Friday, February 27, 2015
One thing I've found extremely helpful is stepping away from the book for awhile, trying to forget about it, and working on something else; short stories, another book. Whether it's a week or two, I don't go near the manuscript. During that time, my brain clears. I even have some eureka moments (which I write down without going near the manuscript.) I also try to immerse myself in the things that inspired the story in the first place, whether it's art, or a film, or another story, or music.
I consider this time off as a vital part of my editing process (and keeping my sanity), even though I don't do anything except occasionally think about the story. When I return to the manuscript, it's all new to me. I'm able to concentrate and edit cold. Thanks to that time away, I can find the story's weaknesses and concentrate on its strengths.
If you can take a week or two away from the dead thing you're trying to resurrect, you'll find that sometimes writing nothing is as important as writing something.
Tuesday, February 17, 2015
Welcome, Emily Skrutskie, author of The Abyss Surrounds Us (Flux 2016) http://skrutskie.com/ to It's All About Story.
1)Describe The Abyss Surrounds Us in one paragraph.
The Abyss Surrounds Us is the story of Cas Leung, a seventeen-year-old who trains genetically-engineered sea monsters to fight pirates. When pirates kidnap her and force her to rear a beast of their own, Cas must decide whether taking vengeance on her captors is worth becoming even more monstrous than the pup she's raising.
2)What inspired The Abyss Surrounds Us?
I came up with the idea for The Abyss Surrounds Us on a bus ride from Bethesda to Ithaca. We were passing some shipyards around Philadelphia and I was thinking about my time out on the West Coast, and the idea just sort of coagulated--sea monsters escorting ships and protecting them in the Pacific Ocean.
3)Is this your first work of fiction?
Nope! I had two novels under my belt before I got to TASU, the first of which I finished when I was fifteen. I had been querying for five years by the time I was ready to jump into the ring with this book, so it was absolutely mind-blowing when it got snapped up right away.
4)What song or music piece would you put on a soundtrack for The Abyss Surrounds Us?
Oh man, I have a whole playlist, but if I had to pick one, it'd be Angel With a Shotgun, by The Cab. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rQKMLmXc0xo It's dramatic and bombastic and all about people throwing away their core values and precepts to defend each other, so it's perfect for TASU.
5)Which character was easy to write? Which was the most difficult?
The easiest to write was the villain, the pirate queen Santa Elena. She was born from the idea that she was "the Beyonce of the sea," and I never had any doubt about what she was. She's vicious, fiercely defensive of the people she cares about, and has a flair for the theatrical--basically, a villainous twist on everything I aspire to be. Writing her came naturally.
Cas was the hardest. This was the first manuscript I have ever written in first person, so I was exploring this new world inhabiting the thoughts and feelings of a character on a level that was way different from what I was used to. Add that to the fact that Cas is at a point in her life where she's still trying to figure out who she is, and you can see how I struggled.
6)What is your writing space like? Or can you write anywhere?
As a Busy College Student (TM), I'm always on the move, which means my writing space is always on the move too. TASU was written and edited in lectures, in libraries, in airports and on planes, at my summer internship out in Santa Monica, and basically everywhere else I could slip my laptop or my sketchbook out and start scribbling. But of all those places, my favorite is my editing desk that I worked from this winter in the Rockies. It has a spectacular view of Boulder Canyon, and it's the warmest place in the house, especially when the woodstove is going.
7)Any odd writing habits?
I solve things by moving. I brainstorm while walking from place to place, and sometimes I'll run up against a problem in a story that I need to work past, and I won't be able to break it until I get up and physically start moving. In the editing process for TASU, I had one scene that was giving me so much trouble that I got up from my chair, cranked up Fall Out Boy's Immortals, and started physically going through the same motions as the characters until I had a clear idea of how to write my way through it.
8)Do you outline?
Absolutely. I don't have pantsing in me--I have to go into a story knowing exactly where the story is going. It took me eight days of pacing around the house to break TASU's story, and I didn't write a word until I had a detailed outline in place.
9) What is your favorite fairy tale, myth, or folk tale?
I was a huge Greek myth nut in high school, so almost all of my favorite stories are from that tradition. I really like the Odyssey. It's such an interesting text, because it's all about the transition of the Greek world from one where gods directly intervene to the modern world where the gods are distant. Also because there's this guy on Odysseus's crew named Elpenor who gets drunk, climbs up on the roof of Circe's house, falls off, and breaks his neck,and everyone forgets about him until they see him in the underworld and are like, "What? You're dead?" and then they have to go back and bury him.
10)What is your favorite fictional world, one you'd want to visit?
