Monthly Archives: October 2013

A Conversation with Kate Maruyama

I’d like to introduce you all to fellow 47North writer Kate Maruyama, author of the wonderfully creepy Harrowgate.

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SM: So, Kate why don’t you tell everyone about your book?

KM : Michael’s wife Sarah and baby, Tim are dead but still living with him in his apartment in New York. A creepy doula-type woman named Greta has wormed her way into their lives and seems to hold the key to how they can stay together, what the rules are to this new existence is, etc… But over the course of the book the couple realize she may not have their best interests at heart.

Any time Michael leaves the apartment–even for twenty minutes, weeks, months pass for Sarah and Tim–Tim grows up during this time also. Michael also sees that Sarah is visibly diminishing and getting more and more mentally lost while their boy grows stronger and healthier. A part of Michael knows Sarah and the boy don’t belong here, but he goes along with anything that he thinks will help keep his family with him. Even after he knows Greta is up to no good, he endures her for fear of losing his family. The question here, is how far would you go to keep your family together? How much would you put up with or would you let evil into your life just to spend a little more time with them? Does the sheer fear of losing someone allow you to push all consequences aside?

Does your guy let evil in so that he may have more power?

 

SM: In my first book, Crimes Against Magic, Nate doesn’t really know who he is. He’s sort of enjoying the fact that he’s clearly not human. Sleeping with beautiful women and stealing things for fun. There’s a part in the book where Nate’s previous ability for violence starts coming to the surface, but the thing that freaks him out is that he’s not actually freaked out at all. It’s not really until the people who removed his memories track him down that all hell breaks loose for him and he has to decide whether he’s going to commit to getting his old life back, but at the expense of everything he’s currently worked for.

Throughout the book there’s flashbacks to 15th century France, which links in with the modern day story, showing what Nate used to be and the things he used to do. There’s some mythology there from different places.

Born of Hatred has Nate trying to piece his life back together and getting involved in something that he’s actually afraid of facing. Something he knows he can’t beat but goes through with it anyway. But doing so means he exposes a pretty dark secret to a lot of people, which is going to have some major repercussions later in the series. 

Nate doesn’t really worry about doing bad things, so long as it’s for a good cause. His moral compass is somewhat different to everyone else. He’s okay with killing and hurting those who hurt the people he cares about. Nate’s let evil into himself a lot over the 1600 years he’s been alive. He’s done questionable things or allowed bad things to happen and not stopped it, simply because his old employer Merlin demanded it. Since he left Merlin’s employ in 1890, he’s tried to not stand by and let things happen. It’s going to get him into a lot of trouble.

 

KM: Do you have fun playing around in Nate’s head? Exploring his lack of conscience? Do you ever cringe at what he does but forge forward because you know what suits his character best or is it just a grand romp to step outside yourself on the page?

 

SM: Nate’s pretty easy to get into his head, mostly as he’s lived in mine for so long. There’s a torture scene in book 2, which did make me wince a little, but it fits that it’s the sort of thing he’d do under the circumstances he was in. It’s the same with the villains. I do love writing really evil bad guys, and a few of them have done things I’ve found awful to think about, but then I know where it goes and what’s going to happen so I don’t have to wonder if they’ll get their comeuppance. If I write the good guy with difference in morals, I have t he make the bad guys even worse.

So, do you find it fun to write the evil characters, or do you prefer to write the good guys?

 

KM:  A lot of the bad guy is written through the eyes of the good guy in mine, so they feel entwined. I had as much fun writing Michael’s revulsion for Greta as I had writing Greta herself. The most challenging part of writing Greta was coming up with her motivation, making her more than a two-dimensional menace. She took several drafts to get right, where as my protagonist was really there all along. But once I figured out what made her tick, I could really dig into her scenes and turn them into power struggles of a sort. Once you know everything your bad guy knows, you know their limitations, needs and strategies.

You said, “A few of them {your bad guys} have done things too awful to think about…” There was one scene with Greta came up in a later draft of the book, so when I saw it for the first time in a few years, it startled me–I hadn’t remembered writing it and it took me aback.

