Posts Categorized: AuthorsAnswer

Authors Answer 3: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs than you?

December 10, 2015 AuthorsAnswer, Brightmoon world, Writing musings 0

I find this a slightly odd question. Any author of fiction is going to be writing characters who are very different from themselves in scores of ways. I’ve written characters who are male, good with a sword, live in multi-couple marriages, rule a nation, can ride a horse, summon eagles or speak many languages, none of which can be said of me. And then there’s magic: my characters can spout fire from their fingertips, bend metal with mental power, manipulate emotions in other people and read memories. Their beliefs are the least of it.

As far as religious belief goes, my world has a slightly uneasy relationship with it, since one group of people likes to use religion as a tool: to keep the population under control, or to disseminate a useful idea. And they create religions wholesale, simply making up gods and mythology and rituals, as it suits them. There are characters who believe all this completely, and others who don’t believe any of it, and the majority who think there’s probably something in it, and go along with the public ceremonies to avoid censure. Which is not that different from our own world.

As for other beliefs, it’s fun to write characters who are completely confident that there are no dragons, for instance, or that magic is just a parlour trick, and have them brought face to face with a different reality. So no, I don’t find it difficult at all to write characters who have different beliefs from me, and in many ways this is one of the beauties of writing fiction: to explore ideas and customs that are entirely alien to us in the modern world. I would almost go further, and say that it’s one of the purposes of writing fiction. There’s surely little point in writing only about the familiar.

Footnote: Authors Answer is the brainchild of blogger Jay Dee Archer, of I Read Encyclopedias For Fun. You can read the answers to this question by his eclectic bunch of authors here. More recently, Erica Dakin, of the Theft And Sorcery blog, has been answering the questions independently. You can read her answer to this question here.


Authors Answer 2: is there an author often criticised that you love to read?

November 30, 2015 AuthorsAnswer 2

Not really. I’ve never read Fifty Shades of Grey, for instance. I’ve never read Barbara Cartland. I actually have more of the opposite problem: widely lauded books that I absolutely hate. I don’t know why this should be. I’m just contrary, I suppose. Or I look for something odd or quirky in my reading. But it’s happened to me many times over the years: a book receives rave reviews, but when I come to read it, I really don’t enjoy it at all.

Examples? The Black Prism by Brent Weeks. So many people rave about it, and there were elements I loved – the magic system was awesome, for instance, and there were a few moments that just took my breath away. But then there was Karris, the main female character, who was super-strong and the first woman to do something or other, but… what drove her to that was that her betrothed had a fling while off fighting a war and conceived a bastard. I mean, pur-lease, just get over it. Then there was Spirit Gate by Kate Elliott, which introduced a wonderful, vibrant, intelligent female character, and then turned her into nothing but motivation for the male character. Or we can mention Wolf Hall, which was exquisitely written award-winning tedium, for me.

The one that really broke my heart was Daughter of the Empire by Janny Wurts and Raymond E Feist. Janny’s one of those wonderful authors who pops up all over the place on blogs and forums. She’s a generous contributor, always thoughtful and interesting, a lovely person, and I was so excited to be reading one of her books. It had great reviews, everybody loved it, feisty female main character, right up my alley. And I hated it. The problem was that the main character was just as ruthless, conniving and plain evil as the bad guys. That was the whole point of it, because the society was set up that way, but I really can’t root for someone who’s indistinguishable from the villain.

If, at this point, you were to say: but Pauline, that’s just you being awkward and cussed and finding fault for some trivial little detail that doesn’t really affect the story, I can only agree. Yes, I’m awkward and cussed and some really odd little things trip me up. But then I only have limited time to read, and I don’t want to spend even ten seconds of it tutting and fussing and muttering, “Well, really!” at every verse end. So as soon as I start getting cross, however irrational, out it goes.

I do have some guilty pleasure reads, though. Mostly, these are light, genre books that provide a quick, easy read as a palate-cleanser between bouts of epic fantasy. I enjoy Regency romance, for instance, or cozy mysteries of the Agatha Christie kind (not the modern trend of eccentric quilting/baking/cat-loving amateur sleuth, which tend to be more about the quirks of the main character than the mystery).

And sometimes my guilty pleasure is in reading anything at all, given the half-completed books awaiting my attention. I should be writing, dammit! The twin pulls of reading and writing: if only there were more hours in the day.

The original set of answers to this question are here. And Erica Dakin’s answer is here.


Authors Answer 1: If you could design your dream writing studio/office, what would it be like?

November 21, 2015 AuthorsAnswer, Writing musings 0

A little over a year ago, blogger Jay Dee Archer, of the I Read Encyclopedias For Fun blog, had an idea: why not gather together an eclectic bunch of authors and ask them to answer an interesting question every week? And so Authors Answer was born. I discovered it rather late in the day, but when Erica Dakin, of the Theft And Sorcery blog, and author of the raunchy fantasy trilogy of the same name, decided to revive the questions to answer on her own blog, I thought – why not do the same?

So here goes: the first Authors Answer question is:

Question 1: If you could design your dream writing studio/office, what would it be like?

The study I have is pretty close, actually. It already has space for a nice big desk and plenty of bookcases. It has a big picture window looking out to the Moray Firth, and the mountains in the distance. It just needs a bit or reorganisation, and decluttering. Where does all this stuff come from anyway? It’s astonishing how it accumulates.

If I could start from scratch, then, I’d keep the room, and move everything out. Yes, even my husband, who has half the space at the moment. I want it ALL. One wall would be built-in bookshelves, for all my writing books and favourite reads (for inspiration). A swanky new desk, one of those wrap-around jobs. Somewhere for the functional stuff – printer, hard drives, spare cartridges. That would be the business side of the room.

The other side – the thinking and reading side. A reclining chair and footstool. A side table for the glass of wine and Kindle. Wait – I might not get so much writing done, though.

To be honest, I’m drifting away from the idea of a ‘special’ place to write. It’s a bit like waiting for the muse to strike: it becomes an excuse NOT to get anything done. With my (very modest) early royalties, I bought myself a rinky-dink little computer/tablet hybrid that runs Windows (and therefore Scrivener), so that I could a) take it with me on holiday to save lugging a normal-sized laptop; and b) cart it round the house when I’m doing boring house-stuff, so that I can sit down for ten minutes here and there and do some writing. The objective is to be able to write anywhere at all, and not just in some special snug writing den. And yes, it’s increased my productivity somewhat.

So a dream writing studio? Great idea, and yes, I’d love to have one, but I’d rather be able to write any time, any place.

You can read the original answers here (and they’re far more creative than mine; writing treehouse, anyone?). And Erica’s answer is here.