26. Let’s talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!
I did try to draw Kindra once, but it ended up being a pretty bad picture. Instead I let my friends draw my characters. And on very rare occasions I pay someone to draw a character (so far only Kaye and Kindra). I probably have the most pictures of Kindra, since she seems to be everyone’s favorite, but my favorite is a picture of Kaye that I stumbled upon and then paid for I liked it so much (I later commissioned a Kindra from the same artist).
As for my other characters, I usually find pictures of people that look like them. I’ve figured out that Jermaine from Phooka Tales looks like Jason Mraz, and Brett looks like, well, like my friend Greg. Although I knew what Brett looked like before I met Greg (imagine your main character walking in to work with you!). I also met Gar in the gym once – we kept looking at each other, but I thought it would be a little weird to go up to some strange guy and tell him he looked like one of my characters. He was quite handsome though.
25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.
The only person in any of my novels that has a pet is Henry from Phooka Tales, who is Phooka’s owner. But since the book is named after Phooka, he’s more than just a random pet. He helps save the day a couple times, and talks to Holly (or at least Holly thinks he does).
Oh, and Kindra gets a horse later in Fie Eoin. Well, the tribe gets a horse and since it’s a sacred animal belonging to her ancestor Ian Odion, she is the only one allowed to handle the horse. She thinks he’s a monster for a while (and he acts like a little monster for a while) but she ends up loving him. He doesn’t follow her around like a pet though – he’s penned so he won’t run away.
I can’t think of any other animals in my writing. My own pets play a huge part of my life, but since I love dialogue so much I guess they just don’t make it into the stories.
24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What’s the most interesting way you’ve killed someone?
Do you see that small group of people laughing in the corner over there? That’s my writing group. They are laughing because they all know how much I love to kill people in books. Ok, maybe love is too strong, but I certainly don’t have a problem killing anyone in a book. In fact, I have a character that dies in every book except Apollo (somehow it just didn’t work in Apollo, and my hatred of this person has slowly drained away in the cathartic killing of her throughout five other books).
But I don’t just kill random characters (although if you would like to die in one of my books, reply to this post and let me know – you can even choose your method of death as long as it’s not too ridiculous). I have been known to kill my favorite characters, too. I killed Rebecca in the first scene of Lane’s Girl, and then killed Lane in the last (trust me, by that point he was begging to die). Rebecca’s a pretty tragic character – I still haven’t found a world in which she doesn’t meet an early death. Kindra also dies (I won’t tell you when) and that tore me up inside. I was crying and sick for days when I wrote that. It made my writing group cry too. If you ever need a good cry let me know – I’ll send you the scene.
As for my favorite death scene – it’s got to be the first one. The character I kill in every book had her first death scene in Fie Eoin, when Pike chases her into a crowd and slits her throat to get everyone’s attention. She’s so terrified, and he’s so cruel. It’s deliciously evil. In After Ancient she’s ripped apart by a giant gar in the Mississippi Ocean. In Pike’s Revenge…. well I don’t remember how she dies in PR. Probably plague. Everyone dies of the plague in PR. But the most interesting way she dies? In Phooka Tales a bottle of acid explodes onto her face and she collapses into a puddle of it on the floor. Her face is eaten away until she looks like Two Face from the Batman Comics. I think that was such a good death scene that I haven’t had the urge to kill her since.
23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting sending out?
