Estella Mirai Interview
The Indie Book Butler Interview.
Indie Book Butler: Let’s start things off with an introduction. Tell us a little about yourself for those not already aware of you and your work.
Estella Mirai: Thank you so much for the opportunity! I write queer fiction—not quite genre romance, although I love a good love story. My first novel, The Stars May Rise and Fall, is a queer retelling of Phantom of the Opera, set in Tokyo’s visual kei (think glam-metal) music scene at the turn of the millennium. It’s currently available on Kindle and in paperback.
IBB: You’ve got twenty words to tempt us to read your book(s). What would you say?
EM: Queer! Angsty! Hurt/comfort! Vibrant settings. Messy relationships. GUYLINER AND WIGS. Nostalgia. Glitter, guitars and a virtual trip to Japan?
IBB: Where do you like to write?
EM: I’m not too picky—I can write in bed, on the couch, at McDonald’s… sometimes I even write on my phone!
IBB: Is there anything you must have in order to write?
EM: Comparative silence. I can deal with regular cafe-type sounds but I can’t write with music, and if my kids are screaming, the words usually don’t come.
IBB: What books have influenced you most, both as a person and as an author?
EM: That’s really hard because I read a LOT. Tipping the Velvet by Sarah Waters was one of the first queer books I read, and it’s very setting-intensive, which is something I try to do as well. I’m currently working on something a little more sci-fi that takes a lot of inspiration from the Otherland series by Tad Williams.
IBB: What is the one thing that has helped you develop most as an author?
EM: This is going to sound weird because I ended up self publishing, but before I did that I did have a literary agent and briefly pursued the traditional path. Being in that community, getting feedback, and learning to think about the kinds of things that publishers wanted—and then, of course, deciding which rules I wanted to ultimately break—really helped me find a balance between my own unique style, and what is sort of “expected”.
IBB: What do you want to achieve most from your writing?
EM: I want to give my readers the kind of experience that my favorite books have given me! If they laugh, cry, lose sleep over my characters—goal achieved.
IBB: Have you received a favorite review of your work?
EM: I’m probably supposed to say I don’t read reviews, but I’m human. This is one of my favorites, because it feels like the reader really “got” what I was trying to do: https://www.goodreads.com/review/show/2922873267
IBB: Were there any particular parts of the writing/publishing process that you struggled with?
EM: Where do I start? My first agent quit agenting a couple of months after I signed with them, and my second agent did a lot of questionable things during the submission process. When I finally got an offer from a publisher, the publisher folded, and then I had a bad experience with ANOTHER agent. This book was a nightmare to finally get into print, but I’m glad I stuck with it and took the leap into self-publishing.
IBB: Is there something specific you do to improve your writing?
EM: Totally cliche, but read, read, read! Fanfiction is also a great way to practice things like character voice and using tropes.
IBB: What is the ideal relationship between editor and author?
EM: Well, I think that depends on whether you’re talking about an editor at a publishing house or a freelance editor. But in either case, I think it’s important for the editor to understand the author’s vision and to help them bring THAT to life in a way that is going to appeal to the reader, rather than trying to change the book into something it’s not. From the author’s perspective, listen to your editor. You don’t have to take every suggestion they make, but make an effort to understand where it’s coming from, and acknowledge that there might still be a problem you need to fix, even if you don’t agree with their suggestion on HOW to fix it.
IBB: If you had a direct line to someone who loves or hates your writing, what would you say?
EM: If someone hates my writing, that’s fine. I don’t need to talk to them or try to convince them otherwise. But if I’m talking to someone who loves it, of course I’d say thanks, and then if they had any questions I’d be glad to answer them. I have so much background information about my characters that never made it onto the page, so if anyone wants to chat about my characters I’d love to!
IBB: If you could give one piece of advice to an aspiring author, what would it be?
EM: Stay true to what you want to do. I know I just said to listen to your editor… but if what the editor/agent/beta reader suggests goes against the very heart of what you want to say and do with your writing… know where that line is and stick to it. You’ll really regret it if you don’t.
IBB: What does your writing future hold for you?
EM: Hopefully finishing this sci-fi-ish story I’m working on! I haven’t decided yet if I’m going to publish it as a novel or maybe try an online serial, but I hope these characters will be ready to meet the world soon.
IBB: How have you set about the task of creating enticing cover art?
EM: My cover was created by the amazing team at MiblArt. I highly recommend them! (https://miblart.com)
IBB: How often do you read? What genre?
EM: Last year was kind of a reading slump for me, to be honest, but when I read, I read FAST! I’ve been making an effort to read and review more this year, as a way of paying it forward to my fellow authors. I read almost any genre of fiction, but some of my favorites are romance, women’s fiction, YA contemporary, science fiction, and psychological thrillers. So, yeah, a lot!
IBB: Before we let you escape, it’s your chance to name-drop. Anyone who you feel is deserving of more recognition at present or someone whose writing you have recently enjoyed? Now is your chance to spread the word…
EM: Well, the last book that really blew me away was a fellow indie: Rescued by the Married Monster Hunters by Rook Bird. It’s an MMF fantasy romance that just does a brilliant job with the world-building and the relationship. I’m currently in the middle of the graphic novel On a Sunbeam by Tillie Walden… so I can’t vouch for the ending yet, but I’m loving the characters and the world so far!
Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions. Best of luck in the future.