19 April 2011

What is your favorite part of writing and can you tell us a bit about your creative process?

My favorite part is when things you wrote as throwaway details suddenly converge on a really cool idea. Walk-on characters that become stars, a bit of world building that becomes central to the plot. It always tickles me to death that my subconscious can weave all that together for me.

My process is all about layers. I think up plot first, (I’m an outliner) so I like to get the plot ideas down and then work up from there. First drafts are just to get the story on paper, see how it all unfolds, then I go back and layer in world building, deepen motivations, check character goals and arcs, add description and internalization, etc. I build the framework of the story, then take my time to flesh it out. I always find interesting things to do after a draft is done and then I can go back and bring out those neat ideas.

I read on your site that you started writing at an early age when reading books while in class – that weren’t an actually part of the class – got you into trouble. Did you know then at that early age you wanted to be an author?

I always knew I wanted to write, but it wasn’t until high school I realized “author” was a real job. I thought it was a fantasy job, like wanting to be an archaeologist, or a horse trainer (both things I wanted to do), but not something I could actually do. Once I figured out I could, then that’s what I wanted to do with my life.

What was the first memorable, life changing book you read and why?

It was a book I’d heard actually. My seventh grade English teacher, Ms. Hagy, played a record for us one day, an author reading one of his short stories. Harlan Ellison’s “Repent Harlequin! Said the Ticktock Man.” I was blow away. I wanted more of his work, wanted to write like he did, tell stories like that. I’d always written, but that was the first time I wanted to get better as a writer.

Was there any part of your road to becoming published that you were completely unprepared for?

How much time it would take away from the writing. There’s marketing, networking, promoting your book, doing school visits, events, etc. All fun and I enjoy doing them, but there were weeks where I was swamped and then I’d realize I hadn’t actually done any writing. Still happens, and juggling the writing with the business side is tough to do sometimes.

What inspired you to write each book in the Healing Wars Trilogy?

THE SHIFTER was first inspired when I went to see the X-Men movie. Rogue is my favorite superhero, and her power is that she involuntarily absorbs the powers (or life) of anyone she touches. I started wondering what would happen if someone did that with healing. If they bumped into folks and healed them. That led to a really hideous ten-page outline that got stuffed in a drawer and forgotten about. Years later, I was at a conference that stressed how much you needed fresh ideas to get published. I was trying to sell a very un-fresh novel at that time, so I came home and looked through my old idea file for something original and fresh. I found that outline. It was still hideous, but the idea of shifting pain stuck with me. I’d never seen healing portrayed with consequences before and that intrigued me. I started world building, and the plot developed from there.

BLUE FIRE just picked up the story. I knew I wanted to explore one of the other aspects of the magic (enchanting), and that I wanted Nya to be ripped from her world and dropped into the land of her enemy. She needed her world view shaken up quite a bit.

DARKFALL was all about coming full circle. I wanted to explore the war in the trilogy’s title, and really let Nya cut loose and be as dangerous as I knew she was. But she also had to find her vulnerable side, and figure out where she belonged once and for all. Now that I’d torn her apart (so to speak) I had to out her back together again.

If you could describe each character in one word what would it be?

Nya = impulsive. Aylin = optimistic. Danello = dependable. Tali = naive.

What was the hardest part in writing each of the three books in this trilogy?

THE SHIFTER wasn’t hard at all. It was the easiest thing I’ve ever written and it practically fell out of my head onto the page. The only tough part (and it wasn’t that tough) was rewriting the ending for my agent. That took me a few tries to get it right.

BLUE FIRE was tough all the way through. It was the hardest thing I’ve ever written. Just getting the plot right took work, because it kept feeling like extra chapters added to the first book, not a stand alone book with its own plot. I knew story-wise what I wanted to do, but finding the right plot to show that story took five complete start-over-on-a-blank-page drafts to do it.

DARKFALL was somewhere in the middle. It took two full drafts. The first to understand how the war played out and who did what, and the second to decide where Nya and her friends fit into it. The hardest part was figuring out what to do with Tali. She’s so central to the story, but I couldn’t just have book three be a copy of book one, where Nya is trying to find her sister again. But one of those great throwaway lines I mentioned earlier hit me and I knew what to do with her. It made the whole book fall into place.

Being that the 3rd book in the trilogy is set to come out in a few months, is there anything new you’re working on and can you tell us about it?

I’m working on a YA fantasy about a deep cover spy who gets caught between love and loyalty when a political assassination exposes her true identity. So far it’s a blast and I’m very excited about this story.

Thanks so much for stopping in to chat with us today Janice. It was really great to have you here.

Thanks for having me here!

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  1. I really liked The Shifter, I need to read Blue Fire soon!

  2. I read Blur Fire on a whim and found myself totes in love with it. Looking forward to Darkfall.

  3. I love that she was inspired by Rogue from X-Men! I LOVE her character! Definitely have to check out these books now. I haven't heard a whole lot about them, but they sound fabulous!

  4. This is so cool! I loved The Shifter! And Blue Fire is on my wish list as a hint to friends and family for my birthday! And Darkfall has a great cover, just like the other two!

  5. Thanks for letting me stop by a chat for bit ;) And for all the kind words.

  6. Great interview. I loved THE SHIFTER and BLUE FIRE. Can't wait to see how Janice ends the series in DARKFALL.


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