Well, the first draft of Fie Eoin took me three years to complete (keep in mind that I was not seeking to write for publication at this time – I wrote cause I was a bored, procrastinating college student). Five years later I’m working my way through the third draft (I took a very long break in the middle), with plans to do another major go-through-and-edit-and-maybe-rewrite-again once that is done (I learn so much about writing between drafts that while this one is good and probably even publishable it’s not as good as it could be, and I finally figured out how to make it that good). Fie Eoin is probably the longest project I’ll ever work on, but it’s the first one and I love going to Fie Eoin, so I don’t mind
Most of my recent stories have been written during NaNo, so I’ll get the first draft done in a month (or finish it shortly after NaNo ends) and then put it away for a while to simmer. I like to re-read them during this simmering time, just to get a feel for what needs to happen. I thought for a while Phooka Tales would just need a little bit of editing to make it ready to go out, but like I said: I learn a lot about writing between drafts. I’m currently re-writing the majority of it and sending that to my writing group to edit. Happily, I think it won’t need a heck of a lot of major changes, so once the re-write and editing are tight I’ll start sending it out and see what kind of feedback I get (I’m hoping to start doing this by next year). If I can get to that point next spring it will have taken about three years (I started planning it the year before I wrote it for NaNo). Hopefully I can do the same with Apollo – he’s got the same minor problems as Phooka Tales, and even fewer of them, so it shouldn’t take long to get him re-written, edited, and out.
Note: I crossed out “posting” above because I post chapters as I write them for my online writing friends to read and review as I go (this saves a lot of time in re-writes, since they can catch problem things before I make it part of the whole story). As you have seen if you’ve tried to click through a link to one of my story’s LJ pages all of these scenes and chapters are password protected and if you don’t have the password you can’t see them. You probably wouldn’t want to anyways – they are a confusion of out-of-order scenes and story notes.
22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you’ve never written or told anyone about before!
A scene I’ve never written or told anyone about? I’m not sure if that exists. I mean, of course there are scenes that I’ve not yet written or told anyone about, but not out of some “you can’t know about it” secrecy. I think to tell you about any of those scenes I’d have to write them, because just explaining a scene is no good, and then it would be a scene that I’ve written AND told you about.
Hmmm, I’m really not sure how to answer this one.
Oh! People know about this one, but I haven’t written it yet because I just don’t want to. It’s the scene in Phooka Tales where Jermaine takes Holly home because she’s drunk and Josh just broke up with her and she’s ready to stop being the responsible one and start making mistakes. Really it’s Brett she wants to go home with, but he won’t take advantage of a drunk girl (and his boss at that!). Everyone except for Jermaine is pretty hurt by the whole evening. And since I don’t actually like to hurt my characters (you would never know it by the way I write) I don’t want to write the scene. I had the same problem writing the Gar/Kaye scene in Pike’s Revenge. It’s just not right.
16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing?
You know, when I first had my mom read some of my writing, she gave me a book called “Outlander” by Diana Gabaldon, and told me to read it and learn how to write sex scenes. She was right – that book certainly helped give me an idea what a good sex scene looked like. So I’m not shy about writing sex scenes at all, although I try to keep them from sounding like a porno script (and I steer clear of throwing one in every chapter). And I refuse to write “member” or “flower petals”. Trust me, it’s better that way.
I love writing romantic relationships. Sometimes my characters surprise me. Gar says things all the time to Kindra that make me want to ball my eyes out with happy. And Lane is really good at saying pretty words to pretty women. Even the characters that are awkward with the opposite sex (Apollo) are fun to write. And who doesn’t like keeping two characters away from each other for as long as possible before finally letting them get together? The tension is fun. Holly and Brett were especially fun to keep apart.
10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in?
Holly was attacked by a giant cat with a spiny tail and a distorted version of her own face. This was after she saw the mouse wearing pants run away with a piece of bread in its hands, but before Phooka the Dog talked to her to warn her that she was following a Will-O-The-Wisp.
A giant yellow bird with a gun grabbed Rebecca through a doorway and into another world. That was after she fell in love with the giant werewolf.
Meara survived a train wreck in the middle of Ancient Colorado and then had to walk to Atlantis (Atlanta) with a girl suffering from TB. The Mississippi Ocean is in the way.
Timin is convinced that Kaye is a silkie (seal-person) but really she’s got wings and can’t swim. If she proves that she’s not a silkie by showing him this he’ll either cut off her wings or kill her.
Apollo hit his girlfriend in the head with a discus and killed her (it was an accident). His next girlfriend drove drunk into a Red Bay Laurel and died because she caught him kissing another girl.
There are more, of course, but those are some of the weirdest situations that pop into my head for each story. Kindra the woman warrior seems downright normal compared to everyone else.
