Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Questions from Cait.

Bit of something different this time around.  Cait Spivey is a fellow writer who I met a while back at; she was one of my critique partners for THE ACCIDENTAL WARLOCK.  She did an entry last month involving eleven random questions and eleven random facts, then instead of tagging people to answer her questions, opened it up to whoever wanted to participate.

It sounds like fun, so I'm doing the same.  Let's start with the questions:

1. What author is inspiring you right now?
   I don't think I can pick just one, so I'll go with two whose recent books filled me with new ideas about storytelling and characters.  First is Brandon Sanderson, whose Firefight showed me that there are always new and interesting ways to throw plot and character twists at your readers.  Second is Jim C. Hines, whose Unbound did the same and reminded me that unusual relationships between characters are the start of something interesting, not the end.

2. How has your writing changed since you started? As in, has your style or focus shifted from what you originally set out to or thought you’d write?
   It's changed quite a lot, and nobody's more thankful for that than me.  O_o  All my early work was epic fantasy.  Everything was medieval in setting, world-saving in scope, and utterly heroic in character.  It wasn't until I started reading more widely that I started to realize there was more to fantasy literature than "hero on quest", and that things are more interesting when the heroes aren't bastions of incorruptible pure pureness.

3. What do you do to overcome doubt or insecurity?
   There are times I can't, and I just go to bed hating myself and thinking that I'm doomed to failure.  (Anyone who reads this blog regularly has seen those entries.)  Most of the time, I just tell myself to keep working, and that anything that's going wrong, I can fix, but I have to get the words down first.  It's not easy, and sometimes I don't believe myself.  But it gets my ass in the chair, which is the first step.

4. What do you do to celebrate accomplishments big and small?
   When I have an accomplishment worth celebrating, I'll let you know.  -_-  Most of the time, when I finish something, I'm wracked with doubt about it and/or just glad it's done so I never have to look at it or think about it again.  So, yeah, there's nothing to celebrate.

5. Favorite writing beverage?
   I don't drink while writing, as it slows me down.  Same with eating, usually.  But I take a shot of something alcoholic before writing or plotting.  Coconut rum or Baileys are two of my favorite pre-work drinks.  I edit completely sober, accompanied by large glasses of water. 

6. Dreamcast: who would play the main character in the movie version of your novel?
   I don't have a current novel, but let me think.  If we go by the plan I have for the new Shiloh & Alexi book, then...  I have no idea.  I'm sure Hollywood has no shortage of early-twenties pale blonde women for Shiloh, though finding one who's nearly six feet tall and can play a magic geek might be difficult.  And Alexi's supposed to look Indian or Arabian, so who knows who they'd get for that part.  Alexi has some particular mannerisms and ways of speaking, so it would take someone special to match what's in my head.  All I know is that any movie rights contract I sign damn well better include a provision to keep Alexi's part from being whitewashed.  Hmmph.

7. What’s the weirdest thing you’ve researched for a manuscript?
   Recently?  Snake sex.  Wholly unrelated to the previous question, I assure you.

8. Who is your favorite Doctor? (You know what kind of Doctor I mean.)
   I've never watched a single episode of Doctor Who.  I'm a completionist when it comes to entertainment, and that show's been around for fifty years; surely you can see why I haven't started watching it.  Please don't shoot.

9. How do you prioritize your to-be-read pile?
   I look at the pile and decide what I want to read next.  :P  It really is that simple.  Though if the pile contains sequels to books I already own, I'll usually read those first, after re-reading the previous book in the series.  To make sure I remember everything, y'know.

10. If you could go on a swanky writers’ retreat, where would it be? (Mountains? Tropical island? Historic city?)
   Hmm.  I'd want to be in a place with as few distractions as possible, so somewhere off in the mountains sounds like the best choice.

