1. What am I working on?
Oh, this is an interesting one. While I continue to plug away at my novel The Lesser Evil, it’s not with the same obsessive focus as I did throughout the entirety of 2013. While I am awaiting the editing process on my short story Heavy Things, I am currently working on a weirdly existential paranormal erotic short story tentatively entitled No Strings as well as a series of flash fiction pieces based upon each of the letters of the Irish Ogham alphabet with two other writer friends, Kristen Malone and Amy Lee Burgess. Amy and I are also in the plotting stages of collaborating on an erotic sci-fi novel in which we will be playing with some ideas about power issues and gender. We don’t have a working title as yet, but the setting and societal structure both have an Ancient Greek flavor, so I have been laughingly calling it QAGs (Quasi Ancient Greeks)…though there will be some Quasi Ancient Celts in there as well.
2. How does my work differ from others of its genre?
Uhhhhh…what is genre? Seriously, the idea of writing to genre has sent me into an existential crisis on more than one occasion. Is weird shit a genre? No? Can I make it into one, then?
Basically, my very sticky and dysfunctional relationship with the notion of genre goes like this: I am a lifelong reader of fantasy and sci-fi, with some horror and lit-ficcy stuff thrown in at times. I am old enough — and curmudgeonly enough — to refer to epic fantasy as just fantasy. Here’s where the irony comes in — technically The Lesser Evil could very loosely be classified as urban fantasy, aaaaaaand I don’t read urban fantasy. In fact I haven’t really had a chance to do much reading since my daughter was born, and she’ll be seven next month. I used to be a voracious reader of 500+ page books, but I fell off the wagon, and there have been so many life changes over the last several years — including obsessing about writing — that getting back on has been tricky, but I’ve been working my way back on. I feel like Rip Van Winkle a lot lately because the landscape of publishing has changed so much in the last decade that I feel like I’m losing my mind. And so it goes.
Anyway, though The Lesser Evil would probably fit best under the genre aegis of urban fantasy, it’s a fairly mixed bag. There’s a romance that forms a substantial part of the plot, plus family background stuff that I’m told has a lit fic feel at times. So I’m sure the mishmash makes it different. Also probably the existential crisis of the author regarding its genre lends it a certain intensity. Let’s just say it’s caused me to conjure a lot of invective and lamenting about the nature of art and truth and beauty…and…yeah…we just don’t want to go there.
3. Why do I write what I do?
Again, we’re back to that implications about genre thing. I’m interested in human beings and philosophy and ideas and the world and words and how all these things can be woven together into stories. Writing for me is both a learning laboratory for ideas I’m interested in as well as a therapist’s couch for how I feel about those ideas…and what I see reflected in others in the way they seem to feel and react to ideas. Life is as beautiful as it is ugly, as magical as it can be mundane.
The Lesser Evil features music; language; cultural clashes between Irish, German, and Basque characters; psionics; a secret society; and family drama because those are all things I’m interested in, either literally because they have been elements in my own life or theoretically because they just interest me. I leave it to whoever reads it to guess which is which.
I write the Ogham flash because I am deeply interested in my Irish roots, its myths, legends, language, and history, its magic…and most of all because I’m interested in how the human psyche relates to the things symbolized by each of the twenty letters in the series.
I’m going to be writing the QAGs because I have always been deeply interested in the human dimensions of gender and how it plays with identity…the biological and social constructs that make women and men different from each other.
For all of the above, I want to bring these ideas to life in the blood, sweat, and tears of my characters.
4. How does my writing process work?
Uhhhh…when you figure that one out, could you please share it with me? I’m not sure my process works yet. It’s all over the map right now and hiccupy as hell as I try different things. But at its heart I suppose it’s always started with an iconic scene that popped into my head or an idea or word that sparked my interest, I turned over and over in my mind, which I have then been gradually seduced by and in turn layered more and more ideas upon.
Right now I take those ideas and think about them periodically before composting them. I get up every weekday morning an hour before my daughter gets up and try to write as much as I can, and I’ve been making steadier, less lurching progress that way than the free-form angst of writing in which I spent almost every day of 2013.
Someday it’s all going to culminate in my finishing a novel.