Monday, July 07, 2014

My Writing Process: Blog Tour

I was tagged by the wonderful Kiersti Plog and while I didn't round up anyone else to participate, Please feel free to carry onward! I first learned of Kiersti last year at my first ever ACFW banquet where she won the Genesis for Historical Fiction. I was madly attracted to her story ideas and have followed her blog ever since. Here is her blog post on her writing process:

My "Bible" for the Bachelor Girl's Guide to Murder: research and character notes

1.)What am I working on: I am kind of mapping out the second of a proposed trilogy I am shopping about a pair of Edwardian female detectives who don male clothes and solve mysteries. They're very Sherlock and Watson: attempting to employ their fictional heroes' methods of deduction and are consulting detectives: kind of anomalous in an age where women were mainly relegated to hearth and home ...

But a current CBA buzzword is somehow Contemporary Romance --the industry, for those of us who follow it, is a bit of a pendulum, swinging this way and that, I want to make sure I always have something in my back pocket for my agent and to show--without, of course, compromising the integrity of my voice. So, I am trying my hand at a Contemporary Romance set during a monumental season of a Summer Stock theatre festival. I love musicals and theatre and performance and I find this is just the most fun backdrop.

2.) How does my work differ from others of its genre: I think, especially in Christian historical fiction, marriage is the endgame. My heroines dapple in romance, certainly; but they will be not be swallowed into a union as some fictional counterparts are --- inasmuch as they maintain their independence. So often, characters that are married at the end of book one in a series are somehow shifted to the sidelines in the next book so that another character can take centre stage. I also think there are not a lot of Christian historicals wherein the primary relationship centres on female friendship. When my agent came back from ICRS last year and spoke of the rise in romantic suspense and suggested I try my hand at something Sherlockian--- I wanted to impose my voice and unique perspective on CBA fiction as well as feature two remarkably strong women who colour outside the lines of propriety. Finally, my heroines are Canadian. Yes, they cross the border into the States( the second book will take place in Chicago ); but they are not American by birth. In my contemporary romance (in embryo), my hero is a Chicago native who transplants himself into a small Canadian town for the most surprising of reasons. The culture clash is fun.

Long ago brainstorm session for Jem and Merinda, my bachelor girl detectives, on white board. Of course, things changed a lot; but their core concepts and motivations and character traits are the same 

3.) Why do I write What I do: I write what I do on behalf of women like me who often find it difficult to find heroines we relate to in Christian fiction. Strong, independent and intelligent women who maybe don't fit into the domestic role but still have a lot to offer in a strange but intriguing divorce from the usual feminine archetypes. I've read Christian fiction since I was a little kid and read about five books in this demographic and genre a week so I am well-versed in the tropes and conventions; but also in its limitations. I would like to see it appropriated by some stronger, edgier voices while still painting within the lines of grace and redemption. I'm also Canadian--- not "exotic" by any stretch of the imagination but certainly a minority in the CBA. I think its important for the CBA to recognize that while America is the hub of publication, the readership is worldwide. I also write Christian fiction because I am called to do it. If I wasn't called to do it, I would write detective stories for teenagers. But I just have a passion for this world and this industry and have since I was a little kid. So, CBA fiction it must be. I think stories can be transformative. I think words and sequences, filters of narrative dark and light allow an author to reach into the mind of readers. It is a really weighty task to be charged with reaching inside the mind of a reader and, hopefully, using discernment to impress upon them themes of grace, redemption and the most amazing Story ever told.

4.) How does my writing process work:
I piece together ideas and sew them up like a patchwork quilt. If I have an idea for a scene or sequence, I write it immediately, not caring about whether it is at the beginning of the book, I just need to get it done before the idea and its inspiration goes away. Then, with historical fiction, research. Tons of research. Hours and hours of reading and mapping. My first shopped novel was set during the Halifax explosion so I immersed myself in all of that and book-ended that with the amazing online photographic archives. When I decided to set my Sherlock idea in Edwardian Toronto, it was easy in the fact that I live in the City and I had it as a canvas ( albeit a 21st century one ) near to me. To supplement what I could learn from roaming about, I spent weekends at the archives ( the joys of being a writer with a full time job) and spent hours looking through archival photographs and city plans. To add, I read everything about the city's social, cultural and legal formations as well as the immigrant influx of the city to get a sense of what I would do. It was during some reading that I stumbled upon Toronto's Morality Squad: a legal means of restraining women suspected of vagrancy that I really delved deeper. Fashion, theatre, automobiles, and journalism supplemented a lot. Gosh, the research. So, after I had all that research, I white-boarded. Big bristol boards with marker and I thought up all the scenes that I wanted and needed to happen in order for a stern beginning, middle, end, and of course, it being an homage to Sherlock, denouement. Then I created a Bible of all character facts. Proposing a trilogy means I cannot have anything anachronistic when it comes to my characters, so I log all sorts of things. Once I had those things well under way I started writing. I wrote and wrote and wrote. I would say maybe 60% of what I wrote ended up shaping the final product. For the 100 000 words we submitted, I wrote twice that. It was experimental; but going into the next book, I know what I am doing and have the characters and their world and so a lot of that preliminary stuff has gotten easier. I am off to Chicago next week where I hope to visit a few places integral to my second detective novel as well as get a feel for the hometown of my Cont Romance hero.

Your turn:
Step one: acknowledge the person and site who involved you in the tour

Step two: Answer the 4 questions below about your writing process:

1) What am I working on?

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?

3) Why do I write what I do?

4.) How does your Writing Process work


Kiersti said...

Wow, Rachel--what a fantastic post! I love the insightful points and unique "you" perspective you bring out. :) And I love the sound of your stories--both historical and contemporary! I hope they get snapped up soon!!

-blessed holy socks, the non-perishable-zealot said...

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