When I started looking more seriously into the local comic scene in 2009 and 2010, I found some big names: Tommy Lee Edwards, Scott Hampton, Richard Case. And, thanks to Ultimate Comics’ Al Gill handing me a copy of The Order of Dagonet #1 I have been able to follow comics writer Jeremy Whitley for a few years now, through the original Dagonet run from Whitley and artist Jason Strutz’s Firetower Studios, the re-issue of the comic from Action Labs, and a similar path for Whitley’s next project, the Eisner-nominated Princeless. I interviewed Whitley and Strutz for Bull Spec #3, and published their 4-part graphic story “The Long Lives of Heroes” across issues 5 through 8. I’m a big Whitley fan, which is one reason I’m so excited to see his story for My Little Pony: Friends Forever #2 from IDW next week. Here, Whitley writes about getting to play inside the rules of the My Little Pony universe — a bit of a contrast from creating in his own stories.
By Jeremy Whitley:
The hardest part of writing My Little Pony was accepting that I’m playing in someone else’s world. A lot of writers only ever get to/have to write in worlds that are of their own making. When I started working on MLP, I would make decisions, commit to them, and then be told that it was something I couldn’t do. I’m a big fan of the show and I love the world they’ve created, but in something like that that’s constantly evolving both on tv and in the comic, you can hit walls you didn’t even know existed. Read the rest of this entry »
I can’t quite place how I digitally ran into Dario Ciriello back in 2009. Probably it was that I had a silly idea that I would be a writer, thinking that the mess I was working on was looking like it would be a novella, and looking around to see who published at that length. Enter Panverse One, edited by Ciriello, which blew me away. An all-novella anthology (the first of three, so far, all excellent) with fantastic, varied stories, a beautiful cover, and a well-produced physical book, introducing me to a world of small press, print-on-demand publishing that I had no idea even existed. “Wait, wait… one dedicated person with the drive to do something like this can actually do something like this?” It’s not exaggerating to say that Bull Spec would not exist without the inspiration provided by Panverse One – and Ciriello was just getting started. After taking a brief hiatus after Panverse Three in 2011, Panverse Publishing returned to fiction with three novels in 2013, one of them Ciriello’s own Sutherland’s Rules, a non-fantasy, non-sf (*), high-stakes, high-fun, crime adventure novel set across California, London, and Afghanistan. It’s the second of Ciriello’s books I’ve read and immensely enjoyed (the other being his non-fictional memoir of moving to Skopelos Island in Greece, Aegean Dream) and I’m hoping for many more. Here, Dario writes about the hard part of getting one of the characters from Sutherland’s Rules right, down to her motivations, before being able to write her to the fullest.
(*) OK, OK. There might be some hallucinogenic trips into branching parallel universes.
By Dario Ciriello:
The hardest part of writing my recent novel, Sutherland’s Rules, was understanding Carol, my female protagonist.
I’ve written female protagonists—and they’re all strong—before, and not had much trouble with them. I like strong women. In fact, I’m married to one.
Carol, though, was a real challenge. Carol is an attractive professional dancer in her early fifties, now the owner of a dance school; she’s also bisexual and a partner in an open marriage, and the latter made it especially challenging when writing in her viewpoint. Read the rest of this entry »
I first met Lisa Shearin at a 5-author science fiction and fantasy panel at the Cary Barnes & Noble in 2010, hearing about her Raine Benares adventure fantasy series and feeling a bit overwhelmed — here’s an Ace-published author with 4 (at that time, since the series has grown to 6) books and I had a lot of catching up to do. But now Shearin has started a new series with the release of The Grendel Affair, the first book in her SPI Files series, giving old fans a new adventure to begin and new fans an obvious place to start, with a no-nonsense Southern urban fantasy heroine new on the job of protecting humanity from supernatural threats in New York City. I had the opportunity to talk with her on Carolina Book Beat earlier this month, and one thing we didn’t quite get to was the sentence-to-sentence, page-to-page work of writing a novel. Here, Shearin writes about the hardest part of her writing process: filling those blank pages.
