print. It is a big thing for anyone to experience, even if a small press can't offer much in the way of fame and fortune. That is my favourite part of publishing - helping authors along the learning curve and watching them develop through it. As an author I still have those pangs of nerves when I send off a submission. Publishing has not changed that one bit. And although time is often short, I try my hardest to keep in close contact with my writer-self, the part of me that gets inspiration and wrestles with edits and plot holes just the same as anyone on my team.
7) What is writing to you?
Writing is heart-communication. It's my contact to my spiritual side, a form of prayer if you will (yes, even when penning cyborg shootouts - especially so, in fact). An exercise in mind-expansion. It's jolly hard work. It's blood from a stone, but I feel at my most alive when I'm doing it. It's me on paper, my soul in words and letters, my essence recorded for anyone to see, and yes, that does make me feel vulnerable. It's a ton of fun, it connects me to kindred spirits the world over, it's provided me the best friends I ever had. It's an addiction, though a good one, and all it costs is time and courage - a high price to pay, but worth every bit of it.