My publisher sent me a bunch of questions just before my novel’s release. Here are the first couple, along with my responses.
DFP: What inspired you to become a writer, and when did you first realize you wanted to pursue writing as a career?
Me: My mother started the school library in our local private elementary school, and I spent many an hour there before I was old enough for kindergarten. Further, our house was filled with books, particularly science fiction and westerns. So from a very young age I was surrounded by books and encouraged to read.
When I did start school, I found I had a certain talent for the written word which, for many years, restricted itself to essays and academic papers. It was in my college years, exposed to real fantasy writers for the first time, that I began to entertain the notion of writing myself. Of course, at the time I told myself writing was too hard and, apart from an occasional short story attempt, it remained only a pipe dream.
It wasn’t until I moved to Indiana that the idea of writing crystalized. I was sheltering in an office basement against a tornado warning and chatting with coworkers about our bucket lists. After some thought, I realized I wanted to be published and that wasn’t happening unless I started writing. A vivid dream I’d had earlier gave me the beginnings of a story, and the rest is history. (Or, rather, fantasy!)
DFP: How do you approach the writing process?
Me: I start with a basic story idea or scenario. Mystics of Sonoduhl began with a fully-formed scene that became the end of Act One. A stray line in that novel became the setting for the sequel (already drafted and in editing!) The third novel’s premise came from a joke about a Florida timeshare’s name. Ideas abound and we just need to recognize and seize them.
Next I create a scratch document – a bulleted list of any and all ideas related to the novel. Here I include plot concepts, names, characters, and everything else that comes to mind. A good chunk of the scratch document never makes it into the novel, but this is how my thoughts and ideas evolve and grow.
When the time is right (i.e., no undue work or life stresses) I launch into writing. I try to write something every day, going so far as to record my daily progress on a spreadsheet. Seeing the inexorable march towards 90,000 words is at the same time daunting and encouraging, and after a few months I eventually get there.