11. Would you rather live in a post-apocalyptic anarchic world a la The Walking Dead, or work for the Alliance (Firefly–but you knew that of course)?
   Going to have to say work for the Alliance, because I'd be zombie walker food before the first day was over in the first option.  >_<  I find post-apocalypse kind of interesting, but I damn sure wouldn't want to live in one.

Eleven Random Facts about me:
1. I graduated with a BA in English from the University of California, Santa Barbara.  I made very sure to graduate in four years because my parents said that was all they were paying for.
2. I have a ridiculous love of raisins and buy them in five-pound boxes.
3. When I was young, I wanted to grow up to design video games, and even drew up all kinds of plans for several different games.  I've never forgotten them, despite my best efforts.
4. I can't stand coffee - I just don't get how something that smells so good can taste so vile.  I've been told this will get me a lot of weird looks now that I'm in Washington.
5. I have a real love for non-standard relationships in fiction, and will always cheer for anything other than the typical "boy meets girl and they end up together" stuff.  This is why, nearly three months later, I'm still geeking out over the end of "Legend of Korra".
6. I didn't get my driver's license until I was 19, and didn't own a car until I was almost 30.
7. My absolute favorite band in all the world is Garbage.  I've seen them in concert twice and am really hoping they come through Seattle whenever they next tour.  Their music is consistently awesome, and they have an insane amount of energy in their performances.
8. I've been training myself to be as observant as possible since I was 13 years old, as I figured it would help me with my writing.  Twenty-two years later, I've learned that there is an amazing amount of stuff people simply don't notice.  I've had to learn not to ask people, "You didn't see that?"
9. I've only ever dyed my hair for cosplay purposes.  Twice I've dyed it black to go as Professor Snape, and there was a brief and unfortunate time when I dyed it blonde (more like yellow).  Fortunately, it was short then, so growing it out didn't take too long.
10. I once got hit by a car on Friday the 13th.
11. I have one tattoo.  It's the rose symbol from the anime "Revolutionary Girl Utena", and it's on my upper back.  The series has been a huge influence on my life and way of thinking and writing, so I decided it was fitting to wear a piece of it on myself forever.

And that's it.  There was part of Cait's entry where she offered more questions for people to answer, but it's late and I'm tired and I can't think of eleven things worth asking.  :P  Hope y'all found this interesting enough to read this far.

Next week: Will they?  Won't they?  Should they?  WTF?


  1. You're just happy to be through with it? Dude, that's sad. You should be celebrating.
    Snake sex. That tops my sea kelp.
    I've seen a couple Doctor Who, but never really watched the show. Now I don't feel like the only one.
    And totally with you on the coffee!!! It smells good and tastes like road tar.

    1. I'd love to be happy, but the last two books I wrote just... didn't work. Maybe a few projects that I don't want to forget immediately upon finishing will help change that answer. I hope. O_o

  2. You know what? That WAS fun to read. Thanks for sharing it, Mason. Maybe I'll copy you next week...

    1. Thanks. ^_^ And now I wish I'd actually come up with questions...

  3. I read and loved Brandon Sanderson's book The Rithmatist, but haven't read any of his other works. This is the second time today someone on a blog has mentioned Firefight. Maybe I should take a look at it.

    And you can totally start Doctor Who with the modern reboot. Seriously. I tried to watch some of the old Tom Baker episodes I enjoyed as a kid and found them tedious. And I never made it through a single episode of anything earlier than Tom.

    Not to act like a drug dealer or anything, but you should watch the first episode with Christopher Eccleston. Do it. Do it. Do it. ;)

    1. I'll read anything Brandon Sanderson puts out, to be perfectly honest. I like everything of his I've read, and he just keeps getting better. Read "Steelheart" before "Firefight", though, as "Firefight" is the second one. ^_^

      And I've heard that about Doctor Who. I've even seen a bit of Eccleston's Doctor. Still don't know if I'll ever feel like watching it, though. :P

  4. Firefight is going on my TBR list. (The never ending list. . .) I loved Dr. Who as a kid but have only seen one since then. Just not a big TV person. As to coffee, I totally understand. I enjoy flavored lattes and Co., but pure coffee even w/ cream and sugar - yuck! Tea, please...or Baileys. Now, you gave me an idea of what to put on my birthday wish list ;)

    1. Excellent. Just remember to read "Steelheart" first, else it'll give away, way, way too much. ^_^ And Baileys is definitely worth asking for. Heh!

