lathriel: (Default)
29. How often do you think about writing? Ever come across something IRL that reminds you of your story/characters?

Um.

Yes.

Unless my mind is actively engaged in something like a conversation, a movie, a book, a problem to solve... I am constantly thinking about writing. I'd say 90% of the time. The other 10% I am thinking about creativity, and spirituality.

30. Final question! Tag someone! And tell us what you like about that person as a writer and/or about one of his/her characters!

I think this meme has had its time in the sun, so I'm just going to say all of you writers on my friends list, you're wonderful writers! And if you'd like to do the 30 Days of Writing meme, just comment below and I'll send you all the questions.

Thanks for reading! :)
lathriel: (writing)
26. Let's talk art! Do you draw your characters? Do others draw them? Pick one of your OCs and post your favorite picture of him!

I have only a few sketches of my characters, all that I've sketched myself. I don't consider myself tremendously talented when it comes to drawing (I'm not bad with paints though, if I may say so). Here is one of the patchwork girl from TPaL, as a child:



27. Along similar lines, do appearances play a big role in your stories? Tell us about them, or if not, how you go about designing your characters.

Depends on the character. For the most part, people are just people. Yeah, they're generally attractive, or at least not terribly ugly. I try to throw in more than just white folk all the time, but not for any particular visual reason or literary device. However, the patchwork girl is covered in stitches, has white hair, and mismatched eyes, which makes her stand out visually from my other characters. In the Lotus Children series Malcom has a birthmark on his head which makes red streaks in his blond hair. Are those considered "big roles?" I don't know.

28. Have you ever written a character with physical or mental disabilities? Describe them, and if there's nothing major to speak of, tell us a few smaller ones.

I've written some characters with odd phobias that prevent them from functioning properly in the world; also a few who go blind or develop something like dementia. I'm actually working on a story in my head currently wherein the MC has a mentally disabled younger brother, possibly something like down syndrome. I think the disabled are highly under-represented in all genres of literature.
lathriel: (Default)
25. Do any of your characters have pets? Tell us about them.

In an early version of a Lotus Children story, a short story version of book I that I wrote for a creative writing class, Malcom has a pet dog named Anubis. I thought I was very clever for that. Malcom's people were supposedly descended from an Egyptian god, and Anubis was the reader's hint that Malcom was the one the main character, Leila, was hunting. It was all sneaky like.

Anubis was some kind of mutt, an enormous fuzzy dog constantly knocking people over when it got excited to see them. Leila falls in love with the dog despite her cold personality, just as she falls in love with Malcom before she realizes she wants to kill him. Haha.

I should put more pets in my stories. I guess I'm afraid some part of the story will suddenly require them to die, and I think I'd cry all over my keyboard if I had to do that :(
lathriel: (writing)
22. Tell us about one scene between your characters that you've never written or told anyone about before! Serious or not.

I don't think I have any. I mean, any scene I know for certain I want to write I've probably told Sarah about, or written drafts of it. Boring answer? Sorry... I talk about my writing a lot, to anyone who will listen ;)

23. How long does it usually take you to complete an entire story—from planning to writing to posting (if you post your work)?

By "posting" can we mean "querying"? It depends on the work. In theory, I could begin and finish a 145k word novel in a year (As I did for The Hierophant). But it took me over 2 years to finish TPaL, which is only 86k. And as far as the Lotus Children novels are concerned, it took me over 11 years just to finish 1 book. I guess, I'm still young and still discovering how my author-self operates.

24. How willing are you to kill your characters if the plot so demands it? What's the most interesting way you've killed someone?

If the plot demands it, I obey. I am a writer that is more of a tool for the story to be told, and less of a master composing a tale.

The most interesting way I've killed someone... hmmm... most of my deaths are pretty straight forward. I guess in TPaL the patchwork girl kills a bear that was formerly human by separating his soul from his body. Kind of an interesting way to go...?
lathriel: (writing)
19. Favorite minor that decided to shove himself into the spotlight and why!

Sparrow Overbjorn- the supposedly dead younger sister of another minorish character in the Lotus Children series. I actually wrote my first NaNo novel about her :) She was originally just supposed to be dead, or maybe actually alive, but her real story became a novel unto itself. She's one of those poor character that you feel bad for having created because their life is such hell. She is ten when war breaks out on her home planet, and she sees her parents executed (and she thinks her older brother, Phoenix, is killed as well). As a prisoner, she rallies with other children and they escape to the wilderness. Unfortunately, a plague has been unleashed on the planet to kill anyone with DNA that is not of the human genome- and she is something like 1/8 alien DNA. But she has a photographic memory and is clairvoyant, and using her genius and an abandoned laboratory she develops a cure, kind of, that works for most of the infected children she is with (for the humans have been dying too- the virus mutated). She falls in love with the group leader, but in a final assault on the building they are holed up in, he is killed. She ends up joining a circus at some point and learning how to throw knives, perform aerial acts, ride horses. Aft that, she ends up disguising herself as a boy a few years later (she's rail thin and over six feet tall) and joining a militia that is hunting down the last of the men responsible for their quarantined planet's terrible fate. She's promoted quickly because of her skill with a knife, and makes enemies for it- then is is discovered to be a woman, and, well, you can imagine...

