This week I’m reading Darker Still by Leanna Renee Hieber. It’s a YA historical novel set in 19th Century New York. The 17-year-old heroin is mute and the book is her diary, in which she recounts the strange events that took place at the Metropolitan Museum in the summer of 1880. It’s a quick read and a cute love story, as well as a good mystery.
Today I’m starting a new blog topic: writers’ interviews. I figured published (and bestselling) authors were the best source of advice for us, would-be-published writers. And the wonderful Rachel Caine has agreed to be the first author to be interviewed!
A writer in the spotlight – 1
Author : Rachel Caine
Genre : Urban fantasy, paranormal, young adult literature, short fiction
Location: Texas, USA
Website : www.rachelcaine.com
The Weather Warden series (9 books, 2003-2010)
The Red Letter Days series (2 books, 2005-2006)
The Morganville Vampires series (15 books, 2006-2013)
The Athena Force series (1 book, 2007)
The Outcast Season series (4 books, 2009-2012)
The Revivalist series (1 book, 2011)
Rachel Caine is a New York Times, USA Today and internationally bestselling author of more than 30 novels. She had received numerous literary awards and attended over a hundred conventions and conferences in the past twenty years. She has a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Texas Tech University and she has worked in many jobs, before becoming a full time writer in 2010.
My interview with Rachel (24/03/2012)
1. Did you always know you wanted to be a writer?
Oh NO! I was going to be (in order) an astrobiologist (age 9), a detective (age 12), and a professional musician (ages 14-30). I was a *hobby* writer. But I wrote consistently from age 14 onward.
2. When and where do you write?
I do my best work in the mornings, the earlier the better, so I try hard to get up at 5 am or so, and work about 8 hours, then knock off for lunch. I usually run errands in the afternoons and work on business items at night.
3. Do you ever experience writer’s block?
Sure, I think everyone does — but it’s really more of a “day off.” It’s easy to let that day off turn into two, then a week, then a month, and that’s when you’re in trouble. So I never let myself take more than one day off, unless I’m sick. If I get stuck on a story, I try reading it from the beginning, which often does the trick, or if it doesn’t, I jump forward to the next thing I want to write in the timeline.
4. What do you say to people who want to be writers? How difficult is it to get published?
That’s a complicated question now — much more so than when I started. The easy answer is “not difficult at all” because things like Kindle Direct make it possible to write something and put it out for sale digitally immediately. The HARD part of that is that when you do that, you’re likely doing it way too soon. Becoming a writer is a craft and a skill … something you acquire slowly over time, usually. Your first efforts probably won’t be that great (mine certainly weren’t). In fact, your 10th effort may not be great, either. People grow at different rates in their craft — and the way you find out you’re not ready, in traditional publishing, is that you compete with others for the limited opportunities available. The better you get, the more chance you have to grab that chance. It’s a process that creates not *more* writers, but *better* writers, which is why I still like it.
But more than likely, things will change even more over the next few years … so the answer is: yes, it’s probably pretty easy now. But easy isn’t always a good thing. And it’s still hard to get in with the big professional publishers, and always will be.
5. Is it better to outline and plot your novel or “go with the flow”?
That depends. Some people work better to go “seat of the pants” … and some won’t start a road trip without a map. I’m a bit of both … I like a road map, but I’m not averse to taking interesting side roads too. I usually have a loose outline.
6. Do you set goals for yourself as you write?
The deadlines really set them for me — I have a book due every three months, at 100,000 words, so that means I have to write a thousand words a day. The more days off I take, the higher that number gets!
On “The Morganville Vampires” series:
7. To write this specific series, where did you get your inspiration from?
In the beginning, it was the idea of the town itself … all the layers of secrets (Vampires! Sick vampires! Sick vampires who are the last of their kind! With a secret enemy! … and on and on.) That really excited me.
8. How did you come up with those characters? Are they based on real people?
I don’t base my characters on real people as a rule, but some of the vampires are historical people. I started with Claire and figured out what she was like, and then filled in characters around her. (And continue to do that!)
9. What type of music do you listen to when you write this series?
I listen to many different kinds of music, and I find I need NEW music every book … so the first thing I do when I start is pick a few songs to start out with, and look for more music as I go. I tend to like alternative music, with a good sprinkling of pop, rock, some classics, even soundtrack music.
10. What are you working on now? Is it a Morganville Vampires book?
It is! I’m working on Book 13, BITTER BLOOD. And it’s due next week!
11. Which authors inspire you now?
Every author I read inspires me in some way. We’ve all got strengths and weaknesses as writers … I look for what the other writer does especially well, because it’s usually something I *don’t* do as well. Most of the writers I’ve met are inspiring people as well … beautiful and gracious people!
Oh, okay, if you want me to be *specific,* … Charlaine Harris. Richelle Mead. Melissa Marr. Kelley Armstrong. Jim Butcher. George R.R. Martin.
12. Which YA books would recommend?
There are SO many good ones! I will always recommend Jackie Kessler’s Four Horsemen series … it’s brilliant. Tough and uncompromising, but brilliant. Heather Brewer’s books. Suzanne Collins. Beth Revis. The fabulous Cassandra Claire. Ann Aguirre. And ALWAYS Holly Black. But that only scratches the surface … there are so many amazing writers in YA, and more coming daily — just dig in! It’s a literary feast!
Rachel Caine will be in England from May 4th to May 24th 2012. Check her website for more details.
