In Which I Answer Questions

There are many great things about the wonderful interwebs. You can look up recipes, buy comic books, and watch all sorts of videos and see all kinds of pictures of things no one should ever see. Ever. One of those new (at least to me) and shiny things is the ability to actually talk to you guys. That's right--you. Online communication is great because it means I can still chat with people while at the same time trying to achieve my goal of going full hermit. And becoming a full-time hermit is right behind "wearing pajamas all the time" on my list of things to achieve.

I decided the other day to utilize the interwebs and ask people on The Twitters and The Facebook if they have any burning questions. This way I didn't have to actually try and think about something to blog about. Yay for being lazy. Anyway, here are some questions and even a few answers to go along with them. 

Q) What is the air-speed velocity of an unladen swallow? --Krystal O'Neal

A) What do you mean? An African or European swallow?

Are you in the process of writing any more books? Are they going to based around the paranormal as well? --Kristin Wiese


A) Yes and yes. Right now you're pretty pissed because you think I'm going to leave it at that, aren't you? Ha. Man, I'm a jerk. Okay, so we're editing the sequel to HMCN right now. It is scheduled to come out in Winter of 2012, which I'm told in publishing-land means Jan/Feb. Things change, but I'm pretty sure that's when it's going to come out. I'm also working on a New Thing. This New Thing is also paranormal and also young adult. I'm still writing it, so I don't want to say too much. I'll keep you guys updated, though.

Q) I guess I will ask another question then. Who is your favorite character in your book? Also, not sure if this has been answered or not, is the next book a continuation of this story or something else entirely? --Krystal O'Neal

  A) Well, characters are a bit like children, which means that if you have a favorite it's kind of bad manners to say it in front of them. Of course no one ever accused me of having good manners. I like writing Sam because he's so nice and easy going. That being said, he's much nicer than I am, and I have the emotional reactions of a robot, so sometimes I have to go in an "make him react more" or "say something not so sarcastic or angry." Writing Douglas tends to be the easiest because it's almost like channeling. He tells me what to say and I generally have to revise his parts the least. Which is kind of creepy if you think about it. No one wants to admit that writing the psychopathic character comes naturally. But Douglas knows exactly who he is and what he wants and so his stuff tends to be clearer. Sam just wants everyone to get along. I also really enjoy writing Ashley because, well, she's snarky and, well, so am I. And as you can see from the last question, yes, the next book is a continuation and I'll have different answers for the "fav character" question when we get to that book.

Q)  Did you always like writing or was it a challenge for you in school? What other kinds of work did you do before you became a published writer?--Janet Meeds

A) I'm one of those really annoying people who always knew what they wanted to do. When I was a kid, I wanted to be a writer. Well, except for a short span where I wanted to be a vet and a writer, which lasted until I found out that vets had to poke animals with needles. I wrote stories all the time. They weren't very good, but I wrote them. When I was in school or trying to sleep, I told myself stories in my head. I had some great teachers who read my stories and encouraged me to keep writing, which was nice. So writing and reading were two things I never had an issue with at school. Geography and math, not so much. But reading and writing? Yes. I was the kind of kid that slowed down to look in the book shop window...and I still do. Book nerd 100%. I've had lots of jobs. I was a filing clerk and training to be a phlebotomist (the person who draws blood and such) in a medical office for a very short time, then (shockingly) a fry cook at a place far more disturbing than Plumpy's. I worked at a vet clinic. Depending on what day of the week it was, I worked in the kennel, as a receptionist, or as an assistant. For a few months I worked at Ticketmaster answering phones. Worst idea ever, by the way. When people don't have to see you they feel they can say whatever they want to you. I worked in the children's section of Barnes and Noble for awhile, then in the back as a stocker, or as I lovingly referred to it as, "One of the CHUDS in the back." After that, I worked as a barista, a baker, and a maker of fancy egg pies (quiche). Then while I was in graduate school, I worked on the school journal. Hm...I think that's it.