Also, when she turns sixteen, she begins to lose sight in both eyes. As it turns out, she's riddled with cancer, a side effect of her DNA having been altered by the plague. She goes blind and has only her clairvoyance into the spirit world to help her get by.

Sad face :(

20. What are your favorite character interactions to write?

Banter. Sometimes you just start having fun with your characters, probably more fun than you should, and you end up writing some hilarious crap that will probably be edited out in the second draft, but still... it's fun to write ;D

21. Do any of your characters have children? How well do you write them?

In my epic sci-fi series the main character from the first books ends up having children that he doesn't even know he has. They kind of become the main characters of the last few books. I think I write them pretty well, but I never write them as babies or anything- so I guess their like most "children" I write: young adults.
lathriel: (lotus children)
18. Favorite antagonist and why!

By far, my favorite antagonist to write is Denzel. He is the most epic villain of EVER. I realized when I first began writing The Lotus Children that no villain is believable if he is simply evil. I need to have a villain that believes in what he's doing, that thinks "even though everyone else will try to stop me and tell me I'm wrong/crazy, I know this is the right thing to do."

It helps that he is, in fact, absolutely mad.

Denzel is awesome. He's from a parallel dimension. He's tall, dark, and handsome. He's insanely powerful. He's insanely smart. He's insanely snide and cynical and clever. He's... insane. And his ridiculous, cruel, heartless, crazy long-term plotting is what forms the backbone of much of the 7 book series.

Damn it! All the answers to these questions come back to this series. :p

I suppose this means I have to revisit it sooner rather than later.
lathriel: (writing)
17. Favorite protagonist and why!

Oy, again with the favorites.

Well, I really enjoyed writing the patchwork girl from The Poppet and the Lune. She was the one female lead character that I never questioned: "Is she being too whiny? Are her reactions realistic?" Cause neither of those questions were relevant in the end. She was fun to write, probably because she got to be intelligent like an adult but have the wise innocence of a child. Also, she was on a quest- quests are always fun to write.

Another protagonist I really enjoy writing is Kyla, Ana's best friend in The Hierophant. She's just a cool person, the kind I would have liked to have been friends with in high school. She's funny, brave, loyal, and not afraid to believe in her dreams.
lathriel: (Default)
16. Do you write romantic relationships? How do you do with those, and how “far” are you willing to go in your writing? ;)

I do write romantic relationships. It's hard not too. Literally. I set out writing TPaL intending that the MCs would not fall in love, but they took over and wrote their own stories.

I'm willing to go as far as the relationship needs to go. I don't care for superfluous sex scenes in books that I'm reading, so I try not to put them in my writing. Sometimes it works though- sometimes those moments of intimacy heighten your feelings for the characters, and if it's a well executed "sex scene" then no one is grossed out or offended. It can be poetry, if you do it right.
lathriel: (writing)
15. Midway question! Tell us about a writer you admire, whether professional or not!

It is an odd thing, but I don't have too many professional writers I greatly admire. I admire some of their works, but I can't say that on the whole I admire all of them. I admire Philip Pullman, and Libba Bray, and Frank Herbert, but only to a degree.

The writers I admire most? I admire the writers I know. I've seem so many of them grow from fledgling writers to full blown authors (because I've grown with them). I admire the members of the Buffalo Writers Group- those who still write, and still love it, and write more now than ever before. I admire Hugh, a fantastic writer with his own podcast, The Way of the Buffalo, and a subtle-yet-powerful style of writing that never fails to impress. Pete (who tagged me to do this meme!), who started the BWG, who has his very own web serial (www.bardsworth.com), his own book, his own dreams that cannot be deterred. I admire Sarah (The Smoking Quill ;D), whose exquisite writing and haunting ideas always stick with me.

I admire the writers who keep writing, who write because they love it, and write because they must. I admire the ones who succeed, and the ones who don't. Because we've all been there, haven't we? When we're seriously thinking maybe I wasn't meant to do this...

It takes strength to keep going, in the face of failure, rejection, false starts and lost drafts and mean critics and our own envy of other authors. But we do. Because we must.

