Last week I interviewed author Emily Moreton on my blog; this week she is interviewing me on hers. I talk a little about my writing and how I came to write ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, as well as answering questions on time travel, the one thing I’d want with me on a desert island and my dream travel destination. Pop on over and check it out.
I’m pleased to have author Emily Moreton on my blog today. Emily is one of my fellow authors from the Torqued Tales anthology and has over 30 published short stories to her name. I found we have lots in common (we both spent our uni days studying Primary Teaching and writing fanfic and we both had our first stories published in charity anthologies for victims of natural disasters).
Welcome to my blog, Emily, it’s great to have you here. Can you tell us a little bit about your writing?
I’m mostly a short story writer, because I get bored once I know how what I’m writing is going to end. I’ve tried to write a novel a couple of times, but usually by 40,000 words, I know what’s going to happen next, and then it stops being fun!
Most of the characters I write are military or ex-military, which is odd since neither I nor anyone I know has been in the military (well, my grandmother was an OWL during WW2). I’ve always been interested in fighter jets though; my parents took me to several air shows when I was a kid, and many time to see the Red Arrows, so I suppose that’s where that one came from. I even wrote about a Red Arrows engineer once, though I’ve never submitted it anywhere for publication.
How long have you been writing for?
I’ve pretty much been writing all my life, and making up stories for just as long. My sister and I loved let’s pretend when we were kids, and writing was always my favourite subject in school. When I was in university, I got into fanfic, and also started writing a novel, and I’ve been writing regularly ever since… so, wow, that’s well over a decade now!
Can you tell us (without spoilers) what your story is about in Torqued Tales?
A Stranger Brought is a modern lesbian take on Rumplestiltskin, which I still cannot spell without at least three attempts! It’s about Tia, a young street artist who paints Kelly, and gets a date along with payment. The date goes really well, and Kelly promises to call… But if I tell you more, then there’s nothing for you to read about!
I loved your take on the Rumplestiltskin fairy tale. What inspired you to write ‘A Stranger Bought’?
I started off at university training to be a primary school teacher, specialising in English, and as part of this, I bought a lot of children’s books, one of them a really lovely book of fairy tales. When I saw the call for fairy tale related stories, I dug out the book again and looked for one that’s not so well known – like Rumpelstiltskin. I started by taking out the parts of the fairy tale that I don’t like, including the love interest testing the heroine by making her spin straw from gold, and her offering to trade her first born for the trick, then got to thinking about what a modern version of spinning might be… from there, it was a short step to Tia the street artist. Throw in some magic, and there you have it.
Do you have any writing advice for aspiring authors?
Get into a fandom and write fanfic! Sounds like odd advice, but fandom got me writing regularly, taught me how to write within confines like a prompt in an exchange, or the canon of a particular episode. Writing for challenges and exchanges taught me to write to deadlines, and also got me used to sharing my stuff in public. It also helped me build up a community of other writers to be part of, and even got me over my embarrassment about writing sex scenes (true confession: I used to write them while looking away from the screen, and avoided proof-reading them for months).
(Note from Jo: I completely agree with Emily! Fanfic is a great way to hone your writing skills and get used to sharing your work and dealing with critiques of your writing.)
What are you currently working on?
I’ve just submitted a story about a young trans girl coming out in school, and now I’m working on something for an anthology of stories about writers, publishers etc – that one’s a sort of urban fantasy, about a printer who finds a hot, naked print devil in his shop one morning.
Thanks so much for stopping by and telling us about yourself, Emily.
If you would like to read Emily’s Rumpelstiltskin story ‘A Stranger Bought’ you can find it on Torquere Press’s website (you can read a free sample), Amazon and other online bookstores. You can also find ‘A Stranger Bought’, along with my Red Riding Hood story ‘Annabeth and the Wolf’, in the anthology Torqued Tales.
Emily Moreton published her first short story in 2007, for a charity anthology in aid of victims of Hurricane Katrina. Since then, she has published over 30 erotic short stories, mostly m/m and f/f. In 2011, she had a story accepted into the anthology of best speculative lesbian fiction, and in 2013 was part of an anthology nominated in Goodreads’ M/M Romance Members’ Choice Awards.
Emily lives in Bristol, UK, with her cat, where she works as a data analyst, studies towards her PhD, and tries not to sleep through Sunday morning archery class.
Today I’d like to welcome Steve Rossiter to my blog. Steve runs The Australian Literature Review (www.auslit.net) and Writing Teen Novels (www.writingteennovels.com) and is the editor of various anthologies, including Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories (featuring one of my first ever published stories) and the recently released The Life and Times of Chester Lewis. Steve offers great opportunities to emerging writers through his programs and he has played a big role in my own writing journey. It is a pleasure to have been able to interview him and pick his brain.
