For the longest time I believed that Dorothy Tinker and I wrote completely differently, evident by our differing genres. Tinker includes magic, dragons, different languages, and species in her work all while creating her own world her characters reside in. I prefer to use a real place, and set my characters in a specific time-thus my research begins by looking at maps created by others, rather than creating my own.
While I know that both of us use love as a central theme it wasn’t until she came in for a haircut, prior to teaching a class about world building, that she informed me that we were two in the same.
Although I use our own Earth’s timeline to form the background of my characters lives; and Dorothy starts one from scratch-we’re both creating a world in which our characters can thrive, prosper, or shrivel up in despair depending on where the story takes us.
It’s strange how we’re all more alike and share some of the same experiences while living entirely different writing lives-that’s what Dorothy taught me.
Now for her answers to my 20 Questions….
- Every writer has that one book that made him or her want to be a writer, what’s yours?
I wouldn’t say there was a specific book that made me want to be a writer. My decision to write came from the multitudes of stories that have always filled my head and the inspiring friendship of another young writer/artist when I was in middle school.
However, the books that inspired me to write about characters who don’t conform to society’s rules was Tamora Pierce’s Lioness series. A young noble girl wanted to be a knight, but only noble sons were trained as knights. So she traded places with her twin brother, who wanted to study magic instead of war, and pretended to be a boy. She continued the charade through the next few years, through being a page, being a squire, coming into her womanhood (her first monthly was terrifying), and being knighted.
The rest of Tamora Pierce’s series were just as inspiring.
- How old where you when you started writing?
I started writing at thirteen. I remember it easily because that was the year I met my friend who wrote poetry and fanfiction. She made me realize that the stories I told myself everyday could be written down and shared with others. I tried my hand at poetry and fanfiction, but the original, novel-length fantasy stories that I began that year (I had at least seven at the time) were my true dream.
- Name four authors that you’d love to have lunch with.
I would love to have lunch with Tamora Pierce, Rick Riordan, Naomi Novik, and Eoin Colfer. All four are brilliant world-builders, to the point that they’ve all written multiple books within each of their worlds. I love Riordan’s use of mythology, and his ability to fit them all into one world. I love Novik’s dragons and her integration of them into history. And I love Colfer’s use of fairy and how he’s created a non-human world that coincides with our own but is much more technologically advanced, something that isn’t often considered when integrating fairy lore into stories.
- What would you eat?
This question makes me laugh. Since I’m a fantasy author (and I’d be eating with other fantasy authors, mind), I have to say we’d probably eat samples from each of our own worlds. Hell, we could break out the ambrosia and call it a day.
- How do you plot out your work?
Plotting is pretty much done only in my mind. The times I’ve tried outlining, it gets too drawn out, and I just give up and go back to the way I usually do things. I do have a couple of timelines jotted down, but that’s more to remember when I am than anything else.
Not far into my first book, I did begin a Word document just for a list of my characters. In a world as expansive as mine (it may focus in one country, but the first series alone will be four or five books, plus sequel and prequel series of about four books each, and a ton of side stories) the number of people who show up, especially when you consider very minor characters, is too much for me to remember.
The tentative plot for the book I want to do five or nine after the one I’m currently working on, sure, but names—not a chance.
6 Do you write in the morning or evening?
Ideally, evening is always the best for me to write because I have always been a night owl. However, with a full-time job that I work from about 5a-2p, I write when I can, especially now that my fourth book has been so long in the process with nowhere near the amount of progress I would prefer. These days, I try to write from the time I get home (after eating so I don’t fall asleep) to the point when either food or sleep becomes necessary.
7 Is there music on?
Sometimes I write in silence, but that is becoming rarer. As long as the music doesn’t have words and doesn’t put me to sleep, it’s good writing music for me. My current preference is Lindsey Stirling radio or 2cellos radio on Pandora.
8 What inspired your last story?
I’ve been working on a lot of short stories this year, with a heavy load of four this month. The one I just finished was actually a rewrite of a story I wrote for English class in high school. We were supposed to write a mystery, which is still a genre I don’t do well at writing. Anyway, suffice to say, my teacher thought it was a good story, but that it wasn’t really a mystery.
Fast forward to about a year ago, and I rewrote the story as a horror story (I have plans to eventually do an anthology called Dreams and Nightmares, some of which will actually be based on real dreams I’ve had). I thought, at the time, that that particular rewrite was good and put it aside.
I picked it back up this month because there was a call for submissions for a YA anthology themed “That Moment When…”, which focuses on stories with a moment of disillusionment. This particular story, which is now titled Perspective’s Cruelty, has a perfect “That Moment When…” at the end. Hopefully, I make it in and can recommend it to people to read.