Because we have stories to tell.
lathriel: (writing)
12. In what story did you feel you did the best job of worldbuilding? Any side-notes on it you'd like to share?
World building... hmm... I think again it would have to be The Lotus Children series. It's the only one that required much world building to begin with, and for the most part I think I did a good job. Especially with the people from Praja, who were all kinds of awesome. A race of warriors, acetics, hunters, with all kinds of merciless traditions. And yet remarkably peaceful.

13. What's your favorite culture to write, fictional or not?

This is going to sound lame, but regular American culture is my favorite to write. Probably because I know it best, and it's easy to get into and see where things restrict and where things allow. My culture is the one I can see all the problems with, as well as the good things, and it's what gives me fodder for fiction on a daily basis. I like to play around and make up worlds of imagine different scenarios in different cultures from what little I know, but I always feel my information is incomplete. One day I'll have the balls to do massive research and writer something non-Western Civ.

14. How do you map out locations, if needed? Do you have any to show us?

I've never had the need to, honestly. I have a general sense of location in my head, and I think it translates well enough onto the page that a map would be superfluous.
lathriel: (Default)
11. Who is your favorite character to write? Least favorite?

Hard question! I love to write all my characters, otherwise I wouldn't write them- I don't think a character that you don't enjoy writing is one people will enjoy reading. I have the most amazing time when I was writing the first draft of The Poppet and the Lune- the patchwork girl was such an an interesting character to write, and her story flowed out from me as easily as breathing.

I had a blast writing Ana and Kyla in The Heirophant because, even though Ana was sometimes boring, Kyla was the fun one and together they were that kind of ridiculous-best-friend fun that is soothing (and hilarious) to write.

Malcom has always been great fun to write because he's so bad-ass, as in the most important, powerful person in the universe, also a teenager who seems to always know more of what's going on than the rest of us.

My least favorite characters to write? Well, they've generally been the characters I don't know too well, and in correcting that I find they're much more fun to write. I've learned that characters who are boring but necessary don't necessarily have to be boring, so I try to keep them interesting for my potential audience's sake, as well as my own.

I don't really like writing the skeezy bad guys who do awful things. Makes me feel gross for having imagined them. But when a story wants to be told, it gives me the players and I put them down on the page.
lathriel: (Default)
10. What are some really weird situations your characters have been in? Everything from serious canon scenes to meme questions counts!

Well, what do we define as weird? Weird as in attacked by a swarm of giant spiders with heads that look like babies but with mouths so full of long pointy teeth that they can't be closed? Or weird as in having an existential moment with your son who is probably the most powerful being in existence and is only 14 years old?

I had one character go into a trance during her piano recital and begin singing (and playing) a prophecy in another language that she had never heard.

I plan on having a character jump from a rock that juts out into Niagara Falls, because if her faith is strong enough the whirlpool at the bottom will act as a portal to the Underworld, where she needs to go in order to save her friend. And if it's not, well... she'll probably die. I think that's a weird situation to be in...

I recently wrote a horror short in which the whole premise is a weird situation- a man wakes up with no memory of who he is, and finds himself trapped in a house made of pages from a manuscript that seems to know his every move.

I hope those are considered "weird" enough for ya :)
lathriel: (writing)
(in case you missed it, I'm nixing the other 30 day meme until after i finish this one- so many of my friends are doing it too, I don't want to completely clog up your friends pages!)

9. How do you get ideas for your characters? Describe the process of creating them.

I wish I had a solid answer for this, because I'd be a lot more prolific if I did.

For the most part, I get ideas through every day life- small moments that stick out from the rest, that inspire, that trigger some chain of fantasizing in my head until I've imagined some one that has taken root in my brain, and demands to have their story told. For me, the problem is usually that they're shy about telling me their story even though they demand I tell it.

I find, though, that my characters reveal themselves best by writing them. I've tried to character sketch sheets, to no avail. I've tried putting them in other situations and writing about them, but it doesn't feel right. The best I've ever gotten to know a character is by writing a draft, and by the end I can usually see who they really are. When I go back and do revisions or re-writes, that character is solid and real in my writing and in my mind.
lathriel: (Default)
8. What's your favorite genre to write? To read?

