Monday, May 26, 2014

Writing Process Blog Tour

Blog tour time! Fellow Fearless Fifteener Michelle Levy tagged me last week for a post on writing process (you can read her answers here). She has a beautiful little book releasing next summer about two broken people who help each other mend called NOT AFTER EVERYTHING. She's also a casting agent. Like, for movies. So yes, you should probably stalk her on Twitter if you aren't already!

Now for the questions ...

1) What am I working on?
I'm currently drafting a YA horror, which means I am flashing back to horror movies and thinking about Scary Things all day, which means I am sleeping with the lights on again.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
I love unexpected settings and genre mash-ups like Cowboys and Aliens and Stephen King's Dark Tower series. So, it's my hope that this book will differ from others of its genre because it crosses into so many others. There are supernatural forces running amock, but also hover cars. There are old rituals and superstitions - and smartphones. It's a bizarre combination at times, but I love how they juxtapose.

3) Why do I write what I write?
I write to explore situations I would otherwise never experience, some I'm grateful I never will. One of the biggest draw of stories, for me, is to see how a person becomes stronger through the obstacles she overcomes and the people around her. I guess to remind myself that bad things happen in life, but good people will be there to lift me out.

4) What's my writing process like?
I've just settled into a routine where I try to write at least 1000 words a day. Beyond that, I don't really ... have a process. Yet. For two of the three manuscripts I've finished, I started with a plot and some important points, then wandered from A to B until I had characters and a story. For DUPLICITY, I started with characters and a premise and hoped they played nice together. I didn't know it was a cyberthriller until I was a third of the way in, and I didn't know how it ended until I got there, got stuck, spent a week wondering what I'd got myself into, then had an epiphany driving home and bam, shiny ending. For my current work-in-progress, I started with the premise, wrote some of it out, got stuck, panicked, then outlined the rest. Which, for this particular book, was critical for staying on track. Lord knows what random alignment of stars will be responsible for my next book.

And now for the fun part, where I get to tag two suspecting victims to post their own Writing Process posts:

Agency sister and writer friend Alexandra Sirowy, whose drool-worthy thriller THE CREEPING is one I cannot WAIT to get my hands on.

And newly pubbed novelist Ryan Hill, whose humorous paranormal THE BOOK OF BART debuted last week and is scooping in reviews about its fun, mischievous tone.

Check 'em out! They'll be posting their answers next week, June 2.

Friday, May 23, 2014

Interview with Ryan Hill: Author of THE BOOK OF BART

Today I'm happy to congratulate Ryan Hill on the release of his debut, THE BOOK OF BART! In honor of his release, I've asked Ryan a few questions about his book and his journey to publication.


Only one thing is so powerful, so dangerous that Heaven and Hell must work together to find it: the Shard of Gabriel.

With a mysterious Black Cloud of Death hot on the shard’s trail, a desperate Heaven enlists the help of Bart, a demon who knows more about the shard than almost anyone. Six years ago, he had it in his hands. If only he’d used it before his coup to overthrow the devil failed. Now, he’s been sprung from his eternal punishment to help Samantha, an angel in training, recover the shard before the Black Cloud of Death finds it.

If Bartholomew wants to succeed, he’ll have to fight the temptation to betray Samantha and the allure of the shard. After an existence full of evil, the only way Bart can get right with Hell is to be good.

Buy it:

Nat: On your blog, you've described Bart as "a well-dressed Han Solo." Tell us more about what we can expect from him and what inspired his character.

RH: Bart is definitely old school Han Solo, but with a killer wardrobe. He's a scoundrel of the highest order. He wouldn't have just shot Greedo, he'd have toyed with the guy, belitted him, then killed him. Bart is also a habitual chain smoker, and has a proclivity for virgins. He's always up to no good, especially when it looks like he IS up to good. When we meet Bart, he's at about the lowest point in his existence. He's on the outs with Hell. He's forced to work with an angel-in-training. For him, he couldn't have landed in a worse spot. When someone's in a tight spot, they'll try to wiggle their way out, and that's what Bart is trying to do.

Bart originally began as a villain in an earlier manuscript I wrote that's since been abandonded. When coming up with him, I tried to imagine if I were a demon, and had been doing this whole corrupting souls thing for a few thousand years. I'd have gotten pretty bored with it after about, oh, four months. To cope with that, I'd make a game of everything. And that's Bart. He's certainly not your typical good guy, but he's not a murderous psychopath. He'll do what he has to do, but he's going to have fun doing it. I just remembered having so much fun writing him that I decided to give him his own story.

You have to walk a thin line when you're writing a story where the protagonist is a demon. If he's too evil, it will turn everybody off. But, Bart isn't your typical demon. He's not a company man. He's more about the shenanigans, than anything else. Plus, he's TERRIBLE at his job. There's a reason a demon finds himself on Hell's bad side.

Nat: Do you have a favorite scene you can tell us about?

RH: That's difficult to answer, without giving too much away. There's a car chase involving one of Hell's minions that's a lot of fun. Anytime Bart can get in digs against his former comrades, ie angels, is terrific fun to write. Honestly, I really enjoy all of it. If I could write stories involving Bart for the rest of my life, I've done something right. He's ridiculously fun to write, because he isn't afraid to say something shocking or sarcastic. He does things his own way, and he doesn't care if you don't like it.

Nat: Do you have any other books in the works?

RH: I do! My Black Hawk Down meets zombies novel Dead New World is coming in October, and I'm putting the final touches on another manuscript, called The Conch Shell of Doom. That one is just sheer insanity, with goblin sharks, evil dolphins, and a mystical conch shell.

Nat: Do you outline or wing it when it comes to plotting a story?

RH: Both. I lack the discipline to fully plot a story, plus I feel it can constrict the characters, and prevent them from taking the story in their own, organic direction. That said, you HAVE to know where your story is going. I always know how a story will end. Even winging it requires direction, and without it your story will just ramble on and eventually become pointless. You've got to have a destination in mind.

Nat: Tell us about your book's journey from first draft to publication. Did it undergo any major revisions?

RH: Sort of. Some of the scenes in Bart came from that abandoned manuscript, but from first draft to publication it's essentially been the same story. Obviously, when going through the editing process things get rewritten, changed, or deleted (one scene was choreographed to Johnny Cash's The Man Comes Around, but the lyrics had to be cut for licensing reasons), and while the wording is almost completely different, the story has remained in tact, and I feel the final draft of Bart is also the best draft there's been.

Nat: What has surprised you most about the publication process? Any words of advice for those debuting soon?

RH: That's a good question. I think the amount that falls on the author outside of writing is the most surprising. An author's job doesn't end when the book is finished, it almost feels like it's beginning.

Words of advice? Learn the business. Keep learning the business, even if you think you know it. Nobody takes the same road to get published. Lord knows I didn't. Get on Twitter. Network with other writers. Solicit constructive criticism of your work. Learn more about the business. Be prepared for a much, much longer journey than you imagined. And also write. Because...writing.

Thank you so much, Ryan, and congrats on your release!

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