Fall Fantasy Interview Series: #6
Today, I have been interviewed myself by Jason Pere, after my new release this month of 'Daughter of the Drackan: Book One of Gyenona's Children.' These were some fun questions!
1) If you had to cast an actor to play your main protagonist in a film adaptation of one of your pieces, who would you choose, and would you totally superfan it up and ask for an autograph?
For a really long time, and I mean years, I “scouted” film actors looking for the right person to play Keelin should ‘Daughter of the Drackan’ ever make it to the big screen. Complete daydream, of course, but I never could find the right person. So I gave up. And then just about a year ago, my husband and I started watching the Showtime series ‘Penny Dreadful’, and when I saw the evil, mysterious, and still scared-out-of-her-mind character Eva Greene portrayed through her role as Vanessa Ives, I lost it. That was it! Eva Greene would play Keelin E’Kahlyn, and I’ll have it no other way!
2) A young, hopeful-eyed, aspiring author flings themselves at your feet and says, “Oh, teach me, great master!” What is the first lesson you impart to your new Padawan?
After I rested my hand on said Padawan’s shoulder and gave them permission to rise, my first lesson would be two-fold. “Listen to what I say, but follow in your own footsteps, not mine. And embark on your training with the belief that you will be better than me.”
3) Okay, so you took your latest work in progress to your local writers group and everyone tore to shreds the text of which you were so proud. Other than a roll of tape, how do you handle something like that? Has that ever happened to you?
First off—yes, that has happened to me. I majored in Creative Writing Fiction in college, and brought such a manuscript to class one day to be critiqued and reviewed by my classmates. A lot of the writing I did for these college courses were based off obscure writing prompts, which I never really enjoyed back then. I wrote this silly, light-hearted spin-off of ‘The Frog Prince’ set in modern times. I thought it was fun, humorous, and obvious that it wasn’t supposed to make sense. My classmates hated it. They made a feast of overanalyzing the heck out of it, pulling out all the parts that didn’t work for them, shredding the plot, and burning the characters at the stake. It was frustrating, because it wasn’t a debate, I wasn’t there to “defend” my writing, but I wanted to scream at them that it was supposed to be a goofball story. I realized, then, that I’d submitted a short story to a classroom of other writers who were not particularly the best target audience for a silly fairytale.
I don’t know how I was fortunate enough to be able to separate criticism of my work from my actual work itself, but I’ve always known not to take someone else’s criticism or opinions personally when it comes down to my writing. Basically, I acknowledge criticism in proportion to how much said criticism acknowledged my writing. If someone yells and screams, or bashes everything about my work, but cannot tell me why (or may not take the time to figure the why out for themselves), I let it roll off my back. But the feedback and criticism that addresses issues within my work, problem spots of characterization or believability, and tells me why the problems exist is the feedback I accept gratefully, spend some time appreciating it, and make the choice then whether or not to incorporate those ideas into my work. Of course, there are also times when I say, “Nope, I don’t agree with you, and I don’t like your suggestions.” They’re few and far between, and the important thing for me to remember, and what I like sharing with other authors, is that the “reader” is not just one person, but potentially thousands, and it’s nearly impossible to make all of them happy. As long as you’re happy with your work, you’re good to go.
4) Do you prefer to write first and ask questions later or are you the type that will research and fact find every little detail into oblivion before starting a project?
I’m a pantser, totally. Outlining and researching kills the writing process for me, because I get so overwhelmed by the fact that I don’t have all the pieces (which of course, appear when the project is actually written). And all that over-thinking, planning, and fleshing out of “where is the story going?” feels like wasting valuable writing time. I’m not bashing outlining and researching as a way to write…it simply does not work for me.
For the most part, I have a general “vision” of what I’d like the story to be about, where it’s going, and some major scenes already playing out in my mind on repeat. Writing it down is the only way to turn that darn loop off! I will say, though, that I’ve branched out of my “pantser” routine with my current work in progress, ‘Sleepwater Beat’. It started out as an experimental short story, and once I finished it, I was badgered into turning the short story into a novel (badgered by myself, my writing group, and the story, of course). I’ve had to do a lot of surgery on this piece, moving it from a short story to a novel, and outlining was completely necessary in order to keep my brain on straight. When I do outline or research, I’ve found I can only do it section by section. I don’t think I’ve ever made a skeleton of something all the way to the end.
5) How do you know when it is time to stop writing? This is not a trick question.
This felt like a two-part question to me. So…1) I know it’s time to stop writing during the throes of creation when I realize I’m trying too hard. My favorite thing about writing is getting in the “zone”—picturing everything so vividly and connecting with the characters so viscerally that, before I know it, it’s two hours and four thousand words later. However, that doesn’t always happen. I’ve sat at my computer, typing sentences over and over again, deleting them, and realizing I’ve only managed to pull out two paragraphs that are actually worth anything. So I tell myself to stop and come back later. 2) The other “time to stop writing” is at the end of a story! Obvious, right? For me, the ending shows up in the weirdest ways, and it’s hardly what I expected. I’ve ended things in the middle of danger, or the start of a new adventure, or in the mundane moments between thoughts. I stop writing and add the words ‘The End’ when my characters feel satisfied. There may be “more to the story”, but when there’s nothing else screaming for a spot on the page, I call it finished work.
6) Have you ever been afraid to write a piece because you were not confident you could do it justice? Can you tell us about that?
I’m struggling with this currently, actually. I mentioned before my work in progress, ‘Sleepwater Beat’, which is a Dystopian Sci-Fi set in modern America. It has so many things to say! Not only is it a character-driven, “noir plus superpowers” adventure, but it addresses a lot of my own personal opinions on the current state of humanity, America, society at large. It sounds a bit trite, but I don’t want to give anything away. This is the first piece I’ve worked on that actually reflects my own feelings about something larger than character interactions and high-flying adventure. I didn’t even know where it was going when I started working on this project, and through a little writing and a lot of sharing and discussion, I had to dig deep to find out what the actual point of this thing was going to be. It turns out that it frightens me a lot, because I want to do it right and I’ve never written anything like this before. So far, all I can say is that as long as I keep writing, I’m headed in the right direction.