Karen: Describe how you come up with ideas: I.e., plot, characters, setting, for example.
My husband and I hashed out the bare bones of the seven-book story arc back in 2006, when it was still in the early stages. Before I start each manuscript, I’ll write out several pages of plot points which cover the main plot for that book and the sub-plots which run through the series. These do NOT always get followed strictly. The first book was entirely pantsed. All I knew was my basic formula. As the story progressed through the books, I was better able to plot ahead; but I often have cases of characters introducing themselves unplanned or established characters not following directions. Usually, this works out better than hoped.
Some of my inspiration in the early books came from articles in National Geographic or Smithsonian Magazine. Usually, this was when I was trying to decide where to stage the story, or elements to include in connection to a book’s Sister of Power. (Each book deals with a separate one, hence a seven-book arc.)
I made a point to research piracy and areas the story takes place in before beginning to write. Have to know what the rules are before you can break them, after all.
Karen: Haha, good point.
As a writer, I’m always intrigued by methods & schedules other writers use. How does a typical week of writing or revising/editing go for you?
Most of my writing has been done during work breaks over the years. There always seems to be too many distractions at home (cats, husband) to get good writing concentration. Lately, I’ve been frustrated and not getting as much writing done during my lunch break. I have a coworker who has gravitated to the table I use and feels the need to fill the silence with constant inane chatter. Kristina knows who I’m referring to. I keep telling myself I won’t get sucked in and will just ignore them, but it’s like not being able to log out of FB when you want to. Luckily (or un, depending on your POV) I got a good deal of writing done during time off for a recent med procedure.
I CAN make myself focus on typing up MSs and revising them, when I need to, though. (I do all my first drafts by hand in composition books; after all, you don’t have to worry about anyone stealing one of THOSE like you would a tablet or laptop.)
Just Sunday (May 30), I made myself stay offline until I got the MS of a horror short story unrelated to this series typed up and gone through one revision. I still need to figure out how to trim another 500 words off it, though, to meet the min-max word count requirements for the publisher it’s slated for.
Manateehugs: Vik definitely has the morality of a pirate of his time, has that ever been emotionally hard for you to write?
Actually, no. What has been hardest for me to write with him has been the first part of book 7. He’s a bit depressed and mourning the loss of a very important person to him. Getting in that mindset has been rough.
Manateehugs: I understand the roughness of writing the depression part. I have a really hard time sticking with a narrative if the character has lost their fighting spirit and there seems to be no end of the depression in sight.
I think he’s coming out of it some. He’s still putting off finishing his quest. Juma holds a special, unreasoning dread for him, another emotion he is completely unfamiliar with dealing with.
Kristina: Belladonna is so far one of my favorite characters. When you write about her do you identify with her? To me she seems like this beautifully scary, feminine (in human form) yet sexually lethal creature.
That pretty much pegs how I see Belladonna. She’s very fun to write. I do get into her head space, but she would be viewed as borderline sociopathic by an analyst. Since she’s not human, she doesn’t always fully understand WHY humans react the way they do to some situations. She doesn’t really feel remorse and only understands it academically. She is several thousand years old, despite her youthful appearance, so she knows her prey very well and can almost seamlessly mimic humans.
She does feed on sexual energy as well as living flesh. I still remember some of the guys [at work] saying they wouldn’t hesitate to “hit that” when I showed them a drawing of her true form, even after I explained she would literally EAT them for food.
So, if she were real rather than a figment of my imagination, she definitely wouldn’t go hungry.
Kristina: Does Jim Rigger/ Lazarus regret being turned? Or is the power and connection reward in itself?
Does Jim regret being turned… not really. I first addressed that in Demon Bayou.
(spoiler ahead, since I know you haven’t gotten that far in the series yet)
Jim was fiercely loyal to Viktor ever since they first teamed up in their teens. He knows how valuable he is to Vik as Lazarus. He’s given the choice to regain and retain human form as a vampire or continue as Lazarus. He chooses to remain Lazarus.
A spoiler/tease for all my readers: There will be a major event involving Jim/Lazarus in book six, The Daedalus Enigma, due later this year.
Kristina: Do people in your day to day life often inspire your characters?
Not really, with the exception of the one’s who’ve won or earned “red shirt” status. Even those are usually minor characters I’d already written with my victim’s name pasted on… with permission, of course. For anyone wondering what I mean by “red shirt”; they are characters who meet an untimely or horrible demise. I’ve gotten rid of a few coworkers this way in the past.
All of my main characters and secondary characters were initially created years ago when I first started planning and researching for the series.
I will admit benefitting from watching the interactions of my male coworkers to get a better feel for how the pirate crew interacts. Of course, I was already writing the first draft of the third book in the series by that time.