FAQ’s Answered #7: What Do I Write About (& Other Questions)

Today in a series of replies to FAQ (frequently asked questions) sent to me by fans (and sometimes not so much), I answer a few similar questions together under the umbrella question:  “What do you write about?

These were asked by several people over the last few months, and because the answers were likely to be shorter than for previous questions, I thought it best to combine them into one post!

So, without further ado, answers to the questions: “What do you write about?”, “When did you first start writing?”, “Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?”, Which authors do you feel influenced you as a writer?”, “Do you write to music?”, “Do you self-publish?”, “What motivated you to indie publish?” and “Where can I get your books?”

First, let’s look at the question “What do you write about?

I write sci-fi with a twist of humor, wit, action, adventure, fantasy, and horror. Usually some of my characters are gay or transgender – but then, so am I, and I’ve seen too few LGBT characters in leading roles in the books I read to be happy with that.

For that reason, I think at least some of my books fill a glaring gap in the market. My target market is not just Sci-fi/fantasy/horror – but LGBT-inclusive, affirming sci-fi/fantasy/horror!

(If you want to know why I write about LGBT people or issues, please read one of my previous FAQ posts here.)

When did you first start writing?

From as soon as I was old enough to hold a wax crayon! I was born in February 1973, so probably from about 1976 when I was about 3 years old! I started making up and telling stories as a young child before I learned to write, inspired by my father who was a writer.

Dad and I made up stories together at bed-time about “Mr. Mann” and “the Three Jolly Yum-yums” – and from the start of my life, I knew I wanted to be a writer! Dad’s short stories were dramatised for radio broadcast and I often heard them being played (and repeated every few years) on Springbok Radio. I happened to find an old recording of one story “Assignment”, which I digitized in 2014.

The first time I actually completed and submitted a draft of one of my stories to local publishers, was in 1991, and after a series of disappointments, I finally went into self-publishing.

“Where did you grow up, and how did this influence your writing?”

I was born and grew up in a city called Port Elizabeth on the south-east coast of what some people call a ‘shit-hole country’ at the furthest tip of the African continent. It’s something of a tourist destination, and its mascot is a jack-ass penguin, which should give you some idea. PE, as it’s generally called, is also called ‘the windy city’ – although Cape Town is the place where birds (and sometimes pedestrians) fly backwards.

I wouldn’t say living here has influenced my writing to any degree – although it certainly has negatively affected my efforts to get published, represented or marketed locally. (I wrote about a lot of my writing and publishing experiences in “The Pitfalls of South African Self-Publishing“.) I did gain a lot of useful military experience having been conscripted straight out of high-school as a teenager, which provided me with a lot of good story material and background info that comes in useful when writing. Also, being stuck here without much hope of relocating means that a lot of international online services (including audio-book contracts, PayPal and others) do not apply, do not work, or simply don’t exist for me in practice, or are simply too expensive due to the forex rate – making my life as a writer much harder than it really has to be.

Which authors do you feel influenced you as a writer?

I grew up reading a lot, and when I was a teen, it was mostly adventure stories and sci-fi. I read the entire “Biggles” series (W.E. Johns) from end to end more than once,, including the few sci-fi stories he wrote as well. James Blish’s adaptations of Star Trek were also standard fare that I read over and over again as a child, often on the school bus. For some reason A. Bertram Chandler’s series of ‘lost colony’ novels, particularly “The Big Black Mark” always held a special place in my list. Then there were a couple of favorites by E.C. Tubb, Philip K. Dick, Tom Sharp, Tom Holt, Douglas Adams – and Terry Pratchett.

Do you write to music?

YES! From what I’ve heard, many writers write to music. I’ve always liked to write to the sound of music, even with soft tunes playing in the background. Music I enjoyed listening to while writing in the past include Eurythmics, Depeche Mode and Enya – and sometimes I still slip one or more of my old favorites into my playlist! Some of my favorites currently include music from Rammstein, She Wants Revenge, Lord Of The Lost, Florence & The Machine, and Muse.

“Do you self-publish?”

Yes! Aside from the burden of self-promotion and marketing, I really truly enjoy the freedom and control indie publishing brings!

What motivated you to become an indie author?

Due to the difficulties I’ve experienced in finding a local traditional publisher (since around 1991), I’ve been publishing overseas, mostly via the USA and online since 2005 – with a brief absence between 2014-2016, while I was with a small press. In 2016, that small press experienced a bit of an identity crisis and decided to shed all their writers who didn’t write in their words “pure horror”, and so I found myself floating free again. Rather than bury myself in bitterness and depression, I immediately jumped back into the indie scene again, putting everything I’d learned from my experience to good use!

Where can I get your books?

You can find them all over the place – on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Lulu, Smashwords, PayHip, and a stack of others around the world! You can also find them on my website’s Shop page.

For South African readers, Kobo lists all available titles in South African currency!

I hope this answers this question to your satisfaction!

Feel free to email or message me via Facebook, Twitter or LinkedIn if you have any comments or questions!



If you would like to know more about Christina Engela and her writing, please feel free to browse her website.

If you’d like to send Christina Engela a question about her life as a writer or transactivist, please send an email to christinaengela@gmail.com or use the Contact form.

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All material copyright © Christina Engela, 2019.


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