Interview with Blake Light
What is your name?
Oh… I have so many. These days I’m going by Blake, or writing under the pen name K.M.Lightman
Where are you from?
I’m actually from Norfolk, VA – Navy brat. But I was born in California. Part of my soul is still pulling me back there.
What industry are you in?
Oh, I have my fingers in a number of pies. I write short stories, poetry, song-writing, novels… I also do professional editing services, voice work, dabbled in animation, draw a bit. I’m presently finishing designing a circus-themed tarot deck, as well as editing and producing Blake’s Dungeon Quarterly Magazine, a labour of love. I also knit and crochet in my down town and sell geeky crafts on Etsy: LadyKsKnerdyKnits. Potter scarves, Jayne hats, that kind of thing. I also run a “radio station” on Mixlr in my free time, but right now my home situation isn’t conducive to broadcasting very often.
What is your career?
I am… a restless wage slave. I’m actually unemployed at the moment. I have lots of time to work on the magazine and everything else, but being powerless financially is really not good for my mental health. I’m job hunting at the moment. If patrons would show up out of the blue and start supporting me on Patreon, I’d love to do this for a living, but unfortunately… That hasn’t happened yet.
If you don’t mind answering who do you work for?
I WORK FOR ME! Hahaha! Or I could say I’m my muse’s secretary – he’s a SLAVE DRIVER, and a diva.
How did you become interested in this industry/career?
I’ve always been a creative person. I have been singing since I was in kid’s choir, acting since the same, been writing since middle school. I started editing in high school, originally friends’ stories, and then research papers for schoolmates, and I’ve since started editing novels for a couple different independent publication companies. The voice work I’ve been doing for about a year now, but something about using my crazy voices to tell stories and entertain for a living without dealing with the camera industry of Hollywood (studio session fees, royalties AND I can work in my jeans and chucks at 9a? YES PLEASE) is just a perfect blend. If that never happens, I think I’d be happy if I could make Blake’s Dungeon a real thing – I’ve a dream of owning my own geek cafe/gaming dungeon. If I could just make that a thing and do the voice work on the side, I’d be content.
What motivates you?
I hate being a wage slave. I remember one day being told… that I was a Merlin, a wizard. I’m meant for more than being a scullery maid. The stories I have to tell, the maker, leader spirit in me… If I stay under someone else’s thumb the rest of my life, it’ll kill me. I could make a living making art, I just… gotta figure out how to get from here to there. I have a better life out there, if I can just get to it.
What study if any did you have to do to get where you are?
A lot of self-study. For the voice work, I listened to Rob Paulsen’s “Talkin’ Toons” from beginning to finish, and some of the stories in there are just SO INSPIRING, they make me want to start hitch-hiking to Los Angeles. Tara and Yuri have an amazing book called Voice-Over Voice Actor was a big step up for me. Writing, Stephen King’s On Writing and NaNoWriMo’s No Plot, No Problem! are paradigm changing. I also spend a lot more time than is probably healthy on character studies, ha! I’ll watch movies or TV shows or read books almost obsessively, focusing on a singular character, and all of the nuances of the writers and phrasing and physicality of the actor… You can learn a lot by just studying a master of the craft, whatever you’re doing. You’ll look silly doing it, but the surprise in someone’s eyes when I break into a Scottish brogue is well worth the weeks of Robert Carlyle studying, ha!
Tell us a little about the early days of your career?
I’m… Still in them, to be sure. It’s a lot of working for hours every night when I get home from work, and all day when I’ve a day off. I’m always doing something. I may not get paid for it, but I’m always working. I’m working for me.
Tell us about your very first author or artist you worked with?
First writing partner I had was Bronwyn Sciance. She was a couple years my senior, and we started off writing Harry Potter fanfiction, ridiculous as that sounds. I remember getting a computer for my quinceanera, and I would spend something like a half hour with her every morning, talking stories and characters and role-playing. Not only did it help me learn how to improvise with my story-telling, but it also gave me a hella good typing speed. Bre was also my beta reader, so she insisted on me spelling out my words, instead of using chat speak. And I’m grateful she did that, to this day.
What kind of hours or days do you work?
EVERY DAY. Saturday off? Maybe I’ll broadcast on the Shuffle while I’m transcribing new crochet patterns. Or I’ll put on a mix on Spotify as I write for one of my books, or editing a manuscript, working on the magazine… I have tried to start broadcasting when I art for my tarot deck, too. My artwork could be a lot better if I put more time into it, and I’m trying to do so more often.
Talk us through an average typical working day or week for you?
Morning, wake up. Breakfast, screw around on Facebook for half an hour, walk the dog. Go to work, come home, probably eat something, then spend hours on my work. I’ll go into the night, taking Facebook or Minecraft breaks here and there when I get frustrated, but I will usually keep working myself into the ground until my eyes stop focusing and start to burn. Close up shop, walk the dog, bed. Mind… Nowadays I don’t really have a wage slave job, so… It’s a lot of me sitting on my computer, flitting from project to project to keep productive and kill time so I don’t go crazy being home alone all day.
Can you tell us your favorite author or artist to work with? And why?
I actually usually end up working alone.
How do you select a book to be published/ edited or promoted?
A big part of it is if the story is… worth saving. I could eviscerate a book in red ink and there will be nothing left. I don’t just look at grammar, I look at passive/active voice, implications, continuity, story structure and character development. The better and more interesting the book, the more likely I am to do it. But even then… I’ve edited less than shiny books for a paycheck if need be.
