On Writing: My Writing Blog Process Tour

Mindy Klasky brought me into this blog tour with a few rather pointed – and makes-me-think – questions.  Like me, she started in fantasy and branched out – most recently with the Diamond Brides series.  Check her out!

 

1) What am I working on?

Two projects, currently.  As L.A. Kornetsky, I’m writing the fourth Gin & Tonic mystery (cozy mysteries set in Seattle).  As myself, I’m working on a brand new fantasy currently titled Silver on the Road (The Devil’s West #1), which will be out from Simon & Schuster in 2015 (but for now you can read a story in that world in DEAD MAN’S HAND)

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

One of the things I’m trying to do with The Devil’s West stories is create a modern (for 19th century interpretations of ‘modern’) American fantasy – one that isn’t reliant on Europe for its legends and story arcs, but pulls from American (North and Central – not so much of South America in the first book, at least) people, legends, and history.  It could be considered “weird west,” but the west I’m writing about isn’t the traditional cowboys and gunslingers, but rather the people who went before them, natives and immigrants alike: the adventurers, the settlers, the people who wanted to live outside the box….. and were willing to pay the devil to get it.

3) Why do I write what I do?

As the legacy of immigration (19th century arrivals from Eastern Europe) and as a student of American history, the conflict between old and new, power and vulnerability, tradition and innovation, has always fascinated me.  And when I started writing the first story of the Devil’s West (Crossroads) my mind asked the question: was it inevitable that the new American States expand into the western half of the continent?  What if… there was a power there already?  A strange, strong power that – unlike the Spanish and French – was not willing to trade or sell its control over native lands?  What would happen to the natives living there, the settlers willing to venture into that unknown, the countries that have to deal with that power?  And that idea spread from stories to a novel, to a series of novels…..

Short version: America is made up of many parts, and she has stories to tell all her own.  I wanted to delve into that.

 

4) How does your writing process work?

I’m a very intense, burst-writer, whose brain is most creative in the morning.  So I’ve learned to roll with that. I wake up at 6am and deal with the cats (I have a diabetic eldercat who needs his shot) and go through the morning routine: shower, breakfast, get dressed.  I’m not one of those writers who can work in pjs or sweats – although thank god my brain doesn’t require a suit and shoes.  Jeans and a shirt, a pot of coffee, the cats asleep behind me in the office, and my fellow word-warriors in the virtual room giving me positive peer pressure… a few thousand words between 7am and 1pm, and I spend the rest of the afternoon doing administrative work, research, or editing.   Five, sometimes six days a week – seven, when deadlines get crunchy.

And I don’t get to do just one draft.  Everything is layers: First the basic research, to make sure I’ve got my starting points down.  Then Draft 1, which makes sure I hit all the plot-points, and stake out the pacing, get a feel for the characters and why they do what they do.  Then there’s Draft 2, where I fix the pacing, and start filling in the holes of Why and Where (more research!), and Draft 3, which lets me do the specific color-work on characters and motivations, and correct anything that might gave gone wrong in Drafts 1-2.  Then I get feedback, and fix the things that were pointed out to me.  And only then, at Draft 4, do I send the book on to my editor…

Of course, it’s not all writing. I do a lot of research, starting before I write the first word, and going all the way through to the final version.  Some of that’s reading, or talking to people (I am known for giving yelps-for-help on my Twitter feed, and Livejournal) – and some of it’s hands-on experience.  Since much of this book is set in Kansas, and I’ve never actually been to Kansas… we’re embarking on a road trip to trace the route (more or less from Kansas City to Colorado Springs, CO).  I’m a firm believer in as much hands-on research as possible (which includes, in this case, refreshing my memory of guns and knifes, cooking over a campfire, and pack-trail riding…).

 

 

Next week (April 21), please visit:

Keith DeCandido –  Media-writer, fantasy writer, percussionist, and self-proclaimed long-haired hippie New Yorker

Katherine Eliska Kimbriel – Long long ago, editor-me tried to buy Kathi’s YA fantasy novel Night Calls.  Some other editor beat me to it, but I’ve been a fan of her work ever since.

 

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