First off, though ~ before I start with my own ramblings ~ I wanted to give a shout out to the person who tagged me, Kris Austen Radcliffe, who is an awesome writer of cross-genre-y urban fantasy, including the FATE - FIRE - SHIFTER - DRAGON series, offered by Six Talon Press.
I also wanted to include a link to her writing process post from last week, which can be found here.
Okay, so ~ my answers to the writing process questions!
I just got back from a week-long writing workshop focused on short stories, but now that I'm back to my "regular" schedule, I'm working on a prequel novel in my Allie's War series, called BIRTH: ALLIE'S WAR, EARLY YEARS.
It's focused on the other half of the story in TERIAN: Allie's War 7.5, Early Years, this time from Revik's point of view.
Both stories take place during the circumstances surrounding Allie's birth, and in BIRTH itself, the focus is also on Revik's struggle to pull his life together after having left the Rooks.
This particular story arc more or less started with REVIK: Allie's War 6.5, Early Years, which talks about the circumstances that caused Revik to leave the Rooks in the first place, as well as who and what provided the catalyst for that. There are some old friends and new ones showing up in BIRTH so far, too, and hopefully enough surprises to satisfy those who have been following the series thus far.
Everyone who reads my stuff probably knows by now that I love surprises, even when they happen to me, the writer...as in, while I am writing...(grin).
Truthfully, I hadn't expected to be working on this book right now. I really wanted to be working on the next full arc in the series, which is PROPHET (sequel to BRIDGE: Allie's War, Book Seven), but I realized that a number of the relationships established in BIRTH would impact how aspects of how PROPHET unfolded, so I needed to write BIRTH first.
So yeah, there's some insight into my squirrel-y, nonlinear process right there, I imagine...
QUESTION #2: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Well, I can only go on what others have told me, of course, but what I've heard the most consistently are these four things, at least in relation to the Allie's War series itself:
(1) the world is very original and "authentic"-feeling, and also complex––probably from my history background and the fact that I've been thinking about it for so long (over 20 years now, in total), working out details in terms of the culture, language and religions, wars, political structures and whatever else (way more than will ever make it into the books sadly, ha).
Also, this fantasy isn't populated by werewolves, vampires, ghosts, demons or any of the usual suspects, but a race of powerful psychics that I more or less made up wholesale, although there are parallels of course to many other tropes of urban fantasy (the telepathic abilities of the seers, the much longer lives of seers compared to humans, the idea of a world-hidden-behind-the-world, and so on).
So it feels almost like it could be real, in that I've taken our world and just tweaked it a bit.
Or so I've been told.
(2) The character of Revik seems to strike a pretty deep chord with a lot of people - including me - maybe because he's such a mess of contradictions himself, and makes an unlikely hero in a lot of ways. Complex, tragic, frightening at times, immature yet highly intelligent and deeply caring - and with a ton of heart and good intentions in the end. He's kind of a beautiful mess, which seems to be how a lot of us are in real life, as well. Of course, it doesn't hurt that he's also really hot.
(3) The tone is closer to an epic than a lot of urban fantasy, although it's essentially gritty and real-world based, bordering on cyberpunky. It's also more of an ensemble cast, which probably gives it more of that "epic"-y feel, although the story revolves primarily around Allie and Revik and the complexities of their relationship and their attempts to do the right thing, both for one another and the world...and ultimately, for themselves.
(4) Lots of sex (ha), which is hardly original in and of itself, but I do have a number of homosexual as well as heterosexual relationships and have fun playing with the complexities inherent in designing a whole other race with different sexual and social norms around intimate relationships (and physical bodies!) and how that plays out when it interacts with human culture (and human bodies!).
QUESTION #3: Why do I write what I do?
I have NO IDEA. If someone figures out my brain and how it works, I really, really hope they let me know, 'cause I got nothing.
I do know I've been a compulsive storyteller since birth. It fills a hole in me that nothing else can fill...at least nothing I've found so far. It keeps me sane. I'm a monster to live with when I'm not writing. Truly. Ask any of my friends.
QUESTION #4: How does your writing process work?
In terms of the writing itself, it depends on where I am in a project, of course, but generally-speaking, I'm what I've had described to me as an "intuitive" writer, who cycle writes and writes into the dark.
What does any of that mean?
Well, a few things.
Re: writing into the dark and intuitive writing...
I don't outline, generally, although I'll scribble down notes here and there as things hit me, and/or record them with my digital recorder if I'm out walking or whatever. I also do a fair bit of research (again, history/journalism background), but usually only once I get into the writing itself.
I generally start with a few major plot points, some scenes I've more or less written in my head already...and what I think of as a "snapshot" image of the final, climactic scene (not necessarily the last scene in the book, but sometimes I'll get that, too, meaning the epilogue or aftermath).
The snapshot thing is interesting to me, because rarely is it wrong in terms of the logistics or the imagery that I get with it...but often I don't fully know what the scene truly entails until I actually write it. Also, I usually can't finish a book or even get very far into it until I have that snapshot crystal clear in my head.
Things like those "snapshots" are what make me an intuitive writer, by the way. Meaning, most of my writing comes from my subconscious, not from plotting, planning or devising logical twists and turns with the more analytical parts of my brain.
For similar reasons, despite the fixed clarity of the "snapshot" at the end, the impact of that ending often surprises me quite a bit, in terms of what it means for the audience and/or the next book.
I always know when I've nailed it, though, because I start getting scenes and "snapshots" for the next book in the series almost immediately once I do...
|Me in Los Angeles, with laptop|
Saying I cycle-write means I tend to write for awhile, then hit a bump (or stop for the night, lunch, etc.), and cycle back, going over what I've already written before writing through it to the next, new, unwritten section.
I do this for a few reasons...it gets me back into the "voice" and flow of whatever I'm doing, and I also end up doing some editing and rethinking of scenes as I go. A nice byproduct of this is that the text tends to be relatively clean when I finish, even though I often have to go back and redraft or fix structural things if something is missing along the way, or my beta readers or editor cry foul because something is confusing or didn't work or feel true to the character, etc.
Other writers don't do this I found out...some will write all the way to the end and just leave themselves notes to fix things after they finish.
I REALLY can't do this...meaning leave something once I know it's broken and/or not working...even if it's just something I need to look up re: research later, because often research will open things up for me that I wouldn't have considered without it, and not only in the segment in question. I often get stuck if I mess something up, and because I'm an intuitive, "write into the dark" kind of person (meaning no outline, following the characters more than any plan in my head), then if I take ANY kind of wrong turn, I have to go back and fix it before I can push forward into the rest.
So, yeah. That's me and my process...
Okay, so now comes the "tag, you're it!" part of the post!
Next week, my very talented and lovely writing pals, Michael Lorde, David C. Cassidy and Charity Parkerson will be writing about their writing processes. Be sure and tune in to learn more about how we writers are all weirdos in unique but equally schizophrenic ways...(heh)...
And thanks for reading!