What are your views on fan fiction?
It’s where I got my start. Some of it is pretty awful, but I look at it as the perspective of having an entire universe that’s already fleshed out, characters you can already study, and you can remix scenes, put some persons together that never interacted in the books, flesh out a big WHAT IF scenario… It’s like playing in someone else’s sandbox instead of having the pressure of making your own. World building is a very intimidating, and time-consuming endeavor, particularly to a new writer. But everyone has to start somewhere. I say go for it. But do it justice. Don’t change the characters to fit your idea. Study the characters and listen to the unheard stories they want to share with you.
What is your favorite genre? Why?
I… Hmm. I like good stories as a rule, and even my writing tends to vary all over the place. But when I’m watching films, one of my favourite genres, weirdly enough, is British crime comedies, like Lock, Stock and Two Smoking Barrels, Tarantino films, that kind of thing. I love “spy fy” like Leverage and James Bond, too, but I’m also a big classic fantasy fan. Lots of Critical Role and Lord of the Rings and Dungeons & Dragons influence in my own Dragonsbane series.
What is your least favorite genre? Why?
YA supernatural romance. There’s just too damned much of it, and most of it isn’t very good.
What advice would you give someone new to the industry?
Just START. So many people give themselves weird hurdles – “I want to make an Etsy shop but I don’t have product” or “I don’t have a shop name”. “I want to write, but I’m crap.” As Jake the Dog says: Sucking at something is the first step to being sorta good at something. FAIL FASTER.
If you were in a classroom full of eager children wanting to learn about the industry what would you tell them?
To start. Now. No, seriously. Let’s write a story together… I’d go through and edit it, and then we’d take turns reading it aloud. Boom. All the things. I’ll edit it up, and we’ll listen to it tomorrow.
The question everyone wants to know but too afraid to ask does it pay well? (lol) or do you do it for the love of it?
Right now, it doesn’t pay a god damned thing. It could, though. One day.
Have you traveled? If so where?
I moved to Tucson from Norfolk, so I’ve been bouncing around all over the States, but I’ve never actually left the country.
What was your favorite place to travel to? Why?
I actually really loved Vegas. It’s full of shows and quirky tourist traps and circus and gourmet food and trashy casinos and everything… It’s like its own little hub, and I just love it as a town. No one is a freak in Vegas. We’re all freaks together.
Do you have any pets?
I have a puppy. Gabriel, my Pomeranian, is something like six years old now. He’s my little stinker.
If you Don’t mind tell us a little about your personal life?
Bah… Recently divorced. Left me in a really shity state of affairs for the time being. I am trying to muscle through it by working as much as I can, but… All I can do is try to hang on for now.
Do you have any causes, charities, foundations that you are passionate about and donate to? if so why? how did you get involved?
I’m actually a supporter of Kiva. I had a really great AP English teacher in high school who played a clever ruse on us and told us about it. Basically you give them $25, and you pick someone in a third world who needs a loan (like, say, a girl in Dubai who needs $600 for a sewing machine for her tailoring business) and your $25 goes towards that microloan she needs. When she pays it back, that $25 goes back into your account, and you can then forward it on to someone else. In a world where so many donations just vanish into someone’s collection tin, I love watching one donation help multiply people. A little goes a lot farther.
Some fun questions now
What age were you when you were first kissed?
Oh…grade school, I’m sure.
Who was your high school sweetheart?
A pirate named Tony Couch. No, really – he was a RenFaire pirate. He sang sea shanties with a friend and his twin brother in a band called the Rum Runners at the George Renaissance Faire. I always date odd people, hehehe.
What did you want to be when you were little?
I originally wanted to be a vet tech, until I realized that me and blood didn’t do too well.
What is your favorite color?
Dragon green or purple. Mostly purple.
What is your favorite food/s?
Sushi, pizza, chinese food, and chocolate. Will never say no.
What are you afraid of?
Abandonment. I’ve been betrayed and neglected so much, that feeling of helplessness and worthlessness is a terrible place to be. I’ve experienced it more times than I care to admit, and it’s the worst.
How old were you when you first got drunk?
Hmm… I’m not sure, actually. I handle my alcohol very well.
What was your first car?
1993 Ford Espire. Prowler purple. My brother used to call it “the purple grape”. My dad joked it was a hoopty that “aspired to be a real car one day”.
Did you live in a house or apartment when you were a child?
My parents bought a house when I was… 2 or 3. We lived there until I was in middle school, when we had to sell it because of a miscommunication with my dad’s orders.
What was your favorite T.V. show as a child?
Weirdly enough, I only vaguely remember Bonkers as my first “favorite T.V. show”, although I did have a Eureka’s Castle bath toy back in the day.
What was your favorite book as a child?
Oh, definitely Harry Potter and the Prizoner of Azkaban. Remus Lupin is the reason I started writing.
Who did you have a crush on when you were in school and how old were you?
I… remember being a HUGE Alan Rickman fangirl back in the day. I’m not ashamed.
“Woah, I’ve been having a great time reading through all of this. All the stuff with the house is particularly fascinating. Like with how more and more rooms are discovered within the house and how they can move to new locations. The characters are fun too. I especially love the two-headed dragon, Rose and Guil, they always provide great comic relief. Montmorency and the Master are both eccentric characters, I am quite curious about their relationship with eachother. And what is their purpose with our caretaker Lorelai?” ~Stendhal Syndrome