Questions for Authors 61

Issue 61

Questions for Authors 

By Lazette Gifford

Copyright © 2011, Lazette Gifford, All Rights Reserved 

 

Welcome to the first questions for 2011.Thank you to the authors who have taken the time to answer and let the rest of us see into how you approach work.

 

1.     Why do you write?

2.     Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

3.     What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

C. J. Cherryh

 

1. Why do you write?
 

Ha! Why do some people read the backs of cereal boxes at the breakfast table? Some do, some don't. I do
 

 
2. Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?
 

No. Except that I used to hide what I wrote and now I publish it.


3. What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?
 

If a story has become difficult to write, it's because a) I sorta agreed to something stupid---in which case I will admit it and say a belated no, this isn't working---fill my spot with somebody else; b) I signed a really stupid contract---I've actually never done that, but if I had, I would tell myself I owe the reader, if not the dastard who got me into this gig, a good read; and c) I've run into a knotty spot in my own soul or a lack in my own thinking, and I owe myself to iron that out, even if it takes some serious thinking and rethinking.

 

C. J. Cherryh Website

RSS feed blog

Closed Circle Publications with Lynn Abbey and Jane Fancher

 

Sherwood Smith

 

1.    Why do you write?

I think the simplest answer (the one that doesn't cause people's eyes to glaze over in boredom) is "I can't not." 

 

2.   Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

No. I've always loved it, since age six. What's changed has been my ability to assess it outside of my own head, which is something we have to do if we want to please an audience beside ourselves. Still learning how to do it better--and that is fun, too

 

3.     What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

That sense that it "has" to be told. That sounds awfully pompous at this stage of my life; I think the question is probably better reframed as "what is it about rewriting a difficult story that draws me back"? If I reread one, and it still gives me that frisson of joy, then I am drawn back again and again to finding a way to strengthen it, if I can. Many of mine have taken twenty years before I got them in adequate shape. I sure wish we lived longer--that is not an optimal process!

 

Sherwood Smith Website

 

Lee Killough

 

1.    Why do you write?

 

In the beginning (age five?) I made up stories because I wanted to continue spending time with characters in my storybooks, and at age eleven when I discovered SF/Fantasy/mysteries I began making up my own because that was the only way in a small town with a small library to make sure I never ran out of my favorite kind of books. Now I write because  there's a question I want to answer. Often beginning What if...  What if non-telepathic police officers had to go to fight crime on a planet of telepaths?If vampires really existed, what would their lives *really* be like? How difficult/interesting might it be for a vampire to be a cop? Can you have a werewolf without the problem of discarding clothes during the Change and recovering them later? If I have someone killed this interesting way, will the killer get away with it or how will the detectives solve it? If a ghost is the psychic echo of trauma/death to a person, what if a whole city undergoes the same trauma at the same time? If you have a planet of this nature, what is life there like? Here are colonists; how do they fare on this new planet? Here's an interesting idea for a character; let me play with him and see what he's like. Making up a story about that planet or that character or plot idea is the only way to answer those questions. And if someone will pay me money for telling that story and put it out where other people can read it...so much the better.


2.    Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

I still love it, though sometimes it's more work than fun. Writing for publication means paying attention to details and working on the craft of the stories, making sure it all fits together. Which can make writing that first draft pure toil. But planning the story is still and always fun, as is revising. I know some writers hate revising and once I thought it drudgery, too. Now I enjoy it. The hard work is done so polishing is playtime, smoothing edges, hiding joints, putting on a nice shine. I'm having a ball, for instance, re-editing my old print books for e-publication. In a couple of cases, since I'm a better writer now (I think) than when I initially wrote those books, the revisions are massive. Start with one little change because it makes more sense and like falling dominoes it affects everying coming later. Same story but... Well, it's like taking a hike. I start from the same point as the first journey and end up at the same destination but the new path zig-zags, now following the old path, now running parallel and giving me new scenery. I'm looking forward to revising my Brill/Maxwell books, which will definitely need massive revision. They are SF and the technology that seemed futuristic then has been passed long ago by what we have now in PC's and cell phones, DNA, fingerprint technology, police communications, internet, etc.

