Published March 31, 2014 | By Shawna
So today we’re playing blog tag. Thank you, Veronica Scott, for tagging me! http://veronicascott.wordpress.com/
I was given some questions to answer on my books and my writing process, and then I get to tag next week’ victim!
1) What am I working on?
Currently, I’m waiting to hear back from separate publishers on both a high fantasy male/male fantasy romance and a steampunk Victorian detective novel (with werewolves!) Meanwhile, I’m frantically writing Raven’s Wing, the sequel to my urban fantasy Ravensblood, both of which are set in an alternate-universe version of Portland, Oregon (though Raven’s Wing does take a side trip to the Australian outback.)
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Although the Ravensblood universe is very firmly rooted in the modern-day, it has a bit of a traditional-fantasy feel, probably because I also write medieval fantasy and fantasy romance. I tried to give Raven especially a sort of old-world gentleman feel to contrast with Cass and her very modern vibe. In Ravensblood I also wrote a universe in which the magic side of the world (Art and Craft) is fully integrated with the Mundane world, not hidden as it is in, say Harry Potter or The Dresden Files.
And although I use the terms dark and light magic, I very much like to play with the shades of gray. It’s not always clear where the boundaries are, and on one occasion practicing death magic is the lesser of the evils.
For my award-winning debut novel The Stolen Luck, I blended the elements of high fantasy and fairytale with a very realistic world. I wanted something that was clearly fantasy yet felt real. I had set out to write fantasy first, and when the romantic elements turned up, I was determined to make the development true to the characters and their situation.
At the risk of sounding dreadfully self-important, I’m less interested in writing fun romps that readers will rush through and forget than I am in writing the kind of book that readers will become absorbed with and think about long after they finish the final word. The Stolen Luck explores how far a good man will go to protect the ancestral vineyards he loves and the people who depend on him. Just because there are no easy answers doesn’t mean the writer shouldn’t ask the question. Maybe that’s even a reason to ask the question.
To me, the inner journey is just as important as the outer journey. In Ravensblood we saw Raven’s struggle to escape the world of dark magic he’d committed to as a bitter young man. In Raven’s Wing he has to come to terms with both his past and his ancestry and figure out his new place in the Three Communities and among the people who enter his life. The latter task becomes more difficult, of course, when he finds himself on the run, trying to find the stolen Ravensblood and prove his innocence.
3) Why do I write what I do?
There’s not just one answer to that. Usually it starts with a character that grabs me by the throat and won’t let go until I start writing his or her story. Then it becomes about my passion for the story itself and my desire to share it, to rock the reader’s world in the way mine has been rocked by the stories I’ve read and loved.
Of course, there are things I care about that show up in my novels. Bright and Dark (the working title of the fantasy romance I just sent off) is, among other things, an expression of my rage and sadness at prejudice and the wars it causes or allows. My steampunk has in it themes of class and gender oppression. But I think if you start off trying to write about war or discrimination or what-have-you, it leads to bad fiction. If you start off with story and write from the heart, the things you care about will come out in a way that touches the reader’s emotionally, and that’s far more powerful.
4) How does your writing process work?
My writing process is ever-evolving. I used to be very much a discovery writer. I had a beginning, and some idea of the end, and I just muddled through the middle ‘till I got to the end and then did a ton of rewrite to make it all work.
On one novel, I wrote the key scenes first (inciting incident, first turning point, dark night of the soul, climax, resolution, but not in order) then wrote the bits in between, not necessarily in order. It was an. . .interesting experience, and not one I’ll repeat. I think that novel holds my current record for Most Pages Discarded.
Writing mentor Eric M Witchey was the first one to make me write an outline. (He will insist he didn’t make me. Well, not in the sense of putting a gun to my head, but he gave me the assignment and I knew we would have to talk about it the next class.) Anyway, I realized that the ending I finally came up with was going to require a lot of set-up early on, and if I hadn’t outlined I would have been in a world of rewrite hurt. I’ve since found that by stepping back and looking at the big picture via an outline, I can find all sorts of neat ways to braid plots and sub-plots to make satisfying little echoes and connections that make the overall work more satisfying. Plus, when a reader or an editor asks you what you might have finished when, it’s a lot easier to answer with confidence if you know where the bloody thing is going.
Once I finish a draft, I’ll do a polish, then send it to my first readers. Once I’ve considered their responses, I’ll do another editing pass, and maybe one more to check for consistency and the overall feel of the thing. I’ve found in general that the more I write and the more I work on craft, the less revision I end up doing on each project. I’m making fewer mistakes that need to be fixed.
As soon as the final polish is done I start sending it out ding it to (or, for an indie project, sending it to my editor) and grab the next outline off the pile and start over.
And now for the fun part! I tag next week’s Monday blogger! Only one tag this week, but it’s a good one. Mary Rosenblum, award winning author of many SF and mystery novels published with New York publishers and overseas, as well as dozens of short stories that have been published in major magazines all over the world (and, not-so-coincidentally, my editor for Ravensblood.)
You can find her at http://www.newwritersinterface.com/