Selina R. Gonzalez is a Colorado native with mountains in her blood and dreams that top 14,000 feet. She loves chocolate, fantasy, costumes, bread, history, superheroes, faux leather, things that sparkle, medieval Britain, snark, dogs, and Jesus—not in that order.
She loves to travel, and has driven coast-to-coast in the US, visited Britain three times (once for a semester at Oxford), and moved to Maine for four and half months. She has a list of places to go as long as Pikes Peak is tall, but always comes back home to Colorado.
CONNECT WITH SELINA
Welcome to SPFM, Selina! Since we already have your bio, describe yourself in three words.
Goofy, curious, loyal.
Summarize your book, A Thieving Curse, using one gif.
If you could recommend three self-published books, which would you choose and why?
This is so hard to choose! I’m going to stick with specifically fantasy recs, since Self-Pubbed Fantasy Month, but that only makes it marginally easier.
Daughter of Sun, Bride of Ice (and its sequel; it’s a duology) by H.L. Burke. This is a comfort read for me. It’s romantic, has a fascinating world, is a pretty quick read, hits tropes I really love like spunky, driven princess and a cheeky rogue with a heart of gold hidden beneath a lot of emotional hurt.
Shard & Shield by Laura VanArendonk Baugh. Character-driven epic fantasy that starts a bit slow but has such spectacular worldbuilding with complex politics, tackles real-life issues and themes like human trafficking organically and with grace, and I’m just so dang attached to these characters.
Troll Queen by Tara Grayce. Okay, this one is definitely something of a cop-out, because this book will make zero sense if you haven’t read the previous three books in the Elven Alliance series. But this is the best of the series so far. The first was enjoyable and cute, but each book gets more substance, goes deeper into the characters, develops meatier themes, and gets a bit darker (but still fairly noblebright). Troll Queen also has possibly the best representation of mental illness/health I’ve seen in fantasy.
What is your favorite part, and your least favorite part of self-publishing?
My favorite part is definitely hearing back from readers who loved my books, especially people who really resonated with a character. I cling to those moments when I get discouraged. My least favorite part is probably the business aspects—things like taxes and marketing ROI (return-on-investment) and being the person responsible for doing everything correctly from legal stuff to all the behind-the-scenes technical work of getting books published and up on retailers.
Why did you decide to self-publish?
Because I have control issues. 😉 I liked the idea of having the final say on all aspects from story to cover design to release date, that I would be able to write spin-offs and sequels if I so desired without having to worry a publisher wouldn’t green-light them, things like that. I also had a duology I knew might be a tough sell to a trad publisher because it wasn’t in a hot market, and I wanted to publish it much sooner than most trad pub timelines would have allowed.
If you were to write a spin-off about a side character, which would you pick and what would it be about?
All my readers are holding their breath hoping I’m going to say Dresden Jakobs from The Mercenary and the Mage series, but Drez hasn’t told me his story yet. I have other plans, though. I’d like to write a book about how Alfred and Tamina, the parents of one of the MCs of the Merc & Mage duology, met and fell in love. It’d be set in the midst of a war and show how Tamina helps a wounded Alfred after he escapes from being held as a prisoner of war. My current series that I’m actively working on, though, The Miraveld Chronicles, is essentially a series of spin-offs, with each new book being a romance/fairy tale reimagining starring a side character from a previous book.
What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Not taking advice and taking too much advice. Your first book probably isn’t as good as you think it is. I’m sorry, it’s true. To get better, you have to learn, and that means you have to do things like read blogs or books on writing craft, attend conferences (if you can afford them—no judgment), subscribe to newsletters about writing, get critique (from qualified persons who know your genre!), etc. You have to have a certain amount of humility to be a writer. But on the flip side, as you start studying how to write and getting feedback, you’re going to run into conflicting and even bad advice and feedback. You can’t please everyone. You can’t do every author’s method because they’re going to conflict. You have to be willing to learn, but there comes a time when you have to choose what works for you. There comes a time when you have to stop listening and start actually writing. I think a good adage is to know the rules so you know when to break them. You can make controversial decisions like including prologues or writing in omniscient when you know why those things are discouraged or less popular and you know why it’s what your story actually needs from a place of knowledge, not stubbornness. Keep in mind for all writing advice, particularly in things like online forums or people claiming this is the guaranteed way to success, the idea of “YMMV”—your mileage may vary. Not everything that works for someone else will work for you and vice versa. Experiment, accept advice, learn, but also don’t be afraid to bend or break rules and to put your foot down when it’s time.
What was the best money you ever spent as a writer?
Early in deciding I wanted to write—so in high school—definitely writer’s conferences. I didn’t know how much I didn’t know until I attended my first writer’s conference. Writer’s conferences are absolutely overflowing with information for new writers and resources to find more information—my first conference felt like drinking from a firehose. There’s also something to be said for the community there, because being in-person with other people who are doing the same thing you are and have similar goals and dreams is a unique and inspiring experience. I think as you move further along in your career, the learning side of conferences starts seeing diminishing returns, but there is still always things to learn and conferences become more about networking and community.
What is your favorite word, and why?
Shenanigans. It’s just fun to say. Some words just feel good when you speak them. It’s the best way of saying up to no good or doing something tricksy or mischievous, and I absolutely seize opportunities to say it.
What did you want to be when you grew up?
It changed several times. A few times it was just “famous.” XD Ballerina, actress, singer, concert pianist…I really wanted to perform for a while there. There was a solid stretch where I wanted to be a geologist, but the sciences involve entirely too much math! It wasn’t until I was in high school that I started considering being an author, and that dream got shoved to the side when it came time to graduate (so other [failed] plans included videographer and history professor).
About A Thieving Curse (The Miraveld Chronicles #1)
Princess Raelyn would love a simple life getting up to mischief with her brother and being valued for herself, not her title, but her purpose has been dictated since childhood. A treaty that established an unprecedented era of peace requires her marriage to Crown Prince Tristan when she turns eighteen. It’s time to face her destiny, and Raelyn is ready to shoulder the responsibility. But when she gets lost on the way to the wedding, she is caught by a dragon-man. Not only does the monster claim to be Alexander, the rightful crown prince living in hiding, but he refuses to return her to her family—putting the future of her kingdom and safety of her family at risk.
Trapped in dangerous mountains, Raelyn struggles to reconcile the kindness of the dragon-man’s human friends with the beast who breathes fire. When Alexander reveals the shocking truth of his curse, she begins to see past the monstrous exterior to the prince’s human heart. But will Raelyn have the courage to admit her growing attraction to a cursed man? And will her family manage to salvage the treaty when they think her dead?
A Beauty and the Beast reimagining with surprising twists.
(Although this is the first in a series, it is also a stand alone/complete story.)