In another world, in another life, I was meant to be an Old Republic Jedi.
11)What is the best writing advice you've ever received?
"The first draft of anything is shit." Whether or not Hemmingway actually said it, it's such a critical mindset to have in the drafting process. Not because you should be devaluing your work, but because in order to get anything done, you have to give yourself permission to suck. Getting words on the page is the most important thing. Perfection comes in the edit.
12)In The Abyss Surrounds Us, are there any hidden acknowledgements to friends, places you've lived, favorite writers, etc;?
If you squint at TASU, you can make out hints of my tempestuous relationship with the computer science major. There are also lots of references to the aforementioned Greek myth, especially the story of Persephone.
13)Can you tell us what we have to look forward to after The Abyss Surrounds Us?
Yeah! So The Abyss Surrounds Us is the fist part of a two part story. Cas's journey continues in the sequel, which I'm currently working on. When I finish that, I have a standalone YA sci-fi novel in the oven that I'm describing as something like Battlestar Galactica meets Edge of Tomorrow. Its nickname is Cyborg Space Jam and it's REALLY COOL.
Thank you, Emily!
You can add The Abyss Surrounds Us to your GoodReads lists now: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/24790901-the-abyss-surrounds-us
Wednesday, February 11, 2015
DUE TO SOME OF OUR FELLOW AUTHORS JOINING US LATE IN THE GAME, WE'VE DECIDED TO EXTEND THE DATING CONTEST UNTIL THE END OF FEBRUARY. I'LL BE ANNOUNCING MY WINNER THE WEEK OF MARCH 1. STAY TUNED!
So who are these upstart authors offering their fantasy and science fiction characters' love lives to the public for interesting and sometimes scandalous match-ups? They are the winners of the Harper Voyager open submissions call and here's a description of the characters, to help you make your decisions and enter in a sweepstakes to win a prize with a comment on any of our sites matching two of these characters. Enter as many times as you wish! Go to my Voyager Valentine's post to enter http://katherineharbour.blogspot.com/2015/02/valentines-day-character-dating-contest.html or just click on one of the character links below!
Leave a comment, don't be shy! One winner will receive a hardcover, signed copy of Thorn Jack, a Thorn Jack-themed charm bracelet, and Godiva chocolate bars.
Brooke Johnson's steampunk sweethearts in a world of clockwork and cunning
Bishop O'Connell's wounded warrior and elegant elf in contemporary Boston
Lexie Dunne's striking superheroes and hazard prone heroine
Laura Liddell Nolan's fiesty fledgeling heroes of the future
Nancy Wallace's handsome historian and haunted heroine in a world of wolves and music http://fairysockmother.com/
John Ayliff's sexy star captains, male and female
Jack Heckel's fairy tale fool and power hungry princess
Ingrid Seymour's hell-on-wheels hacker girl
Terry Newman's dashing dwarf detective
Christi Whitney's transforming teen boy and glamorous gypsy girl in a contemporary city http://christijwhitney.com/?p=231
Graeme Talboy's flashy female thief
AFE Smith's brave brother and sister and grim guard in an industrial revolution
Andy Livingstone's daredevil duo of brother heroes in a world of swords and swagger http://www.andylivingstone.com/blog
Alison Stine's gallant ghostly boy and hot-tempered heroine in the '60s
Monday, February 2, 2015
VOYAGER VALENTINE'S DAY DATING CONTEST!
To enter the Valentine's Day contest, read the dating profiles below (3 characters from THORN JACK), then 'match' any one of them with a character from the author blogs listed--these Harper Voyager fantasy and science fiction authors will also have dating profiles of their crazy, intriguing characters. Leave a comment on the author posts of both 'matches'. Each comment serves as an entry for both authors' prizes. Each author will offer a different prize. There will be one winner on each blog. Check in periodically, as more blogs and characters may be added. The contest runs
THAT'S ALL! Just leave a comment matching 2 characters on 2 separate blogs for a chance to win prizes!
U.S. and U.K. RESIDENTS ONLY.
PRIZE: I'll be offering a signed, hardcover copy of Thorn Jack, Godiva chocolate bars, and an exclusive Thorn Jack charm bracelet made by me.
* * * * * *
VOYAGER VALENTINE'S DATING SERVICE
NAME: Jack Fata Hawthorn
JOB/CAREER: Currently part-time musician. I also work for a collector of retro-electronic games.
HOBBIES: Travel, films, reading, playing the violin, parties.
