Q and A with Contemporary Authors

Apparently, an entry has been prepared about me for inclusion in a forthcoming edition of Contemporary Authors (CA), which is, in their own words, “a reference series that provides information on approximately 112,000 writers in a wide range of media, including fiction, nonfiction, poetry, journalism, drama, and screenwriting.  Established in 1962, CA is published by Gale, a leading provider in meeting the world’s information and education needs.”

I just got done editing their entry on me, which had some good stuff in it (an excellent synopsis of my Wannoshay novel, for instance), and I though I’d share my answers to their questions.

See how cleverly I managed to create a journal entry without having to really write anything new? I am so slack. But hey, I’m in the middle of novel-revising, ‘kay?

Anyhoo — here’s the Q&A:

What first got you interested in writing?

Like most writers, I was always an avid reader, and I remember the thrill of writing my own stories and books early on. Fortunately, most of those early writing have been destroyed, though I would like to see my seventh-grade draft of Victory at Castle Deepmoat… Sigh.  I alway got pumped up about writing when I read something amazingly good, especially if it had one of those “Author’s Notes” at the end of it, in which the writer described the writing process and how that particular story came about. Being an author sounded like such a fun job to have, that I had to try it. I never knew how much WORK it entailed.

Who or what particularly influences your work?

I think the driving force for me with writing is the act of creating something.  I’m not good at carpentry, I hate doing any sort of work on the house, and I’m so-so at cutting the grass. Don’t even talk about painting, drawing, acting, or singing. I found that I could put sentences together pretty well, and I was even better at revising and making the finished product shine.  It’s that drive to make something completely new that only I can do that gets me out of bed early in the morning to type away while the rest of my family sleeps.

Describe your writing process.

Each novel I’ve written has come about in a different fashion, but for the most part, they start with an idea or a character, and I just start throwing down ideas or sketching out an opening scene.  Pretty quickly I’ll need a rough outline to use as a map so I don’t get totally lost.  Writing the first draft is often torturous to me. The words come slowly, and I’m always checking the word count to see if I’m closer to being done. When I finally have a draft, I take a break from the book for a while, then come back and read the whole thing as fast as I can, like a reader instead of a writer, and make a ton of notes. Then the fun part — revising. If possible, I coerce my agent to read the draft, and she’ll give me her amazing insights, then it’s off to the races. I love revising and shaping the book into something that resembles its final form. This part takes about as long as the first draft, if not longer. Then I re-read it a couple more times, doing edits along the way, and hopefully by the 4th or 5th version, I’m close to being done. Then it’s off to the publishers…

As for my day-to-day process, I’m an early-morning kind of writer.  I have little kids at home, so I need to get my work done before they wake up. Then it’s off to my day job, where I’m sustained by lots of caffeine.

What is the most surprising thing you have learned as a writer?

The most surprising thing I’ve learned is that ten people will read your novel ten different ways, and have ten varying opinions on it. Some may even distort in their minds what really happened, some may hate the characters that you love and love the characters you think are slimy.  Certain things will make certain readers crazy, and they won’t be afraid to blog about it. It was a big surprise at first, realizing that nobody will read my books in exactly the way I intended them to be read, but in the long run, that’s a good thing. It definitely makes for interesting conversations, and ultimately forces me to consider all opinions in an attempt to improve myself.

Which of your books is your favorite and why?

That’s a tough question, because it’s like asking which of your children is your favorite, and why.  I’d probably say that the book I’m working on right now is my favorite, because that’s the book I’m closest to right now. I have a book about to come into print any day now, but I barely remember the plotline of that book, because I’m two books removed from it. So it’s whichever book I’m writing right now that’s my favorite. But if you forced me to pick, I’d have to say my SF novel The Wannoshay Cycle is my favorite of my books, simply because I learned so much writing it, and I poured everything I could into it, over the course of almost a decade, off and on.  I’m proud of what I tried to say with that book, and how it turned out. Someday, I may even attempt a sequel…

What kind of effect do you hope your books will have?

Ultimately, I want people to think about human nature, and to be more and more curious about the people around them. I’m always analyzing people and taking bits and pieces of their personalities and incorporating them into my characters, trying to get into their heads. I’m always curious about how other people think — I hope my writing inspires others to be curious as well.

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