To kick off this new year of 2014, we here at Pub(lishing) Crawl decided to introduce some
fresh meat new perspectives to the blog. We’ve got not one but THREE new members to introduce to you to this week, and we’re kicking off today with the first.
Quickly: in case you missed the awesome guest post from Michelle Schusterman last Friday, go read it! There’s a giveaway…;)
And now, onto our first new, epic, amazing member. We are so thrilled to have her on our team—her writing advice is pretty much famous now and her outreach to aspiring writers is extensive and downright awe-inspiring.
Welcome, Janice Hardy!
For those of you who don’t know Janice, she is the author of the teen fantasy trilogy The Healing Wars, where she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. She also has a non-fiction book, Planning Your Novel: Ideas and Structure due out early in 2014. (We can’t wait!)
You can find her writing advice and lessons on her blog, The Other Side of the Story, or you can visit her on her website or Twitter. She lives in Georgia with her husband, a yard zombie, three cats, and one very nervous freshwater eel.
I (Sooz) just have to say that highly recommend ALL of Janice’s incredible writing advice and her amazing fantasy series. You guys should seriously check out her books (good thing we have a giveaway goin’ on, right? *nudge, nudge*.)
The Healing Wars Trilogy
Nya is a Shifter, someone who can heal by shifting pain from person to person.She’s hunted by those eager to exploit her ability for their own purposes, determined to make her a weapon, a killer, even a symbol for the war that’s brewing.
All Nya wants is to protect her family and regain her people’s freedom, but the more she’s drawn into the plans of others, the more she realizes how key to everyone’s victory she really is.
And how much she’ll have to sacrifice just to survive.
A fantasy adventure for ages 10 and up, The Healing Wars trilogy follows Nya, a war orphan with the unique ability to heal—or destroy—with her touch.
Fortunately for us, Janice was kind enough to do a little introductory interview—so that not only we (the bloggers of Pub Crawl) could get to know her better, but so YOU all could too.
When you started writing The Shifter, which came first for you: the characters or the plot? Or neither…?
The power, actually. Nya, the protagonist, has the ability to heal by shifting pain from person to person. That came to me first after seeing the original X-Men movie. One of the characters (Rogue, my favorite superhero) has a power where she accidentally steals another person’s power by touching them, and she has no control over it. I started wondering, “what if someone could do that with healing? Bump into a sick person and accidentally drain whatever was wrong with them?”
I had no idea who this person was yet, but the mechanics of the power fascinated me. It developed into a skill done on purpose, and then a form of healing magic with consequences—what if healing could be evil as well as good? Eventually I got the idea for people who bought and sold pain like a commodity, and it was right on into the world building to see how a society like this would function.
That’s when Nya showed up. I had the world, and it was time to put someone into it. But she was very two dimensional at the start until I figured out the plot, then I developed her more. So I guess I went world building→light character→plot→deep character. I always discover who my characters are during a first draft by putting them in terrible plot situations and seeing how they react.
Wow—that’s cool. I’m not sure I’ve heard an origin story like that before. I also love that you acknowledge your first draft was weak and that you learned as you wrote—I think that’s how it happens for most authors, and it’s nice to hear your story! Now, what’s a typical writing day for you?
I’m a morning person, so I write from around 7:30 to 11:30. Three to four hours is about as long as I can work in one stretch without getting burned out. I spend a few minutes looking at my working synopsis and sketch out what the next chapter will cover, quickly summarizing how I think it’ll go (things almost always change, but it’s a good jumpstart for the brain). I like to get a rough draft of a story down first, then edit, so I do very little editing during the drafting stage. I leave myself lots of notes though.
I did NaNoWriMo this past November for the first time, and discovered that I can also write in the evenings if it’s in front of the fire. I’m going to test this evening writing thing more this year and see if it continues even during the summer. Hmmm…maybe writing on the deck? That could work!
I take weekends off, because that’s when I do my blog posts for the upcoming week.
Okay, so we’re writing twinsies. I have a very similar method, and I definitely don’t do much (or any) editing in the drafting stage. So cool! So, when you’re not writing, I assume you read. 😉 What are you reading right now?
About the start The Girl in the Park by Mariah Fredericks. Just finished Gated by Amy Christine Parker (very good), Dare Me by Eric Devine (also good), and Hammered by Kevin Hearne (great series) last week. I was sick so I had lots of reading time (grin).
Ah, the one perk of being sick, I suppose. Do you have any words of advice or inspiration for aspiring authors?
No one gets it perfect on a first draft, so don’t worry if your novel “stinks” in the early stages. Sometimes we need to write a rough draft to get the story figured out, and then we can polish it to something we’re willing to share with strangers. Follow your instincts and do what serves the story. Once that’s right, then worry about the technical aspects. Craft matters of course, but it’s there to help you write a great story, not the end goal.
YES. Great, great, great advice—and very much how I create. Okay, last question—and it’s more of a command: Mix me a literary cocktail! What elements would you include in your ideal book?
Ooo! One part fun characters, one part unpredictable plot, a shot of wonder, and a twist of danger. I read across genres, but that’s what all my favorite novels contain.
Oh, nice. I love that “a shot of wonder” bit. It’s something I also love to see in any genre.
So there you have it, Dear Readers! That’s our first new member, Janice Hardy, and if you’re keen, you can enter the giveaway below for a chance to win a copy of one of her novels. The contest is open internationally, and you can have either a physical copy OR an e-version. It’s up to the winner!
Now stay tuned because tomorrow, we have ANOTHER NEW MEMBER and another giveaway! HAPPY NEW YEAR, EVERYONE!