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION: My mother's antique watch
FAVORITE MUSIC/MOVIE/BOOK: Paganini, The Pogues/Citizen Kane, Casablanca/All books
PETS: A cat named BlackJack Slade
WHAT'S YOUR PERFECT HOLIDAY? Tropical, exotic drinks, the ocean. Lots of sun
IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY, WHICH 2 CHARITIES WOULD YOU GIVE TO? Anything for adopted children or endangered animals
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CHILDREN? Fine, as long as they're not changelings
WHAT IS YOUR IDEAL HOME? An old home, redone, with plenty of room for company. Lots of trees.
WHAT IS YOUR PERFECT DATE DAY/NIGHT? Day time. The beach or a fair. Junk food.
WHAT DID YOUR PARENTS DO? My dad was a cab driver. My mother was a musician.
NAME: Sylvie Sakura Whitethorn
JOB/CAREER: Drama student. I work at my dad's salvage shop
HOBBIES: Renaissance fairs, theater group, parties, movies
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACCOMPLISHMENT? Standing by my friends when they need me
MOST TREASURES POSSESSION: A wooden doll my dad made for me. I named it Miley (Don't judge)
FAVORITE MUSIC/MOVIE/BOOK: Patti Smith/The Princess Bride/Anne Rice's Interview with the Vampire
IF YOU WERE AN ANIMAL, WHICH ONE WOULD YOU BE? A crow, because I could fly. I could see things. I'd be smart
WHO WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD HERO? Wonder Woman
IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY, WHICH 2 CHARITIES WOULD YOU GIVE TO? Wounded Warriors, and the Red Cross
WHAT IS YOUR PERFECT DATE DAY/NIGHT? Something adventurous, followed by a really big meal.
WHAT ARE YOU MOST AFRAID OF? Ghosts
WHAT DO YOUR PARENTS DO? My dad's an artist and owns a shop called Whiskey and Pearls. My stepmom is a Pilates instructor. My mom's an actress.
NAME: Caliban Ariel'Pan
HOBBIES: Hunting, reading, parties
MOST TREASURED POSSESSION: A collection of rings I've gotten from . . . friends
FAVORITE MUSIC/MOVIE/BOOK: Blues/Natural Born Killers/Lord of the Flies
WHO WAS YOUR CHILDHOOD HERO? Attila the Hun
WHO WAS YOUR FIRST CRUSH? A girl named Reiko
WHAT'S YOUR FAVORITE CHILDHOOD MEMORY? Hunting with my father
IF YOU WON THE LOTTERY, WHICH 2 CHARITIES WOULD YOU GIVE TO? I would keep it
WHAT DO YOU THINK OF CHILDREN? I don't.
WHAT IS YOUR PERFECT DATE DAY/NIGHT: It would be night. Sex and dinner
* * * * * * *
FOR MATCH-UPS, HERE ARE THE PARTICIPATING HARPER VOYAGER AUTHORS AND THEIR FABULOUS CHARACTERS AND BOOKS, ALL FANTASY AND SCIENCE FICTION:
A.F.E Smith (DARKHAVEN July 2015) http://www.afesmith.com/blog/voyager-valentines-a-matchmaking-contest
Ingrid Seymour (IGNITE THE SHADOWS April 2015) http://ingridseymour.com/2015/02/voyager-valentines-matchmaking-game/
Christi Whitney (GREY Available 2015) http://christijwhitney.com/?p=231
Nancy Wallace (AMONG WOLVES May 2015) http://fairysockmother.com/
John Ayliff (BELT THREE June 2015) http://johnayliff.com/2015/02/02/singles-of-belt-three/
Terence Newman (Detective Strongoak and the Case of the Dead Elf Available now) http://www.drtel.co.uk/Detective-Strongoak.html
Laura Liddell Nolen (The Ark March 2015) http://lauraliddellnolen.tumblr.com/post/109910302739/voyager-valentines-a-dating-game
Lexie Dunne (Superheroes Anonymous Available now) http://www.dunnewriting.com/2015/02/the-voyager-valentines-character-dating.html
Brooke Johnson (The Brass Giant May 2015) http://brooke-johnson.blogspot.com/2015/02/voyager-valentines-dating-contest.html
Graeme Talboys (Stealing into Winter July 2015) http://grumsworld.blogspot.co.uk/
Bishop O'Connell (The Stolen Available now) http://aquietpint.com/2015/02/06/book-dates/
Jack Heckel (Once Upon a Rhyme Available now) https://jackheckel.wordpress.com/
Andy Livingstone (Hero Born April 2015) http://www.andylivingstone.com/blog
Alison Stine (Supervision April 2015) http://awfullyserious.blogspot.com/2015/02/valentine-contest.html