Q) What is up with Sam's crow? (With it on the cover, I expected it to be more important.) He doesn't even seem aware of it. Does it just hang about and watch him? Or will it have more of a role to play in book 2? --Matt Peters

A) Ah, the things covers can do to confuse. For the record, I pretty much have zero say as to what makes it onto the cover. Shocking, no? (I do love my cover, by the way.) Some of the crow stuff got trimmed a bit, but in general, I was planning on saving that stuff for later. You get a bit more of the crow in book two. Sam has a tie to them because of his name and because in mythology they are one of those tricky critters that can fly between the world of the living and the world of the dead. Plus, you know, they're pretty cool and all dramatic and stuff. 

The question I have and many of my friends keep asking is when do you expect the next book out because we want to read more! (No pressure or anything :)--Kat Perreira

A) Kat--see above. And yes, no pressure or anything...*screams*. In the mean time, you can find a short story on the Holt website or on fwriction featuring Ashley. And if you look at an earlier blog entry, you'll see a link to the Mac kids blog where I post the rules for potato hockey. (I'm too lazy to go back and link this entry to the other. Wow.)  I'm also editing another story featuring a smaller character from the book that might make it onto the fwriction site...I just have to finish editing know, with all that free time I have. *sigh*

Q) Can normal humans become witches, or is it only a species thing?--Jason-Brooke Adam

A) Good question, actually, and not one I've run into yet. In this series I set it up so it's something you're born with. If the book does well enough and they let me keep writing these things, I'd like to eventually do one featuring Haley, which would let us see more witchy stuff. We'll see how this goes, though.

Q) I would like to know your writing process? Do you outline first? Or just start with an idea and let it go where it may? Etc.--Paul Steele

A) Oh, how I wish I was organized enough to outline. I did try to outline once. I spent a few hours meticulously outlining a few chapters...then I completely ignored it. So for me, it was a waste of time. I know a lot of writers who outline, but it just doesn't seem to work when I do it. The best way I've heard it described was by a Canadian author named Michael Winter. He said (and I'm paraphrasing like mad) that it's a "lot like driving a car at night. Sometimes the headlight hits something and you see a scene clearly, but the rest is all darkness." I generally have a few scenes solid in my mind and a general character arc. I knew how book one was going to end. But the thing is, even if you think you know how the story is going to go, the characters generally have other plans. For example (spoiler alert for those who haven't read the book) I planned on introducing Sam and Brid in book one, but they weren't going to become involved until book two or maybe later (I was hoping/assuming there would be a book two because I'm occasionally optimistic). Once I got to the cage scene, though, Brid told me in very plain words that Sam was hers and I better get out of the way. She's very pushy. I've learned to not argue when a character pipes up, so I went with the new story arc. I've learned to be flexible. So some things are set in concrete, but other things not so much. I'm not a hundred percent sure that I've answered your question properly...

Q) Has anything else of yours been published (short story, poem, etc.)? who are your favorite authors? Who are your most important literary influences? What 10 books would you want if you were stranded on a desert island or locked up in solitary? --David C. Kopaska-Merkel

A) Yes, though not much. I had a few shorts picked up by my school journal, but for the most part struck out until I sold the novel. This has led to a reoccurring joke that I can sell my stuff but I can't give it away for free. My school journal was UNO's Ellipsis. I'm in three issues, I think. One of the stories, Death & Waffles, is now available online. (See above for the link.) I have a short story in The Normal School called "Just the Mustache." It's one of my few published things that doesn't have anything paranormal in it. The story itself is a little weird. Seriously, I think that's it. Oh, wait! I forgot. I have a short nonfiction piece here. You know, it's funny. I feel like I've been writing constantly for years, but I don't have a whole lot to point to. But I'm new. Give me time. And I sincerely hope none of my poetry is out there in the world. I'm terrible with poems. If I ever start to think I might not be so bad, I read the poems my poet friends create and that sets me right.

