’til the moons fall
I’ve talked about the inspiration for The Demon Door series elsewhere–an image of two unusual young people sitting at a campfire, and I’ve talked about the circumstances–getting fired and suddenly having the time and resources to write my damned book already–but now I get to talk about something new–how to say goodbye.
I wrote the first line: ‘The Great Gorda River swung south’– (which somehow survived double digit re-writes and remains the first thing you’ll read) on a borrowed couch in a Louisiana cabin in 2013. I didn’t know how to write a book despite having read many thousands of them, and despite having written everything from stand up comedy to commercials to reviews and essays for the radio. What I did have was the accumulated wisdom of hundreds of authors in every stage of their careers. I’d been doing author interviews for six years at Sirius XM, and I paid keen attention. Of course, a lot of the inadvertent advice I got was contradictory–outline or pants, agent or not, self publish or go traditional. One thing everyone agreed on was the only way to write a book was to write a book–that is, staring out the window may count as research but ultimately it’s one word after another until you
hate everything you’ve written and want to die have something you can go back and fix.
I had to fix a lot of things. I had to learn pacing and plot, and while it’s tempting to have your characters stand around a featureless white room tossing witty quips at each other, what you’ve got there is called ‘a play’ and I wasn’t writing one of those. Also if you passionately love fantasy and want to write it, you’ve gotta do something called world-building, and boy was that a surprise!
I learned how important the role of the editor is, and I am lucky to have one who walks on water. If you can get Carly Hayward of Booklight Editorial to look at your work, do it. I learned you not only can judge a book by its cover but oh my god, do you ever. Spring for a great cover (Mat Hat Books, in this case.) I learned you can’t really get cute when writing the blurb because if it’s misleading people will set your ass on fire. (Just because it has romance in it and it has comedy in it doesn’t make it a romantic comedy–lesson learned!) And I learned about my characters. They didn’t appear like Athena, full blown. The process of getting them to reveal themselves–through dialogue, through action, through sex, or not, through what makes them ashamed and afraid or delighted, or proud, was a fascinating journey. I learned that queer characters are not props, and I hope my LGBT readers will approve. In some ways the most important relationship in this series is between Rhuun and Ilaan, and I think that’s as it should be. I learned that I actually loved world building. (I learned I used the word ‘actually’ too much!) And I learned to love editing and not be scared of it, because that’s where the good, juicy stuff takes place.
From Rhuun I learned that which makes you unhappy and anxious and lonely is also that which makes you a hero. From Lelet I learned that it’s totally okay to leap without looking, because you have wings.
From you I learned that having someone read my words is the best kind of magic, and I am sincerely grateful.