Wednesday, June 25, 2014

The Bunny at the End

The much lauded, and always delightful Gigi Pandian invited me to a blog hop. Thank you, Gigi, for thinking of me!

A blog hop is a chain of writers answering the same questions. If you're curious,  you can follow the chain backwards. If not, just consider me the bunny at the end of the hop.

What am I working on/writing?

I much prefer to do one thing at a time in writing. In my home life, you might catch me with half a room cleaned, half a collection organized, and one third of the bathroom scrubbed, but with my writing, it drives me crazy to work on more than one thing at a time. 

Writing three things is not this hard!
I'm working on three things right now, and it truly is making me itchy. The number one priority is a novella, The Last Vacation, which I promised to Stark Raving Press in March. In the story, two women head out on vacation, but only one of them comes back. It's sexier and more violent than I've written in the past, and it is by turns thrilling and disgusting to write. In other words, I'm in writer heaven!

The second priority is my private fraud investigator novel, By The Numbers. It's got one of those beginnings that just won't behave. Finally I realized that a writer's conceit (wouldn't it be cool if I...) was choking the start of the story. As soon as the novella is done, I can get back to this dear old book, fix the beginning by doing a chapter-ectomy, and then it'll be ready for some agent and editor love. The main character keeps me up some nights, asking when I'm going to get back to her. Patience, dear!

And finally, I started the next book in the same series as By The Numbers. I started Numbers Never Lie before I realized that there was a simple, if not easy fix, for By The Numbers. Every few days, characters from these two novels demand attention. Just another few weeks, please, ladies and gents, and then you may roam free!

How does my writing/work differ from others in its genre?

I'm not sure my work is very different from thoughtful, thrilling work like Gar Anthony Haywood or Megan Abbott. My stories tend to borrow a lot from old-fashioned noir: more Cornell Woolrich than Tarantino-influenced noir. Also, the gender roles are switched in my stories, which tend to feature homme fatales and cynical, tough women investigators. Megan Abbott owns the frightened woman - weak man scenario, and Gar Antholy Haywood makes me feel like I've lived in L.A. when I read him. Here's hoping my humble work can create similar experiences for readers as my craft improves.

The University of San Francisco MFA program couldn't beat the genre impulse out of me, so my stories move quickly (after a proper edit), and there are more fisticuffs than motes in sunbeams. 

I'm sure I'll grow up someday!

Why do I write what I do?

I'm fascinated by two questions:

1. What does it mean to be a moral man in an immoral universe?
2. How does the answer change if the man is a woman?

Alienation and grief are common themes in my work, born of early loss and of always having a foot in at least two different camps as a child. With all that sorrow and isloation, some sex and violence has to be there, just to keep things moving along. 

How does my writing process work?

It's in direct opposition to my day job: principal technical writer for an enterprise software company in the cloud space. Oh, everyone is in the cloud now. HBO is in the cloud. 

The company I work for is generous, accepting, and tolerant of my crime-writing habit. But they do expect me to show up every day and give them my best work. So does my husband. In order to keep everyone happy, my writing process is an endless series of compromises and deals: "I'll gladly work Saturdays for a month if I can just sneak off to Bouchercon" or "sorry, novel, you'll be a week late because this architecture guide is not going to write itself."

In other words, what process? Here are some things that work fairly well:

  • Meeting other writers in the cafeteria an hour before work.
  • Throwing my husband out of the house on Saturday.
  • Impromptu writing dates either in person, via Twitter, or on Facebook. 
  • Reading something great, for inspiration.

But most importantly, I talk to other writers. They bust me when I'm being lazy or making excuses, encourage me to get back up when a rejection letter or a really bad set of pages knocks me down, they share their stories so I know that crazy as it seems to want to craft artful lies for a living, I'm not alone.