Okay, here we go, my entry in the “bloghop” – a sort of chain letter among authors, answering 4 questions about our writing:
1.What am I working on?
While preparing for the May 6 launch of the new eBook edition of Islands, I’m finishing up a final polish on my novel The Ariadne Connection. It’s a metaphysical thriller set in the near-future Mediterranean, to be released by Book View Café publishing in October. Like many of my novels, this story and its characters have been evolving over many years, since I spent months backpacking around Greece and exploring the sites of the mythology and history I’ve loved since a child. Greece is simply a magical place!
The challenge is to capture that luminous sense of place, history, and mythic power, while weaving an entertaining tale touching on issues that could be in the headlines today or tomorrow. Ariadne is a young Greek scientist trying to find a cure for a New Leprosy plague that may be triggered by electromagnetic side effects of a geomagnetic reversal (which is actually starting to happen today). When she discovers that she can somehow heal the plague victims by “laying on hands,” she is dubbed “Saint Ariadne” and has to struggle with acceptance of this irrational power, while on the run from various dangerous factions that want her secret.
My last task – currently underway – is to finish a brief introduction of the many players in this complex novel. As usual, I can’t seem to stop myself from weaving a tangled web of politics, environmental issues, and cultural trends that underlie the story. For me, that’s the excitement of writing fiction – creating my take on this novel’s world, and setting my characters loose to thrash through its challenges.
2.How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Even in my early science fiction novels, I never quite fit in a tidy marketing pigeonhole, and my novels now definitely stretch genre boundaries. I’m usually astride the “fence” between commercial and literary (which certainly can be arbitrary designations), in that I like exciting, action-filled plots, but enriched with deep character development and themes. Even given the Thriller structure of The Ariadne Connection, my pacing is not nonstop action – I take time to explore my characters’ internal lives and cultural influences. Supporting my plot in this novel are metaphysical speculations about ancient mythic sources of power, questions about bioelectric healing, and environmental issues, all arising from my research for the novel.
3.Why do I write what I do?
Following from my answer in #2, I need to be captured and captivated by a place, and people who inhabit it, whether real or fictional. Usually I set my novels in interesting locales where I’ve travelled or lived, such as the Caribbean or Greece or South America, and a character or story idea will spring up, spurring me to do a lot of reading and research that ignites the story issues. I can’t write without that passion inspiring me.
Even my science fiction novels originally grew from a vision of endless wheat fields in Eastern Washington, which became an agricultural planet, Poindros. There is always some element of speculative thinking or magical realism in my stories, so I can let my imagination fly free.
4.How does my writing process work?
Mornings are my productive time, when I’m fresh, so when working on a novel I spend the morning drafting passages. I’m a “method writer,” so when I’m really involved in an intense scene – I’m living it with my characters — I’ll break into a sweat. I take a midday break for outdoor exercise (I go crazy if I have to sit at a computer all day!) Depending on my teaching schedule or writing deadlines, I may do research or revise earlier chapters during the afternoon. And there is always promotional work such as social networking or news releases waiting to work its way into my schedule.
I have more time for writing during the summer, when I’m not teaching on campus. I love it when I have a big chunk of time to really immerse myself in my fictional world and its people, and I can talk with them while I take walks, getting ideas for the next writing session.
Up Next Week: One of our authors had to bow out unexpectedly, so we’ll have two bloghoppers next week – as we beg indulgence from the gods of blogging. On April 21, check out the contributions from:
Paulina Ulrich: Paulina is a student of mine at WWU, an amazing young woman who has already published several novels and is a real professional. She says, “I love to write, I love drinking iced tea, I love my insane cat named Juey, I really, really love shoes, and oh yes, I love to write.”
Find her blog on her website: www.paulinaulrich.com
Kirk Smith: Kirk is a fellow member of our local Whatcom Writers and Publishers group. After a career of over 30 years as a research psychologist and professor of psychology, Kirk took early retirement and began writing a novel, Vanessa’s Curve of Mind, published last April.
His Blog: fictionaboutscience.com