I like to begin with a little personal information about our authors, Yvonne. Tell us a little about yourself, where you’re from, what you do for a living—if you’re not a fulltime writer, what hobbies you have. That sort of thing!
What do you do for fun?
Fun? Um… Let’s see. Oh, yeah, what kids do. I remember, I think. Actually, I sing in a great concert choir, garden, read, spend time with friends and family.
What is your favorite animal, color, season of the year?
Otter, ‘cause they have so much fun. (there’s that word again) Yellow, or teal, or green, or brown–do I have to choose? Spring-I love to see things come back alive, the flowers and the colours are so fresh and welcome after the winter.
Aha, and i can see you’re from Canada (the spelling gave you away)!
Yes. We’re more civilized–or set-in-our ways. Take your pick. J
What’s your favorite singer, song, type of music?
Eva Cassidy. She’s dead now. What a loss. Died young of cancer. Her interpretations of well-known and lesser known songs are miles ahead of the rest. And her vocal range–wow! Because I like to sing I think I favour vocal music or music with a clear melodic line. I like pretty much all kinds of music except progressive jazz, rap and bebop. Guess my age is showing.
What’s your favorite movie?
The Life of Pi. I loved everything about it, the photography, the effects, the acting, the story and message, and that the actors were not known to me.
Who’s your favorite actress/actor?
I don’t have one favourite. There are many I admire. Although I was wowed by Javier Bardem in Skyfall. He had just the right blend of genius and madness.
Now that we know you a little better as a person, let’s get into your writing! What kind of books do you write ?
So far I have written only that nebulous genre called Epic Fantasy, but I use very little paranormal, so it is almost mislabeled. I have begun to refer to it as Old World Fantasy as it is set in an imaginary early medieval tome with almost no technology.
How many books have you written?
Only two so far, the first two in the Earth’s Pendulum Trilogy.
“Back From Chaos” is Book Oneand “Through Kestrel’s Eyes” is Book Two. “The Dreamt Child” (in progress) will complete the Earth’s Pendulum trilogy. If I can get some ass-in-chair time my goal is to have it for the end of 2013.
After that I have not decided whether to stay with the same world or do something entirely different.
When did you start writing and why?
My most recent therapist thought I ought to journal. I didn’t like that idea so he said “Just write. I don’t care what you write. Just write.” And the rest, as they say, is history. OK, that may be a bit of an exaggeration. That happened seven years ago. Before that I was one of those thousands who say to each other “I could write a book” but never do. But I did, and now I don’t need a therapist. I write.
I think a lot of writers (myself included) are in that boat! Are you an avid reader and when you do read someone else’s writing, what is your favorite genre?
When I was twelve I had read every fiction book and many non-fiction ones in the younger section of our local library. By the end of grade nine I had branched out into Joseph Conrad, Dickens and many of the masters, as well as biographies of famous musicians and artists. We didn’t have TV until I was 18, so books were my escape from a harsh life. Books were my only friends. Later I fell in love with Fantasy and have read a lot of that. Now I read less as I write more. I am a slow reader so it takes longer for me than some to finish a book. My favourite book is Les Miserables by Victor Hugo.
I have several authors I admire but I truly love Robin Hobb. If I could write Fantasy the way she does I would be a very happy person indeed.
What is it that makes your writing different from all the others in your genre?
I don’t know about all others, but one thing that I think sets me apart from many is that my work is very character-driven. The story is there to support their development and their relationships. Also, I keep the paranormal aspect to a minimum so that the characters can make choices and thus affect their own journey. I try to keep the co-incidences that move things forward to a minimum as well so that, in spite of the fact that I write Fantasy, I do not stretch the credulity of my readers. It has to be within the realm of the believable to a large degree.
In general, how long do you spend writing a book?
The first one took 2 1/2 years, the second 18 months. So I’m getting better. Since I have become more involved in social media and in Indies Unlimited I seem to find balancing my schedule challenging and have not accomplished as much as I intended.
Boy, oh boy, can I understand that. Where do you do your writing and what is your process like?
I have a corner in the main living area of our tiny house that serves as my office. I don’t like to be cooped up in a closed room. But I do like silence so no music, and no chatter while I am writing. I do allow Mark to read while I write, though. He doesn’t have to leave the room. (Isn’t that nice of me? lol) And I am a pantser. I have a beginning and an ending in my head with a few key scene vaguely planned out, but most of it just happens. My characters tell me what they want. Is that a new twist on character-driven? Hmmmm, where did that therapist go?
Ummmm, I think she went to get a drink. So, tell us how you get ideas for your stories and characters?
I have always been an avid people watcher. My daughter’s standard line when we are out is, “You’re staring again.” I use what I see, what people confide in me (changed to protect the guilty), and social issues to get me started. This trilogy, for instance, has an underlying environmental theme to do with the interdependence of our environment and our own survival. But it is subtle.
I hate the subject of editing, but here we go…what is your editing process like and who does it?
First, I edit once, let my writing group critique it, edit many times again. Read aloud to my visually impaired elderly friend, edit again. Then, when it is as clean as possible, I send it to my editor, who loves me because I give her so little work to do. She told me she goes to my book when she needs a break from the other ones. Consequently she keeps her charges very reasonable.
That’s great! What’s the best/worst experience you have ever had as a writer?
Best: One fan told me she read “Back From Chaos” three times. Then, when “Through Kestrel’s Eyes” came out, she re-read “Back From Chaos” aloud to her young son to refresh herself. Now, that’s a fan!
Worst: Early on, I let a man who is a genius at English and had written a play look at my first chapters. He told me, “That is totally unbelievable as that is not what happens in war. No one will buy into the story.” It blocked me for three months. I never did change it, and others find it completely plausible.
As the saying goes, “you’ve gotta love those folks–you can’t shoot’m!” What is the best/worst advice you have ever gotten about writing?
Best: To change my second book into first person. (Nino Ricci read the first 15 pages of my first draft)
Worst: To use modern speech patterns for my characters. (Nino Ricci again. He had never read Fantasy and felt that even in an old world setting the characters the speech would be normal sounding to them so I should use modern speech). I believe that the more archaic speech puts the reader in a different world and makes the story more immediate and believable.Interesting though, that both pieces of advice came from the same person, an author who won Canada’s prestigious Governor General’s Award.
Well, Yvonne, they can’t be right 100% of the time. I agree with you! What advice would you give a new author?
Stay true to your own voice. Listen to all advice, then sift it for what feels right to you, and discard the rest. Learn all the rules and break them consciously only when you know why you are doing so. Write, write, write. Read, read, read–especially in the genre that you want to write.
If you hadn’t become an author, how else might you be exercising your right brain now?
I’d likely be in a lot more hot water opening my big mouth about political, social and justice issues. Or stagnating at home with severe depression. No, I’d better keep writing.
Is there anything i didn’t ask that you would like to share?
Firstly, I appreciate the opportunity you have given me here to spread the word and to thank all my friends at Linkedin and Indies Unlimited. Without them I would be lost. They have taught me so much and given their support so generously. Writers are wonderful people.
Ahhhh, aren’t we though? Oh, you didn’t mean me specifically. Okayyyyy! Where on-line can people find more information about you and your books?