Today I'm welcoming author R J Blain to the blog, to share her writing tips, her new book Winter Wolf, and her sense of fun.
KB: What inspired you to write your latest book?
RJB: Winter Wolf was inspired by my... er... interest in infectious diseases and viruses. It's a weird thing to be interested, but I've always had a very healthy respect for ebolavirus Zaire. It makes me cringe a little, as I've been working on this book long before the ebolavirus endemic started. But ebolavirus plays a notable role in the story, as it's the 'parent' of the plague infecting the Fenerec.
KB: What was the hardest part of writing your book?
RJB: Trying to adapt ebolavirus Zaire for use as the plague infecting the Fenerec was really, really challenging. Ebolavirus follows a very specific set of rules. With the virus variant infecting the Fenerec, I broke all of those rules and had to think a lot about how this virus would spread, why it impacted Fenerec, and things of that nature.
I spent many an hour reading about ebolavirus and its variations in order to write something borderline to realistic.
KB: What’s your writing process like? Are you a plotter or a pantser?
RJB: I’m a bothser. Winter Wolf had a lot of plotting and outlining done, but around a third of the way in, I started mixing things up and pantsing a great deal of the book. Pantsing and plotting are both tools I use to try to tell the best story possible.
KB: What were the challenges (research, literary, and logistical) in bringing this book to life?
RJB: Ironically, the biggest challenge with Winter Wolf was in the editorial department. All of my editors, every last one of them (four, to be specific) had something happen in their real lives, so my editorial was delayed quite a bit. Add in the fact my basement was flooded with sewage during part of the production phase, and this novel has been…. Interesting to write.
KB: What book are you reading now?
RJB: Full Fathom Five by Max Gladstone. It’s really interesting so far and I’m looking forward to finishing it! I’m about a third of the way through.
KB: What books/authors have influenced your writing?
RJB: Mercedes Lackey, Madeline L’Engle, Jim Butcher, and Patricia Briggs. Lackey and L’Engle convinced me I wanted to read. Butcher and Briggs nailed the coffin shut in terms of writing urban fantasy.
I love all of their books.
KB: Do you have any advice for other writers?
RJB: Keep writing. People are going to say negative things about your book. There’s no such thing as a perfect novel, but that’s not an excuse to not do your best to make it as perfect as possible. Even if you do everything you can to make your novel stellar, some people are going to hate it.
Those who live in a different part of the world from you may not like your grammar either.
Chin up and keep trying to improve your writing… no matter what anyone tells you.
(And it’s okay to feel sad and depressed at negativity… just don’t lose yourself to it.)
KB: Do you ever experience writer's block?
RJB: Generally not. Writing is a habit, and habit will often trump writer’s block. When I do get writer’s block, I actually have a case of I’m being lazy! Or but I don’t want to write this scene because it’s hard, wah wah wah! Eventually, I sit down and do it, regardless of how much of a mess I’ve made of a chapter or a scene.
I’m most likely to dig my heels in while editing, as that’s 99% work and 1% play, unlike drafting which is often 99% and 1% work.
KB: What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?
RJB: Action adventure in fantasy or science fiction settings! I love the thrills and the chills of writing something suspenseful.
It ultimately means I’m hopeless at writing romance as a result…
KB: For your own reading, do you prefer ebooks or traditional paper/hard back books?
Ebooks don’t give me headaches like traditionally printed novels, but I love reading in the tub, which is worth the eye strain.
KB: Do you write full-time or part-time?
RJB: I try to write full time, but it’s part time when I have an editorial client. But I’m quitting editorial, so as soon as my client roster is cleared out, I should be writing full time.
KB: How long on average does it take you to write a book?
Four months from start to finish is a reasonable estimate, assuming there are no delays on the editorial front. I can usually draft a novel in 2 or 3 months, leaving the last month for editing.
KB: Where can we find you online?
RJB: At my website, RJBlain.com, on Facebook,Twitter, Amazon and Goodreads.
RJ Blain suffers from a Moleskine journal obsession, a pen fixation, and a terrible tendency to pun without warning.
When she isn't playing pretend, she likes to think she's a cartographer and a sumi-e painter. In reality, she herds cats and a husband. She is currently on a quest for a new warrior fish.
In her spare time, she daydreams about being a spy. Should that fail, her contingency plan involves tying her best of enemies to spinning wheels and quoting James Bond villains until she is satisfied.
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