 

3.    What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

Stubborness. Writing is like solving a puzzle and I hate to let puzzles defeat me. Though one story I put aside because one of the characters was so creepy I couldn't bear being around him. I don't know that I'll every write that one. For other stories, I have learned to recognize that sometimes it isn't that the story is difficult to write but  the timing is wrong. It needs to perculate a bit longer and if I try to push, I'm just banging my head into a wall. I need to back off and let it all stew a while longer. Or it can be I'm not in the mood for writing *that* story. The way you can read a book and one time you can't get into it but a few months later you can't put it down. Sometimes the problem is that I'm missing a piece of the puzzle, and again, I need to go away until I have that ah-ha! moment and realize I've found (often quite by accident) the missing piece.

 

http://www.bookswelove.net/killough.php,
http://www.coffeeshopwriters.com/

Buy Lee Killough's, e-books on Smashwords for Kindle and for the Nook:
Wilding Nights, Killer Karma, Blood Games, Leopard's Daughte
r
...and in January Blood Hunt, with more to come later

 

Lazette Gifford

 

1. Why do you write?
 

I started seriously writing when I was in my teens, and I did it as a way to entertain myself and to have something that remained constant while my family moved from place to place.  Later, I began to realize that these were more than just entertainment -- they were the stories that only I could tell.  No one else would write them if I didn't.  Sharing them was not as important as getting them in some solid form so that I could move on to the next one. 

 
2. Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?
 

I had a teacher tell me that only people who went to college could be published.  I came from an extremely poor family, so I knew then that publication was out of the question. This did not stop me from writing. It was years later that I realized I could write for publication -- but that has never been as important to me as just telling the stories I want to write.
.


3. What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?
 

A few years ago,after I had watched new writers for some time, I realized one of the biggest problems I saw was that many of them didn't finish their work.  They would hit some problem, toss it aside, and go to something new.  I decided that I wasn't going to be like them.  I decided that I would finish everything I started.  Everything.  This has had an odd side-effect that I should have seen.  Instead of abandoning a problem, I have to figure out how to fix it.  I began to learn far more from the stories that were problems than I did from the easy ones..

 

Lazette Gifford's Website

  

Margaret McGaffey Fisk

1. Why do you write?

I write because I don't really have a choice.  The stories pile up inside me and demand to be spoken and the characters take on lives of their own, and if I want peace and quiet, I better get them out onto paper.  It sounds pretty horrible, but it means there's never a dull moment, and when other people might be bored, I have endless entertainment.

 

2. Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

Actually, yes.  I started out writing fairy tales when I was around seven, but my desire to write soon migrated to a science fiction focus along with my reading.  Then I discovered one of my favorite authors, Marion Zimmer Bradley, was editing a fantasy magazine and so I decided to figure out how to write fantasy just for her.  She never ended up publishing anything of mine, but she liked several of my submissions, and from then on my genre focus split.  Now I write whatever stories come to me rather than sticking to one area over another.  As far as the mechanics of writing are concerned, I went from being a storyteller since before I was old enough to write and that was a hard transition because the styling is different between an oral and written tradition.  Editing has been a struggle since the oral storytelling offers no place for revision, but I'm learning not just to do it well, but also to enjoy the process of fine-tuning my stories.

 

3. What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

The characters won't leave me alone.  I can write myself into a corner from which there seems no way out, but the characters will keep poking until they offer me something to work with.  This is true on a small scale, but it's also been true on a large one.  There are at least two books I can think of that I started multiple times because the story concept was strong but I didn't have the right entry point or I'd written one of the characters wrong to start out with.  Actually, that happened with this year's NaNo, a delightful experience when you know that the first 7,000 words or so are garbage and you have to throw them away as soon as you validate, but once I started again with the right character set, it wrote well.

