Earlier this year there was a writing meme going around Facebook, and fellow writer and NIWA member M.M. Justus tagged me on it. So since this was a question that I felt deserved longer consideration than I could easily give on a Facebook post, I decided to blog about it instead. Here then are seven things about my writing, in no particular order:
My friend and reader Pauline wanted to know about the motivations and inspiration for the Warder universe–not how the first two books are set in Seattle, but rather, how I decided to make everything fit together the way it does. Good question!
The overall structure of the universe is pretty easy to trace through my own reading habits. There are Sidhe because I’ve always loved elves and stories about them. There are Warders because they are the main way I’m giving human characters a chance at holding their own against non-human characters, in magical terms–and because a lot of people will relate better to human characters than they will to non-human ones.
The Rebels of Adalonia books have their origin in the first two full novels I ever wrote, which happened to both be called The Starblade of Radmynn–because this was in high school and I sucked at thinking of titles back then. At some point I will probably make downloadable versions of these available, just for giggles and grins. Because if Jim Hines can expose his first manuscript to the world, then so can I!
My sister Becky wanted to know whether I had any plans to ever feature sentient nonhumans in my work–by which she meant a) protagonists, not supporting characters, and b) specifically non-humanoid, as opposed to characters like Kendis or Elessir or Faanshi or any of my other characters who are technically not human, but who still fall into the ‘humanoid’ bucket anyway by virtue of being elves or elf-blooded. Becky added that it’d be neat if they had telepathic capabilities, which one presumes they’d need in order to communicate with any humans in the cast.
This is an excellent question. I do not actually have any current plans to feature non-humanoid characters as protagonists, but it is not out of the question. And once I finally get around to finishing Child of Ocean, Child of Stars, I can at least say that there’s an alien race in that story whose natural form is jellyfish-like. (They’re shapeshifters.)
A lot of how I construct a story, whether at the level of a scene or at the bigger picture level of the plot, can be traced straight back to my history of playing on MUSHes. To this day, when I’m trying to figure out how characters interact with one another, it’s very similar to how I roleplayed scenes with others on those games. Only now, it’s more along the lines of “I’m roleplaying with myself”. Which is still entertaining, but in different ways.
Relatedly, while I’ve always wanted to be a writer, what finally got me seriously thinking about it as an adult was how people on the games I played started telling me that reading my character actions was like reading a novel. Particularly when I started stringing the logs of my RP together by giving them intros to fit them into the ongoing “story” of what was going on with my characters.
I like to say in my official author bio that I was writing fanfic before I even knew what fanfic was, and I ain’t kidding. Among the things I can remember writing in school (and which I do not, unfortunately, retain full copies of) were fanfic for Battlestar Galactica (the original), Indiana Jones (in which I was writing about the son of Indy and Marion, and that got a full trilogy out of me), and the Thundercats. The latter complete with an OC half-human Mary Sue because OF COURSE I DID. I had plans at one point to try to write Battle of the Planets fic, too, but that never actually got off the ground. And I’ve got some Elfquest fanfic that dates from just before I started on Two Moons MUSH, too.
It is therefore hardly surprising that I hurled myself with great abandon into MUSHing, since when you got right down to it, that was real-time, multi-person, interactive fanfic.
In addition to Riddle of the Golden Dragon, recently resurrected on angelahighland.com, I have three other surviving short pieces from my high school/early college days. Two of these are arguably YA, although I’d written them before I knew what that genre was. The third is “The Sea Prince”, another of my early short pieces that I’m pretty sure is set in the same universe as the Rebels of Adalonia books. I will be adding these to my Short Stories page soon!
I have a few other never-completed ideas from that era of my writing that I may be resurrecting as well. Particularly a story called “Cages”, which I may be adapting for the Warder universe, and a story called The Last Singer for the Rebels of Adalonia universe.
A lot of writers swear by Scrivener, but when it comes to writing tools, I’m pretty basic. I use Word as my word processor of choice. I use Excel to track my word counts on novels, as well as to track my indie sales. Everything else? TextEdit in Mac OS, or whatever else I have handy to edit text files. Pretty much all of my worldbuilding data goes into basic text files.
What’s in those text files? Character notes (loosely structured along the same lines as the character apps I used to have to fill out when applying for Feature Characters or special backgrounds on MUSHes). Language notes. Cast lists. Timelines (both for the story proper and for any important backstory–the backstory timeline for the Rebels of Adalonia trilogy is HUGE). Family trees. Technology and cultural notes. And anything else that seems like I ought to write it down so I can remember it.
All of this at some point would probably make an excellent wiki, and there’s a non-zero chance I might actually put one up, as much for my own amusement as for the benefit of anybody who might want to know more about the details of how my worlds work. If you’re one of those people, let me know!
And there’s that then. As always, I don’t bother to tag others on writing memes. But if you feel like playing along, by all means, do so! And drop a comment on this post so people can come over and see what you’ve got to share.