So, can you tell me What kind of relationship did/do you have with you main character?and How did it evolve and was it difficult or did it form easily?
ADR: Writing Rennie can be tough sometimes because she isn’t very wordy. She’s very internal which means I have to figure out how to communicate her thoughts in an interesting way. Especially in the first book, there is a long section in the middle where she is on her own. I was really pleased by the feedback I got from readers — that they didn’t have a problem with that long stretch of narrative. I really don’t remember how I fleshed Rennie out — it’s a decade now that I created her. My first draft of Miles To Go is a painful read — I was essentially learning how to write as I went. I think it was through the process of deep editing that she came to life.
JBM: Rennie’s internal workings were intriguing to me because my protagonist, Zeke, is very similar. I really enjoyed the narrative and was amazed how fast it moved with so little dialogue. So, did you find that “Scapegoat” was easier or harder than M2G? and why?
ADR: M2G was hard in that it was my first and I really didn’t know what I was doing. But aside from that it is a very straightforward and linear narrative. Scapegoat on the other hand has a more complex plot. I think that thrillers in general — and I expect you’ve found this to be so — are challenging to deal with because of the subterfuge and the twists and such. For me, it can sometimes feel like I can have way too many balls in the air. Otherwise, in many ways, Scapegoat was easier since I already had a well defined cast of characters in place.
JBM: Well your very first was a thrilling jump out of the gate. The pace of that book was amazing. I haven’t started “Scapegoat” but can’t wait until my edits are done so I can retreat to my reading chair for a month!
I guessing you are a meticulous “plotter” and researcher. Can you take us on a little tour of your process from how a story is born through its birth and development?
ADR: Thanks, I’m really glad you felt that way! Regarding plotting and researching: yes, I do a lot of research and really enjoy it. I’ve read things I never would have picked up before I started the Rennie series. Plotting on the other hand… Writing M2G and half of Scapegoat, I did essentially no outlining in advance. With M2G, since it wasn’t particularly complex, that wasn’t so bad, but once I was half way into Scapegoat I knew I had to stop, figure everything out and write myself a road map for the way forward. It convinced me, at least when writing thrillers or mysteries, to always plot in advance — it saves a world of trouble.
JBM: I agree, especially with a mystery. Somebody really needs to know “whodonnit” up front.
Let’s try another area, if you will. Would you describe what you find most challenging about your own writing?
And then how did those challenges change once you were contracted for the first then second book? Essentially, how have you changed since becoming a “published author”?
ADR: I think initially the biggest challenge was insecurity. Before you have the faith of an outside body that isn’t a friend or family member, you don’t always trust your own judgment (and, often, for good reason). I think that remains my biggest challenge in large part. I’ve always thought it interesting that of all the arts, writing gets the most editorializing. When you think about painters or composers, I’ve never heard of the other arts having a sort of institutionalized system of editors weighing and having a fundamental impact on a work. I’m not saying it’s a bad thing at all. I think most of us feel that we have benefited greatly from our editors — I know I have. But I do wonder why writers seem to need so much more hand holding than other “artists.”
In regard to other challenges, I think that with each new book, there are always going to be new hurdles — at least I hope there will — since I like to try new things, look for new ways to impart information in an interesting way.
JBM: That’s an interesting observation. It’s true, painters, sculptors, musicians, all have seem to be able to express their vision without much input. When a piece is “ready” to the artist’s satisfaction–it goes out. The public can judge it or not.
Writers today ( and in the past) are dependent on the Publishers to act as the middlemen and they, in turn, employ even more layers. Gradually, I think, works are changed in subtle or enormous ways to “sell”. Today some author’s are eliminating the middle man, so we may see a change in our work. Who knows.
If we were to look ahead ( following that model) how would you imagine the writing/publishing model to change “creatively”? For example, would you change what or how you wrote if you had complete artistic freedom and knew there was a market?
ADR: That’s a good point about the saleability. When you think of art that is meant to sell to the masses, like pop music, the people who hold the purse strings tend to have the most control. And the product, for better or for worse, ends up the most fiddled with and with more fingers in the pot.
Your question is a really hard one. I find it impossible to envision complete artistic freedom. I mean, we have all been influenced by the market one way or another. There are those who create new narratives styles — I guess that is real artistic freedom. But that doesn’t really appeal to me. I have never been interested in any literature that is particularly avant garde. I just like a good story. I suppose if editors let me have my way I would have a lot more exposition than I even do now. I’m not much of a believer in that classic Show, Don’t Tell trope. I think effective telling can often be much more delicious than good showing.
Thanks, Amy! this has been fun we should do it again.
Next Monday, I’ll draw a name from those who post a comment or question, the winner will get a copy of Amy’s newest release.
For more about Amy or to purchase her books: http://www.bellabooks.com/