“Thermodynamic miracles… events with odds against so astronomical they’re effectively impossible, like oxygen spontaneously becoming gold. I long to observe such a thing.
And yet, in each human coupling, a thousand million sperm vie for a single egg. Multiply those odds by countless generations, against the odds of your ancestors being alive; meeting; siring this precise son; that exact daughter… Until your mother loves a man she has every reason to hate, and of that union, of the thousand million children competing for fertilization, it was you, only you, that emerged.
To distill so specific a form from that chaos of improbability, like turning air to gold… that is the crowning unlikelihood. The thermodynamic miracle.”
Alan Moore, Watchmen.
This is a meme hosted every Friday by Parajunkee and Alison Can Read. Book bloggers answer a question each week then they check out how others answered it. It’s a great way for bloggers to connect and learn more about each other!
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This week’s question is:
What is the longest book you’ve read? What are your favorite 600+ page reads?
The longest book I’ve ever read has to be the Song Of Ice and Fire series by G.R.R. Martin.
Each book is at least 900 page-long (in paperback) and I’ve made my way through the first three books so far. Although my interest has a bit dwindled while reading book 3, it’s still a series I recommend to any reader interested in fantasy.
My favorite +600 page read is the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling. Do I really need to explain why?
What’s the longest book you’ve ever read?
“Waiting On Wednesday” is a weekly event, hosted by book blogger Breaking The Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.
Today I have chosen The Cavendish Home For Boys and Girls by Claire Legrand (Expected publication: August 28th 2012 by Simon & Schuster BFYR)
“Victoria hates nonsense. There is no need for it when your life is perfect. The only smudge on her pristine life is her best friend Lawrence. He is a disaster–lazy and dreamy, shirt always untucked, obsessed with his silly piano. Victoria often wonders why she ever bothered being his friend. (Lawrence does, too.)
But then Lawrence goes missing. And he’s not the only one. Victoria soon discovers that Mrs. Cavendish’s children’s home is not what it appears to be. Kids go in but come out . . . different, or they don’t come out at all.
If anyone can sort this out, it’s Victoria, even if it means getting a little messy.”
So on top of having a great blog, Claire Legrand is publishing this novel that sounds GREAT. I simply can’t wait.
It is springtime in England…
I wandered lonely as a cloud
That floats on high o’er vales and hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd,
A host, of golden daffodils;
Beside the lake, beneath the trees,
Fluttering and dancing in the breeze.
Continuous as the stars that shine
And twinkle on the milky way,
They stretched in never-ending line
Along the margin of a bay:
Ten thousand saw I at a glance,
Tossing their heads in sprightly dance.
The waves beside them danced; but they
Out-did the sparkling waves in glee:
A poet could not but be gay,
In such a jocund company:
I gazed–and gazed–but little thought
What wealth the show to me had brought:
For oft, when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude;
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the daffodils.
I was in Paris for the weekend (hey, I did warn you I travel a lot!) and I took this as an opportunity to have a look at the Tim Burton Exhibition held at the Cinémathèque Française. This exhibition was in New York City (USA) in 2010 and now it is in Paris (France) until August 2012. If you don’t mind crowds and if you like Tim Burton’s movies and artworks, this is the exhibition to see.
Here is what the MoMA had to say about the exhibition two years ago:
“Taking inspiration from popular culture, Tim Burton (American, b. 1958) has reinvented Hollywood genre filmmaking as an expression of personal vision, garnering for himself an international audience of fans and influencing a generation of young artists working in film, video, and graphics. This exhibition explores the full range of his creative work, tracing the current of his visual imagination from early childhood drawings through his mature work in film. It brings together over seven hundred examples of rarely or never-before-seen drawings, paintings, photographs, moving image works, concept art, storyboards, puppets, maquettes, costumes, and cinematic ephemera from such films as Edward Scissorhands, The Nightmare Before Christmas, Batman, Mars Attacks!, Ed Wood, and Beetlejuice, and from unrealized and little-known personal projects that reveal his talent as an artist, illustrator, photographer, and writer working in the spirit of Pop Surrealism. The gallery exhibition is accompanied by a complete retrospective of Burton’s theatrical features and shorts, as well as a lavishly illustrated publication.”
I was especially thrilled to get to see Edward Scissorhands’ costume, Sweeney Todd’s razor blades and animatronics from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory…
So, if you happen to be in Paris before the end of August this year and if you are interested in Tim Burton’s work, I would recommend to check out this exhibition!
Today I wanted to mention The Apocalypsies.
What are The Apocalypsies?
The Apocalypsies is a group of authors whose Middle Grade/YA books are all 2012 debut. 2012 being the year of a supposed apocalypse, they came up with that witty name to promote their books.
Who are The Apocalypsies?
So far, around a hundred 2012 debut authors have joined the group.
Where can I find out more about The Apocalypsies?
You can check out their blog: http://apocalypsies.blogspot.com/
Any favorites among those Apocalypsies?
I have to say I’m eagerly awaiting the release of:
THE CAVENDISH HOME FOR BOYS AND GIRLS by Claire Legrand (Simon & Schuster)
BLACK CITY by Elizabeth Richards (Putnam)
WHEN THE SEA IS RISING RED by Cat Hellison (Farrar, Straus, Giroux)
… and I shall stop there.
Which book from The Apocalypsies are you waiting for?