The Moon Sisters will release in paperback and audiobook (performed by Julia Whelan) on September 4th! Try for one of five paperbacks by entering on Goodreads (link below). Good luck!
My friend and fellow writer Irene McGarity contacted me last week to see if I might be interested in answering a few questions about my process for a Writing Process blogathon. Essentially, she explained, the tour is like a chain letter for writers, in which a writer answers four questions then invites another writer to answer those questions the following week. Alrighty, I said; I’m in.
Here’s my contribution.
1) What are you working on?
Three things I can’t talk about, for superstitious reasons. Only two are related to novels, though.
Something I can talk about– I’m working on the upcoming Writer Unboxed Un-Conference, which will occur this November in Salem, MA. You can learn more about that HERE.
2) How is your work different from others’ work in the same genre?
There’s been some debate about what it is I write and how to label it, which makes this question interesting–and might also provide the answer, haha.
I’ll say that I’ve read some books that feel…tentative. The conflict is tepid (comfortable). The characters are friendly (comfortable). The ending is predictable from page ten (comfortable). Once I fully understand what it is that I’m trying to write–which usually doesn’t happen until after the first draft has been written–my goal is to veer toward the authentic. Authentic happenings are not always comfortable ones. Even when they are, writers should beware; good stories are about conflict in one form or another.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I write what latches to my imagination conceptually, but I stay for the people that evolve on the page.
In general, I gravitate toward weird people matters like twin phenomena (The Last Will of Moira Leahy) and synesthesia (The Moon Sisters).
4) How does your writing process work?
My writing process is, itself, a work-in-progress. It used to be that I wrote daily, out of pure joy for it. That changed over the last few years, but I’m gradually falling back in love with writing and into a regular routine.
While I won’t say that I wait for the muse to strike, I do find it difficult to face the page when the mood isn’t right. When I’m at my best, I’m writing every day. Writing might mean literally typing or writing on paper, or it might mean studying the characters or the plot, or worrying a scene on a long walk. Whatever form it takes, I need to be alone with the story in my head every day for the work to come alive and stay alive. Otherwise it’s like a music box, and the magic ends when the lid shuts. I have to continually wind the back of the box and keep the lid open so that I’m fed by the process itself — the music that is story all around me.
Who have I talked into answering these questions? Kathleen Bolton!
Kathleen Bolton (AKA Ani Bolton) co-founded Writer Unboxed with me, and is the author of several fantastic stories including STEEL AND SONG. Check out her website HERE.
The first draft of The Moon Sisters is similar in some ways to the final draft of The Moon Sisters, but it is also very different. In the first draft, I experimented with writing a third-person point-of-view for Olivia, among other things.
Here’s a peek of the first graph of my first draft of this story:
My sister began staring at the sun shortly after our mother died, because she swore it smelled like her. For me, it would always be the scent of oven gas, because that’s how Mama went—fumes pouring out, her breathing them in. Like Sylvia Plath, my father said, because Mama was a tortured writer, too, but I don’t think it was suicide.
How does this differ from the final? In two significant ways.
- The final draft includes a short chapter called Ground Zero: The End of the Beginning. It’s in Olivia’s perspective, as opposed to Jazz’s perspective (above) and reveals what it was like for Olivia the day her mother died. That new content added drama, heart, and deep empathy for one of our protagonists, right from the start.
- Though the above graph is mostly the same as what you’ll read once you begin Chapter One: The Foolish Fire of Olivia Moon, it’s significantly different in that Jazz says here, “I don’t think it was suicide.” Ultimately, I worked out that Jazz does believe her mother killed herself, and that it is Olivia who rejected that idea.
First drafts are exploratory, and I definitely use them for that purpose. With time and thought, with input from critique partners and editors, and with lots of roll-up-the-sleeves hard work, stories are bettered.