Today is 2014. Which seems vaguely implausible, since yesterday it was decades ago and I was nine and twenty-four and twelve and also eighteen and thirty, because historically, I have a very hard time noting/remembering/reconciling myself with the passage of time.
(I think it might be fake.)
Here are some of the things that happened this year:
Here is a half-hour interview I did with the Bookends Program, for my hometown school district. It is conducted by two really wonderful local students, and the dear and indispensable children’s librarian of my youth, Sue-Ellen Jones.
In it, I answer a lot of questions about The Replacement and The Space Between, and talk about high school, folklore, and Shirley Jackson.
This is weird, because I think about them a lot, and not just while I’m writing them. I think about structure and nuance and what things mean, and how I think something should look in order to communicate efficiently or illustrate a point I want to make.
This is because, as much time as I’ve spent inventing made-up people, as much as I love to submerge myself in imaginary worlds, the thing I have always cared more about than anything else in the entire storytelling world is THEME.
It’s New Year’s Day! It’s 2013! Which kind of makes me feel like life is rushing by in one long, ungainly sprawl, but whatever!
Due to some general publishing shuffle-y-ness, resulting in a random (and I’ll be honest, not entirely unwelcome) deadline reprieve, I am still writing the first draft of my current book. Yes, that one. Still. Also, it is—hands down—the longest book I have ever written.
However, right now I’m taking a little break from battling the Ever-Expanding Wordcount because I have about nineteen really exciting things to say about Paper Valentine! And by nineteen, I mean six.
I know I said I was taking a blog hiatus. That I was on a deadline and way behind with all-the-everything, and that until I got caught up and mailed stuff and finished my draft, I wasn’t going to be doing much of anything else. But here’s the thing.
Yesterday, I officially turned in my copyedits for Paper Valentine, which means that it is now closer than ever to being a Real! Live! Book!
Also it means that now I have all this time to Think About Stuff again. And what I’ve been thinking about today is the broad and fascinating spectrum of author influences.
I’ll be the first to admit that my books aren’t exactly keeping any secrets in terms of my personal interests. Even the most casual reader could probably infer that I’m a big fan of horror movies, and the more academically-minded might go so far as to identify prevailing themes of autonomy, or observe that I clearly have a longstanding affection for Shirley Jackson and Gothic literature and moral ambiguity.
Today, though, I want to talk about an influence that might not be so obvious. Specifically, the trope of the Monstrous Fairy Godmother. (Also, I just made that last thing up, but I don’t care because it totally exists, and I will prove it!)
Before we go further, I want to officially notify you that somewhere below, I’ve included several images of horror-movie grotesquery and they may be disturbing. I can justify this to myself because I really want you to understand exactly what I’m talking about, and it’s a known principle of the internet that people enjoy blog posts with visual aids, and also TNT used to show this movie constantly, meaning that if you happened be channel-surfing on a Saturday afternoon you could very well stumble across the same upsetting content, only it would be live-action and you would be seeing it entirely by accident. See? I am giving you more warning than Turner Broadcasting would, because I’m conscientious like that!
And now, the actual salient point of all this:
When I was twelve years old, I became mildly obsessed with Victor Pascow.
Which is unprecedented and a little weird, because Victor Pascow is not a real person. In fact, Victor Pascow isn’t even a main character.
Okay, so I have This Thing that I’ve been thinking about for awhile (but a lot more during my last couple rounds of edits for Paper Valentine). And now, I’ve finally thought it about so much that I made up an official rule about it.*
First, some background:
Almost immediately after The Replacement came out, something happened that I hadn’t anticipated, which is that people started asking me where I get my ideas. Before becoming a mildly-public** figure, I hadn’t known that this was actually a pretty common question. But it is, and it is usually asked by junior reporters doing local author profiles, and at first, I gave really bad answers that sounded vaguely combative and looked terrible in the paper. Meaning, the first words out of my mouth tended to be, “I don’t know. Where do you get YOUR ideas? Because it is probably the same place.” (Sorry, reporters! I promise I was not trying to make your job harder.)
Also, one thing you should know about me is that I nevereverever try to be rude or unhelpful. I just sometimes am anyway, by accident. This is at least partially related to how disorganized my brain is, because as anyone who has ever received an email from me already knows, I am completely devoid of transitions. It’s not that I don’t understand how they work—I just forget to use them and then say the next thing that’s on my mind after the first thing, and don’t really include a bridge of how I got there.
This is not a book report. But. It is about a book.
So. Wow. Okay.
I feel like I’ve already been talking about this for a long time. No, seriously. For like a really long time .
But now, we’ve officially moved beyond the Realm of Vague Talk. We’ve entered the Land of Imminent Book, and I can finally (finally) give you a look at what’s been going on behind the scenes for months (years!).
As you may or may not be aware, Tess, Maggie , and I have been critique partners for a very long time. So long that when I post about something we’re doing, I often forget to give you any sort of context. So long that it’s hard to conceive of a time when we were not critique partners. My writing career has literally not existed in any significant form separate from the three of us knowing each other.*
Okay, let’s back up. Right away, from the beginning, before everything—before books on shelves—we started doing this thing.
At first, it was just a little thing.
It was a fiction blog shared between the three of us, and we’d write short stories really fast and post them the same day and egg each other on and get tons of practice at narrative structure and economic character development and not procrastinating.
And then, so slowly it was kind of hard to pinpoint, it stopped being a little thing and started being a big, awesome thing, and that wasn’t us—that was you guys, and the way you showed up every week and got involved and talked to us and talked to each other and made it less like three writers shouting stories into the internet, and more like a community.
And now, after four pretty incredible years, the Merry Sisters of Fate has grown into this:
The simple version is, here is a book that’s an anthology of our stories. And the complicated version is that it’s also way more than an anthology. It’s a retrospective and a conversation and a scrapbook and a diary, and it’s coming this fall from Carolrhoda Lab and we are so, so happy with how it turned out! And to celebrate our happiness, we’re giving away three shiny brand-new ARCs and the contest is very, very easy, so go enter!
Now, because it’s kind of hard to describe exactly how The Curiosities happened, here’s a video about our motivations, where we look neat and brushed and are wearing makeup.
Also, because it’s kind of hard to describe exactly how The Curiosities happened, here is a video about the behind-the-scenes. In this one, we’re wearing pajamas and making a huge mess and very little sense.
It probably goes without saying, but the finished product is kind of a synthesis for these two videos.
(But the manically-productive pajama part more.)
*Except for a few times when I sold some short fiction to horror markets, but I was totally flailing back then and really, really didn’t know if I was even pointed in the right direction.
With that in mind, I’d like to take this moment to assure anyone who might be wondering that—you know the drill—I’m not dead, and things will be returning to normal very shortly. At least, shortly when considered in the grand scheme of things (continents drifting, stars colliding).
Okay, so. This is the last post before Enforced Blog Silence, and I wanted to make it count. What I’m giving you now is what’s known as actual writing-related content. (I know, I know—we don’t necessarily see a lot of that around here.)
What happened is, Maggie Stiefvater recently wrote a wonderful and highly detailed post dissecting the intricacies of revision, and the response was tremendous. The resulting discussion involved a lot of people saying they wished more authors would share their process with this same level of detail, and since Maggie is by nature a helpful and motivated person (also, she is organized), she asked a bunch of us if we’d be willing to participate in what has essentially become a series!