There's a "four questions for writers" meme going around currently. I was tagged by Suzanne M. Harding, whose answers can be found on her facebook author page
. [ETA: sorry about this being a fb page and not available to anyone without an account. Unfortunately, that's what I had to work with.]
In turn, I received permission to tag Liz Hamill who will be posting at http://travelswithpain.com
and Allison Thurman who plans to post at http://inspiredmelancholy.com
Here are my answers:What are you currently working on?
While my second Alpennian novel The Mystic Marriage
is off with the beta readers, I'm working on a final short story (or maybe novelette) in my "Skin-Singers" series (previously appearing in the Sword & Sorceress
anthologies). At the moment it's a vast mass of text-dump dictated during my commute, which needs to be organized, pruned down, and then thoroughly re-written.How does your work differ from others in the genre?
Depending on how narrowly you define "my genre", there may not be a lot to compare! I write at the intersection of several genres: fantasy, historical, romance, and lesbian fiction. I depart from the current defaults in all of those: my fantasy is neither dark and gritty nor urban; my history is not medieval; my romance is not erotic; and my lesbian is not contemporary (or erotic). I write exciting adventures with complex, likable but flawed characters, whose sexuality is neither an angsty focus of the plot nor a background detail with no more significance than hair color. My current short story, which concerns shape-shifters, differs from the currently popular uses of that motif in not having a contemporary setting and not having erotic overtones. (There's a theme here.) Why do you write what you do?
I'm writing the stories that I want to read but that nobody else seems to be writing. The stories that I desperately wanted -- needed -- to have when I was growing up and coming out, but that our society wasn't ready for yet. In my own favorite corner of literature (fantasy, historic fantasy, pre-modern historic) I want to create stories like the ones I loved but that always excluded or erased women like me from existence. How does your writing process work?
That's a complex question because I'm always tweaking my "process" and trying to expand it. When I wrote my first published novel, Daughter of Mystery
, it began as an exercise in completely overturning my writing process. Before that, I'd tended to plot out an entire story in my head, then start by writing out the most vivid scenes, after which I'd "fill in" the connecting bits. This resulted in a handful of vivid scenes connected by some pretty dry, boring filler, as you might expect.
Writing Daughter of Mystery
, I promised myself to start at the beginning and work my way through in sequence to the end, and to avoid working out the plot and details more than one chapter or so in advance. Eventually I did find myself needing to sketch out vague outlines of where things were going and what needed to happen (and later I needed to go back and do some massive revisions of what I'd already written), but this worked much better in terms of keeping the story fresh and maintaining the right level of detail and vividness in the scenes. Now that I have half a dozen books in the series sketched out in my mind, I do need a bit more advance outlining, but I mostly kept to the "write from beginning to end" part of the process when working on The Mystic Marriage
In terms of the actual process of writing, I have a day job and a commute, which shapes a lot of what I can do. On days when I take BART to work, I either write long-hand or type in my iPad. On days when I drive to work, I use a voice-activated dictaphone and transcribe the results when I get home in the evening. I always try to have some sort of notebook on me (the iPad is my default) where I can scribble scenes in odd moments. On weekends, if I don't have anything scheduled to interfere, I usually treat myself to a morning at a coffeeshop where I work on my laptop. Revisions get done by pulling up the text as a pdf on the iPad where I can mark it up in an app designed for that purpose. (I prefer to separate the process of "identifying problems" and "fixing problems".) I don't have a fixed goal of "X words per day" but I do have a goal of "write SOMETHING every day". There have been days when it was a single sentence, but it keeps the momentum up. When I really get going, I feel like I don't want to do anything else except write. But realistically I'm not going to quit my day job, so the full-time writing will have to wait until I'm retired. In the mean time, I'm working on getting up to one novel a year.