Tag Archives: cliches

Meet Writer Jamie Wyman

Posted by February 25th, 2013

Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A

jamie_wyman_author_sm1“I love that moment when lightning strikes and an idea just gels into perfection.” –Jamie Wyman

Jamie Wyman is a fantasy and horror writer from Phoenix who’s been with Book Country since the very beginning. Two weeks ago, she broke the news that her debut urban fantasy Technical Difficulties, which she workshopped on the site, was picked up by Entangled Publishing. We got in touch with Jamie to congratulate her and find out how she’s been doing since the announcement. (I highly recommend Jamie’s post about the book deal to all aspiring authors; it’s both heart-warming and informative.)

Jamie is known by many names. Here, she asked we call her “The Omnipotent Despot to All Things Peachy.”

Nevena: Congratulations on the acquisition, Jamie! What has your life been like since the big news became public?

Jamie: Thanks! Life has been mostly normal but with a lot more squeeing. There have been a few surreal moments, including my first piece of “fan mail.” Another editor who read the book on submission didn’t get it to her acquisitions board in time, but she emailed me to let me know how much she enjoyed the book. That made my morning! And I’ve been talking with publicists. Seriously? I have publicists. Totally surreal.

Nevena: It does sound surreal. Congrats again. Now, tell us more aboutTechnical Difficulties. What transformations has it gone through since the first draft? Did you have to kill any “darlings”?

JamieTechnical Difficulties is an urban fantasy following Catherine Sharp, an IT professional with a personal debt to the Greek Goddess of Discord, Eris. When Cat discovers that her soul is a chip in Eris’s poker game, she has to turn the tables on four trickster gods who are vying for her soul.

There have been more than ten revision passes on it at this point, eight of which I did before querying agents. The opening scene and the structure at the end are the only major changes from the rough draft, and those were based on feedback from my agent—the stellar Jennie Goloboy at Red Sofa Literary agency. She and my beta readers gave me spectacular critiques.

And yes, I had to kill darlings, but the book is better this way.

Nevena: What do you wish you’d been told about getting acquired and working with an editor?

Jamie: “No, seriously, Jamie. When I say you need patience, I’m talking epic amounts.” Patience does not come naturally to me. The past four years of working toward publication have helped with that, but sometimes it’s still not enough.

Nevena: Well, your efforts have paid off! What draws you to the urban fantasy genre? What cliché would you most like to see erased from it?

Jamie: If fantasy is all about escapism, urban fantasy is a staycation. It takes these old fairy tales and plunks them down into the middle of reality. This leads to all sorts of questions. How do wizards interact with technology? What happens when a satyr lands in Las Vegas with a trickster god? It’s such a fertile playground!

As to clichés, I think the one that bothers me the most is the “rape as initiation” trope. Male leads jump through all sorts of hoops to earn their stripes in the supernatural world, but it seems that women are—more often than not—tested with rape.  It’s ubiquitous and most times not integral to the plot.

Nevena: This is one cliché I’d like to see banished from the genre as well! Tell me, when did you start writing?

Jamie: I’ve been telling stories since I was in single digits. My grandma used to record me telling them. Later I filled notebooks with short stories, scripts, poetry…a lot of them terrible. I didn’t write my first novel, though, until 2008. It was crap. I got better, though.

Nevena: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Jamie: I love that moment when lightning strikes and an idea just gels into perfection. Sometimes this comes in the brainstorming/plotting/pre-visualization part. Sometimes during drafting. Other times editing. Usually it’s in the shower.

Nevena: Why did you join Book Country? How has it helped you grow as a writer?

Jamie: I needed someone to look at my work with a craft perspective. When Colleen put out the call for betas when Book Country launched, I couldn’t volunteer fast enough.

Book Country helped me learn to trust my voice and my instincts. Many times the comments on the site would confirm what I thought was wrong (or right) with a piece. While it helped me develop a thicker skin, it also taught me how to take a compliment. Seriously, you don’t think about that, but I’m a very self-deprecating person. That’s what my whole sense of humor is based on. So when I started getting positive feedback, I had to learn to accept it rather than bat it away with the negative.

Nevena: Sounds awesome. What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Jamie: What writer Neil Gaiman said once on an episode of Arthur: “Don’t judge your story; you’ve just started writing it. Trust your story. Tell it because you’re the only one who can.”

Nevena: What’s next? When will your novel “hit the shelves”?

JamieTechnical Difficulties will hit a digital device near you. (It’s early stages, so the release date hasn’t been set yet.) I’ve also just learned that one of my short stories will be appearing in an anthology later this year. But I can’t give details about that project yet. Stay tuned!

Nevena: So secretive! Get us the details when you are at liberty to say more. Is there anything else you want the community to know about you?

Jamie: I’m still not sure what the hell I’m doing. I make this up as I go along.

