Olga Godim is a writer from Vancouver, Canada. Her speculative fiction short stories have been published in multiple internet and print magazines and several anthologies, including the latest anthology, Hero Lost, published in 2017. Olga’s fantasy novels Almost Adept and Eagle En Garde were published in 2014. In 2015, Eagle En Garde won the EPIC eBook Award in the Fantasy category. Olga’s urban fantasy short story collection “Squirrel of Magic” is available as ebook everywhere ebooks are sold.
Olga writes primarily speculative fiction: fantasy, science fiction, and magic realism. Her first foray into steampunk, a novella “Open, Charlie,” is an adventure story with a dirigible, magic, and chocolate. It is available for free on Wattpad.
When Olga doesn’t write fiction, she works as a journalist for a local Vancouver newspaper. She enjoys reading, especially fantasy and romance. Her collection of toy monkeys counts almost 400 monkeys. The monkeys, in particular the wind-up ones, are developing minds of their own. They are taking over her house, and she is fighting back.
Featured Author: Olga Godim Interview
- How long have you been writing?
- What/who inspired you to be a writer?
- What genre do you prefer to write in?
- Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
- What is your daily routine as a writer?
- Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you often use while writing?
- What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
- Do you prefer short stories or full-length novels in your writing?
- Can you give some us some insight into your story in Realities Perceived?
- What advice can you give other writers?
LHP: How long have you been writing?
Olga Godim: I know exactly when I started: in Feb 2003. I became a writer pretty late in life. By education, I’m a computer programmer. I worked with computers for over two decades. I’m also an avid reader and a daydreamer. Since I remember myself, I’ve always made up stories and played them in my head, but I never told anyone about my daydreams. Not until 2003. My dreams were my secret. Frankly, I was a bit embarrassed. I was a professional woman, a single mother with two children, and I dreamed of magic, swords, and adventures. I rarely dreamt reality stories.
I never thought of myself as a writer, never wrote anything down, but I couldn’t get rid of my daydreams. I loved my dream-world’s heroes and heroines. Sometimes, they felt more alive and precious to me than the living people around me.
In 2002, I got seriously ill. During the months of recovery, my daydreams became more persistent. They swarmed me, they wanted to be told. So I decided to be brave, stop resisting, and let my daydreams come out. I bought a dedicated laptop for my writing, off limit to my kids, and started writing a story, the first writing I did since high school. I didn’t know if it was a short story or a novel. I didn’t know anything about writing or publishing. I just wanted to write.
Of course, I needed to learn a lot to get from that naïve, ignorant beginning to this moment, but the journey has been fascinating and fruitful. By now, I’ve got several novels and a couple dozen short stories published. Back to top >>>
Olga Godim: Speculative fiction. Mostly, I write fantasy—I like magic in my stories. Even when I try to write something realistic, magic frequently sneaks in, so my stories turn towards magic realism. Sometimes, I write sci-fi, but not often.
Some people ask me: why speculative fiction? Well—because no research is required. That’s a bit of a joke, but it’s also the truth. I like fantasy and sci-fi because I can create a world and all the rules in it, and nobody can gainsay me. It’s my world after all.
And of course, speculative fiction allows me to escape reality. That’s why I read it and that’s why I write it—escapism pure and simple. I imagine my heroes talented and brave, with lots of friends and lots of choices. I make them able and smart. You read about them and you forget (I hope), if even for an hour, that your bills are overdue, that your boss is an asshole, that your mom is eighty and getting weaker every day, and you’re helplessly watching her slip away. If I can give you this tiny escape from your worries, then I’ve done my job as a writer.
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LHP: What/who inspired you to be a writer?
Olga Godim: I consider several speculative fiction writers as my inspirations. The first fantasy writer I ever read was Mercedes Lackey. Her Valdemar books introduced me to high fantasy, made me fall in love with the genre, pushed me to start writing in it. Although I don’t read her anymore, she’ll always have a special place in my heart.
Two more fantasy writers I admire greatly: Sharon Shinn and Terry Pratchett. While Pratchett needs no explanation, not every fantasy fan knows Sharon Shinn. I think it’s a pity. I enjoy her lyrical and magical tales, a blend of fantasy and romance. Her stories are full of light, without the heavy darkness that’s dominated fantasy novels in the past couple of decade. When I read her books, my spirit soars. I want to write like she does.
