Author Interviews?

Posted on February 8, 2011. Filed under: Authors, Musings | Tags: , , , , , , , , , |

Does anyone know if authors do interviews with lowly bloggers?

I ask because I want to pick up my rusty journalism skills and start practicing again and was thinking it would be fun to be able to interview some of my favorite authors. Of course, that requires some clout, or I’m assuming it does.

I know there are bloggers out there who are well known to the publishing and writing industry. These are the bloggers who get to read the ARCs and review them for publishers. They have a highly rated blog simply by dent of having hundreds of followers, all of whom want to know about the books these people read.

I, clearly, am not one of those people. But it would be nice to find out if authors are willing to interview with a lowly blogger like myself.

Now, it’s also clear that I’m not a journalist. I studied journalism in college for a while, thinking I would double major in business and journalism and find a better job that way. But I dropped journalism shortly after starting the major, perhaps a year into it, due to personal circumstances.

However, my passion for writing has never changed, and since I can’t get a job in a newspaper or magazine at the moment, it would serve me well to keep up my skills by writing for myself and my readers. I merely thought it would be fun if that writing was about established authors and could get me noticed by a few more people in the process.

So far, I’ve contacted my favorite author twice and received one response from her. It was a personal response instead of a form letter, but as Lauren Willig has become ridiculously popular, I’m not sure I could get an interview with her, even one through email.

Other authors I’d like to interview? Ted Dekker, for one. Despite not being happy with the tacked-on ending (or beginning) to his Circle Trilogy (series?), I am curious about how that man’s mind works. His characters are so vivid that I wonder if they’re not people he knows in real life. Not to mention the worlds and situations he creates.

Off-hand, I’d also like to interview one of my earliest “adult” authors: Lori Wick. I started reading her books when I was a child, but those were the books that introduced me to the world of “adult” fiction, or rather, the world of fiction that technically should have been above my reading level. Lori Wick was always one of my favorites growing up, even though I sometimes feel she’s lost some of her touch (though part of that is due to the overwhelming amount of Christian romance fiction that permeates [read: saturates] the market today).

Aside from those three authors, I wouldn’t mind interviewing Orson Scott Card as I find his ability to make me like science fiction fascinating. Francis Chan would be awesome to interview as would Diana Gabaldon.

There are so many authors who I’d love to interview simply to understand their minds and where their inspiration comes from. The unfortunate thing is that many of the authors I’d really like to interview are already dead.

What would it be like to interview C.S. Lewis or JRR Tolkien? To sit down with William Shakespeare for a cup of tea and a chat? To walk along a field with Jane Austen, pumping her for information about Mr. Darcy? Or, if you’re like me, to watch an opera with Baroness Orczy and then stay up late at night with her, sipping whiskey (or whatever alcoholic beverage was her preference) over rousing tales of Sir Percy Blakeney?

Clearly that won’t happen. But I’d like to think that some authors out there are willing to be interviewed by poor bloggers like myself. Does that happen? I’m not entirely sure and haven’t done enough research to see if it does or not.

Who would you interview if you could? And why?

Rae

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What is it about magic…

Posted on January 14, 2011. Filed under: Books, Children's, Fantasy, Musings | Tags: , , , , , |

…that makes me feel like a child again?

There’s something about children’s stories that always awaken the child in me regardless of how old I am. I hope I never lose the sense of wonder and awe that I feel when I see movies where magic happens or read books that tell tall tales of dragons and hobbits and elves.

Tonight was another magical night.

Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader

My parents and I went to see The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at the theater. I was amazed it was still out in theaters, and we went to the non-3D version of the movie. I think because we saw the regular version, which might contribute to the graphics looking a little off. In fact, I was a bit disappointed in the graphic quality of this Narnia adventure as compared to the first two.

Never mind that I finally realized they’re making the movies out of order.

I imagine it’s because they needed to have the children close to the correct ages to fit into their respective books, but I also suspect it’s because they never intended on making the entire series into movies. But then again, maybe I’m wrong about the order the novels are supposed to go in. I was looking at my old, ratty copy of The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe tonight and realized it listed the books in a different order from some of the newer copies I purchased last year. So if anyone can link me to the proper order or simply fill me in, that would be great. Is there even an official reading order? I’m not sure.

