Monday, April 21, 2014

My Writing Process Blog Hop

I was tagged by Will Hahn to answer questions about my writing process. When Hahn wrote about his writing process I learned that he's a chronicler not a writer. I like this distinction, and to be precise he chronicles the Tales from the Land of Hope.

Honored that he thought of me when it was time to pass on the baton of this blog hop, I now present my writing process.

1. What am I working on?

I have almost completed the manuscript for my tenth novel Journey of the Hunted. It is a historical fantasy set in 1561 Bohemia that blends the supernatural folklore of the time about werewolves, fairies, and witches into the real historical setting of the Holy Roman Empire. Journey of the Hunted picks up the story in Werelord Thal: A Renaissance Werewolf Tale published last November. That novel ended with Thal learning that his sorcerer father Sarputeen was alive. Journey of the Hunted tells the story of Thal crossing Bohemia, Moravia, and Slovakia on his way to his father’s castle in the Tatras Mountains. His journey is complicated by the fact that he has multiple warrants for his arrest for shapeshifting, Devil worship, and a killing spree. It’s all true, except for the Devil worship, and the roads are swarming with bounty hunters eager to slay the fearsome werewolf called the “Butcher of Prague” and collect the reward of 200 gold florins.
Thal is not overly worried about the bounty hunters because he is a werelord with an enchanted wolf fur that lets him change into a werewolf at will. Regardless of the phase of the moon he can transform into his mighty wolf self and generally slay whoever threatens him. He does not necessarily bother with that because his sword, pair of pistols, and supernatural strength suffice to handle most problems. The regular folk he meets along the road are wooed by his charm and notoriety along with the fact that he travels with a talented troupe of musicians.    

Everything is going well until he encounters a bounty hunter that’s a werewolf. Then his guide Mileko informs him that this werewolf is the agent of Tekax, a powerful sorcerer and nemesis of Thal’s father. Instead of anticipating a happy reunion with his father, Thal is now at the center of a conflict of rival sorcerers.
Journey of the Hunted is tentatively planned for a late summer or fall release.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?

My historical fantasy Werelord Thal is different because there are not many novels set in that time period. I know it seems hard to believe but there is no “Renaissance” category of historical fiction. There’s “Medieval” which is similar, but Werelord Thal has very Renaissance themes. The Renaissance is also very accurately labeled the Early Modern period because western civilization was shifting out of the Medieval era and the institutions and global empires of our modern world were taking shape. So my historical fantasy set in the Renaissance presents a supernatural adventure against the backdrop of a crucial technological innovation (printing books) and the social and religious upheaval of the 16th century, illustrated gruesomely by the horrors of state-sanctioned torture and witch hunting.

As for my epic fantasies, I shy away from the tried-and-true motif of the orphan young man or woman who discovers his or her magical powers are needed to save the world. In my novels the magical races of the rys and tabre have powers and people are just people. They have enchanted items like crystals and swords given to them that offer protection from spells, but people don’t have any magic. I find it much more interesting to develop characters who have to cope within a world run by magical superior beings.

Also unlike the typical good prevailing against evil that fantasy is so well known for, I delve into rather dark and cynical themes, but my stories are given heart by intense family loyalties, romance, and great friendships.   

3. Why do I write what I do?

Fantasy has and will always be my favorite genre. I read all types of books, fiction and nonfiction, but fantasy is my creative space. I just don’t know if I could go through the trouble of writing a novel and not put magic and sword fights in it.

4. How does my writing process work?

It begins with me tapping into the ocean of characters and adventures that fills my mind. I focus on my feelings and from these will come characters. And sometimes characters just show up on their own like stray cats that demand that I write epics about them instead of a bowl of milk.

As I populate a story I think about the plot and what I want to communicate. I always have an ending in mind before I start composing the manuscript. I think it is important to know where I’m going before I start. There’s room for my imagination to throw things in along the way, but I want to work toward a goal.

Once I’ve settled on roughly what the story is I’ll start writing. I call this the composition stage. I try to write every day. While I’m composing a novel, I go back and read what I’ve written. After the manuscript is complete, I’ll do a complete read through. Then I’ll start editing. I’ll go through it two more times. The second phase is a strong edit and the third read through is a close proofreading and copyedit. Then it’s ready for the public.