  5. I find fact #8 very interesting. What methods are you using to train yourself to be more observant?

    1. As cliche as it sounds, the best way to put it is something I read when I was in 2nd or 3rd grade: "Everyone looks, but few really see." I think the best way to put it is taking in as many details as you can and mentally acknowledging/listing what you see, instead of just looking at things and seeing them in vague terms. Not just seeing a collection of items or people, but looking at and noting each one, I guess - it's hard to describe since I've been doing this for so long.

  6. Snake Sex.

    I took a lot of good stuff from here but I'm coming away with Snake sex and the end of Legend of Korra because WHAT. I definitely did not see that happening. Who knew - Korra and Asami, right?

    This was a fun read, but dude, you've got to celebrate, You've earned it. Whether you think so or not, you're creating something. You're leaving your mark. And that is definitely worth some Coconut rum or Baileys. At the least.

    1. I always had an eye on Korra and Asami's interactions because I'm a rampant femslasher like that, but I never thought they would actually end up together. It's a huge thing, and I'm hoping it causes a lot of ripples, so to speak.

      As for celebrating, when I hate something I've written as soon as it's done, or even before, it's hard for me to see any reason to be happy about it. Only to be glad it's done.

  7. Oh, and I wanted to add that I was drinking coffee that smelled AND tasted good while reading your post. :) But I've been consuming it since I was 11 so I'm probably addicted by now.

    1. Yes, I'm well-familiar with the habits of coffee addicts. :P

  8. Haaaaa. We are kindred spirits regarding how we feel about our work and going to bed at night. I have trouble celebrating too… because I'm never content…

    I've also never seen Dr. Who! But man… everyone raves about it.

    And I LOVED the random facts bit. I'm *slightly* freaking out because I didn't get my license until I was 19 too!!!! NO lie. I've never met another person who was the same as me in that way! Also. Trying to be okay with the fact that Muse isn't your favorite band… ;-)

    And congratulations on the move! I hope you're settling in okay & staying sane. A LOT of big changes for you as of late. And sending awesome writing vibes. You know you're talented. You know you got this. I'm excited to see fabulous things unfold for you. :)

    1. Muse is one of my top three, the others being Garbage and U2. But of those, U2 is the only one I can write to. There seems to be no correlation between how much I like a band and whether or not they make good writing music. >_<

      And thank you. ^_^

  9. I enjoyed reading this (my head is still reeling from that snake sex thing) and I'm shocked to learn that you don't like coffee. Can't write without the stuff:)

    1. I'm a morning person, and I don't drink soda, so all the caffeine I have is the tiny bit in my daily mug of tea. I get the "how do you function?" question a lot. :P

  10. I listened to "Afterglow" on repeat while writing a scene in my first book. ;)

    1. Ooh, I love it when there's a scene that needs a certain song so you can just listen to it on repeat. I've had that happen quite a few times, it's awesome. Although, even nine years later, I still expect the song to start over again whenever I hear "Hips Don't Lie".

      And "Afterglow" is a really good song, good to see others who know the b-sides.

  11. Write drunk, edit sober? Not drunk exactly... I haven't really tried taking a swig of something alcoholic before writing. Liquid courage, so to speak. But I could see having a glass of wine while settling in to write. The liquor mentioned here is very lightweight, so similar to wine.

    1. Eh, I'm definitely not drunk when I write or plot, as it's only one shot. ^_^ But I have read about how alcohol helps with the brain's language centers, so that might be part of it. I'm hesitant to call it an essential part of the process, but it does work really well.