My Writing Process

Nesting CoverI have been tagged by my friend Bev Prescott inThe Writing Process blog tour. Bev is the author of My Soldier Too and Step Into the Wind, and she has a new book, Blowback, coming out soon. In this blog tour, authors blog about their writing process, then tag another to do the same. Thank you, Bev, for including me in the blog tour. I, in turn, would like to tag Barbara L. Clanton, Angela Mary Koenig, and ML Skinner.

What am I working on? I am currently catching my breath from the release of my third novel, Nesting. I’m eager though to get back to my work in progress, which is very close to being completed. That story is my attempt to draw attention to the unsolved murders on the Colonial Parkway in the 1980s. When I was in high school, I parked and partied on that road. It was my stomping grounds, my community. The catalyst for writing this story was my continued frustration over the lack of justice for all of the victims of what is known as “The Colonial Parkway Murders.” There are many theories, and of course I have my own. I wanted to take the first double murder and fictionalized it, show how violent crimes affect so many people. Maybe someone will pick up this book one day, read it, and have a memory come to them. Maybe it will be just the right piece of information to move the investigation forward.

How does my work differ from others in the same genre? My first novel, Confined Spaces, differed from other books in the lesbian fiction genre in that it didn’t follow the typical formula for a lesbian romance. I threw my main characters into bed almost immediately, then made them back up and wait to be together again. If our books are like our children, Confined Spaces is my brash first born. She is bold and unafraid.

Flight is my second novel. Taking the idea of our novels being like our children a bit further, Flight is my awkward middle child, hanging out in the shadows. Some days I want to nudge her into the light, but then I fear the attention will be too harsh for her, so I say nothing and let her be. Drastically deviating from any lesbian fiction formula, I call her my hybrid. The story follows two sisters, one lesbian, one straight. It is about Kate coming out, and April coming of age, and both accepting responsibility for their actions.

Nesting is my latest. And she is my favorite child. Yeah, I went there, I picked a favorite. Nesting is my third published novel but was actually the first to be written. I had been writing short stories and poetry for several years at that point. I found myself with three short stories with very different characters that were just begging to be put together. Once I saw that, the story flowed. The result was a story that took four years to write. Then I put it away, wrote Confined Spaces and Flight, and tweaked Nesting here and there over the next nine years. Maybe Nesting is my favorite because I spent so many years with the characters. Or maybe because it most closely represents the dynamics of my life – strewn with complex and varied people. One of my point of view characters is a self-proclaimed redneck man. This in itself makes it very different from a lot of work in its genre.

Why do I write what I do? I write what I write because that is the only way to get the characters to get out of my head and move on. I often joke about the voices in my head, but while I was writing Nesting I was quite serious. Kenny Brewer kept coming to me, whispering his story in my ear. There is something quite uncomfortable for a lesbian to have a straight, redneck man talk to her while she’s showering. I knew while I was writing it that there might be issues with a novel that included a straight male narrator. I believed (and still believe) so strongly in this story and these characters that I knew I would have to take my chances. And I am so very glad I did.

How does my writing process work? It always starts with characters for me. I marinate an idea until specifics beg to be put down on paper (usually dialogue or a sex scene). Then I start taking notes, long-hand in a notebook. Most scenes are hand written, then typed into the computer. I can add parts to a scene directly into the computer, but if I get stuck, I always go back to pen and paper.

Now I would like to tag the following:

Angela Koenig, fellow Blue Feather Books author of Rebellion in Ulster and Rendezvous in the Himalaya.

Barbara Clanton, YA author of the Clarksonville series, book 5 of which will be out this summer.

And Indie writer, ML Skinner, author of four novels and the Goldie finalist, In remembrance and Other Stories.