 

Margaret McGaffey Fisk Website

 

Jack Scoltock

 

1.     Why do you write?

 

I write now because I am retired and it is the most pleasant way to spend my time.

 

2.     Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

My feelings have changed over the years because it is so much of a rat race. And it is so hard to get published as more and more people are writing. Celebrity books are the best sellers of today and it is what publishers want

.

3.     What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

 I hate having unfinished stories. But really, nothing is too difficult to write for me. 

 

Darwin Garrison

 

1.    Why do you write?

 

I write because I dream/imagine/create.  When I was a child, I played make-believe in a variety of different ways, always the hero in my own story.  That ability to play imagination games led me to enjoy books that also played with imagination: fantasies, science fiction, adventures.  Since I tend to be creative and desire to expand my own abilities, this led me to strive to write my adventures down to share with others

.

2.    Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

Yes.  It started as something I did for fun.  Then I got this idea that I should try to get published to be recognized and make money.

Then I realized that the whole rat race of publication and chasing after the dying "establishments" acceptance for publication was no fun.  Now I'm writing for fun again, with the added goals of being as professional as I can so that readers will get as much enjoyment out of reading my stories as I have creating them.

 

3.     What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

For me, the draw has always been the characters.  Getting to know a person who has come into your mind but is not really you.  I want to know what they're feeling, share their triumphs and pains, and then relate the experiences in a way that the reader can empathize with.

 

If I get stuck on a story, I know that I can walk away from it for a bit and the characters will eventually tell me what's actually supposed to be happening.

 

Darwin's Website

 

Jane Toombs

1.    Why do you write?

 

Briefly, because I can't help it.  Also because I have no less than six series  I've outlined and started but never finished the first book in the series and I need to finish that first book in all of them or they'll never sell.  This year I did finish the first book in a trilogy and it was immediately snapped up and the pub wanted the other two books as fast as I could write them.  So I know series do sell, but the first book does have to be finished before that can happen.

 
2.    Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

I'd say yes.  I do write to sell, but the money has become less important.  I got very tired of having to repeatedly revise all my proposals for Harlequin/Silhouette to fit their lines that I found I no longer wanted to bother doing it.  So I don't write for them now.


3.    What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

I'm not a panster, I'm a plotter, so this rarely happens to me. If it does, I simply check the synopsis to see why it's happening.  On occasion I may find I've changed happenings (I don't stick rigidly to a synopsis) so that the plot's been altered and needs to go in a different direction.  So I'm not actually "drawn back" so much as I am simply altering  the synopsis.

 

Jane Toombs Website

 



Bruce Holland Rogers

1. Why do you write?

 

There are so many possible answers to this question, so how I answer depends on the day that I am asked. My answer today is that nothing else gives me the same satisfaction of a job well done. If I read a story that I've written and enjoy reading it, I feel good. There are other answers that have to do with what I hope will be the effects of my stories on readers, but if I were the last person in the world, I think I'd go on writing stories for the satisfaction of doing something well.

 

2. Have your feelings towards writing changed over the years?

 

My feelings about writing haven't changed all that much, but my feelings about publishing have certainly changed. I used to take publication as a standard of success, but now I'm able to do much more to reach readers directly, so having a book available in bookstores is not as important to me as (1) having readers and (2) making enough money from my writing to go on doing it. These days I can do both of those things by distributing my work myself in various ways.

 

 3. What it is about writing that draws you back to tackle a story that has become difficult to write?

 

There's the joke about the man who hits himself on the head with a hammer because it feels so good when he stops. Wrestling with a difficult story is a bit like that. I keep going back to a difficult story because that's the only way I'm ever going to transform the feeling of difficulty and struggle. When I'm finally happy with a story that was a bitch to write (in truth, it was probably a bitch to rewrite and probably involved throwing away a lot of hard-won pages), I feel great. Probably endorphins are involved. Difficult stories are my heroin.

 

Bruce Holland Rogers Website