Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Argh! I’ve been tagged!

Repeatedly. I’ve gotten so many tags from so many bloggers, I just can’t keep dodging them. So I've decided to stop trying and answer the tags in no particular order. First up is Sylvia van Bruggen's tag.

As I understand this game, I have to pick 11 bloggers and ask them 11 questions. Then, I have to respond to their 11 questions.

I’m sending them to the following 11 writer-bloggers—some of these choices will not surprise regular followers of this blog, but I hope some of them really do:

Now, my questions:

1. What’s your Easter egg—in other words, what unstated message do you want readers to take away from your writing?

2. Other than your main character, which character in your work is your favourite?

3. Who is your favourite fictional character from any writer’s work?

4. If you write in a genre, which convention or rule frustrates you most? Which would you like to change?

5. Among the genres in which you have NOT yet written, which two would you like to combine in your next work?

6. Do you ever include real people, from your own life or elsewhere, in your work?

7. What do you hope that fans will say about your work?

8. What do you dread that readers will say?

9. If you could appear as a character in any other writer’s work, which one would it be? And what role would you like to have in that story?

10. Is there a living writer, other than yourself, whom you feel does NOT get enough recognition today?

11. If you have a soundtrack for writing, name the first three songs on it (yes, I’m copying carrying this idead forward from Sylvia van Bruggen).

Now, in answer to Sylvia van Bruggen:

1. Someone is holding your book in his/herarms and is gushing about it to you. What does he/she say?

What I’d like him/her to say: “I love the multiple layers—the magic and fantastical, with dragons and monsters and wizards; and the love story; and the coming-of-age story; and the way you did not romanticize the era. And it’s so different from typical fantasy stories, set in a real time and place!

“And I love the way your main character’s disability, his social inability, his isolation from his own community, is slowly and gradually depicted, but then we also see that he learns to go beyond it. He is never “cured,” but he becomes more confident and aware of others’ motivations.

“Finally, I love the way you evoke so many ancient myths from so many different places: ancient Greece and Rome, but also Slavic, Teutonic, Egyptian and Scythian myths. It’s so refreshing to read about something outside the well-traveled, if fascinating, Celtic realm.

“Wait a minute—are the Kobolds speaking a Celtic language? Some of those words seem almost Irish!”

What I’m afraid he/she will say: “I couldn’t get past the weird names of places and characters. It was all too different from what I’m used to seeing or pronouncing. And why was the hero such a weirdo? Why couldn’t he understand the basic human social interactions? And why was the princess such a bitch?”

2. Which children's/young adult book did you only read and LOVE as an adult?

I still love most of the same books, although my uncritical love of Tolkien, Lewis etc. is waning as I read more broadly. I love magic realism like Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s, because it incorporates some of those fantastic elements, but adds so much more. I think of it as fantasy for grown-ups.

Elise Stokes began writing her Cassidy Jones adventures only a couple of years ago, so while that maybe is not really the question, it’s a MG/YA series that I love in my middle years (although my wife may dispute my “adult” status).

3. What makes your favorite writers so special? What in their writing do you love?

I love writers with a real gift for language, who know how to use it but don’t show off with wild linguistic fireworks. I also love the way a really good writer can show recognizable human frailties so you hate and love the character simultaneously. Some of the writers who are best at this include John Updike, John Irving and Mark Helprin.

Elise Stokes really captures and depicts the young teenager’s insecurity, hopefulness and rapidly expanding consciousness well. And in Black Beast and Lost, Rob Guthrie very believably shows a courageous man pushed to the edge of sanity by forces he does not want to believe exist, but must.

4. Which advice would you have loved to have when you started out writing?

Don’t write too much detail. You don’t have to describe every movement the character makes. Focus on moving the story forward. Let the characters’ emotions and motivations show in their actions.

5. Where do you go in your daydreams?

A conference where people talk about my books.

6. Where do you love to write?

On a patio or deck, in warm weather, shaded by trees with a glass of wine or beer beside me; or in my study on a bright, sunny winter day, looking out at a wide expanse of snow and ice.

7. Did you pick certain actors or TV personalities for your writing? If so, who?

Nope. They’re phony. Sometimes, I put people I know personally into stories and novels.

8. Did you ever write a character who then never left your mind?

Several: Javor, Tiana, Malleus, Valgus, Helen, the Witch Queen, Teri, Sam the Strawb Part, Vorona… they’re all so interesting.

9. Pick one fictional character. Describe how it would be to meet him/her.

Meeting the Roman Legate, Decius Valgus, would be fascinating and intimidating. He is a military man from start to finish, a man who puts the Empire ahead of himself and even his family—as all military people always have. Valgus is smart, rational, and the kind of leader who inspires loyalty, even devotion, among his men. He was a man of faith who has seen horrors that drive him to lose faith, yet he never loses his convictions and his dedication to honour and his country.

Just talking to a man like that about his life, his experiences and his feelings about issues like loyalty and faith would be fascinating enough for days.

10. What do you have around your writing space to inspire you?

Music, photos. I don’t wait for inspiration—writing is hard work, or maybe hard play. Like a sport you love, that demands a lot of sweat, but you just can’t stop doing it.

My problem is not finding inspiration, it’s finding time to write all the stories I want to tell.

11. Do you make writing soundtracks? Name the first three songs on it!

Whistlin’ Past the Graveyard by Tom Waits; Soul Sacrifice by Santana; All Along the Watchtower by Bob Dylan.

 If you've been tagged, don't take as long to answer as I did!

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