Do blogs hop? My writing buddy and fellow author Timothy Hurley invited me to join in the My Writing Process blog hop. He posted his version of the blog, in his usual dry wit, last week at www.thelunaticassylum.blogspot.com. His fiction can be found at http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00I5P3WYS, and in my Kindle (no, you can’t read it on my Kindle, just saying). That all said, let’s hop to it.
1. What am I working on?
As many of you know, I write mostly speculative fiction, mostly short stories, with a novel in the works (what writer doesn’t?). I’ve had good success with the short stories, with 15 sales to date, across multiple subgenres including mythica, science fiction, historical fiction and ghost stories. Novel writing is not only harder, but it’s also incredibly hard to sell novels, which are my excuses in that arena, lame as they may be.
But I’m getting closer, with my second novel (the first one, Gho, eventually got downsized to a novella and just sold), Ragnarök Willie, basically complete and ready to query. Almost—I successfully postponed the dreaded querying process a few more months by submitting Ragnarök Willie to the ABNA 2014 writing contest (wish me luck). But here is my query pitch:
When an archeologist unearths the prehistoric fortress of Valhalla, thirteen semi-mythical valkyries, an ancient pagan cult, and young Lasse Nordberg all head north. The valkyries are vying with each other over global domination. The pagans are plotting to avenge the millennium-old Christian invasion. Lasse, a university drop-out and video game junkie, is looking for a job, a girlfriend who doesn’t cheat, and an occasional latte.
Thrilled to find work at a tiny newspaper in the frozen armpit of arctic Sweden, Lasse is assigned to report on the dig. He wonders why his blond boss keeps a bevy of throwing axes in her desk drawer. And why the sexy druid keeps asking him about old hunting horns. He should do more than wonder: his boss is one of the valkyries, wingless but deadly, and his druid girlfriend is using him to find Gjallarhorn, the not-so-mythical horn of Heimdallr. Which, if blown three times, will awaken Odin’s undead warriors for Ragnarök, the battle at the end of the world.
Come Midwinter’s Day, his back to a pillar of fire, surrounded by warring valkyries, a blue-bearded giantess charging at him, Lasse will have blown Gjallarhorn twice already.
2, How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I think this is the toughest question on this blog tour, because at one level everything that anyone writes has been done before. But of course everything is different too. For my part, I enjoy combining myths and legends with modern-day life, with the fantasy element real but plausible do everyday folks, and hence my everyday characters. In Ragnarök Willie, Lasse Nordberg is you typical 20-something slacker looking for a latte and a girl, yet he’s unwittingly surrounded by semi-mythical valkyries vying for a really awesome hammer.
I also like to set stories somewhere other than New York City (sorry Timothy) and Paris. Besides setting Ragnarök Willie in Kiruna, Sweden, I’ve set stories in Svalbard (the northernmost island of Norway), Australia, Wyoming, of course Colorado, and, being a Sic Fi writer, the moon, Mars and Mercury . I even mash things up a bit—my only story that includes elves and dwarves is set in the Asteroid Belt.
3. Why do I write what I do?
OK, this is tough too. The simple answer is I have a hyperactive imagination and writing lets it leak out in ways that are not socially unacceptable. I also travel a lot on business (I have no plans to quit my day job, running a product development company, Zebulon Solutions ), so it’s fun to set scenes in places that I can see from an airplane.
4. How does your writing process work?
I usually start with a premise, like what if the Chinese embargoed rare earth metals like in The Trillionaire or what if two valkyries battled it out on the apex of the Sydney Harbour Bridge, like in How a Valkyrie Flies? The next step is to invent a protagonist, and more importantly his or her voice. After that I throw words at paper, banging out a first draft without thinking too much, just letting the characters do what makes sense.
Then I edit, and edit, and edit. Then rethink the plot. Then edit some more. Maybe one day I’ll be able to edit less, but that’s not today.
After that I’ll let a story rest for a while, so I can go back with a new set of eyes. Eventually I’ll feel good enough about it to let a critique buddy have a crack at it, and then I edit some more. Eventually I get to done, then I let it sit a little more, then I edit another go or three. Then, just maybe, it’s done done.
That’s it for my hop. Next week, please check out the next hop when multicultural fantasy writer JF Garrard takes the reins on February 24th.
JF Garrard got into writing through reading comic books and watching movies as an escape from her mundane childhood in Toronto. Writing has always been something she wanted to do although she was almost tossed out of her Catholic all girls high school writing club for writing dark and weird stories. She is a germaphobe with a Nuclear Medicine background and holds a MBA in Strategy & Marketing. Her first book “The Undead Sorceress”, Book 1 of the International House of Vampire series is set for release in April 2014. Concept art for her multicultural fantasy books and excerpts are available on her website, jfgarrard.com. Find her on Twitter @JFGarrard and Facebook page as JF Garrard.