Well, it’s been quite a week around here! The social media blitz should die down for a while, now that Finis. is out and we’ve had the launch party. The festivities yesterday were really wonderful; thank you, profoundly, to everyone who came out to celebrate and who has already bought the book and who has left reviews. Such a delightful end to my summer break — because, yes, I went back to my classroom today. *le sigh*
So I’ve been invited to participate in a blog tour by the excellent Leah Lax. (Thanks, Leah!) Without further ado, here we go!
1. What are you working on?
This summer I’ve finally been at a moment in my life — and hopefully this won’t be the last time I’m here — where I have that “writer’s trifecta” of a book about to come out, a book that’s in edits, and a book I’m writing (or in my case, rewriting). Though I love all these projects, I think for this interview I’ll focus on the book that has just come out, Finis. It’s set in a world where people are still quite human, but they also have distinct animal characteristics, called their Animal Affinities. They aren’t part animal, not really, nor do they traditionally have animal familiars, but they do evince certain qualities and tendencies that make them more than just human. For example, the protagonist’s mother and sister are giraffe-esque: they’re tall with golden skin and lots of big freckles. When they walk, they lope gracefully like distant ships on the ocean. Her cousin is like a seahorse, with his webbed fingers, prehensile feet, long nose, and spiky brown hair. Her problem? She doesn’t apparently have one of these Animal Affinities, and it’s causing terrible difficulties in her life. This is the story of her journey as she attempts to get out of that predicament.
2. How does your work differ from other work in your genre?
Finis. is magic realism, and as is the nature of magic realism in general, it is generally unlike the stories around it.
3. Why do you write what you do?
I write the kind of things I like to read, which means I don’t tend to stay in just one genre all the time. My specialties are magic realism, fantasy, and poetry. Often a situation or a problem or a piece of dialogue will get stuck in my head until my subconscious starts to wrap a story around it, secreting layers of metaphor and imagery and character. Sometimes what comes out is interesting enough to start editing into something more meaningful. But nearly always the story begins as a tiny obsession in my mind, and then I have to write it just to stop thinking about it.
4. How does your writing process work?
Well, the school year is about to start, and I teach high school full-time, so my writing process is about to get a lot more desperate! I’ll borrow time here and there for a half an hour at a time during the week, and then on the weekend I’ll leave my house very early on Saturday morning to head out for a writing date with my friend and fellow novelist Sarah Warburton. We’ll sit at Panera for a few hours and get some work done. I also have a critique group that meets every few weeks, and having external deadlines on manuscripts that aren’t in the publishing process yet really helps me to get the pages in. I’ve found that external deadlines are absolutely necessary for me. I hate disappointing other people far more than I mind disappointing myself! I’ve also noticed that my writing process tends to change when I have a major shift in my routine; i.e., my habits during the summer are really different from my habits during the school year. And every time one of those routine shifts occurs, I try to revise the way I do things to always be more productive, more efficient. So we’ll see how things go this semester. One thing about having a schedule that’s always way too busy is that my writing time, when I do get it, becomes sharply focused. I no longer have time for writer’s block, and so I spend time thinking about what I’m going to write when I’m doing other things, like exercising, folding the laundry, trying to fall asleep — and then when I do finally get a chance to sit down and do it, I usually can. That makes my time in front of the journal or laptop more useful.
Thanks again to Leah for initing me on this tour! If you’re interested in Finis., here are some links where you can buy it:
It’s also available in Apple’s iBooks store, and more venues are coming online each week. Check the Finis. Facebook page for updates.