There’s a blog tour making the rounds of the blogsphere, and I’ve been tagged! The supremely talented Jennifer Chambliss Bertman was one of the first writers I connected with after I moved to Colorado when I was invited to join the writing group she was a part of. I knew from the first time I read her stuff that she would be successful. Turns out, I was right: her debut novel, The Book Scavenger, will be released in 2015. Hooray Jenn!
Jenn participated in the blog tour last week and tagged me to play along.
All of the writers participating in the tour answer four simple (ha!) questions about their writing process. I encourage you to hop back along the blog trail and visit some of the multi-talented authors to see what they have to say. And beneath my answers, you’ll find the next two writers I’ve tagged to participate.
What are you currently working on?
My top priority is revising FINDING KATE, my adaptation of Shakespeare’s “The Taming of the Shrew.” I’m working off of some feedback I got from an agent who says she’d like to see it again after I revise, so that’s a powerful motivator.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Historical fiction is generally very serious and dramatic, but because I’m adapting Shakespeare’s comedies, my books have a sense of humor. They are romantic comedies in the best sense. If they were contemporary in setting, they’d probably have cupcakes on their front covers. They are about relationships, first and foremost; they just happen to be set in the past.
Why do I write what I write?
The short, uncomplicated answer is, I write fantasy and historical fiction because that’s what I love to read. That’s where I live, where I feel the most comfortable. Plus, it would be a shame to waste my wide-ranging knowledge of English history (and everybody said I’d never use my History major!).
The longer answer is, I prefer historical because I know my own weaknesses, and plot is my biggest weakness. If you write from history (or a Shakespeare play), the plot is taken care of for you. You know that a certain thing happened on a certain day; now you just have to play with why. And that’s where my strength – characters – comes in. Why is Kathryn (my Katherina) a shrew? How did she get that way? And why is Will (my Petruchio) so determined to marry her? Is it just the money or something else, something more?
This is where I love to play.
How does my individual writing process work?
The best analogy I can give you is, it’s like making a patchwork quilt.
I used to try to muscle my way through from start to finish, but I would always get lost or stuck somewhere about two-thirds of the way in. I’ve learned that the best way for me to write a novel is to write the scenes as they come, and then go back and fill in the bits that stitch the scenes together. With FINDING KATE, the first two things I had were a description of her step-mother’s appearance (like a baleful jack-o-lantern, which I knew I couldn’t use because it was much too modern a concept), and the idea that Will would have come to take Kate away in the middle of the night. I didn’t know how we got to that point, and I knew it would mess with Shakespeare’s plot, but I knew it had to be that way. I wrote the scene and trusted that someday, I’d know why. By writing in this patchwork way, there’s a lot of room for doubt and fear, and the first draft looks somewhat like Frankenstein’s Monster, but that’s fine. I’d much rather revise than stare at a blank page any day of the week.
Speaking of blank pages, I don’t like writing a first draft on the computer. I have been writing with a pen and a notebook since I was six years old, and that old habit is still the most comfortable. I prefer blue ink to black, and I love a good old-fashioned marble composition notebook.
Tag, you’re it! Next up, I’m tagging two wonderful and talented writers who share a few things in common: I met them through the on-line community so I’ve never met them in person (yet!); they live on the east coast; they are writers, moms and teachers; and they are fantastic people.
Katharine Owens writes YA fantasy (steampunk and dystopian) as well as MG contemporary. She is a full-time professor, a gifted artist, and mom to some adorable kids. She’s also a generous and honest critique partner, and not afraid to Skype early in the morning. It’s just a matter of time before this talented writer gets noticed.
Courtney McKinney-Whitaker writes YA historical novels including her debut, The Last Sister, which is due out in October of 2014 (mere months away!). Courtney has been a children’s librarian and an English instructor at a college, but now she devotes herself to her writing and her family. Courtney shares with me a love of history, Austen, the French language (mais oui!), and Alan Rickman.