9 Name three books so good you wish you wrote them.
Three books I wish I could claim as my own? For one, His Majesty’s Dragon by Naomi Novik. Like I said before, her integration of dragons into history is amazing. Second would be First Test by Tamora Pierce (really, any of the Protector of the Small series). This one was about the first girl who was openly allowed to train as a knight, and the way she deals with the girl’s treatment by those around her is wonderful.
Third, I would have to say The Host by Stephanie Meyer. There’s so much controversy over Meyer’s Twilight series (either you love it or you hate it, it seems), but you don’t hear much conversation about this other great work of hers. Written from an alien’s point of view as she discovers the passions of the human race and finds herself becoming a part of the human family, it’s a moving story and an interesting look at humans from an outsider’s point of view.
10 What television shows, movies, or albums do you believe are written well?
I could probably name a lot, but here are some I enjoy: Once Upon a Time, Leverage, Now You See Me (I & II), White Collar, Castle…
11 Which actor would you cast in the protagonist role of your most recent piece?
Unfortunately, this is one question I don’t like. I don’t know enough about actors and such to say, “Yes, I want so-and-so to play my main character.” Although, I have had it happen once, but it was based on vocals rather than physical features. I have a Mage Healer who is the leader of one of my nomad clans. She has a very melodious voice, and I would cast Elizabeth Mitchell as her in a heartbeat.
12 Which of your pieces was the hardest to write?
The fourth book in the Peace of Evon series, Forgotten Goddess, which I am currently taking a break from, has to be the one to give me the most trouble so far. I’ve been working on it for about a year and a half, restarted it at least once, and am still stuck before the halfway point. I’ve also been fighting the realization that there will probably be a fifth book in this series. Peace of Evon began as an idea for a single book, and I really didn’t want to add a fifth to it, but I’m starting to accept that it might be necessary.
13 Which was the easiest?
I’m not sure I can name a specific story that has been the easiest, but I do know it would probably be one of the short stories I’ve written this year. If I have to choose a particular one, I’d have to say that it was probably Swelling Tides, one of my two fantasy romance shorts that got published in Houston Writer Guild’s Riding the Waves anthology. My mind had been chomping at the bit to write a piece about the two pirate captains that showed up briefly in my first book, and it was fun to write a man who could only communicate through his parrot. It threw an interesting dynamic into their relationship.
14 Which of your pieces did readers ‘get’ when they told you their thoughts on it?
I’ve had several people express their love for the world I create in my Peace of Evon series. And I love talking with people about my world.
15 What are you working on now?
Currently, I am writing the second of an apocalyptic series set 2000 years before my published books. Written in first person, present tense, the trilogy follows a young elf who unconsciously turns his five friends into various creatures (two birds, a rodent, a vine, and a flame moth) in order to protect them from the Chaos that breaks out.
This second story is set ten years after the Chaos broke out, just after the Chaos has finally ended. He nearly gets eaten by a monster and then is saved by a motley group of a human, a dwarf, a naga, and a barghest. In the end, he will hopefully be able to turn his friends back into their elven selves, but I’m still figuring that part out.
16 What story do you have to write before you die?
Unfortunately, my brain says all of them. However, the one series I would love to be able to write eventually is the prequel series to my Peace of Evon series. The prequel series is mostly set in the country across the sea, where science rules instead of magic. I’m planning to do kind of a Japanese version of Steampunk, and my current thought is a science based around crystals and possibly trapping souls within them. However, I still have a lot of research to do for that one, so I don’t know when it will get written.
17 What’s your best fan story?
So when I first published, I came out with Peace of Evon: Missing Heir, which is now out of print since I have broken it up into Peace of Evon and Gift of War. Because of this, my first book was about 200,000 words long. Now, that first year I did a convention in Lafayette called Louisianime. There, someone bought my book on Saturday. On Sunday, the next day, she came back to my table and told me that she loved it and couldn’t wait to read the next one.
Turns out that she was a speed reader. My response: “I wish I could write as fast as you read.”
18 What sentence have you written that you feel encapsulates your style?
“When three months empty stands the throne,” she intoned, her words ringing with otherworldly knowledge, “the reign of Chaos is all you‘ll know.”
I love world-building and using poetry (whether as prophecies, songs, or simply poems) in my prose.
19 Have you ever based characters off of real people?
Most of the time, if I consciously base my characters off anyone, it’s me. I have a novel-length story that I would eventually love to finish and publish that features seven main characters, each of whom is based off one of my “personalities”: a pair of twins (one male, one female), a vampire, an angel, a cat man, a dragon/human half-breed, and a woman from another land who brings them all together.
20 Who’s your favorite character?
Can I choose two? There’s Mama Dragon, a thousand-year-old dragon who is much more than she seems, and Mama Caler, a peppy old Seer whose family line holds a terrible secret. Both appear several times throughout my writing.
You can find out more about the author and the worlds she writes and purchase her work through her website, http://www.balanceofseven.com.