Written by JJ Barnes
I am so excited to share with you my interview with Anna Mocikat. I am a huge fan of her book Behind Blue Eyes, and she spoke to me about her new book, Cyber Squad, as well. She spoke to me about her writing process, why she wanted to write her books, and shares her writing advice to encourage other writers.
Tell me a bit about who you are.
I’m an author of sci-fi and cyberpunk novels. So far, I have written and published nine books, some traditionally and some indie. Before that, I used to work as a screenwriter and game writer.
When did you first WANT to write a book?
Hm.. I went a different way than most as I started creating films first before writing novels. But I think I have had this dream since childhood.
When did you take a step to start writing?
I started writing short stories at about 14, then slowly moved to novellas, drama and screenplays. When still in high school, I got a scholarship for creative writing with a specialization in drama. So, I guess I started my writing career at an earlier age than most.
How long did it take you to complete your first book from the first idea to release?
That might sound strange, but I don’t really remember. It was 2006, so a while back. I think I wrote it relatively quickly, but it took me a while until publication because I tried to go the traditional way, which didn’t work out, so I eventually self-published.
In 2013 it then worked out with the traditional publishing for me with another book. I got a deal over three books with a major German publisher.
How long did it take you to complete your latest book from the first idea to release?
Usually, I meanwhile proceed quickly from an idea to the finished book, but my last one, Cyber Squad, was a different story. I had the idea more than twelve years ago when I was working in the video game industry but, for some reason, never wrote it. Until finally, this year in March I decided, now or never.
So, you could say it took me twelve years, haha
Focusing on your latest release. What made you want to write Cyber Squad?
My latest book will be released in August. It’s a cyberpunk story but very different than my Behind Blue Eyes series. It’s about a game QA hunting bugs in virtual reality. As I said, I was inspired to write it when I worked in the video game industry. There’s a lot of industry insider stuff woven into that book.
What were your biggest challenges with writing Cyber Squad?
I wrote it in only three months, which is fast for me. Some authors are fast writers, I’m rather slow. Unfortunately.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Protagonist?
Haha, my MC, Kai, is basically based on 90% of the guys I worked with in the video game industry. He’s an adorable nerd. Admittedly, I have a huge soft spot for nerds.
Who or what inspired you when creating your Antagonist?
I can’t talk about the antagonist in Cyber Squad as that would be a spoiler, but I can talk about my antagonist in Behind Blue Eyes, Metatron.
I can’t really say that there was someone or something particular that inspired me to him. Villains are my favorite characters to write and who knows my books, knows that they’re never one-dimensional bad guys. With Metatron I wanted to create a character who is clearly evil, yet likable. It turned out even better than I hoped because he has become the second favorite character in the book among readers, even more popular than the MC. Readers simply love to hate him.
What is the inciting incident of your book?
Let’s stay with Behind Blue Eyes for a bit here. The MC, Nephilim, is a cybernetically enhanced super-soldier. She follows orders and believes she’s fighting a righteous cause. Until one day, on a routine mission, she encounters children who are absolutely horrified of her. She realizes that she’s a monster and begins doubting the whole system, which is a dystopia disguised as a utopia.
What is the main conflict of Behind Blue Eyes?
The main conflict is Nephilim’s struggle for individual freedom.
Did you plot your book in advance, or fly by the seat of your pants and write freely?
I’m mostly a plotter. Which means, I usually plot the storyline, develop the main characters and incidents in detail and then fill everything up spontaneously on the run.
Did you get support with editing, and how much editing did your book need?
I edit thoroughly myself but also hire a professional editor for my books. This is something I would highly recommend to every author. No matter how good you think you are, you always need an editor to polish your work. There’s a huge difference between professionally edited books and those that are not and sadly many indie authors skip that step.
What is the first piece of writing advice you would give to anyone inspired to write a story?
The good old KISS! rule, known from screenwriting. Keep It Simple, Stupid! If it’s your first book, for heaven’s (and your own) sake, keep it simple. Don’t be a pantser, plot a solid story, that way you won’t end up having a writer’s block. Don’t write a multi-plot, use a single perspective, ideally the first-person perspective as that’s the easiest to write. Once you get more experienced you can write more complex stuff.
Can you give me a hint about any further books you’re planning to write?
Yes! I just started working on Behind Blue Eyes 3 – War Games, which will be out in March 2022.
And, finally, are your proud of your accomplishment? Was it worth the effort?
Let’s say, I’m not quite there yet where I want to be, but I am proud of what I have achieved so far.
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