But if there’s one thing I love about Narnia it’s the story. The story always captivated me as a child. I think I’ve said this before, but I always, always wanted to be Lucy. I would spend hours playing make-believe games and going into the bedroom in my granny’s house, opening double doors on closets and whatever else I could find and pretending they were wardrobes taking me to a frozen Narnia wonderland.

I love Lucy because her faith is so simple and pure. I think she’s always inspired me to achieve some of the same kind of belief in something so amazing that it seems incredible. I don’t think I have her faith yet, but I do think I have her awe at the way things happen.

And as it happens, I’m on a children’s theme today. I’ve been reading through A.A. Milne’s Winnie-the-Pooh today and found it delightful. Truthfully, I was always a Winnie-the-Pooh girl. My childhood blanket was a Pooh themed blanket that I still have. I have a Pooh picture framed in my room and a Russian Pooh nested doll that features five of the characters.

I know people always love Tigger for his energy. I love Pooh for his simplicity and adventurous nature. Instead of a silly old bear, as Christopher Robin always put it, I find Pooh to have a certain charm that makes him one of my favorite childhood characters.

Pooh Bear and Christopher Robin

Milne’s story is one I’ve never actually read; I always watched my old-school Disney VHS versions of Pooh Bear. Or I’d watch “The New Adventures of Winnie-the-Pooh” with that snappy theme song that started something like, “Gotta get up, gotta get movin’, ready for a brand new day…”

And, in case you were wondering, yes, I am such a Pooh fan I can sing the original Disney song.

From the beginning now…

“Deep in the Hundred Acres Wood, where Christopher Robin plays,

you’ll find the enchanted neighborhood… of Christopher’s childhood days…

a donkey named Eeyore is his friend, and Kanga and little Roo,

there’s Rabbit and Piglet, and there’s Owl, but most of all Winnie-the-Pooh.

Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, tubby little cubby all stuffed with fluff,

he’s Winnie-the-Pooh, Winnie-the-Pooh, willy, nilly, silly old bear.”

So how much of a nerd am I?

I can still remember the sound of the narrator’s voice reading the book and the look of the pages as they magically turned and you saw Pooh Bear climbing along letters and commenting back to the narrator. It was always one of my favorite images as a child. And I find myself still appreciating the simplicity of Milne’s book, even down to the amusement I feel that Pooh’s name always starts as “Edward Bear.”

I’ve also got Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner on my list to read and am equally looking forward to that one. And I’ll finally finish reading Benjamin Hoff’s The Tao of Pooh as well.

I’ll eventually go back and review the other two books that I’ve not reviewed yet. I still have about two chapters left of Pooh Bear to go, and I plan to finish that tonight. It makes for a nice, light read.

I hope you have something magical in your life as well! Share it with me?

Rae

P.S. Is it hypocritical to join a number of challenges based on books already on my to-be-read-2011 list? Just curious!

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Musing on God Knows What

Posted on January 10, 2011. Filed under: Books, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , |

I finished reading a second book on my list of 50 books yesterday and thought I would share a short review of it with you all.

Donald Miller is a well-known (at least in my circles) Christian author. His books are all in the realm of Christian non-fiction from my understanding, and before he authored books, Miller went on crazy adventures, joined various churches, experienced God at Reed College, and wrote for other, smaller publications.

I picked up Blue Like Jazz because a friend recommended it to me. To be fair, I’ll admit I didn’t want to read it. Not because it didn’t sound like a good book but because it was like so many Christian books. As soon as someone liked it, it became an instant sensation with people buying it up left and right. I always liked being able to find the more obscure or older books that seemed more personally meaningful to me, so I avoided it when it joined the Christian craze.

But my friend told me I would like it, so I grabbed a copy before going to China, left it in the house, and have subsequently picked it up again. It’s an easy, short read and took me about a day to read the whole thing.

Blue Like Jazz carries the subtitle “Nonreligious Thoughts on Christian Spirituality,” which is a fairly good description of the book. Instead of spewing the same Christian terminology and teaching why we should do this or do that, Miller looks at his own life and faith and describes those using metaphors the church, as a whole, might find a bit odd.

I enjoyed reading the book as it was quick and easy to grasp. I didn’t enjoy some of the stream of consciousness moments that seemed at random and unmoored with the theme of the chapter. Each chapter is broken into themes that are basically the idea for the whole chapter, and no chapter is completely sequential. I tend to think you could take the chapters apart and read them separately, out of order, and be just as happy as you would reading the book through from beginning to end.