You wrote the final story in The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, can you tell us a little bit about it (without giving away any spoilers)?
The final story takes place around Chester Lewis’s 100th birthday and is told from the POV of his granddaughter. It marks the end of Chester’s life story but raises new implications for the Lewis family.
I wanted to create a final story which would spark readers’ imaginations rather than, say, wind down and have Chester reflect on the past 100 years of his life.
You were also the editor for The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, how did you balance your two different roles? Was it difficult switching between writer and editor?
Since I wrote the final story, my main role for the most of the process was as editor.
It wasn’t difficult to switch between the two roles at the end. I wrote my story with pen and notepad then did my first full edit of the story as I typed it onto the computer.
As well as the various short story anthologies you have published, you also run The Australian Literature Review, which often has short story competitions. You must be somewhat an expert on what makes a short story stand out after all the stories you’ve seen! What are your biggest tips for writers of short stories?
In a previous interview, I was asked what makes a compelling character and I responded that it is a combination of purpose and personality. This would be a good place to start for developing a short story idea. I mean developing a character in the full context of that fictional person and the story-world in which they are situated – not just to pick a goal and label a few personality traits in an abstract way. A character’s sense of purpose and their personality will, of necessity, draw from the story-world in which they are situated.
A simple but important tip is: create a story concept before you start writing. Many fiction writers just write with no story concept in mind and hope a story will emerge, or they write about the setting and/or character relationships with no clear sense of purpose or story momentum. This is fine if you’re writing something as a brainstorming exercise to help trigger an idea to adapt into a story concept, but many writers write without clear purpose and use the result as the end story.
The basic components of a story concept could be summarised as:
1) A character (in the full context of being a fictional person situated in their story-world) actively pursues a goal.
2) That character and other characters care about the outcome, but for conflicting reasons.
Readers will care about the outcome if they relate to why the characters care and what they do to pursue their desired outcome.
There is a fan fiction writing competition running on chesterlewis.net, do you have any advice for those hoping to enter?
Making an early decision to enter the competition is a good idea, so they have plenty of time to write a good story, then get some reader feedback and refine it before submitting. It runs until August 31st 2013, but writers can sign up early and they have until August 31st to send their story in. There is a $10 entry fee before March 31st(or $15 for those who sign up between April 1st and August 31st).
Participating in the private Chester Lewis Fan Fiction Group on Facebook is a good idea. Once signed up, the private Facebook group is available for entrants to discuss story ideas and their writing, to meet other writers, to receive fiction writing tips, and where authors from the book and some of their publishing industry friends will drop by from time to time.
Can you tell us about some of your current favourite authors/books and what makes them stand out for you?
I don’t so much have a few authors who are my absolute favourites as I have a range of reading interests and like various authors for different reasons.
Off the top of my head, some Australian authors whose novels I like include Fiona McIntosh, Rebecca James, LM Fuge, Tony Park and Jaye Ford, and some international authors whose novels I like include Stephen King, Gregg Hurwitz, Jodi Picoult, Thomas Harris, Cynthia Voigt, April Henry and Bernard Beckett.
If I was to lump the authors together and describe some things their novels tend to have in common, I would say they have characters with purpose and personality, they have a story with clear stakes, they have an easy-to-read style, and they explore interesting subject matter with intelligence and originality.
What are you working on right now?
I am currently writing a novel set in 1939 Poland with a teenage main character, intended for publication in 2014. My aim is for the novel to be entertaining for teen readers and a serious historical novel for adult readers.
I have Writing Teen Novels (www.writingteennovels.com) undergoing a big expansion from January 1st to feature daily posts throughout the year from a great mix of established novelists from around the world. There will be more than 20 novelists with a post per month throughout 2013 and guest novelists each month.
I will be launching Writing Historical Novels from January 1st along similar lines as the expanded Writing Teen Novels site.
The line-up of authors for these two sites will be announced in December. There will be numerous New York Times bestselling novelists as monthly contributors on each site (including one with more than 75 million copies in print), as well as novelists who are also professors, historians, feature film directors, screenwriters and producers for film and TV, scientists, non-fiction authors, documentary makers, teachers, journalists (including a Pulitzer Prize winner), and more.
I also have Writing Novels in Australia (www.writingnovelsinaustralia.com) – initially a place for members of a writing program I ran in the first half of this year to put down some thoughts about their writing and to reach readers – relaunching from January 1st with a mix of Australian aspiring novelists, early-career novelists and established novelists, including authors such as Helene Young (published by Hachette and Penguin) and Greg Barron (published by HarperCollins).
Any parting words of wisdom?
Write the kind of fiction you find personally rewarding. If your aims for your fiction include commercial publication or to be read by other people (and most writers want their writing to be read by other people in some capacity), find some overlap in what you find personally rewarding to write and what others find personally rewarding to read.
