Ever wonder what it’s like backstage in an author’s “workshop?” Inside their brain…and if anything ever went a little off the rails? Me too! So I recently had some fun asking a few of my author friends two questions, and got some really interesting and amusing answers.
(We had such great answers, I hated to cut them down, so we decided to break it into two parts. Part 2 with a new set of authors will be posted on June 2nd)
The authors in today’s post are Sherry Kyle, Sarah Sundin, and Susan Meissner. I’ve linked to their sites so you can add their books to your TBR pile, and find out what they’re talking about here. I personally recommend every one!
Here are the two questions I asked each of them:
1. What’s something funny or ironic that happened to you while writing/researching one of your books?
2. What’s one thing you find most helpful when developing a character?
Here is Sherry Kyle to kick off the discussion.
1. While writing THE HEART STONE, my latest contemporary release, I discovered I could write humor, or my version of humor, into a novel. I inserted a name that made me (and others, I’ve been told) chuckle. When you find it, please let me know. If you could give a character a funny name, what would it be?
2. One thing I find helpful while developing a character is to find a photo of my character and keep it handy as I write. I’m such a visual person, and the picture helps me imagine what she’d do, how she’d act, and what she’d say. I also find photos of her home, her wardrobe, and her pet, if she has one. It’s like I’m playing with a paper doll. What can I say? I’m a young girl at heart.
Sherry writes faith-based fiction and nonfiction for women and girls. Her upcoming release, THE HEART STONE challenges us to turn over the hard places in our hearts to the One who can heal and restore.
Next up, welcome Sarah Sundin.
1. While researching my upcoming novel, On Distant Shores (Revell, August 2013) which is set in Italy in World War II, I had the privilege of visiting Italy (suffering for my art). We found a tiny museum in Anzio dedicated to the battle there, which had a delightful docent. Except he spoke Italian with a smattering of English—and I had a few months of “Learn Italian While You Drive!” He showed me every inch of the museum, including some materials he didn’t have on display, and answered my questions (I think). The intersection of my pidgin Italian and his pidgin English was quite funny.
2. I love characters! What helps me most is spending lots of time getting to know my characters before I start writing the book. Being a nerd, I fill out a very long character chart—appearance and health, family and friends, social and economic and religious background, education and job, talents and hobbies, goals, fears, secrets, and more. I give both the hero and heroine a personality test and read up on that personality type, so I know he or she will act. It’s a lot of fun.
A scientist by training, Sarah uses her awesome research skills to write award winning historical romances.
Wrapping up today’s interviews, Susan Meissner.
1. It’s not exactly funny or ironic, but it happened and it was pretty cool! I was researching my Rachael Flynn mystery series and interviewing a Ramsey County prosecutor. When I had finished asking him all my legal procedure questions, he asked me if I an hour or two. I thankfully had made NO other plans. He invited me to sit in on an afternoon in court. I got to sit in front on the prosecutors’ side and I was able to learn things – like what color the file folders are (brown, like old pennies) and what the chairs were like and on which side of the room the defendants entered the courtroom- details that I hadn’t asked and didn’t realize I needed to know. So, word to the wise: When you make an appointment to interview a field expert, don’t make any other plans that day! You never know what opportunities may come your way after you think the interview is over.
2. It’s helpful but it also drives me crazy. I discover my characters as I write. The hard part is I never feel like I’m ready to write until I know the character. I have to start writing in the fog of not knowing, which is NOT enjoyable for me, an avowed outliner. If I waited to start writing until I knew the characters, I would never write anything! In A FALL OF MARIGOLDS, which will release in February, I wrote the beginning chapters (we’re talking 75 pages) over and over until one day, everything clicked. I knew who Clara was. I knew what she loved, what she feared, what could hurt her, what could make her strong, and what could take her to the mat. But I had to write and rewrite and rewrite to get there.
Susan Meissner has so many awards and accolades to her name we don’t have enough room here to list them all. She’s best known for her parallel timelines, a talent only the most crafty writers should attempt!
Beverly Nault writes fiction and nonfiction over at FRESH START STORIES, and mostly tries to stay out of trouble. Check out her award winning SEASONS OF CHERRYVALE series.