I’m grateful to Kevin Ikenberry, who 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.
What are you working on now?
I’ve just finished a fantasy novel that evokes both Caribbean and Aztec themes.
Seacaster is the story of a young man at war with the magic coursing through his veins. Transformed by magic and enslaved on a distant island, Fike must choose between saving the girl who is his last link to home, or saving the last of his humanity.
Fike signs aboard a merchant ship to make a new name for himself and impress Tiyan, the captain’s daughter. Days from port, they are enslaved by pirates who expose Fike to a magic that begins to change him into living coral. Fike and Tiyan are ripped apart when he is sold to the king of the embattled island nation of Cahuatlan. Fike battles the magic within him, finding that every use deepens his change and leaves him less recognizable. As the island erupts into civil war, Fike must choose between using his new power to save Tiyan or saving himself.
How does your work differ from others of the genre?
Saladin Ahmed and Elizabeth Bear and Daniel Abraham have all written wonderful books that explore fantasy from a non-European view.
What I hope to add 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 save the world. They’ll be lucky to 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 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?
In years past, I would write a chapter and then polish obsessively, make it as good as possible before moving on. When done, I would have several brilliant chapters and an unfinished books.
To finish Seacaster, I had to live out Anne Lamott’s advice. I have to turn off the internal editor, allow the words to flow, and let the first draft be a steaming pile which can be fixed once the entire thing is done.
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
Being cousins, 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 can find Kaylynn online at http://finefrenchfrippery.wordpress.com/