Our feature today is Liana Brooks. Let’s see how she approaches the writing process…
1. Tell us about yourself. May include links to Facebook, twitter, blogs, websites, Amazon author page)
Let’s see… I’m an extrovert, I love mint-chocolate chip ice cream, I want to live on a tropical coast, and I travel a lot. The extrovert part explains my social media addiction. I’m on Twitter and FaceBook all the time! And the traveling is why my blog is getting neglected this month. It’s hard to find computer time when you’re catching flights and camping in hotels.
FaceBook – https://www.facebook.com/pages/Liana-Brooks/278779308851471
Blog – http://www.lianabrooks.com
Even Villains Go To The Movies – http://www.lianabrooks.com/2000/10/even-villains-go-to-movies-official-page.html
Jane Doe: The Day Before – http://www.lianabrooks.com/2001/01/jane-doe-official-page.html
2. How do you choose names for your characters?
It really depends on the book. Sometimes I have a name before I develop a story, sometimes I go on Twitter and ask for suggestions because I know the character but not the name. Sometimes the names are written in stone from Day 1, but there are books where I’ve changed the main character’s name twelve times in two drafts. In most cases I try to choose names that have some meaning.
3. Do you talk about your book/characters as though they are real?
Yes! Doesn’t everyone?
4. Do you listen to music when you write or edit? What kind?
It depends on the book. In EVEN VILLAINS GO TO THE MOVIES I have a salsa scene and when I was writing and editing it I had a couple of salsa songs playing on repeat. I wrote most of JANE DOE: THE DAY BEFORE (out in April) without music because, to me, it’s a tense book and the main character appreciates silence. I have another WIP that I made a soundtrack of Celtic music for because the book needs music.
5. How long have you been writing?
Professionally? My first published-for-money short story came out in 2009, so five years. I’ve been writing for fun longer than that, but 2009 is really when I switched from being a hobby writer to pursuing publication in a serious way.
6. Tell us about when you realized you were ‘meant to be’ a writer.
Don’t hate me for saying this, but I’ve never felt that way. I know some authors feel they were called to write, but I’ve never had a flash of inspiration that compelled me to write. I think I’d be good at anything I put my mind to, and writing was an easy thing to focus on when I was a young mother fresh out of college. I was in a situation that made working outside the home difficult and writing was something selfish that benefited only me. Being a full-time stay-at-home parent can be draining emotionally and psychologically and, at least for me, I found writing was a good way to refill my emotional reserve so I could turn around and be the person I needed to be for family and friends. It was a form of therapy that I’ve turned into a career.
7. Do you have a muse?
No, but I have skeletons in the closet.
Honestly, I can’t have a muse and meet deadlines. If I only wrote on the days I felt creative and energized I’d still be writing my first novel.
8. How do you improve as a writer? (Workshops, conferences, reading)
Reading and listening. I would love to attend workshops and cons but I’ve never managed to fit one into my schedule. Luckily for me (and you!) many people will live-tweet events and there are millions of talented people who blog about every aspect of the industry. If there’s something I can’t find with a quick Google search than I turn to my writing group or industry friends.
9. Writing quirks or superstitions?
I always expect my book to fail. I send queries out expecting rejections. I publish planning to receive one-star reviews. I don’t daydream about the best seller list. If those successes come, I’m ecstatic, but I’m expecting the worse so it isn’t a horrible shock when those punches come.
10. Tell us about your current work-in-progress.
Ah… just one? I have a Lazy Susan method of writing so I have multiple projects in different stages at once. Right now I’m writing the first draft of JANE 2, the fourth Heroes and Villains novella is on draft three, and I have some short stories bouncing around on the pot boiler. And I have an urban fantasy novel about the search for the second King Arthur that’s with my beta readers for editing. That one’s really fun. Fairies and guns are a good combination.