I love to write Young Adult, if that's a genre. YA Fantasy to be precise, possibly some sci-fi. I used to write only science fiction, but fantasy has definitely become my go-to genre. I'm trying to do some magical realism in my newest story idea, but I'm not feeling completely in love with the whole story idea any more. I like to experiment :)

As for reading, I read a lot of YA, but to be honest I am rarely satisfied with the books. I really enjoyed the Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray, but almost everything after that I've been "meh" about. (Aside from The Hunger Games, but I only really really liked the first book. Fantasy seems to also be my favorite genre to read, though I'm not very much into "high" fantasy. And, actually, some of my favorite books are classics- Wuthering Heights and Jane Eyre for example. LOVE those books. But when I go to a book store, I usually check out the literary section... so I'm not sure what my favorite genre is :)
lathriel: (Default)
7. Do you listen to music while you write? What kind? Are there any songs you like to relate/apply to your characters?

As a general rule I do not listen to music when I write, and in fact can't really understand how anyone could. (That's not a criticism!!! Sometimes I wish I could!) Appreciation of art and the act of creating art don't mesh in my mind as something I can do at the same time. Especially if the songs have words- how can I listen to someone talking while I'm writing?

There are definitely songs that inspire me, though, and songs that make me think of my characters, but only in a loose way. I think sometimes we love our characters so much that we can turn anything into something relevant to their situation.
lathriel: (Default)
I skipped a day, so you get two today ;)

6. Where are you most comfortable writing? At what time of day? Computer or good ol' pen and paper?

I am probably most comfortable writing, as cliche as it is, in a coffee shop. At home, I'm too distracted by cats, other things I could do, cleaning... by leaving the apartment, I have more of a sense of "going to work," and that helps me plunk down in a chair and actually write. The noise doesn't bother me- it actually helps me focus.

I can write at any time. I used to be a night writer, and a part of me still loves writing at night, but I get up at 8:30 these days, check my email, and head out to write. I can write all day. A part of me also loves very early morning writing- there's always a sense of peaceful adventure at that hour.

Depending on the kind of project, computer and pen + paper are both good. I wrote a good chunk of TPaL in a blue journal that Laura gave me, but once it really took off I had to put it all on my computer. The thing that stops me from using pen + paper most of the time is that I hate transcribing. But for brainstorming, taking notes, making lists, pen + paper is definitely the way to go.
lathriel: (writing)
5. By age, who is your youngest character? Oldest? How about “youngest” and “oldest” in terms of when you created them?

I've had plenty of characters where their story starts with their birth- as in, their birth is a part of an ongoing story. So I'm not sure who my "youngest" character would be, cause inevitably they do grow up. But if I had to guess, it would be Leona. Leona is also a part of the Lotus Children series- she is Malcom's youngest daughter, and the only one he has with his omg-star-crossed-love Leila Nuit, the Praji warrior princess originally sent to kill him when they were both 14.

Ahem.

Leona's birth is disputed (due to prophecies abounding), and people even attempt to prevent it, ie kill Leila. But born she is, in the safety of another/parallel universe, and yes she does turn out to (almost) be the cause of the end of All That Is. During her birth, so many cosmic forces come together that Leila almost dies, but Malcom, also being The Man when it comes to cosmic power, uses all his "magic" to save them both, and ends up in a kind of coma, that is more like suspended animation. Leona is, of course, crazy powerful. She grows and matures mentally and physically at a terrifying speed, and at 12 months she looks 13 years old, and talks/thinks like a genius. Inevitably, her power and knowledge become so huge, without the emotional stability of an adult, that she becomes rather god-like, or rather demon-like because in drawing on energies from pandimensional sources her body transforms into some scary multi-limbed thing with wings- and almost destroys Existence, because it's so awful. (Hello, Willow...)

But, Malcom come backs and stops her, proving once and for all that he is not a pawn of the prophecies that have ruled his life since birth.

My oldest character is, technically, Gabriel, the enchanted bear in the Weirding Wood, in part VIII of The Poppet and the Lune. Over a thousand years ago, he came as a young man to the Weirding Wood to hunt magical game, and for his punishment he was turned into a bear. He's not such a bad guy after a few hundred years, but when he gets the idea of escape into his head, he forces the patchwork girl to work some magic on him, which ultimately kills him. Oops!

Again, Malcom is the first character I created. I think I was 10 at the time :) The most recent character I've created is Sam Ack, the incredibly ordinary girl who wants more than anything to be touched by the extraordinary. She's a definite work in progress.
lathriel: (writing)
4. Tell us about one of your first stories/characters!

If we're talking a real character, like one I didn't make up for a school assignment... then Malcom is the first. Malcom, the first born of a new generation of sorcerer-warriors, who is destined to suffer tremendously at my hands, through the hands of the villains and prophecies I create. Sorry, Malcom.

