question time again

This one comes from Tyler:

And here’s a question–if it has been asked before, I’m sorry; I missed it—–
When and how did you get the idea for PATH OF FATE, and after getting the idea and after beginning to write it, how long did it take you complete the first draft of the book?

So the answer to that one requires me to take a step back a little to what was happening before writing Path of Fate.

Way back when when I was working on my dissertation, I was also working on a novel. A long, sprawling novel that I still have a fondness for, but which will likely never be pulled out of the trunk for various reasons. Whenever I got stuck on my diss, I’d switch to writing my novle and vice versa. I was around 185K when I stopped working on it and it wasn’t quite done yet.

So I get my PhD and I get a job and I moved to Montana. I jumped into working and didn’t have a lot of time to write at that point. But what I did do was get pregnant. And then on top of that, i had one of my short stories “All Things Being Not Quite Equal” picked up for The Best of Dreams of Decadence antho (this is my ugly vampire story and anybody who wants to read it can go to my website and have gander). So it was 2001 and my son wasn’t a year old yet and I decided to head off to Wiscon to participate in the writers workshop there with the first chapters of the novel I’d been workinig on during my dissertation years–short title Errand.

Now first you have to know that I’d had a major editor tell me at an academic conference that now that I was having a baby, I wouldn’t be writing anything for years and years. That pissed me off. The other thing to know was that I got to be in Nancy Kress’ group at the Wiscon writers workshop. Dream come true. So she had nice things to say about my writing and offered some suggestions. When I was done, I was all pumped to go home and finish and revise Errand and get it submitted out.

So I’d been home less than a month when a friend called me up and asked, How’d you like to do a book in a week? Um, huh what?

Basically a book in a week is this idea that you try to write as much of a book as you possibly can in a week. The idea is that most people can carve out a week of their lives when they can get rid of work, housecleaning, and whatever obligations, and just write. Will you finish a book in a week? Probably not. But in that time you’ll have a substantial draft and you’ll know whether it’s worth pursuing or not.

So I’d been kicking around the idea for Path of Fate for a litle while, and thought, sure! I’ll do it. And at the end of the week I was about 30K into the book and knew I wanted to keep going.After that, It took me about 7 months to write the novel. Then I wanted to send it out and instead managed to control myself and send it out to a coupl of beta readers who gave me excellent advice and I revised and revised. Then I spent time working on the synopsis and cover letter and figuring out who to submit to. About the same time I finished the book, Rock published the antho The Best of Dreams of Decadence, which gave me a slight ‘in’ when submitting to them.

The idea for Path of Fate is hard to pin down. I had this idea of the goshawk connected to Reisil and that Reisil would be afraid of heights. I also am fascinated by people who sacrifice themselves for others–who will give up everything for strangers. I also like the idea of someone who is “chosen” and doesn’t care to be. The rest of it sort of gelled up around those ideas. They’d been rummaging around loose in my head for awhile–a lot of my ideas do that. They are looking for other ideas to glom on to and create a story. I ended up using a goshawk for Saljane because a friend of mine does research on goshawks and I could ask a lot of questions and go out into the field and observe.
Any more that you want to know about that? Or other questions? Keep ’em coming!

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