Thank you, Steve, and good luck with rest of your blog tour!
If anyone would like to see Steve’s blog tour schedule or read some of his previous interviews or guest posts on his tour, please follow this link.
Book website: www.ChesterLewis.net
Facebook page: www.facebook.com/TheLifeandTimesofChesterLewis
In a couple of weeks on my blog I will be interviewing Steve Rossiter (editor of the recently published The Life and Times of Chester Lewis, runs The Australian Literature Review and is an author, too).
I was compiling some questions to ask and thinking to myself, ‘What sort of questions would interest my fellow writers?’ and I figured, ‘Hey, why don’t I just ask them!’
So, if you have any questions relating to writing, The Life and Times of Chester Lewis (and the fanfic competition) or Steve Rossiter, please leave them in the comments below. I will pick a selection to include in my interview with Steve.
Last week I was answering interview questions about my story in the integrated short story collection The Life and Times of Chester Lewis and, since I hadn’t looked at it in quite a while, I gave the story a reread. Like most writers (I would imagine), I couldn’t help but think there were places where I could have written more tightly or hooked the reader in more. As writers I don’t think we ever stop editing our stories in our heads, even after they’ve published. I’m a perfectionist in that way, and I don’t think I can ever feel like my writing is perfect. Good, maybe, but perfect, no.
I did concede to myself, however, that I was quite happy with how the main action scene turned out. There are some main points I keep in mind when writing action scenes that I think make a world of difference:
1. Short, sharp sentences pack a punch.
2. But, it is also important to vary sentence length to keep readers engaged, not bored. Short, sharp sentences lose their impact if you don’t vary them with some longer (but not too long) sentences.
3. Get into your character’s head. Think about his or her reactions.
4. Up the stakes. Just when it looks like the character will be triumphant, just when they’ve got the upper hand, turn the tables. Throw the worst case scenario at him or her. Make it seem as though all hope is lost and there is no way out.
If you want to check out my Chester Lewis story and judge my action scene for yourself, The Life and Times of Chester Lewis is actually on special offer today for its launch. You can grab a copy of the ebook for $0.99 (it’s normally $3.99). This is an especially good opportunity to pick up a copy and get started on you fanfic story (if you’re entering). Remember, it’s $2000 for the winner of the competition and it’s open worldwide. What a great opportunity!
Do you have any tips for writing action scenes? What really hooks you in when you’re reading them? Do you have any favourite action scenes from books you’ve read?
A couple of weeks ago I interviewed the lovely Fleur McDonald (author of the Australian novels Red Dust and Blue Skies). I am lucky enough to have a short story appearing in the same anthology as Fleur (Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories). Today Fleur has posted an interview with me on her blog where I talk about my writing, balancing writing with motherhood and a little bit on my short story in the anthology.
My first published story ‘Angel Blood’ is due for release in Australian Literature: A Snapshot in 10 Short Stories at the end of this month. In the lead up to its release, I was lucky enough to be interviewed on The Australian Literature Review. In the interview I answer questions about the story ‘Angel Blood’ and my writing in general. You can find the interview here:
This week I had the pleasure of being interviewed on fellow writer Jess Byam’s blog. I met Jess through Write on Con, she gave me some great (and helpful) critique on one of my picture book stories. She contacted me last week to ask if I would like to be interviewed on her blog. In her interview I got to discuss my work-in-progress, my early writing memories and my favourite books.
I’m hoping to soon start conducting a few interviews of my own with fellow writers in the future. In the meantime if you’d like to see my responses to Jess’s interview you can see them here: Interview on Jest Kept Secret
As a writer, what have you learnt through being an editor and an agent intern that you now apply to your writing?
What is the best piece of advice you have for aspiring authors?
C.A. Marshall is a freelance editor, lit agent intern, YA writer, and loves to play with her dog Mollie. She dreams of one day owning a small house near the water, preferably in England, with a shelf full of books she has written and has helped others to write. She can be found in Emmett, MI and at camarshall.com
Be sure to check out the Free Edit Contest on Cassandra’s blog. One lucky person will win a FREE substantial edit for up to 100K words.
Thanks so much for being here, Cassandra!
(P.S. To all those waiting for the results of the Graceful Doe and Peevish Penman’s blogiversary contest, the winners will be announced in the next post. Not long now!)
This week I was interviewed on Beth Hull’s blog. I got to talk a little about my work-in-progress, my writing process and how I find time to write with two little ones at home (among other things). Beth is my critique partner and in coming weeks I will be interviewing her on this blog.
Aspiring author interviews are not only great practice for when you do become published and will have to think about the answers to questions about your book (including summarising it in a couple of sentences) and about your writing process, but it’s also a good way to relate to other writers who are at a similar place on their writing journeys.
You can check out my responses to Beth’s questions here: NiFtY Interview with Jo Hart