Sunday, August 20, 2006

OOTB Spotlight

We're spotlighting LAURA ANNE GILMAN! She's been a puppet, a poet...kidding...but Ms. Laura has been an editor with Roc and other publications. You can get to know Laura better by checking out her LiveJournal.


What was your inspiration for Wren Valere and the Retreivers series?

I'm not sure that there really was any one inspiration. I adored the whole romantic caper/thief-as-good-guy genre, from ""To Catch a Thief" to "Remingston Steele," so I guess it was inevitable that one of my characters follow that trade, but I also wanted something with a little more darkness to it (bame my horror-reading and writing roots).

Part of my inspriation was an on-line role playing game I was involved with, in the years before I started writing the series, which was the seed for the Silence, as well as Sergei's past.

Wren? Wren is based on a friend of mine back in high school, with bits of other people blended in: she was originally a lot more damaged, a lot more of a maverick as a teenager. Being around the rest of the Cosa has mellowed her.

Describe your writing process.

Process? I'm supposed to have a process?

Seriously, the only thing that's consistent is "I write Words come. If they stop coming, I go back to the last place they came easily and start again. Repeat as needed until satisfied." Oh, and that I never write the last chater (or last scene) until everything else is in final draft stage. For me, once that last bit is written, the story's over, and I'm ready to move on to something new.

For novels I start with an outline: it might be as simple as "this is what I think happens" or it might be a specific chapter-by-chapter breakdown. I sit my ass in the chair (or whatever surface is handy), and start to write. Sometimes I use my laptop, sometimes the desktop, sometimes it's pen-and-paper (never pencil; pencil is for editing). And as I write, I discover things about the characters and the world I'm writing, things that weren't in the outline, or even in the front of my brain. I've described it as the lizard brain and the mammal brain. The lizard brain is sneaky -- you don't see it unless you stay very still and quiet, but it's always there, setting things in place and then scurrying away. The mammal brain comes by later, enthusiastic and gallumphing, setting things in motion, uncovering the lizard brain's work and swooping it up into the main writing. There are times that I come to something I think I've just pulled out of thin air, then look back and think 'wow, did I set that up two books ago? Go, me!" Lizard brain. Very wise. Very sneaky. Never tells me a damn thing.

Young adult or adult – which is your favorite to write?

They both have their own appeal, actually. I love writing YA because it's a challenge: remembering my own experiences, my own desires then, and making it both approachable and adult, with ust enough sneaky humor and borderline-adult stuff to make the reading experience multlayered. And sneaking stuff past the inevitable "protecting the children" censors, yeah. Kids can handle so much more than adults think they can: they understand 'fantasy' better than adults do, most of the time.

As a writer, YA gives you the chance to feed the imagination, give kids something to chew on when they're stuck in the car on a long family outing, or in the back of a boring classroom, or whenever life is shit for whatever reason. It's paying forward for the gifts we got when we were that age.

Writing adult fiction is more of a full-throttle storytelling experience; there isn't that careful line of acceptable/unacceptable. Plus you get to play with the language and the sensations more. Language is salt-water taffy -- the more you pull at it, the softer and sweeter it becomes.

Do you rely heavily on research while writing or make things up as you go along?

Yes. Seriously, any writer who doesn't do their research, on whatever they're writing, is going to create one-note everything. I always took "write what you know" to mean "learn more" not "write less." But once you've done the research, it's time to let it all mix up in your brain and become real, not acquired facts. Facts don't breathe, bleed, laugh, or grow. Stories do.

What’s up next in your writing career?

At the moment, I'm gearing up for book 5 in the Retrievers series, plus working on several YA proposals. There's also a big, lush historical fantasy out with editors now that I'd like to get to in the near future. I'm also working on several short stories (including one featuring P.B., Wren's idekick) and novellas, plus a novella anthology. Because hey, who needs sleep?


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