I was tagged in the Writing Process Blog Tour by Holly Bodger, author of 5-to-1 (coming from Knopf in 2015, and an absolutely brilliant YA debut that I'm completely in love with!).
Here are my answers:
What am I currently working on?
I'm actually doing something not-quite-kosher--I'm rewriting a "book 2". Reason? I've recently rewritten "book 1" to change the tense and edge-up the writing, and since I'm in the middle of the Submission Desert with another novel (and don't have a fresh story tugging at me), I decided it would be sort of smart to go ahead and revise "book 2" on the tail of the other revision. I believe strongly in this trilogy, and I'm going to keep polishing until it's blinding. No, really.
How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My on-submission novel, a YA SF, eschews the common-in-YA "love triangle" trope, and instead brings to the forefront what I would like to believe is a character-driven, action-packed plot. Yes, there's romance (of course!), but it's not every-other-page and this-is-all-about-girl-meets-boy. And though it falls squarely into the science fiction camp, it's a book that people-who-don't-read-science-fiction can enjoy. In that sense, I believe it has broader appeal for a YA-loving audience, instead of a narrow genre niche.
Also, one of the supporting characters is mentally challenged (brain damaged). I fell deeply in love with her as I wrote the story, and I got some pretty strong "I love this character!" from some readers. She's cast in a positive light, and I feel like she stands out as "different" in the realm of sidekicks.
Why do I write what I write?
If I say "because I am a sci/fi geek", that is only partly true.
While my currently-on-submission novel is straight sci/fi, I mostly write dystopian. These are the stories that flow most naturally from the deepest part of me. Why? I'm passionate about our world and the direction in which we're heading. I like to look at current events/situations/political landscapes and imagine the trajectory: Where could this lead us in 50 years? 100 years? 300 years? (If we even last that long!) And I want young people to allow their minds to go in the same direction. "What will happen if this trend continues?" "What will my world look like when I'm 50?" "What does it mean to give up my freedoms?" "How can I change the world?"
I also write what I write--namely, NOT contemporary/realistic stories--because my passion lies in fiction outside of the realms of everyday. I can get excited about a world that has laser pistols or space transports or holograms or life-sustaining moons. Cell phones and proms and a job at the local coffee shop? Not so much.
BUT. That's not saying I'll never write a story like that. In fact, now that I've publicly declared my reasons for writing science fiction, I fully expect a YA contemporary to bubble its way into my brain next.
How does my individual writing process work?
I am, for the most part, a one-idea-at-a-time gal. Once I have the story seed, I world-build until the world feels solid enough to support a story. (I hate this part.) Then I use a beat sheet to "beat out" the novel before I begin writing. (I don't like this part much, either.) When I'm ready to start the first draft, I give myself 3 months (with a firm "due date") and then write 1000 words a day 6 days a week until I've finished it. (I supremely hate this part.)
Then I'll wait anywhere from 1 week to a month (not too-too long) before looking at it again. I'll go through, edit, and then send it to my beloved crit partners. Once I get their notes, I compile them and FINALLY get to work on the part I LOVE THE MOST: revising.
I love to revise. I LIVE to revise. Revisions are the soul of writing. For me, it's where the magic happens. It's what breathes real life into my story, and makes it what it's meant to be.
Once I have what I feel like is a clean draft, I send it to Josh, who is ONE OF THE BEST EDITORIAL VOICES IN MY LIFE. Sometimes I want to die after I read his notes, but without fail (so far) his suggestions (and those of his assistant Danielle) have been spot-on. I love the round of revisions that happens after I hear from this dynamic duo.
I am absolutely at my best when I am revising a manuscript. The only time I'm even BETTER is when I have FINISHED the revision.
I am one of those writers who likes to say, "I have written a novel" instead of "I am writing a novel".
And there you have it! I am tagging two other authors, who will answer these questions in the next week or so. Be sure to visit their blogs to see their answers!
Peter Salomon is the author of HENRY FRANKS (Flux, 2012) and ALL THOSE BROKEN ANGELS (Flux, 2014). He is also one of my critique partners, and manages the Success Stories pages for me.
Julie Butcher writes YA and MG fiction in many genres (though she claims that she writes thrillers no matter what she writes), and is represented by Deirdre Knight of The Knight Agency. She is also one of my critique partners, and offers freelance editing for full manuscripts.