What I liked about it was Miller’s blunt honesty. He never sugarcoats things, and the whole book is laced with his derision towards organized religion, particularly churches as a whole. At the same time, you come to recognize Miller’s faith for what it is: the faith that an individual person has developed through his own myriad of experiences.

It’s a journey I’d like to take sometime.

So while this isn’t the best Christian non-fiction I’ve read, it’s good, and I enjoyed it. I would even recommend it to some of my non-Christian friends as a means of understanding more of the Christianity I strive to move towards. It’s no Mere Christianity, but then again, few authors compare to C.S. Lewis. In his own way, Miller chronicles his journey of faith and reminds me that I, too, have a story to tell if I can just muster the courage to explore my own life and faith. And that is encouraging.

So what’s next? I decided to read something different and am now in the middle of Orson Scott Card’s Ender’s Game in my second attempt to like sci-fi. We’ll see how it goes, but so far it has been a fascinating read. I like Card’s writing style, but I’ll talk more about that in a subsequent blog, I’m sure.

Oh, and I started reading Chinese for Dummies and practicing all the lovely Chinese I can find in the book. Let’s just say this is going to be a lot tougher than it looks!

I’ll update with more later!

Rae

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On Character Consistency

Posted on March 10, 2010. Filed under: Editing, Fantasy | Tags: , , , , , |

Can you have too many characters in a novel?

So I’ve been working on editing my novel, and it’s understandably slow-going. (Though I admit to suffering severe laziness lately!) I’m still doing my first read-through, but one of the big things I’ll be picking up after this read-through is character consistency.

I titled it that because I’m not sure if there’s another “proper” term for it. So I’ll define it for you.

Character consistency: (noun) in a novel, the keeping of character descriptions, mannerisms, backgrounds, skills and abilities consistent throughout the whole

So that’s where my question originates. After looking at a few of my favorite series of fantasy novels, I have to wonder how difficult it’s going to be for me to keep my characters consistent. I plan to eventually write the sequel to Fire and Ice Bound, and it will no doubt add more characters to the mix that will need good, solid descriptions and backgrounds to enrich this world I’m creating.

Frodo Baggins

I decided for comparison’s sake to look into two well-known series. First, let’s consider Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. I am no Tolkien. He was a true master of the craft, having created Middle-earth, all its various creatures, the languages spoken by different races, and the specific characters who give the world and the plot life and breath.

The fellowship of the ring numbers 9 characters: Frodo, Samwise, Gandalf, Aragorn, Legolas, Gimli, Pippin, Merry, and Boromir. By the end of the first book, they number 8 and have split up, but the following two books tell the entire fellowship’s story in detail, following each group (with the exception of Gandalf) in their own travels.

If you look up the Wikipedia page for LOTR character pages, you’ll see that there are 64 different characters listed, all with separate Wiki pages. I can’t claim that Wiki’s correct (and no one will dispute that Wiki’s accuracy sometimes leaves something to be desired), but I scrolled through the page, and there are a number of characters listed that I remembered from the books, including those who didn’t make the movie version.

I’d be willing to guess that this is an incomplete list as I don’t remember everything from the books. But just consider that Tolkien wrote in parts for at least 64 different characters, all with appearances, backgrounds, abilities, and other minutiae he must have had to dream up. Even if he didn’t write in their stories, Tolkien created such a rich tapestry that it seems impossible for him not to have at least dreamed up the backgrounds for such characters as the various hobbits (the Bolgers, Brandybucks, Tooks, and Proudfoots “Proudfeet!”).

Okay, so moving right along, let’s look at another fantasy series since I am by no means epic like Tolkien. I got to looking at C.S. Lewis’s Chronicles of Narnia as well. The Wiki article covers characters from all seven of the books, so there’s a large number of characters mentioned. Just looking at the page, though, I’m a little overwhelmed by how many characters were introduced in this children’s series.

Lewis’s most endearing and enduring characters are characters like Lucy Pevensie, Mr. Tumnus, Reepicheep, and others. And they have very different personalities. Where Lucy is curious and brave, Mr. Tumnus is nervous and watchful, and Reepicheep is brash and excitable.