11. What book are you reading now?
IN THE MIDST OF ALARMS by Dianne Graves a book about the women involved in the War of 1812. My husband is a big history buff and when we travel we like to stop at historic sites. While we were in Charleston, South Carolina, a number of years ago we went to Fort Sumter and I was struck by the poignancy of the stories we didn’t hear. Three women were at Fort Sumter during the Civil War, isolated from society, marooned on this island with the soldiers and their husbands, and their voice in history is largely silent. I wanted so much to read the journals of these women and understand how they felt during those battles. Since then I’ve made a point to buy any book written by or about women in times of war. We don’t learn these things in history class and we’re missing so much because these women who framed history left a written record. They wrote in journals. They kept diaries of their life in the wilderness and under siege. And I find it fascinating.
12. What genre do you write in? What about PoV?
Most my books are sci-fi romance or sci-fi with a touch of romance. Explosions, fast ships, and happily ever after make me happy. And I usually write in third person point of view. Science fiction tends to have a larger cast of characters than some of the other genres like contemporary or historical romance and having a third person POV means I can tell the story from multiple angles.
13. Tell us about writing preparation. Character Profiles? Outlines?
When I get a new idea I’ll write the first few thousand words before I sit down to work out details and outlines. Most ideas don’t pan out. I have a folder with all the books I’ve started and on average I start 75 new story ideas each year. Of those 75 three might become finished stories. The first few chapters let me get a feel for the world. If the story gains traction I sit down and plot out my villains, my plot twists, and what my character’s want. Some stories get very elaborate outlines with inspiration boards and timelines, some of them get very little. It just depends on what I need to make the story complete.
14. Do you know how your stories will end?
I always think I do! I won’t write the book if I don’t have an ending in mind, but often enough the ending I planned isn’t the one you see in the finished manuscript. Stories change as you write them and the plot needs to grow with them.
15. Do you books have a message or theme? Or are they purely for entertainment?
Even books written purely for entertainment have a message. How could they not? Books reflect the values and prejudices of the reader, they make us think, and any book you read will tell you something about yourself.
That being said, I’ve noticed a tendency to write about choice and consequence a lot. There’s an underlying theme of “Your choices define you.” But I hope I don’t beat readers over the head with that.
16. Do you have any favorite snacks or drinks that you eat/drink while writing?
Chocolate, of course! And water. And I really like toasted acorn squash seeds. They’re so much yummier than pumpkin seeds!
17. Tell us about your other passions.
Cooking and parenting are where most my time is spent. I love to cook elaborate, gourmet meals. Good food can be hard to find if you don’t live near a big city so I’ve taught myself to make some delicious dishes. If I had free time (and unlimited funds) I’d do more SCUBA diving. And if a spaceship ever lands in my front yard I am stealing it so I can explore the stars. You’re welcome to come along.
18. What’s something interesting about you?
English is not my first language. Both my parents speak Spanish and we lived in a part of San Diego where most people didn’t use English at home so I the first few years of my life I knew more Spanish and ASL than I did English. That changed when we moved to Chicago and now I can barely say hello in either language.
19. Share a small sample (limit to one paragraph, please) of your writing… can be a WIP or already published.
This is from the urban fantasy my critique partners are reading right now. The working title is LADY OF THE LAKE:
The cloying scent of damp moth and rotting leaves perfumed the air, but there was a tainted smell beneath that. A hint of poisoned blood that made my skin prickle. “I read a book once,” I told Colina as the forest canopy grew thicker.
“Oh, aye? That’s bonnie. Everyone should read at least once in their life.”
I’d have punched her in the shoulder but she’d traded her forest rags for heavy leather and chainmail. Even in my own plate armor I wasn’t sure I could bruise her. “I was saying I read a book once with a dark forest like this.”
“How’d it end?” Colina asked as something skittered in the underbrush.
20. Anything you’d like to say to your current and future readers?
I love you! Writing a book might be a solitary act but the fun part is always sharing the story with someone else. I’m so grateful for the people who are willing to invest time and money on an unknown author. Thank you so much for giving me a chance to share the stories I love. You are the best!
Thanks, Liana. We are so glad you featured with us today. Best of luck to you!!