Today, I get to answer four questions about my writing process. I’ve been invited by T.E. MacArthur, extraordinary author of the Volcano Lady Blog, The Volcano Lady book series (book three will be out soon…squee!) and The Gaslight Adventures of Tom Turner, to participate in the My Writing Process Blog Extravaganza. Okay, it’s a blog tour, but Extravaganza sounds cool!
Let me start by saying that T.E. is awesome and a wonderful mentor, being one of the founders of Treehouse Writing Adventures, which is a phantasmagorical resource for authors on Facebook. I learned more from her and the rest of the fabulous treehouse authors about writing, publishing, and all that goes with it in four days last May at the Clockwork Alchemy Convention in San Jose than you can shake a twenty foot pole at, let alone what I’ve gleaned corresponding with them in the year since.
You can’t go wrong checking out the Volcano Lady’s blog…where else can you learn about Victorian Science, how to pronounce Eyjafjallajökull and how to give volcanic ash the finger? Here’s the link so you can delve into all things volcanic and literary: http://volcanolady1.wordpress.com/
And her books are really, really good. My personal favorite is The Yankee Must Die: Huaka’ipo, which is Tom Turner’s first Gaslight Adventure. I fully admit that I’m biased. It’s the first steampunk story to take place in Hawaii, which makes it no ka oi for me.
After the questions, I’ll introduce you to R.J…. She’s a loveable person, professional, witty, fun, and mischievous, and that’s just her bad side. So…off we go…mustn’t get too sidetracked after all….
What am I working on?
Now that The Stolen Songbird is officially out in public, I’m working on two things. The first is a novella called Invitation to the Dance (Don’t panic…No waltzing involved). It is the first of the Tales of Jhrin, and its genesis actually dates back to high school. The novella is also steampunk flavored, but is not set on Earth. I’ve been playing in Jhrin for so long, I figure it’s about time to put my money where my mouth is and make it presentable for human consumption. I hope to have it out before Clockwork Alchemy in May; 850 words a day from now until April 30 is my goal. The theme of the convention is Alternate Empires this year, and Jhrin is most definitely an alternate empire.
This story was the first serious writing I did, and I can remember sitting in Pauahi Hall from 6:30 a.m. when dad dropped me off until homeroom started at 8:00 madly scribbling on three ring binder paper with a blue ballpoint that stained my finger because it leaked. It was also my first experience with an audience. My friends would occasionally plop down next to me, first to say “Whatcha writing?” and then to literally grab the pages to read as I finished them…the first time my friend, Dex, said “Write faster, you can’t leave it there…I need to know what happens before class…” about five minutes before homeroom started was exhilarating, and it really cemented my desire to be an author.
My other projects are book two of the Vines Trinity Series, The Gordian Gauntlet (Clockwork Armies! Archimedean Traps! A Super-Secret Lair Under a Volcano with Giant Mechanical Spi— Oops, got carried away there…. Needless to say there will be lots of action and adventure for Harry, Shay, and Rachel to be getting on with). Also, there are three short stories to be written that take place between the two books, one of which involves a haggis and a certain draconic marble downspout.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Although you kind of need a genre to fit on a particular shelf in a bookstore, my work could just as easily fit in steampunk, fantasy, mystery, thriller, urban fantasy, romance (by the time you get to the later ones), or young adult (not really a genre per se, more of an age range, but there you are). That’s where my stories differ…they’re more than one genre at once, and happy to be so.
I was raised on an island where you take bits and pieces of every culture around you and turn it into one beautiful ohana, a whole that melds together into much more than its individual bits and bobs. Nothing like going to a pot luck and having kalua pig, hamburgers, egg rolls, sushi, corned beef, Spam and Vienna sausages and sticky rice cakes and chicken long rice all at once, or going to the beach and hearing fifteen different languages by the time you’ve walked to the water. We embrace it all and make it our own rather than grump about our differences. It works just as well for stories as it does for food… or people. Why limit yourself?
