Some Thoughts with ... Palmer Pickering

11 Feb 2023

The Author/s

Palmer Pickering

Palmer Pickering

Palmer has been writing fiction since she was eight. She received her BA in American Studies from Wesleyan University, with concentrations in Religion and Race Relations.

She currently works in Silicon Valley in the gaming industry and high tech. In addition, Palmer holds a certificate in Chinese Acupressure, is a certified solar panel installer, and studied Tibetan Buddhism with the 14th Dalai Lama.

She lives and writes in the magical redwood forest of the Santa Cruz Mountains, California.

The Interview

Welcome to a new post on my favourite section of the website. Today, we are interviewing Palmer Pickering, author of Heliotrope and the Star Children series.

Let's dive in!

1.- What made you choose self-publishing? 
I got tired of rejections from agents and publishers, tbh. I have a professional background in editing, publishing, and marketing, so I just decided to start my own Indie imprint (Mythology Press) and publish my work myself. Self-publishing is really fun, actually, although time-consuming, and it can get expensive. But I get to make all the creative and business decisions myself, and I’ve met some really great people along the way. The SFF indie community is super fun and supportive.

2.- Heliotrope is your dive into classic sword and sorcery fantasy, why did you choose this genre?
Epic fantasy is my favorite genre to read. Having a single heroic MC who is a sword-wielding badass with magic slotted it into the Sword & Sorcery sub-genre. We could debate if S&S is the best classification for this book since there isn’t a lot of the dark arts per se, although things do get somewhat dark and gnarly at times. I also call it Epic Fantasy and Heroic Fantasy.

3.- How would you say the writing process has changed from the first book to this one?
My craft has definitely improved since I started on the Star Children journey, imo. Heliotrope was easy to write, and even though it’s nearly 800 pages, I wrote a fairly complete first draft in 9 months. The Star Children Saga, by comparison, has been in the works for over a decade, and I suffered through a lot of rewrites and trial and error in that series, and I think it shows. Hopefully, those books will get smoother as the series progresses.

4.- What inspired you to create the world of Heliotrope? Can we eventually expect to return to the world and know more about its past?
I wanted to take a break from the intensity and complexity of the Star Children Saga. Heliotrope has a single POV character with a fairly linear plot progression. I was inspired by the Farseer trilogy in terms of character development and the internal character conflicts Fitz experiences, such as being a “bastard,” being mistreated, and not being acknowledged for his lineage. I also wanted to write something in a completely fictional, medieval fantasy world. Much easier to write than sci-fi in my opinion, since scientific fact is not a requirement. Although I did have to learn about blacksmithing, horseshoeing, sword fighting, how to build a fieldstone wall, etc, which you do not need on the moon!
Regarding follow-ons to Heliotrope, I do have a sequel in mind. I have the main plot points and characters worked out. The working title is Stone Guardians. But I probably won’t write that for a few years yet, since I want to release at least Book 3 of the Star Children Saga, and maybe Books 4 & 5 before going back to the Heliotrope world. I have thought that writing a prequel about The Magic Wars would be cool. Maybe I will get to that one day.

5.- Heliotrope is more a story about the characters and found family; is there any particular character that became your favourite of this book?

Hmmm. Well, obviously Teleo, since he is the POV character. But the working title of the book was Teleo and Kaspari, so I suppose she is a favorite. But I do love Jessum. And Dinsmora. And the horses. And Hunter. Do not make me choose!

6.- Moon Deeds was your first book, and an interesting kind of science-fantasy, which placed semifinalist on SPFBO. What could you tell us about this series?
The SPFBO contest led me on the path to discovering this Indie SFF community. It was actually Dyrk Ashton who told me about SPFBO, so I suppose it’s all his fault ;-). We met at a bar at the Nebula con, I believe, in LA. Moon Deeds made it into the SPFBO5 semi-finals, on the KittyG team, but it got knocked out of the running by a little book called Sword of Kaigen. Then KittyG told me about Dom’s Indie Showcase. I joined some Discord channels, and the rest is history.
The Star Children Saga will be several books long, and has a long arc about reconnecting with our Ancestor race on a lost planet across the galaxy. The Star Children need to re-establish the Pathways of Light in order to find our ancestors and save the galaxy from a permanent descent into darkness. 
The short arc of the first trilogy, which I call the Moon Deeds Trilogy, is all about control of Earth’s moon, which is a fundamental piece of the larger cosmic puzzle. But to secure the moon, our heroes need to confront an aggressive and violent alien species that has taken control of Earth and is trying to control the moon, which is the gateway to the stars. And in order to do that, our heroes need to grow strong in magic to beat the ruthless enemy Tegs, who possess superior technology.

7.- Let’s talk a little about hobbies. What does Palmer Pickering like to do in her free time?
Free time? What’s that? Haha. No, seriously, I’m pretty much a workaholic these days, writing and publishing multiple books and working full-time. I used to produce electronic music, and spent about 5 years dabbling in the Nashville country music lyric writing circuit. Before that, I studied the healing arts, such as Chinese Acupressure, massage, energy healing, Reiki, etc.
I gamed a lot during the pandemic, spending a few thousand hours in Final Fantasy XIV, and finished Witcher 3 more or less, although I am not a completionist, so I didn’t complete every side quest or collect every set of gear. And I still haven’t beaten the damn creepy caretaker, and I have never won even a single game of Gwent. 
I like to read, of course, and binge-watch action-adventure, spy thrillers, and fantasy series. I like to hike and go to art galleries and museums. I used to travel a lot, before the pandemic, mostly to Europe and Asia, and was about to go to South America the same week all the airlines shut down. Aside from that, I stay home a lot in my redwood forest enclave with my cats. I’m your typical introvert, I guess.

8.- What can we expect from Palmer Pickering in the future?
I have a few projects in the works:
1.- The audiobook version of Heliotrope is almost done. I should be getting a first listen next week. The narrator is George Guidall. I imagine it will be released sometime in March. I will probably release it as an Audible exclusive at first, then go wide eventually. I’m also playing with the idea of releasing a hardcover version of Heliotrope, but I’m not sure if I want to do print-on-demand or a higher-quality edition. 
2.- I am currently working on Book Three of the Star Children Saga, Anaximenes. I’m shooting to release that in 2024.
3.- I’m also working on releasing the Star Children Saga as a serial edition, for people who want to read the story in smaller chunks. I’m breaking the books up and publishing each Part as its own volume. Moon Deeds has two parts, and Light Fighters has three parts, so that’s five serial volumes that I’m in the midst of preparing to release. I don’t think it’s really been done often, if at all, to release the serial version after the larger volumes have been published, but I think I’ll try it. Why not experiment, right? That’s the beauty of being an Indie publisher. You can break the rules all you want.
4.- I’ve written the first draft of a Fantasy/LitRPG book called Dark Town. It’s “only” 80K words (around 300 pages). It features a young woman and a hobgoblin. It has game mechanics, but they are woven into the story in an epic fantasy style, without the “ding ding ding, you have leveled up” stuff. It’s a very fun story. At least it was fun to write. I’ll be doing Beta rounds in late February or March to see if anyone besides me enjoys it. The book covers Level One of a “game” that has seven levels, plus there are two or three more “games” of around seven levels each, so it could be a very long series. It only took me two months to write, so I hope to release one per year, along with my other, longer projects. I’m actively looking for a female narrator for that one. The cover artist has been lined up: Dusan Markovic, the same artist who did the cover for Heliotrope. I hope to release Dark Town later this year, in 2023.