Sep 3, 2014

Writer Questions Answered

Ev Maroon tagged me to answer a few questions about my writing.  I seldom participate in these tagged-blogger things because I think about them too much. I read other writers' answers and start feeling self-conscious about anything I could possibly say. Someone else tagged me to respond to this some time ago and I dodged it.  Inelegantly.  As usual.

I promised Ev that this time would be different.  And so here goes.

1)  What are you working on?

I have three completed novels I should be editing for publication.  I'm not working on those.

I have a story planned for a short story contest.  I'm not working on that either.

I have a calendar I created for myself, planning out all the publishing deadlines I should meet. I'm not working on meeting any of them.

I am working on a prequel to one of the novels I am not editing.  And when I'm done with this prequel, I know it will change the trajectory of my Claire Morgane series.  Completely.  And the two books in that series, already written, will be mostly scrapped and the prequel will not be a prequel, but Book One.

I am also working with a really talented actor to record and release a Spillworthy audiobook.

And I'm doing writing workshops for kids, something I love doing with all my heart.

2) How do you think your work differs from others in its genre?

When I write books for middle graders, I'm thinking about how to tell the stories in a way that won't exclude kids.  If I were writing for adults, I'd be telling the same stories from different points of view, including different language and scenes.

For instance, in Spillworthy, I tell the story as an assortment of kids who leave their journals for each other to find.  If I were writing this for an exclusively adult audience, I might tell the story from the point of view of Gem's dad.  This man spent his entire adult life worrying he would lose his daughter, so his narrative would have a much darker tone and the resulting story would detail many of his fears. It would be the same story, but not at all appropriate for kids.

Because the central stories interest people of different ages, my books end up getting categorized differently by different readers. When young adults read Spillworthy, they often give it a YA label, because they liked it.  When adults read the book, they'll give it a label that includes adults.  I'm okay with that.

3) Why do you write what you do?

I guess this question is asking, "why those stories?"  If I'm compelled to write a specific story, regardless of audience, what is it about that story that interests me?

I'm always drawn to narratives about parents and children.  I went through many years of infertility and pregnancy loss before finally having kids, so I'd already spent an unusual number of sleepless nights considering how my identity might be shaped by absent children.  It was only after my dad died that I started thinking about how my identity might be shaped by absent parents. Many of my stories right now revolve around the way we build lives around those who are absent.

4) How does your writing process work?

I don't think I've ever used the same process twice. When I first started writing, I thought I would come up with the perfect methodology.  Now I realize that I change my writing process to match the story.  My goal then is to keep learning new skills and methods, adding to my writer toolbox, so I always have new combinations to try.

My only consistency is that I write in the mornings, before the sun comes up.  When I was younger, I was a night owl, but I didn't find the real peace and stillness of the night until 2 or 3 in the morning.  Now I realize I can get up early and enjoy that same calm right up until sunrise. It's a glorious time to be awake.

And now--who to tag?  I know these questions have been circulating a while, so it's likely many have already answered.  I'm tagging J.C. Rosen, Jenn Spiller, John Ross Barnes, and Kristina Martin. If you've already done this or you're crazy busy, just disregard. It's not a chain thing. Answering or not answering will not appease or anger the gods of our cumulative superstitions. They're still in shock that I answered, so they're not paying attention.