Why do I write what I do?
These are the stories inside me fighting to get out. I can’t not write them. Also, I write what I want to read, and what makes me happy. After all, if you’re going to spend hours upon hours doing something, why spend it writing something you can’t stand?
I need to feel the movies in my head somehow and writing these stories is how I do that. Granted you’ve seen (and heard me talking about) steampunk, but the worlds in my head are all as different and similar as sun and stars, crossing lines from medieval all the way to space travel. It’s hard for me to explain having people and worlds in my head 24/7 …kind of like the old fable about the three blind men and the elephant and each trying to explain to the other what he’s encountered.
How does my writing process work?
Usually it’s something small… a bit of a song, or a single turn of phrase or snippet that opens the floodgates for me. Take for example the Tales of Jhrin. A couple of simple things led to over two hundred handwritten pages and thirty years of world building.
First, my friend Kelly called me one morning and told me about a dream about me that she’d had the night before. That dream then dovetailed with a show that I was ostensibly required to watch as payment for episodes of The Hardy Boys and issues of X-Men. That show was Connections with James Burke. In one episode, Mr. Burke is sitting in a dusty stone room in Egypt, wearing a linen suit, and casually telling the audience about the sacking of the Library of Alexandria.
He then off-handedly mentions that all of our knowledge of Western Civilization…Plato, Pythagoras, all of the great things we know today, came from what was left of the basement of the library after it was burned. The basement. When I heard that, my brain whirred into overdrive. If all of that was in the basement, what was up above in the stacks? What if all of that stuff was in the basement because it was just junk and we’d based our whole civilization on it? What if everything we know is wrong?
For someone with Strategic as a Top Five Strength, that combo was way too seductive to let go. Anytime I can put what and if together at the beginning of a sentence, my writing brain goes bonkers, and off I go. Hopefully I remember to outline first or Ragnarok breaks loose…
That’s a bit about my writing process…so now…Who’s Next?
Let me introduce you to Rebekah J. Machado de Quevedo (R.J.). Just a few short months ago, I had the privilege of going to her very first book signing, for her first novel, The Deceiver, which hooks you from the first page and doesn’t let go. Book two, Broken Seed, just came out, and the third is in editing and should be out soon. Here’s a little bit about her:
R.J. lives in Northern California with her husband. Having grown up with meager resources, she learned early on that joy can be found in the simple things and that imagination is a wonderful escape. R.J. is also a musician, artist, and hiker.
R. J. always enjoyed creative writing or journaling but never had any aspirations to become a writer. She only took one creative writing class in high school and English101 in College. In elementary school R. J. had a difficult time learning to read and spell. In second grade, she was assigned to “the turtles” reading group at the back of the classroom along with the other children who could barely read. It wasn’t until seventh grade that she decided to fight her way through the Little House on the Prairie series, and her reading skills began to truly improve. She took an interest in her own education and forced herself to press forward.
Though reading and spelling were difficult for her as a small child, R. J. always enjoyed taking turns making up stories with her sisters at bedtime. While living in a rundown trailer park in fifth and sixth grade, thinking up stories with surprise endings to entertain her friends in the neighborhood had become her escape from the reality of her family’s poverty. Being a Star Trek fan like her father, she attempted to write a script in the seventh grade but became so frustrated with her inability to spell properly and master her father’s old typewriter that she gave up three pages in.
However, as an adult, R. J. is an avid reader. After having a dream one night that demanded a story be told, she started writing her first novel. Shortly after finishing The Deceiver, R. J. submitted the manuscript to Tate Publishing and Enterprises. Within four days, she was offered a publishing contract by their Associate Director of Acquisitions. She received the contract on Friday, July 13th, 2012. And the rest, as they say, is history.
Please check out her website at: http://rjmachadodequevedo.tateauthor.com
Next week, you’ll get to see how she handles her writing process on her blog: http://rjmachadodequevedo.tateauthor.com/blog