Q: How did you choose the characters' names?
A: I start with an image of what they look like, or picture them doing some mundane task. As I think about them I get a feel for who they are, make a list of names that pop into my head and choose from there when the character truly coalesces in my mind. Occasionally I'll have a vague sense of what I want, but will do some research looking for that perfect sound or meaning. In Raven Feathers: The Awakening, I wanted the woman's name associated with a raven. As I was trying to choose a name for her love interest, I wanted something that signified protection. I found the name Tarian, loved it and found it had the perfect meaning for the bookshield. Brenna and Tarian were born.
Q: Do you ever feel bad about having to kill off a character?
A: Some characters exist to be killed as part of the storyline and I have no real qualms about killing them. But sometimes a character begs to sacrifice himself and I argue, "No, no, you really don't want to do that." And he insists, telling me it's necessary for everyone else. So I let him sacrifice himself but miss him.
Q: Have you had any professional training?
A: No, but I've enjoyed reading all my life and enjoy reading about the craft. There are many good books and articles out there dealing with every aspect of writing. Some of it is common sense but still makes you smack yourself in the head for not realizing it on your own. Some of it takes a while to understand but once it clicks, you never forget it. Never be content with what you think you know. Other writers will never cease to amaze you.
Q: What advice would you give to someone who has an idea for a book, but doesn't know where or how to begin?
A: Just start. Once you start to collect words and ideas on a page you will find yourself inspired to find more words. You can start with a storyboard or synopsis if it helps, but I have never been able to work that way. As you write, you can read about the craft to learn how to fine-tune your writing, enhance your plot and develop your characters.
Groups are also available for critiquing, advice and moral support. But your idea goes nowhere until you start putting words down on that first empty page. One scene will snowball into a chapter, an image creates an atmosphere and the right sentence can blossom into a theme. There's a bit of magic in the creative process and it takes a lot of hard work and dedication. But it all starts with one word.
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