Do your bad guys ever surprise you in their actions, or where they go or what they do?

 

SM: In the first book they didn’t. I knew the main villain quite well by the time I got to write it, so I was pretty sure who he was. But in the second book, I had a problem of needing 2 characters to be in a certain place for the finale and for the life of me I couldn’t think of a good reason. And then one of the bad guys did something that I thought was pretty awful, but worked in terms of story. It also took him to a whole new level of evil, so I think people who read it will be even more willing Nate on to dish out some revenge.

I’ve had a few occasions like that, where a character did or said something that I hadn’t thought of before I got to that scene. But then that’s why I don’t tend to plot out everything in great detail.  I know the beginning and end and roughly what happens for each chapter, but not all the details.

Do you plot out in detail or are you a write it and see what happens kind of person? 

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KM: I’m with you. I kind of have to get in there with my characters and help them feel their way around their situation, see where it leads. I knew the ending of Harrowgate, but that was it, and huge sections of it surprised me. I had a six page portion planned out that turned into thirty and wound up being a climax of sorts–I wouldn’t have found it if I plotted.  Any time I try to push my characters toward a logical step things sort of stop and fall to pieces. So I keep at the draft until I’ve answered all of the questions. Then I concentrate on structure and cut mercilessly. A lot of first draft stuff I write doesn’t really belong in the story–it was more my writing toward something. Once I find the something, the writing toward can be cut away. I feel like I’m a better revisionist than composer. Revision is where the structure comes together and characters become more layered.

Do you do a lot of drafts or do you rewrite over and over as you go along?

 

SM: For my first book I didn’t plot anything and ended up doing about 9 or 10 drafts. It took forever. Book 2 and 3 i decided to plot slightly tighter before I started so I still had room for the story to flow and change as needed, but there was more structure. I only took 3 or 4 drafts with book 2 and I think it was 3 with book 3. I think that’s more down to me being more comfortable with the way in which I plot the book out before starting. 

I do however, change things as I go. I know I shouldn’t, I should wait until I’m done, but it would annoy me if I left it, so I’ll change the story now as needed. Usually only little things, if it’s a massive shift in story, then I’ll probably re-do most of the book. It’s why I make sure to get all my ideas down before I start now. It’s also why I have a dozen notebooks at home and make sure to keep them with me just in case inspiration strikes, or some new shiny needs attention.

How do you cope with that new shiny idea for a story when you’re in the middle of writing your current work? I have to take a break to make all the notes I need to or the idea won’t shut up. 

 

KM: I often work on two things at once. When I was a screenwriter, I’d finish a script, my agent/manager would go out with it, and it would all be over within a week. People passed, the story was dead. The first couple of times this happened it killed me. It would take about a month of recovery before I would start casting around for new ideas. So I started a habit that when I was in revisions for a script I would start up the next one so I’d always have something to work on. So now I know not to let lightning pass. Sometimes it’s just an idea, sometimes the story starts speaking to me in small ways and I pursue it. I often dive into short story when I’m working on a novel and get stuck. It keeps the muscles going while questions solve themselves in the back of my head.

Did you ever write anything that wouldn’t work? That you put down for good?

 

SM: I’ve had ideas that while they were great for a while, ended up falling by the wayside for one reason or another. Either it didn’t gel or I couldn’t get it to make sense. I keep the notes for the idea though, just in case it comes up in another story and will work better. 

Do you have any notion to write in different genres or are you content to stay in horror?

 

KM: I can only write the book that comes to me and the next was a literary family story, who knew? I know I’ll write horror again, it’s such a lovely space to play in, but I have to wait for the right story to come to me.

 

SM: So what’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given as a writer?

 

KM: The finest advice I got from a writer was from my mentor Rob Roberge, who said, ” When a writer is committed and dedicated, the novel(s) sort of presents itself to us if we listen well enough.”
This is so encouraging at the halfway point for me, where it all seems like crap and I’m trying to push the story forward. The pushing makes things shut down. I have this quote on my desktop, which reminds me to sit back more quietly and listen–to trust this careful moving forward and listening part of the project and wait for things to emerge. Which sounds really lovely and easy, but is usually the part where I get crabby, go on a lot of walks, read a lot of pages over, edit a lot and throw out some new scenes from an entirely different part of the story to ask questions. It’s the part I wish I could turn into a movie montage of writing with a pile of pages growing next to me.