Malcom is mysterious. He is wise beyond his years, but not without flaws... just well hidden, or at least rarely exposed flaws. He, and the rest of his people, the Siraia, cannot feel emotion at either end of the spectrum, only the calm places between. If he does, he will go mad. (That part was never really developed very well, and reeks of stealing from the Jedi mythos)

The odd thing about Malcom (who was another stand-in name that stuck) is that the image I have of him in my head, I came to realize at the age of 19, is exactly that as from a dream I had when I was no older then 4 years old. In the dream, I was standing on the landing of the stairs leading up to the attic, and the stairs below me were gone. It was a straight drop. I fell, and fell, and fell, and did not wake up, and when I came to the bottom, Malcom caught me in his arms. He was young-ish, perhaps 30, with gold-blonde hair, green eyes, and a knowing smile, clad all in black: pants, long sleeved shirt, shoes.

The even more odd thing about Malcom is that he's kind of a spiritual figure in my life. I can turn my mind to him, ask him a question, and whether he answers directly or gives me that knowing smile, the answer is given to me. But much like religious people often forget to turn to their god(s) for help, I always forget to ask him for help too. I think of him as my guardian spirit- in fact, at a recent reading with a clairvoyant in Salem, she confirmed that he was in fact a being in spirit, and not just a projection of my higher self as I'd sometimes wondered. It's all something that I accept, but that I'm still trying to wrap my brain around... kind of passively.

Anyway. That's my first character :)

My first story was, essentially, me plagiarizing The Indian in the Cupboard, but with tigers. ;D
lathriel: (writing)
3. How do you come up with names, for characters (and for places if you're writing about fictional places)?

Oh names. Names, how I love you. How I hate you. How I rarely know what to do with you.

I've gone through many phases of naming. I used to just put substitutes in until I found the "perfect" name for any character, but often that name would stick. I used to try to craft elegant, original, fantastical names that had auspicious meanings/meanings pertinent to that character, but I realized how annoyingly cliche those kind of names are, and I've tried to back off from that. (However, I find that the names I use without looking often do have a meaning that works for the character)

I do keep a baby names book by my desk, with something like 100,000 names in it. I rarely actually get a name straight from it, but rather I'll find a name and tweak it. In my more modern stories, I've preferred using very simple, timeless names, or simple diminutives for elegant longer names, like Ana (pronounced "Ahna"), short for Anastasia. Her love interest, Trebor, was actually a name I heard in college, which I then found out was not the dude's real name- his name was Robert. (See what he did thar?)

That's probably the best way to get a name, in my opinion- keep your eyes and ears open, and when you catch something unique without being silly, write it down. I have a few names I've gathered over the years. Sometimes an interesting name is enough for me to begin seeing the character I'd use it for, long before the story. Often, words alone can be used as a name, or at least in crafting one.

Really, though, no matter how much I search for the perfect name for a character, it's a matter of intuition.

Now, finding last names for characters... I hate that. I'd rather not have last names at all. In The Poppet and the Lune, there is one last name out of all the characters. In The Hierophant I have never liked Ana's last name, and Kyla's I stole from a high school acquaintance who was of the name ethnicity. In the Lotus Children series, Malcom's family is supposed to be descended from a hero created by an Egyptian god, so I named them Khensu after a lesser known moon god. The rest of the last names in that series are awful.

I have yet to find a good way to give last names to characters, but I'm working on it. I sometimes just peruse articles online and steal last names from random authors :}
lathriel: (Default)
2. How many characters do you have? Do you prefer males or females?

I couldn't begin to tell you how many characters I have. Less than 100, maybe. More than 50. (I guess that counts as "beginning to tell you") My sci-fi/fantasy series had well over 20 close-to-main characters in the first book. It was a weakness I noted early on in my writing, I had a tendency to create too many characters for a single work, when I really could have combined some. But when a writer creates a character, it's hard to see them disappear.

Honestly, I have an easier time writing females because I don't doubt that I understand them. But in writing females, I find that I'm always wondering, especially during dramatic scenes, if she's being too bitchy or whiny. It's hard not to let those social prejudices get in the way sometimes- a woman is angry, she's a bitch. A woman is sad, she's whining. But it's a personal challenge I like to take on. And besides, for me, writing a bad-ass chick character is a lot more fun than writing a bad-ass dude, because the world is full of bad-ass dude characters. It's beginning to become full of bad-ass chicks, too, but I still think we need some more.

I have fun writing males too, of course. In some ways, I have more fun, because I feel like I'm using my creative flow to explore the male mind- something I can't do when I'm not writing, usually. I don't really "get" men, when I'm not writing. But my Writer Self seems to, which is convenient. (Yes, writing is sometimes like being schizophrenic for me...)

And speaking of writing, I'm off to get some in before continuing the job hunt :) Wish me luck on that front...

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Madeline Franklin

April 2017

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