I’m grateful to Kevin Ikenberry, who I introduced me to Superstars, for tagging me in this blog tour on writing process. To see Kevin’s entry into this blog tour, visit the link above. You’ll also find links to previous tours on these thought-provoking questions.
And here we go!
What are you working on now?
I have three novels in the works: a fantasy novel that borrows from Mesoamerican and Polynesian traditions, a noir Chicago mystery, and an alternate-history WW1 science fiction.
This season, my focus is the fantasy novel. It follows Fike, the son of a prostitute, who leaves home to find a father he hardly knew. Barely into his journey, he is enslaved and transformed by magic. Fike is sold into the royal court of a kingdom which is ripping itself apart to control him even as he tries to find a way back to the man he was.
The working title for this novel is “Stop Being Human,” which comes from a lyric in Gotye’s fantastic song Eyes Wide Open.
How does your work differ from others of the genre
I can’t claim that I am the first to want to work in a fantasy realm that is non European. Saladin Ahmed and Elizabeth Bear and Daniel Abraham have all written wonderful books in this space.
What I hope to bring is intimacy. I love Epic Fantasy with a capital E, and I love Science Fiction’s often grand sweeping scope, but the stories which captivate me most are smaller, more personal. My heroes won’t be saving the world. They’ll be lucky if they save themselves. Their goals are personal rather than global. A close, intimate point of view is what I am striving for in my work, and I hope that I can bring a little different perspective to a genre that often fills the pages with endless characters, but never really dives deep with one.
All that said, I agree with Solomon that there is nothing new under the sun. All of this is simply discovering and putting my own spin on what has come before.
Why do I write what I do?
As a kid, I remember reading books like A Wrinkle in Time, Phantom Tollbooth, and the Hobbit. Those books captured my sense of wonder, of adventure. I didn’t always understand them (L’Engle’s tesseracts were quite beyond me, and I admit to occasionally skipping Tolkien’s dwarven songs) but I was drawn in by them. I’ve since discovered that a book that can recreate that wonder is a rare thing, but it still happens.
I want to write the kind books that my younger self would fall in love with. I want my readers to disappear into a world and become friends with the characters and be a little sad when the adventure ends.
Science Fiction and Fantasy have great potential to tell stories that explore what it means to be human, by taking us out of the our current reality and putting us somewhere else. Ultimately, I want to write and read stories that both entertain and move me.
How does my writing process work?
My writing process is, well, in process.
In years past, I would write a chapter and then polish obsessively, make it as good as possible before moving on. As a result, I have several brilliant chapters and zero finished books.
Today, I am trying my hardest to live out Anne Lamott’s advice. I am turning off the internal editor, allowing the words to flow, and letting the first draft be a steaming pile of turds which can be fixed once the entire thing is done. I don’t follow that advice every day, but I’m working towards it.
I always start with an idea, some hook that snags my imagination and carries my brain along. I develop that, adding notes, generating characters, worldbuilding until I have enough for a rough idea of where the story could go. Then I create the outline, using scene and sequel to build a plotline. Each scene or sequel is small, comprised of a specific goal or a problem to react to. When the outline is done, I prewrite each scene, describing in a few paragraphs what needs to happen.
Then I write. This is done with chocolate and coffee and occasionally stronger elixirs still. I’m not sure why the words flow like Niagara some days and like the Jostedalsbreen Glacier on others, but I suspect it has to do with the phase of the moon.
Next up: author Kaylynn Hills
As my cousin, Kaylynn and I have a shared pool of ridiculous family stories to draw upon. Kaylynn is a brilliant writer and linguist and I’m quite lucky to be able to bounce around ideas with her.
A lover of words, syntax, and phonetics, Kaylynn is a linguist at heart, which has a significant impact on her writing. She is currently a graduate student earning her M.F.A. in Creative Writing, and is boldly determined to weasel her way into the book publishing industry one day. Her genres of choice are fantasy, realistic fiction, and some science fiction (but she’s picky), as well as a sprinkling of horror and metafiction. She enjoys writing about people and what she thinks is inside their minds, as well as badass magic things and dragons as pets.
For now, she is a Professional Office Lackey and Administrative Hireling. When away from her Desk of Stupefaction, she can be found hunting for French pastries, teaching herself the violin, or of course, writing. She is embarrassed to admit that she likes animals more than most humans, and her biggest fear is anesthesia.
Surprisingly, Kaylynn did not grow up as a ravenous reader, as most writers supposedly do. While she loved books, she was also an exuberant child, incapable of sitting down or shutting up for too long a period. When she was 17, she worked the graveyard shift in a haunted book warehouse and was, on several occasions, accosted by a biography of Cary Grant which flew off the shelf. And so came about the revelation that books are far more interesting that she had previously imagined, as well as the words inside them. However, it wasn’t until her freshman year of college when she realized her creative potential and made the dubious decision to “become a writer.” She has not yet regretted it.
You may find Kaylynn online at http://finefrenchfrippery.wordpress.com/