More often than any other questions I get from fans and prospective writers are how, why, and what’s new. This blog hop touches all those points and more. Many thanks to my writer buddy Howard Andrew Jones for tagging me for this project as we sat at the Paizo Publishing signing table at GenCon this year. That was an amazing convention for me, as I got to add a writing project to my bucket list: I met with Catalyst Game Labs editor John Helfers about doing a story for an upcoming Shadowrun anthology. That’s right! They’re publishing Shadowrun books again! Just so you understand how exciting this is for me, I first played Shadowrun in college, back when the world was young, there was no internet, and if you wanted to make a phone call, you had to find one that was plugged into the wall. Yes, I’m that old… Anyway, I’ve always loved the Shadowrun world, and enjoyed the fiction. Back in those days, I had no literary aspirations whatsoever, but once I started writing, I started dreaming about putting something together in the Shadowrun universe. Dream achieved… The as-yet-to-be-named anthology should come out next year.
So, on with the questions!
#1 What am I working on?
Well, I’ve filled you in on the Shadowrun short story, and my only difficulty there is keeping it down to the 6K word limit… Sure you really don’t want a novella, John? Aside from that, I’m working on two novels, and thinking of three more. Never a dull moment, right? First, I have a December 1 deadline for my third Pathfinder Tales novel, Pirate’s Prophesy. My second PFT story, Pirate’s Promise, will be releasing this December, so it looks like I’m on a one per year schedule with Paizo. Love that! Paizo’s fiction editor James Sutter and I see things eye to eye, and work well together, so there may be a fourth Pirate’s (something) novel forthcoming. As for Jaxbooks, my own imprint, the Weapon of Flesh Trilogy came to a finish this year with Weapon of Vengeance, and hit big on the digital market, touching the top 10 list in at least one sub-genre. So, with that success, I can’t turn away from a second trilogy. The Weapon of Fear Trilogy will debut late spring, early summer, 2015. The novels are centering on a different character, and will take place in a different and much larger city. Weapon of Fear, Weapon of Pain, and Weapon of Mercy will release on as close to a nine-month interval as we can manage.
As for other projects in the works…I can’t tell you quite yet but I’m busting at the seams with excitement… Muaa haa haa!
#2 How does my work differ from others of its genre?
That’s a tough one. There are so many awesome writers in the fantasy genre that I would never compare myself to that it’s difficult to put my finger on one thing I do differently. I’m very much a character writer. My characters are real people who live in a fantasy world. As real people they have real emotions, real faults, and real tantrums. Yes, my characters exhibit all the foibles that you and I do. They throw fits, have conniptions, and occasionally murder one another. They also, and this is one thing I’ve included in virtually all my novels, fall in love. That, more than any other element, is the one thing I find lacking in the basic fantasy genre. I never buy the story where nobody gets laid, or wants to get laid, or has thoughts about someone in that regard. In fact, much of the praise I got for Pirate’s Honor was for including the “R” word (that’s right, romance!) in a RPG tie-in novel. Why did I do that? I never thought not to, because real people have relationships, right?
Okay, so it was a relationship between a naga and a human, but there’s nothing wrong with that! If you don’t get that, please read the free short story “Stargazer” on the Paizo Web Fiction page. You will get it.
#3 Why do I write what I do?
Okay, this one’s easy! I fell in love with SFF in high school, and fell in love again playing RPG’s when D&D was in its infancy. If I was a physicist, I would probably write SF, since I do love the genre, but SF has gotten very tech heavy, and I am not a techie. The best I’ve done in that regard is a SF piece based on genetic manipulation, and that’s still in the works… lots of edits… Also, SF is, by its nature, dated the moment it is published. Technology advances, but fantasy… You can still read Lord of the Rings and be fascinated… So I went to fantasy.
As for why I am a character writer, that’s simple, too. As I said above, real people. Plot and setting are important, but it’s all been done…really, it has ALL been done! Every once in a while, some brilliant writer like Brandon Sanderson will come up with a new twist that makes you think “Wow, this is totally different!” And Brandon is brilliant, don’t get me wrong. I worship the man. Really. But all the brilliance of his magic system in Mistborn—the “totally different” part—would have meant nothing if we had not fallen in love with Vin. Which we did, and another reason Brandon is brilliant. Characters are infinitely mutable, changeable, and unique. Enough said.
