|Last stop, Abrams. This stop, Netzer. Everybody out.|
Lucky for you, it's just me answering some questions, meme-style. Everyone's got to answer the same questions, so here we go:
1. What are you working on?
I just finished writing my e-novella Everybody's Baby, which is about 50K words, and took six months to write from start to finish. This was a balls-to-the-wall effort in terms of daily production. After that was turned in, I spent some time trying to locate my children and force-march them through the remainder of the year's homeschooling for their respective grades (4th and 8th), and locate my floors, my hampers, my cabinets, the mulch in the flower beds. Still working on my sanity. It's sent a postcard. I have hopes.
Now that the systems are somewhat restored to balance, I've turned to my actual work-in-progress, which is another novel. It's about incorrigible firesetters, roller coasters (actual ones), and Melville's lost novel. Honestly it's about that moment of irrevocable change -- that second you hang before tipping over the top of a roller coaster, that second before a match flares, that moment when you change the course of your life forever. I'm interested in what that is -- resolve? fate? chance? will? -- and I'm hoping the novel will help me figure that out.
2. How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I don't know what my genre is actually called, but I'm pretty sure that it's full to the brim with love stories about science, motherhood, sex, and death. And I'm very proud to be completely typical in that literary realm.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I write to make happy endings for my characters, to fix their terrible lives. I layer stuff around them - plot, science, surrealism, voices - until the book says what I want it to say. But the central motivation for writing is to find the way through, for these people, and get them out the other side. This is why I return to old half-finished novels. I feel like I need to resolve things for the characters. There's a book I've been working on for ten years now, and in the last draft I wrote, I stopped when these two main characters, sisters, were out in the woods experiencing something absolutely horrible. I stopped, and left them there, because I had to go work on something else. But I know I will get them out of that situation eventually. That's why I have to go back to that novel.
4. What is your writing process like?
The first draft of a novel comes out in fits and restarts. I often write 20K or 30K words of a novel, abandon it for a year, come back to it and start over, sometimes with major changes. When I feel like I'm writing the book correctly, I can work my way through to a full draft, but it might take years to get that kind of traction. And even then, after the draft has cooled off and I come back to it, I may need to start over. While I am writing a book this way, I keep a notebook of ideas, character quotes, concepts for scenes, etc. so I don't lose track of my thoughts if I go for years between drafts. With Shine Shine Shine, it took 10 years to get to a point where I could show it to an agent and feel done.
|A page from my How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky notebook.|
With How to Tell Toledo From the Night Sky, my new novel that's launching July 1, it took a little less time. I wrote it for the first time in 2004 as a horrible little hyper-controlled manuscript with no dialogue. I came back to it in 2007 and wrote it as a screenplay -- all dialogue. Then I revisited the story and characters a third time in 2012, this time writing a full draft of the actual novel that became the published final draft. There are elements, in the published book, of both those earlier attempts, but most of those things have been wiped away.
I do not recommend my process.
Your next stop on the tour might be one of these wonderful writers I'm tagging now:
Susan Woodring is the author of Goliath and Springtime on Mars.
Michele Young-Stone is the author of The Handbook for Lightning Strike Survivors and Above Us Only Sky.
Joshilyn Jackson is the author of gods in Alabama, The Girl Who Stopped Swimming, and her most recent, Someone Else's Love Story.