Thanks to Mindy Klasky, my fellow Book View Cafe member and gifted writer, who invited me on this blog hop about what we're working on! Mindy's writing a hot series of nine romance books about the Diamond Brides ... they're the wives of the players on the fictional Raleigh Rockets baseball team. I'm thinking it's all about the different positions that they play. Perfect Pitch and Catching Hell are the first two books, and are already available. The other books will be released on the first Sunday of the month until November.
1) What am I working on?
I'm finishing a sci-fi story called "The Ruined Gods," about Roger and Rikki, a couple in the near future who've become aware of other lives they've led in other times and places. Not "past lives," but simultaneous lives in alternate universes. This lifetime is by far the best they know of. In all of their other lives in other universes, they lose each other in brutal, tragic ways. In this future world, medicine is so advanced people live lives twice as long as we do now. People's memories are also preserved as a form of "immortality." Not only have Roger and Rikki been having these waking dreams of the other lives -- in this life, Rikki is going to lose Roger, because he has a genetic abnormality that means most medical treatments won't work on him any longer. He is genuinely dying. Roger and Rikki believe that if they die together "for real" in this universe, they'll be together for real - in eternity. They'll never die and lose each other again.
Roger and Rikki are like this hot couple I know ... LOL. Broos and Astá book dinner reservations as Roger and Rikki Black, realtors from the Hamptons.
I'm also working on the second book in my fantasy series, Like Fire, Like Light, and Like Life. There's kind of a hot couple in these stories too -- Broos and Astá. They've got a theme song, by Lorde.
This is a fast-paced fantasy with action and romance about ... well heck. It's about Astá fighting to save her people and all she knows and loves. And it's about Broos and Astá trying to finally stop fighting and be together.
There's a magical creature, Shula the Salamander, who only talks to Astá -- until the end of Like Fire. Then Shula has decided she may like Astá's daughter Meria better. Meria's a little like a girl that I know with dark red hair.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Like Fire is in the beta read phase right now and I am hearing "It's like Harry Potter crossed with Gone With the Wind." Like Gone With the Wind, it takes place during a huge war, one in which brothers do fight brothers and cousins fight cousins. It has magic and wonder, and deep, true love. Two brutally damaged people fighting to save the lives of all they know and love.
There are no current high profile fantasy books about a strong female leader like Astá, nor about a family that's predominately female, nor a culture that has a female-centered religion. And it's not a European-inspired medievalesque fantasy. More like early Renaissance and it's an invented fantasy world, the Wide World.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I finally decided to write not only about "what I know," but to put characters in my books and stories inspired by the real people I know and love. This has set my writing on fire. It's a joy to write. The stories write themselves.
Now there are two things going on. First, I write both science fiction and fantasy. Like Fire is somewhat of a hybrid in that the world has its own logic, and Astá's people are also developing technology of an early Renaissance nature and considering the difference between magic - which is what the Wide World has sought for so long, and which they fight over - and the things people are able to make. Things like dragon flyers and Hammerstes (ballistas). And things that can heal and help people. Like Fire and the other books in the series are about finding peace and love in a world filled with brutal violence, a world that has not changed for generations but is now changing fast, and about passing the torch to future generations.
Now that I've been writing these books, I find that science fiction has a certain coldness and calculation to it. It's not that I'm not interested in this type of speculation any longer. I just sold a story of that nature to The Magazine of Fantasy & Science Fiction, about a "maker" who invents a machine that will stop time, based on current physics research into the amplituhedron. It's just that I love the heat of the fantasy and the emotional intensity. Like Light, Like Fire, Like Life.
Let me talk a little bit about righteous rage, as well. I have been rage-filled since age 21 (and if you know me, you know why). Prior to that, I was gentle, shy, affectionate and trusting. I'd been traumatized a great deal but I was still a young, trusting and naive person. My first anagnorisis and peripetia was of a similar nature to Percy Julian's -- an innocent and sweet 12 year old boy coming upon a young black man lynched in the forest on his grandfather's farm.
My rage doesn't rule me and hasn't for years. But when I want to bring it into play, it is always there with me. So when I'm writing about brutality and violence, I am fully-engaged. I will never shy from that. Nor will I shy from any other deep emotion. This, to me, is what writing is about. I suppose it's why I am so engaged with the fantasy books. Because that heat and passion is to me, something of a deeper nature and more true than a more intellectually-oriented science fiction story.
4) How does your writing process work?
Every time I think about this, I get a mental picture of the old commercial I grew up with: Orson Welles saying "We will sell no wine before its time."
Oh that devilish expression!
I don't start work until I'm ready. I need to know at least the beginning and end of the story in my mind, and yes this includes Like Fire, Like Light and Like Life. I write about 5,000 words a day; however, this includes non-fiction, of which I write a great deal and have for years.
My best writing time is the mornings, but the way my life is, with so many clients and founding Chameleon, I write when I can, which includes evenings and at night.
I'm not an "unexamined" writer. Oh, I love that. Let me examine that. I am an examined writer. By that, I mean that while I've always written on instinct, I have control on a word, sentence, paragraph, scene, chapter, structure and book level. I know exactly what it is I did when I finally decided I could best-tell a story by including characters inspired by the real people in my life.
I estimate I've published about a million words of fiction, countless words of non-fiction -- and if I want to do a certain project, let's say, a 5,000 word science fiction short story, I know exactly how much time it will take and exactly how to do it. Now I know how long novels will take. I can't write at the pace Mindy describes because I need to be "dialed in" to do it right (i.e. know what I'm doing, engaged fully with the work). About 1,500 to 2,000 words a day with a novel allows me to do my best work.
Next week visit Jennifer Stevenson - creator of someone I wished I knew - Sex demon Lord Randy! The real Randy!
And Patricia Pooks Burroughs, author of This Crumbling Pageant and many other awesome books and screenplays. Pooks listens to my peripatetic love life ...
And my bestest writing friend, great sci-fi author Ron Collins. Because love is real, Ron is now a full-time writer and has founded his own publishing company!