Chrishaun here – back from taking a break for Good Friday with a post for the My Writing Process Blog Tour!
Thanks to Sonya Craig, author of Outbound-the Taiga Chavez serie, friend, illustrator of fun illustrations and mom to one humongous cat. Some of you came here from her blog, for those that haven’t here’s a bit more about her stolen straight from her page (I don’t think she’ll mind….):
Sonya Craig is the author of the Outbound science fiction series, chronicling the life and times of Taiga Chavez and her beloved misfit crew. Space has never been more unpredictable than when Taiga squares off against the unhinged totalitarian bullies of the universe.
And now I will take a few questions… you there in the green (oh… you ARE green) what is your question:
Why do I write what I do?
Because it’s fun to write about monsters and magic.
I adore writing about monsters because it lets me vent the worst of my nature and parse the blindness, brokeness, selfishness, and outright evil of others. Monsters, at least the ones I grew up with, simultaneously ate, destroyed, caused havoc and were awe inspiring and fascinating. Some had morals because they had brains and other just chewed the scenery (and have sex with hapless women, if the current trend of indie erotica is any indication… but I don’t deal with them. They nasty).
Monsters also embody and create a space for the strange, the foreign and the fantastic… especially when placed in the mundane (which is always fun…meet me at the third question for more on that!!)
I adore writing about magic (or majeira, as it’s called in my universe) because it’s the perfect companion and counter balance to monster. Majeria is the power to create. It’s like electricity that’s housed in the body and with many, many more applications. It also has no morals in and of itself; it simply creates what it’s told. The darkest magic creates just as well as the whitest. How many times have we seen the dark wizard creates a gagillion tonne serpent to eat the head of our hero, or the turn the hapless patsy sidekick into a blood thirsty ghoul? A lot, right? Yeah…it wasn’t when we started and magic made it so.
Monsters and Majeira to me is the personification of building and destroying. And what we build and what we destroy defines our character and I love characters that are monsters, interact with monsters, and loves (or hates) them. And I love giving them magic, then sending them to do things like pick up flowers for a wedding (“The Forgotten Woman” which is coming out in November) or to adopt a puppy (“All Your Dogs are Belong to Us”, coming out fall 2015).
And you ma’am- what is your question?
What am I working on?
I’m working on my first novel in the rebooted universe, “The Forgotten Woman” formally known as “Griefeater”. The story follows Micah Leigh, the Master of the Great Tree of Tilleran (the Great Tree for short), as she undertakes her first challenge- she wants to elevate the Festival of the Forgotten Woman, the Sanguine (or grey) majeira festival from a dead and sad faced time of mourning to a time of feasting, gladiator contests, and weddings, with a dark touch.
The D’Mai Tilleran, the high leader of the house (and her mom), gives her enough rope to hang herself, but on two conditions:
— She has to get a special and rare Sanguine orchid from the Novelle Vallley and
— She has to get Vano Narfu, WarLord of the Mahard Faction of Skaizo to be the Gladiator Champion
This sends her on a journey that includes a runaway wife, interspecies family drama, mind controlling plants that cause mutiny and pod napping.
You would think that there were folks that want Micah to fail…
Ok, you sir, the fourth one from the wall… no not you, the kinda sketchy one…yeah you. What is your question?
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My work isn’t just a novelization of a Dungeons & Dragons campaign, with monsters and high magic and THE EPIC SEARCH FOR THE MAGICAL RELIC FOR A PRINCESS THAT IS IN ANOTHER CASTLE. My work is about the characters that find these things mundane and how they deal with the mundane (and perhaps not so mundane) in what we would call a dangerous and extraordinary world.
One example are the Strata orchids in “The Forgotten Woman”. When we think about getting flowers, do we ever think about if the flowers want to go? No, you don’t… why is that? Because they cannot tell you and they are powerless to change your mind.
But what if they could? What if one of their defenses is to affect you mentally and compel you to do ANYTHING to return them to their home, including harming yourself? That changes how and why you get flowers, wouldn’t it?
And while it’s more dark urban fantasy, it has a sense of fun and humor. I love and love to hate the folks that are Allazar, and I think you will too!
And finally ….
How does my writing process work?
My process is a bit weird. I start by setting up 8 index cards in Scrivener and lay out the major beats of the story. Then for each card, I write the major conversation or monologue of the beat, setting the tone. I allow the characters to carry on the conversation as if there was no plot to think about (and that makes sense, considering that they have no idea that there is a plot). Doing this gives me a feel for their voice, the surroundings, other characters, other locations, backstory, etc.
Once I have that completed, I take the information I learned and break those 8 beats down to 24 beats, assign 3500 words to each beat and then write. That gives me a 85,000-ish novel (I write over or under depending on the scene) and I give myself two days to write each beat. It takes about 7 weeks to finish. Then I let it sit and start on the next novel. Once the 24 beats are done, I take the first novel out, read it and revise (about 2 weeks) and then start writing the next novel while the first one is still fresh (I told you it was weird!)
Thanks to you all for coming through and taking the time! Next week, Myesha Jenkins, the author of the lovely and intoxicating novel, Rapture will be talking about her process… Here is a bit more about her:
Myesha D. Jenkins was born and raised in Atlanta, Georgia, but she spent many weekends and summers in Covington, Georgia–affectionately called, “the country.” She earned a Bachelor of Artsin religious studies with a double major in history from Emory University, the Master of Divinity from Princeton Theological Seminary, and the Master of Arts in Teaching from Mercer University. Myesha worked at the American Academy of Religion for seven years, holding various positions, finally Director of Membership Development. Later, she worked as an elementary school teacher for several years. In addition to writing, Myesha enjoys reading, dancing, and traveling. Myesha lives in Snellville, GA with her husband, daughter, and two black Labrador Retrievers.