#4 How does my writing process work?
Okay, this is one I have issues with. I have an adage that has proven to be true by my interactions with every writer I’ve met: “If you ask 100 writers how they write, you’ll get 100 different answers, and none of them will be wrong.”
What that means is, you have to discover what works for you. Steven King was once asked “How do you become a writer?” and he said, “First, you have to write a million words of shit.” That is basically true. If you want to be a writer, write. You will eventually find what works for you.
But that wasn’t the question!
Okay, this is my work ethic: Write fast, edit slow.
It’s that simple.
Rule one: Get it on the page, and fix the mistakes later! I wrote Pirate’s Honor (115,000 words thank you) in 29 days. That was the first draft. It took three months to edit the manuscript, and we still got it in before deadline.
Oh, by the way, if you ever want to impress your new editor, hand in something before the deadline. It knocks them flat… They’re so used to getting things late that the word “Early” isn’t in their vocabulary. Having said that, however, early submissions may set a bad precedent…
As for the rest, it’s simple mechanics. I’m an outliner, simply because I don’t have a good enough memory to write by the seat of my pants. I generally think of a story for about a month, start plotting notes for a couple of weeks, then do a chapter by chapter outline, and then start writing at chapter one. My second rule is “Never feel obligated to stick to your outline!” Things change, characters evolve, moods shift, people fall in love… All this is good. Go with it, enjoy the experience, and polish it up later.
So that’s it! Make sure you drop by to check out the answers to these questions from three of my writer friends, Gail Z. Martin, Richard Lee Byers, and Aaron Rosenberg. I added their bio’s below, along with links to their blog sites.
Stay tuned for announcements of upcoming cover art for Pirate’s Promise and other news!
Gail Z. Martin is the author of the new epic fantasy Reign of Ash (Orbit Books 2014) and Deadly Curiosities, a new urban fantasy novel (July 2014 Solaris Books), set in Charleston, SC. She is also author of Ice Forged in The Ascendant Kingdoms Saga, War of Shadows (Orbit Books, 2015), and Iron and Blood, a Steampunk novel (2015, Solaris Books) which will be co-authored with her husband, Larry N. Martin. She is the author of The Chronicles of The Necromancer series (The Summoner, The Blood King, Dark Haven & Dark Lady’s Chosen) from Solaris Books and The Fallen Kings Cycle (The Sworn and The Dread) from Orbit Books. She writes two series of ebook short stories: The Jonmarc Vahanian Adventures and the Deadly Curiosities Adventures. Follow at http://www.ascendantkingdoms.com/
Richard Lee Byers is the author of around forty fantasy and horror novels including The Reaver, Blind God’s Bluff, and the best-selling Dissolution. He is the creator of the post-apocalyptic superhero series The Impostor, the first two volumes of which are currently available. His short fiction can be found in numerous magazines and anthologies, and he has collected some of the best of it in the eBooks The Q Word, The Plague Knight, and Zombies in Paradise.
A resident of the Tampa Bay area, the setting for a substantial portion of his horror fiction, he spends much of his leisure time fencing, playing poker, and shooting pool. He invites everyone to Follow him on Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ and to read his blog at http://rleebyers.livejournal.com
Aaron Rosenberg is the author of the best-selling DuckBob series (consisting of No Small Bills, Too Small for Tall, and the forthcoming Three Small Coinkydinks), the Dread Remora space-opera series and, with David Niall Wilson, the O.C.L.T. occult thriller series. His tie-in work contains novels for Star Trek, Warhammer, WarCraft, and Eureka. He has written children’s books (including the original series Pete and Penny’s Pizza Puzzles, the award-winning Bandslam: The Junior Novel, and the #1 best-selling 42: The Jackie Robinson Story), educational books on a variety of topics, and over seventy roleplaying games (such as the original games Asylum, Spookshow, and Chosen, work for White Wolf, Wizards of the Coast, Fantasy Flight, Pinnacle, and many others, and both the Origins Award-winning Gamemastering Secrets and the Gold ENnie-winning Lure of the Lich Lord). He is the co-creator of the ReDeus series, and one of the founders of Crazy 8 Press. Aaron lives in New York with his family. You can follow him online at gryphonrose.com, on Facebook at facebook.com/gryphonrose, and on Twitter @gryphonrose.