I read a lot. Like freakish amounts, really. My favorites change, but here are a few: Christopher Moore, Jasper Fforde, Robert Rankin, Terry Prachett, Neil Gaiman, Kim Harrison, Kelley Armstrong, Rick Riordan, Douglas Adams, Patricia Briggs, and Jim Butcher. I've recently started catching up on Holly Black and Libba Bray. Good stuff. I've also been reading Gail Carriger, Caitlin Kitteridge's Black London series, the Amelia Peabody books, and catching up on my classic mystery with Agatha Christie and Dorothy Sayers. I also read comics. Lately I've been catching up on Scott Pilgrim and Goon. I loved The Tick, Battle Pope, Squee, Bone, Castle Waiting, Hellboy...I should stop now. For screenwriting, I really like Joss Whedon (naturally) and Bryan Fuller (even though his awesome shows keep getting cancelled), Edgar Wright, and I'm pretty sure Steven Moffat is some sort of demi-god. Seriously, would it be creepy to say I want to open up his skull and see what's inside? It would, wouldn't it? Hm. Best forget I said that, then.

I'm not sure how to answer the literary influence question. Any book I read, I try to see what they're doing that works and what doesn't. As for ten's a horrible thing to ask me. Awful. Drive-myself-crazy-trying-to-list-them kind of awful. Okay, so, in no particular order (and constantly changing):

1: Complete works of Shakespeare. I'm not kidding. I love old Bill. (I like Chaucer, too, to be honest. Book neeeeerd.)

2: Coyote Blue by Christopher Moore. I love all his books, but I think I've reread this one the most.

3: Tiffany Aching Series by Prachett (Look at this, I'm already cheating and it's only #3. Well, since I'm cheating, can I just say the whole Disc World series?)

4: Dresden Files (Still cheating. Ha!)  by Jim Butcher

5: Stardust by Gaiman

6: A collection of Grimm's fairy tales, or perhaps a collection of Perrault. 

7: Hitchiker's Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams

8. David Edding's Belgaraid or Mallorean series. Loved those as a kid.

9. The Harry Potter books. I know, I know, they aren't always perfect, but man I do love me some HP. I can't help it.

10. All of Kelley Armstong's books. Her writing is like crack to me, for some reason.

I know I didn't follow this very well. So either that desert island better have a well stocked library or that guy with the book cart better come by my cell pretty frequently. 

Q) How many times was "... necromancer" rejected before it was accepted?--David C. Kopaska-Merkel

A) I'm not really sure. My agent sent it out to a bunch of publishers at the same time. Some passed, some didn't. I talked to a few different editors at different publishing houses before I landed at Holt. To be honest, it didn't take very long and went pretty smoothly. I wrote HMCN for my thesis (I was going to an MFA program in New Orleans). I graduated in May, which is about when I got my agent. I sold the book in October. (We spent a few months revising it before it went out.) That's about it. 

Q) Do you have any pets? ;) --Helen Gribble

A) Yes. We have two cats, Tempest (we call her Kitty Pest) and Captain Ninja Fish. We have a chihuahua named Bongo--he's about thirteen and spends most of his time under blankets. And we recently acquired a beta fish that we have named "Fish Legs" after a character from the How to Train Your Dragon books. He was a gift.

Q) When you wrote "Hold Me Closer, Necromancer," did you research Necromancy, werewolf lore, etc.?--Nancy Ramirez

A) Yes, but to be honest, I've alway studied that kind of stuff. If I could have minored in mythology, I would have. I read a lot of books and watched various movies (pure torture, I know) etc. Any time I bring in something new I do a bunch of research...and then chose what will work for my story and discard the rest. Especially for something so prevalent as werewolves. You gotta pick and chose, you know? I've been building a mythology library in my house for the last couple of years. Those books are next to my dictionaries, thesauri, and baby name books, all of which I use for writing. Also, some of my action figures. Geek, thy name is Lish.

Q) Sequel please? bye the way, Samhein is my new favorite name--Taylor Crews

A) Well, since you asked, okay. But only because you asked, not because any of these other people did. I'm glad you like Samhain's name. It's not unlike naming a child Christmas, or Thanksgiving, or Danzig, but I enjoy it nonetheless.