I’ve got a very interesting post to share today, which is part of an ongoing series by the same name, checking in with a variety of authors of speculative fiction about what they write, why, and how. It’s been very interesting to read along with the series, so here’s my entry for you. Tagging me in this process was author Marilyn Peake, and you can read her post here.
Who is Marilyn?
Marilyn Peake is the author of both novels and short stories. Her publications have received excellent reviews. Marilyn’s one of the contributing authors in BOOK: THE SEQUEL, published by The Perseus Books Group, with one of her entries included in serialization at THE DAILY BEAST. In addition, Marilyn has served as Editor of a number of anthologies. Her short stories have been published in seven anthologies and on the literary blog, GLASS CASES. She’s received the following awards: Silver Award, two Honorable Mentions and eight Finalist placements in the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year Awards, two Winner and two Finalist placements in the EPPIE Awards, Winner of the Dream Realm Awards, and eight Top Ten Finisher Awards in the Preditors and Editors Readers Poll.
Marilyn Peake’s website: http://www.marilynpeake.com
Marilyn Peake’s Blog: https://www.goodreads.
And now to my responses:
1. What am I working on?
I’ve got three projects on the go, now that I’ve released the print version of Brush With Darkness, book 1 of my Arts Reborn series.
I’m in late stage revisions of book 2: Blood of the Water, which should be out in a matter of weeks, while also writing book 3 of the series.
I’m also writing a short story for an anthology set in the world of The Dream Engine, by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Most of my fantasy settings are inspired by world history, but without trying to live in the actual timeline of our world. (So far. I’ve actually got a short story plotted out that will be set in an actual time in our history, but starts the divergence from strict reality into an alternate and quite fantastical timeline.)
I’ve got particular affinity for eras of history other than the typical high-fantasy medieval setting. I love classical Rome, Chinese dynasties and feudal Japan, to name a few. So my work tends to be more historically-inspired, but I’m more fantastical than strict alternate timeline earth fantasy or actual history with fantasy elements. Until I decide to write something completely different. Or do something like that. But for now I’ve got a lot of ideas still to explore in this particular vein.
My Arts Reborn series also explores the idea of magic being based on creativity. I’ve always loved to draw, paint and sing, so having my characters do very cool things with those disciplines is a lot of fun.
But I love my characters even more than the cool magic or historically-inspired settings, and my readers have been telling me they do too.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Most of my favourite books are either fantasy or historical fiction, or both. I find history fascinating, but I can’t help but add the fantasy into my stories. It’s much more fun. Early in my journey as a writer I read books by Guy Gavriel Kay, who likes to look at actual historical events and themes, but in an alternate world of his creation so he’s not putting words into the mouths of actual people. This blog post of his inspired me to get past the struggle I was having over deciding whether to add my fantasy into actual earth history, or take whatever interested me and explore it in my own way, and I’ve been running with that idea ever since.
As a result I can enjoy going as deep into research as I’d like, to inform the setting and make it a living and breathing place… but without being constrained by getting every detail right. Right being a relative term, and generally impossible, with history being so much more subjective than its chroniclers ever want themselves to believe. Which is absolutely a theme I like to play with in my work.
4. How does my writing process work?
I’m a loose plotter who discovers a lot of things along the way.
I love world-building, and constantly jot down notes of ideas for the world and its characters. When it comes time to plan the next book I bring together all these details and start brainstorming a loose outline. I write down all the characters I know about and what they want, and events happening in their world and start asking a bunch of what-if questions, mostly about potential conflicts. I’ll make loose notes or even record audio of myself while out for a walk. I keep doing that until things really start to come together and end up with ideas for lots of scenes and major plot points and eventually I get so excited that I can’t help but start writing.
I like to have a general idea of the ending, but the specifics will come much later. When it comes time to sit down and write, I put those scene titles into Scrivener, along with any notes for a given scene. Some are just a short phrase, while others might have paragraphs of details. I might follow them exactly, or go in a completely different direction once my characters start to talk and act. Then I hold on tight and follow them wherever they lead me. Even to a completely different and surprising ending.
I usually write sequentially through the first draft without any editing, but leave notes of things I want to fix later. I need to get to THE END as fast as possible. Later in the book I often write particular POVs straight through for long stretches, then cut between the scenes during one of my revision passes. I’m working through that right now with book 2.
Then lots of rounds of editing and revision, first to hit all the notes I leave myself on the way through, then in response to beta readers and their thoughts, then read it out loud to catch language, then polish for specific word choice, then read again on my Kindle as a pure reader and see what else pops out.
While enjoying every step along the way.
I hope you’ve enjoyed this little peek inside my writing head, and if you have any questions about any of it, ask away in the comments or connect with me via any of the social links up top.
Coming up next week in the tour we have Jessica Rydill, who writes some very cool sounding historically-inspired fantasy of her own (golems!), which I just might be checking out when I get through the books I’m currently reading.