Normally I won’t be posting Mondays anymore, but since this is part of a blogfest and not my own topic, I’m bending my new schedule.
Deana Barnhart is hosting, for the second year, the Gearing Up to Get an Agent Blogfest/Pitch Contest. This year also includes the chance to pitch to small publishers, not only agents. The first day of the blogfest, we’re answering the following questions.
Where do you write? Generally in my room, but sometimes at the library. As much as I miss my old ’84 and ’93 Macs, there’s something to be said for the ease of taking a laptop anywhere.
Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see? My beautiful record player and the stereo it’s attached to.
Favorite time to write? Late at night.
Drink of choice while writing? I don’t regularly eat and drink while writing.
When writing, do you listen to music or do you need complete silence? I’ve been listening to music while writing since ’93, though I can also write with silence.
What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it? If you’d like, you can read the full story behind my inspiration for the turning-point and dramatic penultimate chapter here. You can also read about it in Justine’s own words here. The TLDR version: While I was writing my Russian novel sequel last year (first draft 406,000 words written over 5 months), I somehow ended up listening to a lot of Duran Duran. So when I moved to my next project, a contemporary historical set from 1979-84, I thought it would be a nice idea to somehow include that in the story.
Though Justine (who ages from 20 to 25 during the story) is a little too old to be a Duranie, her oldest nieces are the perfect age. The book’s timeline ended up coinciding perfectly, miraculously with real-life events, a massive snowstorm on the date of the band’s show in Hartford on 13 March 1984. Justine is 9 months pregnant when she drives her nieces there and back, and goes into active labor during the show (back when most women went into labor naturally instead of scheduling inductions at the 12-week appointment, but I digress). This act finally proves to Justine’s family once and for all that she’s a capable, mature, strong adult and not their little baby sister anymore.
What’s your most valuable writing tip? Write what’s familiar and comes naturally instead of writing to trends or sacrificing your art for the sake of perceived greater market viability. I love writing long, sweeping sagas with many characters and storylines, even though many agents aren’t willing to take such projects on if a person hasn’t been published before. I write third-person omniscient, which isn’t very popular in the States anymore. I write historical fiction, which isn’t as popular as it used to be. Most of my historicals revolve around young people, and YA historicals aren’t as popular or in the same form as they were when I was a young person. That doesn’t mean I’m going to start writing 250-page post-apocalyptic or paranormal books or make my YA historicals fit in with the current “sexy historical” trend I loathe and despise.
I began reading at three years old and have been writing since I was four years old. Ever since probably third grade, I’ve been focused on historical fiction. Originally I was all about the 19th century, but by junior high, I was completely immersed in 20th century historicals. Now I have plans to revisit some long-shelved but never forgotten characters and stories from the 18th and 19th centuries, and to someday write about other eras and regions, like Heian and Meiji Japan, Native American history, prehistory, the High and Late Middle Ages, the Renaissance, and the Golden Age of Islam. I also sometimes write soft sci-fi.
I’m a serious, quiet, bookish intellectual born in the wrong generation on several fronts. I love silent film, antique cars, classic rock, and classic world literature. Since I was such an advanced reader, I pretty much graduated to adult novels at 14 and didn’t read much teen lit during my teen years in the Nineties (before the explosion of YA). I was reading Hermann Hesse by 14; why would I be interested in reading about the exploits of kids in junior high or high school after that intellectual, spiritual awakening?
My BA is in history and Russian and Eastern European Studies. My areas of expertise are 20th century Russian history and the World War II/Shoah era, which I write extensively about. I’m currently finally going back to school to hopefully get a master’s in information science, with a concentration in children’s literature. Someday I’d love to have a master’s and doctorate in 20th century Russian history, with a focus on the Stalin era and GULAG. Yes, I’m such a pleasant, light-hearted person!