There's nothing like getting inside an authors head and seeing how the gears turn in order to create the stories that they do. I find it fascinating to hear about what inspires people, and how they work through the challenges they face.
Today's guest does just that, by opening up her heart, and giving us a glimpse at how a fantasy author's mind really works. Danielle Raver grew up in the Black Hills of South Dakota. When she was a girl, she and her older brother used to sit at their father's table and create stories, competing to see who could write the most. Now she's the published author of Brother, Betrayed, has a second novel in the works, and holds a position as an editor at a small publishing house.
Please welcome her, and this enlightening look into her life, and the process she uses to forge her own fantasy worlds.
People often ask me how I find the time to write, being a full time educator and a mother of two small children. For me writing has been a lifetime hobby, having started when I was old enough to put words on paper. I live my stories and dream scenes to my books, playing like a movie in my head until I write them down.
Another question I also have been asked is if I often escape into the world of my books. It's true, during difficult times of my life I have written more, but there's something that I'd like to clear up about what it's like, personally, to be a fantasy author.
When I'm planning and writing my stories I don't close myself off from the world around me. I don't "shut off" or "tune out" everyday life. I open up my senses and breathe the "realness" of experience into making my creation real.
If I am engrossed with writing a particular scene, I'll "see" it playing out alongside the road during my morning commute. I pay even closer attention to the thoughts and actions of the people I encounter, along with my personal feelings and reactions. Even as I'm losing my temper with my three year old son, for example, all the while I'm cataloguing my physical sensations for possible later use in a story.
I often find myself watching small things, and have to chastise myself for staring. Like the way two elderly women walk to their car in the parking lot of a restaurant, one supporting the other. The dreads of the clerk stocking the shelves at the grocery store. The soft hum of breath that signals a baby has fallen asleep. The exact hue of the sky just before sunrise.
I believe that being a fantasy writer gives an author a unique perception. We notice subtle nuances of people and places that others overlook. Artists, actors, musicians, game designers and movie producers are also required to "take in" experience in a specialized way, but fantasy authors are presented with a unique task. Our experience must be rich enough to be able to create a complete world, bottom to top. A world that only exists in the imagination of our readers.
Viewing writing as a "taking in" of experience also puts a new perspective on writer's block. I've come to realize that frequently my lags in writing are not caused by having nothing to write, but rather by needing time to sort out and "live" the scene I'm working on. This also explains why it takes me so long to write a book. I absolutely can't fathom authors who can write an entire novel in thirty days -- but kudos to them!
Although life experience lends itself to the richness of my writing, seldom are my characters influenced by my personal life. The story seems to drive itself, the characters along for the ride, and me the conduit for it's expression. It may seem a little strange to say that my stories write themselves, but I hear fellow fantasy authors tell me how they talk to their characters, so this can't be that weird.
I'll leave you with one final thought. As I stated previously, the ups and downs of my life rarely are expressed in my writing, however, the scenes I am currently writing have had a direct effect on my real life. One instance of this stands out in my memory. I was half way through writing a graphic torture scene of the main character from my first book named Syah, and coincidentally had an appointment to get a cavity filled at the dentist. Driving to town and fretting over the dreaded procedure it dawned on me the comparison. I told myself 'If Syah can willingly submit himself to twenty lashes then you can get a hole drilled in your tooth -- stop being a baby!' And I thought of him for the entire appointment -- at which I was no longer afraid. It was also that day I realized that my characters are as real to me as any living person I have ever met, or loved.
I'm curious as to how many other fantasy authors feel the same.
Thank you for the opportunity to be featured on 29 Days of Fantasy!
Thank you, Danielle, for taking the time to participate in this event, and for opening up to this audience.
I, too, experience the phenominon that she describes, where the book pretty much writes itself. The first draft of The Time Weaver was like there, where the words came out, and there was little thought about what the character were doing or what was going to happen. I was as surprised as the next person to see how it unfolded. Of course, after the first draft there were pretty significant edits, but the process was the same.
Coming up tomorrow, I have a special treat for all of you. An excerpt from an unpublished novel that has never seen the light of day. Come back for more 29 Days of Fantasy fun!
Thanks for reading!
I'm always interested in hearing what you have to say. Contact Me, I'd love to hear from you.
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