1) What am I working on?
Having just published my third YA action/adventure fantasy novel, Prince of Malorn, on Kindle, I've started the process of formatting it for paperback. Next in line is the fourth book in the Annals of Alasia series, tentatively titled King of Malorn. It's been "finished" for a couple years now, but I need to go through and make sure everything ties in properly with Prince of Malorn. I hope to have it ready to publish in the fall, though. Then I have a book called The Collar and the Cavvarach, which I drafted last November during National Novel Writing Month. It needs more polishing, but I'm excited to get that one ready for publication, too, hopefully by the end of the year.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My Annals of Alasia series is unique because the first three books take place at more or less the same time (at least, there's quite a bit of overlap). They each describe the same major political event: the invasion of the kingdom of Alasia by the neighboring kingdom of Malorn. Prince of Alasia begins on the night of the Invasion and describes what happens to twelve-year-old Prince Jaymin after he is forced to flee for his life. In the Enemy’s Service tells the story of those who were not able to escape from the Alasian palace when the enemy invaded. Prince of Malorn begins several months earlier and focuses on the Malornian perspective of the events leading up to the Invasion. In each of the books, main characters from the others make brief appearances and interact with each other at the point where the time frames and settings overlap. King of Malorn will be different, though; it takes place five years later and brings together the main characters from all three of the other books.
The Collar and the Cavvarach is unique because it's hard to even classify it under a specific genre. The story is set in a world almost exactly like ours in almost every way, except that slavery is legal and widely practiced there. I'm calling it "speculative fiction", which is a nice broad term that can encompass pretty much any form of fiction that isn't strictly realistic.
I write the stories that come to me. Realistic fiction has just never come to me. I think it doesn't offer my imagination enough freedom.
4) How does my writing process work?
I always begin by creating an outline. It starts off as a brief summary of the whole book (a page or two long), then at some point I usually divide it up chapter by chapter, with a few sentences about what will happen in each. The details change as I go along, and I often end up with more chapters than I originally planned, but I really need that structure to get me started and keep me focused as I write.
When I come to a part of the story where I have to write about something I don’t know, I stop writing for a while and research the issue. (For example, in Prince of Malorn the main character, Prince Korram, has to live off the land while making a solitary trek through the mountains. I spent hours researching details about wilderness survival to make sure everything was accurate. I learned about making wooden spears without steel tools, how to start a fire with rocks, what kinds of edible plants you could expect to find, and what beetle larva tastes like!) While I research, I type notes right into my manuscript, then when I’ve found out what I need to, I turn the notes into a coherent scene or into bits of information to be used in various scenes.
After I finish drafting a scene or chapter, I let it sit for at least a day. Then I go back and re-read it, fixing any obvious errors and adjusting the word choice and sentence fluency to make it sound as good as it can. I go on to the next scene after that, and so on. When I’ve finished the whole book, I read through it at least once, often twice, checking for inconsistencies and making sure it all flows right. Then I read it aloud to my students and/or send it to beta readers for their feedback.
Because my day job keeps me busy on weekdays, I mostly write on the weekends. Sometimes I’ll write a little in the evenings if I don’t feel too brain dead after a long day of teaching. My favorite place to write is at Georg Peck, the tea shop a few minutes' walk from where I live. I bring my laptop and sit at one of their little outside tables, sipping one of their teas or smoothies while I work. There are distractions there, but not as many as when I work at home.
Next Monday, find out about these other great authors and their writing:
Sherry Chamblee lives with her husband, six kids, two dogs, and a cat in southern California. She doesn’t really have free time, so she wrings some writing time out of hours normally meant for sleeping. You can visit her blog and learn more about her family and her books here: www.sherrychamblee.weebly.com.
R.A. Meenan has been writing since she was old enough to hold a pencil. Her first novel, The Stolen Defender, is the first of a long series and will come out later this year. She lives in Southern California with her husband Joe, and her two cats, Annie and Ziggy. http://zyearth.blogspot.com