But it’s damn fine advice.

Do you have any writer advice that stuck with you?

 

SM: That’s some excellent advice. 

I’ve been trying to think of what advice I’d say and I’ve been told so much over the last few years that it’s hard to say which one I think is the most important. 

So after much deliberation I’m going to go with: 

Enjoy yourself. If you’re not interested in what you’re writing, no one else will be, I assure you. So, write what you enjoy, write what you’d like to read, because if you try to conform to someone else’s idea of what makes a successful book, you’ll just be miserable and constantly put off writing. If you’re not enjoying writing the story, then what’s the point?

 

And that’s it for another post, thanks to the fantastic Kate for taking the time to read through my ramblings to get to the point I was trying to make.

If you want to get a copy of Harrowgate for yourself, click the links below.

 

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

And head on over to Annotation Nation to read the thoughts of her and other writers, including yours truly, about the books that have had the most impact on them.

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What’s in a Name?

Hello one and all.

A few weeks ago, I ran a competition where a lucky winner was going to get to name a character in Hellequin Chronicles book 4, Prison of Hope.

The winners were

Scott Hollander

Zoe Mountain

Kyle Felis Key

Each of them sent me a male and female name to use and I was going to pick the one I liked the best and go with it. Well, each of them managed to give me a name I really liked. So, instead of just one of them getting a name in the book, all 3 of them will have a character named in book 4.

So, from Scott Hollander his name choice going into the book will be – Sarah Hamilton

Zoe Mountain – Magali Martin

Kyle Felis Key – Robert Ellis

Congrats to them all. Now, I won’t say what any of these people are going to be when in they’re in the book, but all of them will have at least one sentence of dialog. And all 3 winners will go into the acknowledgements of my book. So, congrats to them all.

I’m off to go kill some characters… I mean write some… yes, write.

Kate Danley – Queen Mab

Today I’m very pleased to show all of you an exciting new book by the wonderful Kate Danley.  Queen Mab.

Two demigods both alike, but one of day and one of night, in fair Verona do meddle with the Houses of Capulet and Montague…

When Faunus, the god of daydreams, breaks the heart of Queen Mab, revenge can be the only answer.  Using the most powerful families in Verona, they wage their war against one another,
and place their final bets upon the heads of two teenagers, one named Romeo and the other named Juliet.

But when Queen Mab meets a gentleman named Mercutio, the world changes.  She falls in love and will do anything, even if it means destroying the world, to save him.  Will it be enough to stop the tragedy?  Or only spur it forward to its terrible end?

 

Weaving Shakespeare’s original text into a new fantasy, fans of The Woodcutter will delight in this loving retelling by award-winning author Kate Danley.  Experience the romance and passion of Romeo & Juliet from a different point of view – through the eyes of the bringer of dreams… Queen Mab.

 

Kate Danley’s debut novel, The Woodcutter (published by 47North), was honored with the Garcia Award for the Best Fiction Book of the Year, the 1st Place Fantasy Book in the Reader Views Literary Awards, and the winner of the Sci-Fi/Fantasy category in the Next Generation Indie Book Awards. Other titles include Queen Mab, the Maggie MacKay: Magical Tracker series and the O’Hare House Mystery series.

Her plays have been produced in New York, Los Angeles, and DC Metro area. Her screenplay Fairy Blood won 1st Place in the Breckenridge Festival of Film Screenwriting Competition in the Action/Adventure Category. Her projects The Playhouse, Dog Days, Sock Zombie, SuperPout, and Sports Scents can be seen in festivals and on the internet. She trained in on-camera puppetry with Mr. Snuffleupagus and recently played the head of a 20-foot dinosaur on an NBC pilot.

She lost on Hollywood Squares.

 

You can find Queen Mab on Amazon.

And here’s Kate’s author page.