Chris Fabry, whose gritty, suspenseful Western romance, Borders of the Heart, was released just last September. He'll visit us on January 28, so there's still time to read the book before his interview!
Carpe Annum! I love our theme for 2013. That's what the 6 of us plan to do, corporately and individually in the coming year, and I expect you do too. In my case I'm moving forward with indie publishing, and anticipate releasing my next novel on my birthday, July 1st. Happy birthday to me! I'm working hard at promoting Unraveled, and will soon re-release Every Good & Perfect Gift and Lying on Sunday, in both print and Kindle format. Yay!
As many of you can attest, there are a number of highlights in the life of an author: finishing a novel, signing that first contract, holding your published book in your hands, hearing from readers -- which really is one of the best things about being published. But another "best" for me is beginning a new manuscript. It's a thrill all its own, and holds so much promise. I can imagine Harper Lee sitting down to begin Mockingbird, creating one of the most enduring novels in literature, as told by one of the most endearing characters in literature, Scout Finch. I wonder how much Harper Lee knew about her story when she wrote that first paragraph. She could not possibly have imagined the lasting impact it would have on the world around her. She not only seized the year, she seized the ages. Wow. There's no end to the author studios our imaginations could take us to, envisioning ourselves looking over their shoulders as they penned, "Call me Ishmael." "Last night I dreamt I went to Manderley again." "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times ..."
As this new year begins, I've just begun work on a new manuscript. In December, I posted the prologue I wrote several months ago, but the prologue was as far as I'd gotten with the story. Yesterday I began Chapter 1. I'm so excited to be back at work. Since I began writing in the mid-80s I've had a novel in the works, without exception. Until 2012. I completed my last novel early in the year, and except for that prologue, I didn't write another word. I've said this before, I know, but usually by the time I'm 2/3 of the way through one manuscript, ideas for the next one are pounding at my door. I begin making a file for the new work as scenes present themselves and characters begin to take form. Dialogue is loud in my ears. I give myself a week or two after finishing one manuscript, then I'm right back at work on the next.
But there was much about 2012 that sapped my energy, both physically and mentally. (Do you sense how glad I am that 2012 is over?) I had ideas for two possible novels, but I couldn't make up my mind which way to go, and couldn't get traction on either one. I dabbled in plot and character development, going back and forth between the two, but nothing jelled. Then, in November, my daughter Mindy and I were making our every-7-week, hour-long trek to Folsom, where we get our hair done, when I brought up my dilemma. Mindy knew about my two possibilities, but as we talked about them, one of the ideas really began to click with me -- especially when Mindy threw out a terrific idea for a cover based on my working title. That settled it.
An odd way to decide on a novel to write? Perhaps. But simply put, it tipped the scales in favor of one topic over the other. And it gave me the enthusiasm that had been lacking. So for the past few weeks I've been expanding on plot ideas and character development, which is by far my favorite part of this early process. I love looking for the perfect names for my characters, and as I'm sure you've found, there are names that are exactly right for the people we create. I seldom hit on the right name, right off the bat. Instead, I try out a name, maybe even begin the writing with the wrong name, which will nag me until I find the right one. When I find the right first name, I search for the surname that fits. Then I go searching for the face to fit the name. Almost always, that's the point when a character comes to life for me.
But in the case of my current protagonist, her name came to me first, late one night when I was unable to sleep because of illness. It was as if she were suddenly there with me on the couch, introducing herself. A 12-year-old girl with an unusual name. And I said in a whisper, "What's your story?" And she began to tell me. Which was a bit unusual, because she doesn't speak.
Oh yes, there's nothing like beginning to write a new novel, to begin acquainting yourself with the characters who populate your fictional world; to discover the secrets they keep -- or try to; or to follow blindly along, not sure in the beginning what you'll uncover. It's as stimulating for me to uncover the plot of the books I write as it is the books I read. In both cases, there's always such great anticipation.
What about you? What's your favorite thing about starting a novel, as a reader and/or an author? And how do you plan to seize the year in 2013?