In science fiction, I can name two authors: Lois McMaster Bujold and Wen Spencer. Bujold’s hero, Miles Vorkosigan, is a genius at solving cosmic problems. His adventures are always original, his obstacles gargantuan, and his solutions witty. I wish I could create a protagonist as memorable and engaging as he is.
But Wen Spencer is currently my particular favorite. She is the only writer I ever wrote fan fiction after. Her Elfhome universe makes me ache with need. I want to set me characters in her world and explore it through their eyes. And I do. I’ve already written one fan fiction story set in her universe (and published it on Wattpad), and I’m working on another. Back to top >>>
LHP: Describe your writing process. What comes first–character or plot? Do you “pants” it or outline?
Olga Godim: For me, character definitely comes first. I need my character to know what happens to her. I always have a vague idea of the plotline, or at least the original problem, but I need my protagonist to flesh the story out. Because, depending on who my hero is, the plot will often go in different directions. Different characters find different solutions to the same problem.
I don’t do outlines, per se, not for short stories anyway, but I need to know what happens before I can write it down. I need some kind of a rough course of action—the beginning, the middle, and the end; the logistics of the story and its timeline—fixed in my head, before I type the first world. I’m not a ‘pantser’.
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LHP: What is your daily/weekly routine as a writer?
Olga Godim: ‘Write every day’ is my motto. I stick to it as much as I can. Which doesn’t mean I really write every day, but it is my goal.
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LHP: Are there any software tools, resources, or websites you use often while writing?
Olga Godim: Nothing original. I use MS Word for my writing. Back to top >>>
LHP: What are some of your biggest challenges you feel like you have to overcome in your writing career?
Olga Godim: Conflict. I don’t like conflict in my life. I love my characters and I don’t want them to suffer, so I don’t like conflict in their lives either. But I know that a story doesn’t work without conflict. So I’m torn between liking my characters and making up troubles and obstacles for them. Sometimes, it’s a challenge. Back to top >>>
LHP: How much time is spent on “the business of writing”, queries, seeking an agent or publisher, marketing/sales?
Olga Godim: That’s a tricky question. If I say that I intensely dislike “the business of writing”—marketing, promotion, etc.—and spend as little time as possible doing that, LHP would probably never accept my story again. But if I lie and say I spend half of my time on it and enjoy it, I’d be lying. So I’ll skip the question. Back to top >>>
LHP: Do you prefer short stories or full length novels in your writing?
Olga Godim: I started with long novels. Then I gravitated towards short stories. Now, I alternate between short stories and novellas. For some reason, my stories don’t want to stretch to the novel length. Back to top >>>
LHP: Can you give some us some insight into your story?
Olga Godim: The protagonist of my story “Asteroid AX-582” is an officer on a space station, a teacher in a military academy. His student, a teenager cadet, has a problem, and it becomes my hero’s problem. He is an honorable guy, a decorated soldier, but to help his student, he’ll do anything: lie, break rules, even risk going against the superior officers’ wishes and cheating the academy regulations. Back to top >>>
LHP: What advice can you give other writers?
Olga Godim: I have a favorite quote:
“Success seems to be largely a matter of hanging on after others have let go.”
― William Feather
That’s absolutely true when applied to writing, and it would be my advice to any aspiring writer. Persevere. Don’t give up. Hang on there. Write constantly. Try your hand at different genres and length—novels, short stories, journalism, copywriting. And don’t rush publication. Learn first, so when you publish, your story shines. Writing is a marathon, not a sprint, and you can’t skip the apprenticeship phase. Skills come from years of practice, like in music. Of course there are exceptions, but they only underscore the rule: instant gratification doesn’t exist for writers.
A writer friend I met online said: you can only consider yourself a professional writer after you’ve written one million words or more. It’s true. An average novel is about 60,000 to 100,000 words. If I toss in all the writing and re-writing I’ve done for all the short stories and novels, plus my newspaper articles (I’ve been writing for a local newspaper since 2007), I’m seriously over one million mark by now. Back to top >>>