Perhaps one of the more interesting aspects of Lewis’s series is how much you see the children change. Yes, I know they don’t all feature in each book, but it’s the mystery of Narnia that Lucy and Edmund can continue into Narnia after Prince Caspian but Peter and Susan cannot.

How many characters is that? Six characters of a whole host of them featured in the stories.

I ask myself how these two incredibly talented writers could create such richly tapestried worlds with varying cultures, peoples, and plots. It seems a great deal of work to me.

And then I look at my own story. Fire and Ice Bound follows the story of 14 students. That’s enough to give me a headache, especially if I weren’t focusing on just one as the main character. But I have to give each student a description, skills, abilities, background, and a myriad of other items to make them come alive. And I’ve fallen in love with each of the students I’ve written.

To the end of character consistency, I started a character profiles document in my F&IB folder for the purpose of documenting the characters. Each student has a name, age, height, hair color, eye color, status, and element. (Because F&IB is an elemental story, most of the students have an elemental ability, which can get confusing.)

Of course, these 14 students aren’t the only characters in the story. So I have all my characters listed in the profiles sheet, including parents, extras, and others. And many of these characters haven’t even appeared in my novel in any way. But they’re all listed because they have their various parts to play.

At present, I have 35 characters listed in my document, but it hasn’t been updated since I wrote it at the beginning of November 2009.

In short, my second revision will include quite a bit of shuffling of characters, fixing those who change elements mid-story, bringing blue eyes back to brown where necessary, finding personality flaws that should be brought into more prominence, and making them more lively in what ways that I can.

Anybody else think I’ve overdone it? What about you? Have you written stories with multiple characters like this? How do you deal with a story that has a large amount of characters?

-Rae-

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Slow Post-er

Posted on February 15, 2010. Filed under: Books, Editing, reading, Science Fiction | Tags: , , , , |

This has been a rather lazy day. It’s now a little before 7:30, and I’m just getting around to posting for the day. On a side note, anyone who can tell me how to get the blasted time stamp feature changed on my WordPress account would be very helpful as it’s now saying I’m saving the draft at 12:23 a.m.

Even so, I don’t have a lot to say today. I’ve been reading all Lauren Willig all the time, but I’m considering a slight change of pace after I finish reading the current novel.

After thinking about it, I’ve realized I should probably prepare myself for the first round of editing before I get into it. So I’m going to pick up some of the books on my list that rank closer to the world of fantasy.

Next on my list to be read? I’ll be finishing off Kathy Tyers’s Firebird trilogy. It’s sci-fi, but the technical aspects of it will be helpful because I seriously need to bone up on my technology descriptions.

I’ve read Firebird and started reading Fusion Fire several months ago. For what it’s worth, this series has held my interest in a way few sci-fi series do. And I’ll be honest, I couldn’t stand C.S. Lewis’s space trilogy, consisting of Out of the Silent Planet, Perelandra, and That Hideous Strength.

I tried to read the series, but it was just too foreign to me. Perhaps I was too young; I think I first started reading it in middle school. Either way, the sci-fi did not work for me. And I’m a Lewis fan through and through.

With that said, I like Tyers’s world. It’s an odd combination of sci-fi and fantasy because the two genres can easily be said to be intertwined. I don’t care as much about the science of her world because I’m not scientifically minded. If it didn’t make sense, or, as my dad says, if the physics didn’t add up, I most likely wouldn’t notice. But I’m perfectly at ease examining her development of characters and gradual drawing of relationships. The plot helps, too, of course.

However, I’m pretty sure I’m going to make this series the last I read in the sci-fi genre. Why? The science bores me. If I have to read about how spaceships fly or the genetic qualities of a particular space gem necessary for survival on four-fifths of a galaxy’s planets, I’m going to fall asleep.

Yes, sci-fi can be well done. Yes, I’m sure it’s very interesting once you bypass all the nitty-gritty details. I’ll be perfectly happy to allow everyone’s opinions, but for myself, the next time I pick up a sci-fi book, I’d find it just as enjoyable to skip over the monotonous details and simply read for the plot.

Ah well, I suppose I’m not cut out for sci-fi. It is rather specialized. Or niche-oriented. Take your pick. Either way, I do recommend the series by Kathy Tyers. It’s lovely so far, and eventually I’ll finish it and write a review on it. (Then I’ll give the borrowed books back to Desteni.)

What is everyone else planning to read next?

-Rae-

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