The talented poet, writer and teacher Angélique Jamail, sent me a list of questions to answer – questions about myself. Why anyone would want to know more about me is a bit surprising, but apparently people hop from blog to blog ferreting out interest factoids about people. My short answer is – I write, and write some more. I also participate in all things geeky as well and all of this happens when I’m not spending time with the fam. As to her specific questions though, I’ll take those one at time:
Q: What am I working on at the moment?
I’m currently working on marketing my upcoming superhero novel, Crimson Son, which will be out in June of this year. (see what I did there?) However, I’ve got about a half dozen short stories navigating the slushpiles and editor’s desks of many a magazine and anthology. I also just completed a YA short story with a superhero theme (which, you guessed it, ties into my UPCOMING SUPERHERO NOVEL: CRIMSON SON.) All the latest updates regarding my work will be found here.
My next big project is a fantasy novel. It is epic fantasy, but not. Sort of like my superhero novel is not really about superheroes (I promise I’ll stop.) I’m still in the first draft phase so I don’t want to say too much about it, but my goal is to take traditional fantasy elements and toss them out the window. No more “humans with pointy ears” or “short humans” being called other “races”. It is fantasy with an almost sci-fi flavor and the focus is more about identity, what makes us who we are, rather than any big beat the bad-guy and find the magical widget quest.
Q: How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I went into that a bit above. Some people like to write, say, Urban Fantasy, where they infuse the real with a bit of magic. I like to infuse fantasy with a bit of the real. I also tend to focus on unconventional characters. My characters aren’t just the underdog that wakes up one day and becomes a badass. They are usually awkward, real, maybe not even incredibly likeable people (or humanoids…mostly) thrust into amazing situations.
Q: Why do I write what I do?
I’m not sure.
Is that an answer? Honestly, I don’t know where this stuff comes from. I had a pretty normal childhood, spent much of it in my head. That place is alternately inspiring and scary, so perhaps this is where I can place the blame.
Q: How does my writing process work?
I’ve written several posts about this in the Writing section of my blog. I’m pretty open about how I operate. I don’t have any strange quirks or requirements, with the exception of preferring to write in silence. Every now and then, the neighbor’s dog will spoil that and I will open up my short story “DIE DOGGIE, DIE”.
Essentially, I’m a pantser. I get an idea or start with a prompt and let the words fly. Over time, I’ll generate an idea of the general direction I’m headed, but even this answers to the whims of the real-time narrative I am creating. My process was mostly honed through lots of reading and way too much time creating stories on the fly for pen and paper RPGs.
This first draft is usually what I take to my crit group. Yeah, not standard practice, but since we meet weekly, it keeps me writing. I let them remind me that I can’t tell “its” and “it’s” apart when typing fast and have them point out places where three pages of description probably doesn’t work, or how they are completely lost in the narrative (to which I respond, “well if you read the section before this” and much eye-rolling abounds…) I take all those critiques home, pretty the document up and mull over the suggestions.
Once a first draft is completed, I then have to take this primordial narrative soup and form something slightly more intelligent. For larger works, I’ll perform extreme surgery: figure out ways to make the cool idea that came out in chapter twenty somehow work with the other 19 chapters, that sort of thing. I’ll then create a more detailed timeline (perhaps on 20 feet of wallpaper) to get a big picture view, put things under the knife yet again, then run back through the whole thing for consistency.
By this time, I’m contacting beta readers, making them wade through the mess, and then I’m in for another round of revisions. Sometime after that, I harass a pro who will then remind me that I do not know the difference between its and it’s.
My process doesn’t so much work as “happen”.
Now, I’m going to turn this Q and A over to a couple members of my critique group, Benjamin Inn and Megan Fitch. I’ll even provide their top secret superhero identities because I’m mean like that.
Ben Grinn, aka, Benjamin Inn is a wannabe beat poet, who writes poetry daily (most of it sucks, you can ask him) and struggles with capturing a most elusive prey – his genre. He’s written books about magic cars and cuckolded men, and also cranked out a NanoWriMo in a few weeks while still remembering to shower and go to work.
MEGACYCLE, aka, Megan Fitch isn’t a fiction writer, but she writes about her adventures travelling across the U.S. and other far flung places with her daughter. Much of this travel is done on a bike with the kid conveniently tucked away in a storage compartment. If a mountain gets in her way, she doesn’t find the road around, instead opting to pedal up the damn thing and down the other side.