Tag Archives: author

On Writing: What inspired you to be an author?

Inspiration is a hard thing to pinpoint. Reading through blog posts and interviews from other authors, it seems like most of us have always known we wanted to be writers or some poignant moment in our past drew us to the written word. I remember wanting to be an actor, an artist, a director, a designer, a chef, a restaurateur, a world-changing scientist…then landed on marketing in college.

But that all went out the window when I started The Chronicles of Landon Wicker. It didn’t start writing because I thought I wanted to be an author. It was that I had a story I wanted to get out, and it seemed like typing it out with words and dialogue (and all that’s in between) was the best way to do it. After reading books like Harry Potter by J. K. Rowling and the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan, I realized there might be a place for a storyteller like me. I don’t consider my writing to be too high-brow or overly stylized like, say, James Joyce, or to have the same eloquent phrasing as Oscar Wilde (although I aspire to it), but I do think I have stories that are full of life and adventure that hopefully will provide a reader with a moment of escape where they can find themselves immersed in the lives of my characters. I want people who read my work to experience excitement and intrigue channeled through innate human truths and emotions.

The odd thing is if you asked me what I wanted to be before I started writing The Chronicles of Landon Wicker, I would have told you I wanted to progress up the corporate ladder in the marketing profession until I could create my own consulting company or build a killer advertising agency. Yet, since the fateful night I wrote the first chapter with Landon Wicker as he discovered his powers and ran away from home, my entire life plan has changed.

Now, if you ask me what I want to do with my life, I would say I want to be a writer, creating fantastical worlds of adventure and excitement that millions of readers can enjoy and interact with, developing characters that are complex and relatable, with personal journeys that touch the audience. I already have ideas for other books, visions of other characters, and worlds that are only just starting to take shape in my mind. And the craziest thing about it all, is somehow, by some twist of fate or some unknown grit, I have become a writer.

What I find funny, though, is that it wasn’t until I was visiting my parents in Florida for Christmas last year that I told them I had written a novel. I kept it totally secret until I had the first draft completed. While my dad asked the usual gamut of questions—What’s it about?What made you write it?Why didn’t you tell us earlier?—my mom left the table and opened up the closet beside the dining room. You all have them. You know, the one that’s filled with board games and linens, vases and grandmother’s china your sister will inherit. I thought she might be pulling out Balderdash or Scattergories (favorites in our family and staples during the holidays), but instead she went to a bin of photographs shoved into the back corner and pulled out a black and white composition notebook. I’d forgotten all about it, let alone knew my mother had kept it all these years. She handed to me, and I instantly started looking through the pages, reminiscing on all the stories I made up, laughing at the horrible spelling and terrible sentences, but what she said as she sat back down was, “You know the first thing you ever told me you wanted to be when you grew up was a writer.”

So now I am an author…I am an author who’s trying to take all my experiences–the people I meet, the places I go, moments with my family, conversations with friends, heartaches, happy days, exciting triumphs, sad failures,  the memory of a holiday and the smell of a particularly delicious cup of coffee–and channel those things into words, words that will transport people and take them on wondrous adventures, words that spark imaginations and touch hearts. I am an author. I don’t know why, but I’ve come back to a dream I somehow forgot, which subconsciously—maybe fatefully—returned. I am an author, and this time I don’t think it’s going away.

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On Writing: Commentary on ‘On Bad Endings’ by Joan Acocella

Yesterday, I read a commentary at newyorker.com by Joan Acocella in the Page-Turner section. It was titled ‘On Bad Endings’ and it delved into the disappointment one feels when an exciting, enthralling, utterly heart-stopping work of fiction (or non-fiction) falls into the uninteresting dregs of ennui. She goes on to explain that she’s not talking about novels “that … end sadly, or on a back-to-work, all-is-forgiven note (e.g. ‘War and Peace,’ ‘The Red and the Black,’ ‘A Suitable Boy’), but that the ending is actually inartistic—a betrayal of what came before.” Novels by greats–like Dickens, Brontë and Twain–were referenced where the characters and plots become tedious and boring or disingenuous rather than engaging and true like the rest of the story…and I have to admit, she has a point.

I just finished writing my second novel, The Prince’s Trap,  and have begun to delve into the third of four planned novels in The Chronicles of Landon Wicker series, and I must admit that the exact subject of this article deals with something I’ve feared for my own work. What is the appropriate ending? What is true to the story but still pleases readers? Do readers want a happily ever after? Or do they want drama to the last page? Cliffhanger? Complete closure? What about sending the story off into a whole new direction? How do I satisfy the readers to the point that in reading the last page of the series, they are as satisfied as they were with the first page? It’s a dilemma that has haunted me since I began writing The Chronicles of Landon Wicker, and I don’t know if there is an easy answer (unfortunately).

I believe that we write fiction because we want to help people escape to an interesting place where intriguing characters experience wondrous circumstances, because we have an entire world living–breathing–in our heads and we want people to see that world. It can be as real as non-fiction or take us to places in far off galaxies with technology well beyond our current understanding. Me, I have spent my life living in, and writing, a world where people have extraordinary abilities and where government conspiracies, genetic experimentation, espionage, betrayal and revenge are everyday matters. … They are things that excite me and compel me to write the next page in the story. But what do I do when this tale reaches its end? How do I resolve everything that’s coursing through me? When the plot and characters have run their course, how do I conclude the epic events that have transpired in a way that is true to the story I want to tell and satisfies those people who have stuck with me through the journey and (presumably) love and cherish my characters?

I think Acocella described this dilemma best when she was concluding her commentary. She said, “Again and again, the last chapters are hasty and dull. … [And] I think the tiredness may not be personal, but something about the universe in general: biology, physics. Art, whether fiction or not, is a challenge to entropy, a bumping up of something that must be flattened down again. … Most of us want extraordinary things, after a while, to quit being extraordinary—to end. The stone fell in the water. The ripples ran. Now they should stop. The surface should be smooth again.”

I believe she is right … All stories must eventually come to an end. Even in our lives, our hear beats in our chest, steady when we’re at peace, racing when excited, skipping when loved, and pounding when enraged, but inevitably our hearts will stop and we will flat-line just as the water stills. But at least for my story, I wonder how big of a stone must to drop in the water to make the journey as rough and exhilarating as possible so that when the waves subside, readers are pleased to be back in still waters?

Read the entire The New Yorker article by Joan Acocella at: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/books/2012/11/on-great-novels-with-bad-endings.html#ixzz2DdhPIHup

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