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This week's throwback is a little different. I'm resharing an interview I did with my friend Rebecca Roland leading up the release of Book 2 of the Shards of History series, Fractured Days. The third and final book, Shattered Fates, will release next month on May 23rd.
This interview was first published on my old blog on June 15, 2015.
INTERVIEW WITH REBECCA ROLAND, AUTHOR OF SHARDS OF HISTORY, FRACTURED DAYS, THE GRAVEYARD GIRL AND MORE:
1. This is something I’ve always wondered about authors - did you grow up wanting to be a writer/author or is this something you found later in life? If it’s something you’ve always wanted to do, has it turned out to be how you imagined it or very different?
As a kid I loved reading, and in junior high I wrote a mash-up fan fiction piece based on The Hound of the Baskervilles and Def Leppard. It was fun to write, and it entertained my friends. But I never considered being a writer until I was an adult and done with grad school (and therefore had more free time). It really sort of hit me one day that I finally had the time and the drive to do it. When I started submitting short stories and working on a novel I realized I had a lot of work to do to learn more about the craft, but I love the work I've put into it, and I love seeing how much my stories have improved over time.
2. What is your work schedule like when you are writing? Especially with a little one at home?! I can’t seem to get anything done with my two around and they are older (and more independent) than your little minion. On that note, how long does it take you to finish a novel (with all the “real life” and distractions)?
My work schedule has changed a lot as my son has grown. When he was a baby/toddler, prime writing time was during his nap. Now he's five, and he's given up his nap (sob). So I write at all sorts of weird times. Sometimes I write at night, sometimes I write while he's absorbed in a game or TV or playing, sometimes I write during my lunch break at work, and sometimes I leave the house for a coffee shop (like right now). My brain can be pretty mushy later in the day, so it helps if I already know the bones of the scene I'm working on, that way I can jump right into it when I have time.
Of course some things have to go in order to make time for writing. I hardly watch TV anymore, which isn't a bad thing. I read less than I used to, which does bug me sometimes. I think my son is almost at the point where I can try bringing my laptop to the playground and getting some writing done there, but I still feel like I have to watch him a little too much right now to make it easy for me to hold a train of thought. It does take discipline to sit at the computer and write without being distracted by the Internet, but writing time is so precious that I usually get to it without messing around too much. Sometimes I set a timer if I'm more distracted than usual and tell myself that if I write for a certain number of minutes, then I can goof around. I'm totally into bribing myself.
As far as how long it takes to finish a novel, it's taken as long as two years for one and as short as three months for another. As I've learned more about writing, my pace has gotten faster.
3. Where did the inspiration come from for the Shards of History series?
It actually started as a short story I wrote at the Odyssey Writing Workshop. I had a couple of days to turn in a story and didn't have a clue what I would write. I had this dream one night in which there were homes built into the middle of a huge cliff with no obvious way to them. I woke up and wondered what sort of people would live in a place like that and realized that nobody human would. I came up with the Jeguduns, which are winged, wolfish creatures, and then a short story that centered around one of them. The short story felt like part of a bigger story, though, so when I got home I wrote out the rest. I love the rugged beauty of the Southwest, so I incorporated that into my story.
4. Are any of the characters inspired by people you know in real life? Which character in the book is most like you?
Situations and personalities I'm familiar with have definitely made it into the book. I never set out to purposefully model a character after someone I actually know, unless it was some random stranger who I'll never meet again. I'm probably most like Malia. In the first book in the series, she's accused of having her head in the clouds, and that's definitely me. When I'm daydreaming, a nude marching band could pass me by and I'd never notice.
5. When you start a series, do you plan on it being a series from the start or does the story wind up building into a series as you write it?
I didn't plan for Shards of History to turn into a series, although while I worked on it I realized I certainly had plenty of material there for one. So I wrote the first book in such a way that it could either stand alone or continue.
6. How much do you plan a “roadmap” or outline of the book before you start versus letting the characters and story develop and morph as you write?
When I started writing years ago, I wrote by the seat of my pants. I had only the vaguest idea of where a story would end up. I tried outlining, but it sucked all the fun out of the process of creating a rough draft. But with experience I've been outlining more. I have finally put together a process that works for me, takes the least amount of time, and keeps the joy and excitement in the process of writing. I do a 'character interview' where I get to know them and their motivations a bit more. Then I think about how I want the story to end. Where will the characters end up? How will they grow and change? After that I go back to the beginning and plug in the major events. And I always drift away from the outline. Sometimes I figure out something better when I get to a scene, so there's still some spontaneity.
7. What are you working on right now?
I'm working on the third book in the Shards of History series. This will most likely be the final one in the series (at least, that's what I'm aiming for). I'm about ten percent into it and having fun tormenting my characters.
8. Who is your favorite author? What about them inspires you?
I love, love, love Lois McMaster Bujold. She's written a couple of fantasy series, but I really fell in love with her space opera series about Miles Vorkosigan. Her characters are so real that I expect them to jump off the page (especially Miles, who is quite energetic, a little neurotic, and prone to getting in trouble). Miles is also extremely clever, and he's honorable. He would be the sort of friend who might drive you nuts sometimes, but he'd be the first on hand to help out. The series has ranged from the very serious (identity issues, deaths of major characters, class issues, etc) to a comedy of errors to a murder mystery, and all of them taking place in this complicated universe.
9. Do you have any strange or quirky writing habits?
I typically prefer to write with some sort of caffeinated beverage and maybe snacks. I try to eat healthy, but when I'm on a deadline or particularly stressed, I'll turn to chocolate.
10. If the Shards of History series gets optioned for a film, who do you see playing Malia, Enuwal and any other main characters?
Fun question! I think Lynn Collins as she looked in John Carter would make a great Malia. I'd cast Dwayne Johnson as Dalibor. Jimmy Smits would make a great Rasmus, and a younger Benjamin Bratt could play Enuwal. In Fractured Days, Saoirse Ronin would make a great Sersha (and actually, I used a different version of the name Saoirse for the changer's name). She looks sweet, but she showed she can be intense in Hanna. Gemma Ward has the soft look I imagine for Chanwa. I like Nathalie Emmanuel from Game of Thrones for Ankti. And finally, Chris Hemsworth would make a great Muvumo.