One thing is certain. Writers and readers go hand in hand. I’ve yet to meet an author who doesn’t read for pleasure despite their minds being in a constant state of write-edit-read-rewrite-edit-read. I’ve even gotten to the point where I edit my emails, blog and facebook posts not once, but twice, before I hit send (and it’s a good thing sometimes)
My daughter and I were talking the other day about the things we do (or don’t do) after a particularly stressful day at work. (the day job earning a paycheck necessary to pay the bills). She prefers to spend what little free time she manages zoning out in front of the television, and I do that occasionally. But for the most part, I find myself reading or writing. Either exercise enables me to leave my everyday world far behind and travel to places only accessible from my imagination. And if someone has given me a really difficult time, what better way to let off steam than to channel my irritation through a character in my latest WIP?
People are always asking me where my ideas come from and how I pick my genres. To be honest, I never considered writing anything else. Even before I knew there was such a thing as science fiction or fantasy, I knew what kind of books drew me and held my attention. Whether it was a noble quest, a trip to another world, or the discovery of magic in someone’s otherwise ordinary life, it didn’t matter.
I’ve been making up stories since I was a little girl. In fact, I still have my first “book”, complete with illustrations, written in pencil on lined notebook paper, folded and bound with a red ribbon. I believe I was six years old at the time. My grandparents were story tellers. So were my parents. I can remember evenings lying stretched out across the cool concrete in the darkness of our porch, listening to them spin tales about things that happened years earlier. Some of the stories were even passed down from their parents.
When I wasn’t listening to stories, I haunted the library for books that held my attention. Early on I discovered Ray Bradbury, Poul Anderson, Madeline L’Engle, Andre Norton, and many others. I discovered visiting other worlds in other times was right up my alley. Those fantastic adventures took my imagination farther than I had ever dreamed it could go. They were the kind of books I hated to finish reading, the ones I wanted to go on forever.
Urban fantasy, time travel, science fiction, and paranormal stories fill my kindle and my book shelves, and that’s pretty much what I write. Remember Twilight Zone? Or Steven Spielberg’s series “Amazing Stories”? Twisty, quirky little plots, involving someone ordinary, like you or me, and how they deal with something that goes beyond their realm of reality are the kind of books I love to read. It was only natural for me to want to write the same kind of stories.
To me, the perfect read begins with the reader wondering “what if” and ends up with them thinking “why not”. Author Richard Matheson once said, "I think we're yearning for something beyond the every day.” As far as I’m concerned, he couldn’t have put it better. We want to push our imagination to the limit and experience the things we envision. To me, there is no better way to do this than through reading or writing. The difference between the two? When I am writing, I get to decide what the story is about, where it goes, what each character does and what happens as a result. It’s a heady feeling, and I love it!
That brings us to the subject of characters—one of my favorite topics. Character development is fascinating. There’s nothing better than to be able to watch a character’s personality unfold during the course of the story. A reader can be privy to their strengths and weaknesses. They can relate to the way they handle their experiences. Some authors are so good at doing this they have me shedding actual tears when something happens to one of my favorite characters. That’s one of my goals as a writer.
Maybe that’s why I find myself getting attached to the characters in my stories, especially some of the minor ones. In my first book, Not Long Ago, Arvo, the tailor’s gangly, red-headed son is a charmer with an eye for the ladies. He loves to listen to gossip and keeps Erin, a young woman who time travels from the present to a medieval society, informed of castle goings-on. Arvo also knows she’s masquerading as a boy, but keeps her secret. He even helps her sneak into the Masked Ball so she can dance with the handsome knight, Sir Griffin. In the end he turns out to be a fast friend Erin never forgets.
Secondary characters don’t have to drive the plot, so there is a little more freedom in developing their personalities. It was not my intention for Arvo to have more than a supporting role, but he turned out to be so much fun that he’s back in the sequel, along with others. And that’s another thing. I never meant for Not Long Ago to become a series, either, but my daughter insisted the story wasn’t done and after thinking about it I agreed. So, of course I had to continue.
The most important thing I’ve learned about the experience of becoming a published author is to never ever give up on a story. Someone once told me “There is nothing about it that can’t be fixed. You are the author, after all. You can fill the plot holes, flesh it out, expand, or condense, learn to say things better and improve.” This advice comes to mind every time I get discouraged because I’ve discovered something’s not working the way I thought it would.
My newest book is In My Own Shadow, a fantasy this time. It came out in May. That’s two books published within a year. And I’m 80,000 words into the sequel. It’s no wonder I’m tired. But you know what? I love it all. It’s been a fantastic journey for me, along with Erin, Griffin, Arvo, Rhys, Lara, Azle and all those yet to come. After finishing this book, I plan to get lost in the sixties and visit the Texas hill country with a boy named Eli who talks to ghosts. I can’t wait!!
To find out more about Lara and Rhys:
In My Own Shadow (fantasy, adventure, romance)
To find out more about Sir Griffin, Erin and Arvo:
To find out more about Sir Griffin, Erin and Arvo:
Not Long Ago (time travel, adventure, romance)
Not Long Ago book trailer
Both books available at MuseItUp, Amazon, B&N, Goodreads
You can contact me any time at: ssn(underscore)firstname.lastname@example.org I’d love to hear from you.
I want to thank Kat Holmes for allowing me to guest on her blog and ramble on about two of my passion. Kat and her mother, Lin Holmes, are two wonderful ladies I’ve had the pleasure of getting to know since first signing with MuseItUp Publishing. Since then, I’ve discovered what great people fellow authors can be.
Thank you Susan for a wonderful visit. And a huge thank you to everyone who participated in my bash. Enjoy your fall.