Connect with Jamie on Book Country, and catch up with news about her upcoming novel at her blog. Follow her on Twitter @beegirlblue

Image © Eric Fiallos

Share Button

Meet Book Country Member Herb Mallette

Posted by February 19th, 2013

Book Country Member Spotlight Q&A

herb_mallette_bookcountry_member_3“No matter how successful you might become as a writer, you need to retain your sense of humor.” –Herb Mallette

You might recognize Herb Mallette as the glasses-wearing cartoon avatar known for his pithy contributions to the Book Country discussion forums and his thoughtful peer reviews. He’s also a lifelong writer from San Antonio, and has been editing professionally for the past twenty-five years. He’s a big science fiction and fantasy fan (some of his favorite writers include Jack Vance, Michael Shea, Iain M. Banks, and Edgar Rice Burroughs), and has a wicked sense of humor. Last week I chatted with Herb about his writing life, his love of science fiction and fantasy, and his soft spot for Pixar movies. 

Nevena: How and why did you start writing?

Herb: As a child, I loved to read, write, and draw. I wrote my first story at age five on a page in Dr. Seuss’s My Book about Me. I started drawing comic books around seven, and by the end of middle school, I was determined to be either a writer or a comic book artist. Because I had the fortune or misfortune to be good friends with a kid whose artistic talents vastly exceeded mine, I mistakenly concluded that I wasn’t cut out to be an artist. So in the tenth grade, when my chemistry teacher re-ran a particularly boring filmstrip, instead of watching it I started my first novel. By the time I graduated, I’d finished two books and become addicted to it.

Nevena: You write fantasy. What draws you to it?

Herb: Fantasy and science fiction inundated my childhood with realms so colorful and exciting that I had no choice but to pursue them. I used to write in both genres. Nowadays I find fantasy more liberating because it allows me to make up all the rules.

Nevena: Is there a cliché that you’d like to see erased from the genre?

Herb: The dour, gruff dwarf is probably my least favorite fantasy cliché, but I don’t know that I’d eliminate it—to each his own.

Nevena: Could you tell us more about your own fiction? What are you currently working on?

Herb: Right now I’m writing a prequel to my four-book Delvonian series. The existing books start with The Last Tragedy and wrap up with a trilogy, The Aveliad. The prequel features four characters from The Aveliad on their first adventure together, when they’re just forming the relationships we see unfold in the trilogy.

In my work, I aim for a high level of adventure sprinkled with human commentary. It’s very important to me to be entertaining, and only slightly less important to provoke thought in readers who want to be so provoked.

Nevena: Wow, that’s poetic! Why should Book Country members read and review The Last Tragedy, the book you’ve posted to the site?

Herb: People should read The Last Tragedy if they’re looking for clever, engaging characters moving through an unusual world in a beguilingly entertaining plot. The good guys are witty and resourceful; the villain exquisitely malicious. As for reviewing it, people should do that if the excerpt on Book Country makes them want to say something.

Nevena: Sounds good! What’s the biggest challenge you’ve encountered in your writing? How did you overcome it?

Herb: Real life. I have a day job and a family in a world that, if you watch the news, is often quite depressing. Writing is a way that I can raise a light against the gloom, both for myself and, hopefully, for others. But it’s sometimes hard to find the time, energy, and spirit to stay brave in the things I am trying to express. As for overcoming… Well, the world needs heroes, and when I was a kid, many of mine were writers, so I push onward.

Nevena: What’s your favorite part of the writing process?

Herb: Surprising myself, especially at the end of a book. I love getting to an outlined event, realizing it doesn’t do what it needs to do, and then hitting on a solution that whoops the pants off the original plan.

Nevena: Why did you join Book Country? How has it helped you in your growth as a writer?

Herb: Writing about writing helps remind me (or, if you prefer, helps me delude myself into thinking) that I do kind of know what I’m doing. Reading about writing helps me learn from the perspectives of others.

Nevena: What’s the best writing advice you’ve ever received?

Herb: At a book signing, I told sci-fi/fantasy writer Michael Moorcock that he was indirectly responsible for my writing several bad fantasy novels in high school. Without batting an eye, he replied, “As it happens, I’ve been directly responsible for several myself.” That wasn’t exactly advice, but it showed me that no matter how successful you might become as a writer, you need to retain your sense of humor and not take yourself too seriously.

Nevena: Is there anything you want the community to know about you?

Herb: I am ridiculously susceptible to the emotional effects of certain movies. I have cried buckets at almost all of the last several Pixar films, for instance, as well as the recent return of The Muppets to the big screen. When filmmakers manage to put real human beauty onto the screen—especially through elements of the fantastic—something just turns a switch of joy in me until I am a quivering wreck. My favorite movie scene of all time is the asteroid field sequence from The Empire Strikes Back. Just listening to the soundtrack for that scene makes me stream tears, and there have been times when I’ve gotten the accompanying music stuck in my head at work and literally had difficulty concentrating on my job. Please don’t tell my boss.

Nevena: Pinky promise! Thanks for sharing, Herb, and for being such a spirited voice in the community.

Share Button