7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?
I listen to music while I do everything. Drive, work, eat, write. Music was my first love, and I love just about all types of music (not so much heavy metal or rap though). Loreena McKennitt always makes me think of Fie Eoin, especially “The Mystic’s Dream” and “All Soul’s Night”. Dave Matthews Band is for Lane and Rebecca (“The Stone” is especially Rebecca’s song: “Yes I have done wrong, but what I did I thought needed to be done. I swear”). Somehow Mat Kearney’s new album, City of Black and White, became the soundtrack for Apollo, and A Fine Frenzy’s new album, Bomb in a Birdcage, is inspiring the Top Secret Project. Phooka Tales has a soundtrack pulled from all sorts of different places rather than one singer or album, although Sara Bareilles‘ “Between the Lines” is a pretty good summation of Holly’s relationship with Josh, and “Come Alive” by the Foo Fighters inspired her final meltdown (“Come Alive” is also shared by Karigan in Pike’s Revenge).
The only book without a soundtrack is After Ancient (there are one or two songs that make me think of it – one of them is Copland’s “Appalachian Spring”). This is probably another reason that AA never worked out – there aren’t any songs that I hear on the radio that make me think of it and inspire me to work on it again.
5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?
My youngest major character is Mikayla Morgan, who is six years old at the beginning of Lane’s Girl. My oldest major character is… um… I’m not really sure. Once they become old enough I stop worrying about ages so much. Maybe Henry, from Phooka Tales, although he’s not really that old (in his late fifties/early sixties). Meara’s mother, Amanda, is probably somewhere in her sixties as well. There will be a character in TSP who is very old, but I haven’t really storylined him yet, so in effect he doesn’t really exist yet.
Yeah, I guess I don’t write about a lot of older characters. They either die young (Lane and Rebecca), or their story fades away into The End well before they are old.
As far as youngest in terms of when I found them, that would be the cast of TSP: Neona, Sean, and Alicia (Sean the youngest of the three, because I found Nea and Ali first). My oldest original fiction character is Kindra, which is probably why I love her so much. She’s been around for a long time.
But my oldest character ever would be Pone – she’s almost as old as I am!
3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you’re writing about fictional places)?
I used to go crazy coming up with names for people and places in my stories. Parenthood.com’s baby name generator was on my bookmarks list. I looked up every single name in Fie Eoin until I found just the right one with the right meaning and the right sound and the right country of origin (most of them are celtic). I still have a tendency to look up name meanings (Top Secret Project’s Neona took me quite a while to ferret out), but I do try to let the names just come to me now. Everyone in Phooka Tales was a random name that popped into my head (except Jermaine, he was named after Brett’s named popped into my head because I’m a fan of Flight of the Conchords), and after looking up the meanings of most of them I have to say they were pretty true to the characters.
Last names are different – last names I almost always look up. Holly’s was easy – she’s a “doubting Thomas”, her surname became Thompson. Plus, I really like the sound of Holly Thompson. Actually, I guess I don’t always look up last names because I asked a friend of mine what Brett’s last name should be. I think I asked her what Chloe and Jermaine’s last names should be too. I was probably already writing PT for NaNo at the time so I didn’t have time to look up names. TSP doesn’t have any last names, but everyone has four first names. In fact, I think TSP’s naming system is the most difficult I’ve had to deal with yet, because all four of the first names should be something that fits the character. Luckily I’ve just been going with the flow on that one – Sean and Alicia’s names all just came to me out of the blue, and Neona doesn’t have four first names. She’s the easiest.
As for the warrior names in Fie Eoin, I will occasionally ask people for an animal, plant or mineral and name the extra cast that. Major characters that are warriors had names specially picked by me based on their personalities and fighting styles. Gar, for instance, is a thoughtful, stealthy fighter who only expends as much energy as he must, just like a gar fish (have you ever watched a gar hunt? It’s pretty darn cool).
Which brings me to a question: what should I name my next extra warrior? I need an animal, plant or mineral.