The Hardest Part: First drafts (because you can’t fix a blank page)
By Lisa Shearin:
Unlike many writers, I prefer the rewriting/editing part of writing a book. For me, the first draft is the necessary evil that I have to get through to reach the part I really enjoy. Once I have the entire story down in rough draft form, that’s when I can start to play and have fun; because at that point, I’ve at least got something to work with.
For me, my ideal writing goal is 1,500 words a day. With chapter lengths of approximately 4,000 words, that’s about three chapters a week, right? Uh, not usually. Fifteen hundred words a day is when I’m really cranking out the words, inspiration is flowing, my muse is in the room (and cooperative). One thousand words a day more often what happens (because I still have a day job). But what about the times when the words aren’t flowing, when I really don’t know what happens next? Read the rest of this entry »
Durham author Jenna Black’s next novel publication is a re-issue of her 2006 novel Watchers in the Night, which begins her series The Guardians of the Night, all set for re-release in 2014 starting with book one next week. With two additional series also in print, Faeriewalker and Morgan Kingsley, she has two more series ongoing, her Nikki Glass urban fantasy series and her new near future YA dystopia Replica, and with all these novels she’s had plenty of time to examine and exercise her craft. Here she writes about one of the consistently difficult parts of her career.
By Jenna Black:
It’s very difficult to single out the hardest part of writing a novel. It tends to be different with each one. With sixteen novels on the market, I have plenty of hard parts to choose from. But one thing that I’ve found consistently hard over the years is writing a full novel after I’ve sold it on proposal. Read the rest of this entry »
For author Tina Connolly, the hardest part of her debut novel, Nebula Award nominee Ironskin, was the muddle in the middle. For the follow-up, Copperhead, there was no time to battle with such a muddle. There wasn’t in fact much time for anything other than writing: so that’s just what Connolly did.
By Tina Connolly:
So the hardest part of writing Copperhead was that I got busy. I mean insanely busy. The only thing more boring than listening to someone recount their dreams is listening to them drone on about how unspeakably busy they are, so suffice it to say I was already a very busy person, and then I had a baby. That was three years ago, and now, as I write this, I have had TWO babies, written two books, and moved to a fixer house that needed things like heat and wiring and fewer blackberry vines in the attic. Plus, I started the flash fiction podcast Toasted Cake (now at 94 episodes!) and continued to work as a face painter. Among other things. Read the rest of this entry »
Nick Mamatas is no stranger to writing whatever he wants, damn the torpedoes. And as Mamatas writes here about his latest novel — the Trotskyist/Crowley/Long Island noir Love is the Law — for “The Hardest Part”, writing can be the easy part. “If there was any difficulty in writing the novel at all, it was in writing the book so that it could end up in a bookstore somewhere.”
THE HARDEST PART: Love is the Law
By Nick Mamatas:
Actually, writing Love is the Law was pretty easy.
I’m not the kind of writer, or reader, who falls for the well-worn trick of a single-sentence paragraph, but there you go. It was a breeze.
It was a breeze. Read the rest of this entry »
I’ve had my eye caught repeatedly by the covers to Virginia author L. Jagi Lamplighter’s Prospero’s Daughter series, which borrows from Shakespeare’s The Tempest and other classical sources to create a robust modern fantasy. But not all sources of inspiration and creativity and setting are so easily borrowed from, as she writes here for “The Hardest Part” guest column series.
The Hardest Part: Filing off the Serial Numbers
By L. Jagi Lamplighter:
When I was twelve, I started my first novel. My father distributed movies to television stations, and I occasionally worked for him, stuffing Gumby dolls into envelopes and other odd tasks that the children of film distributors are called upon to do. Because of his work, though, I was very familiar with copyright laws and the fact that it was not legal to write about other people’s characters.
Armed with this information, I very carefully put in hours of work to invent my own stuff, rather than write in the worlds of favorite authors, as friends occasionally did.
I was tremendously conscientious about it. Read the rest of this entry »
I was delighted when Bull Spec poetry editor Dan Campbell bought one of Sofia Samatar‘s poems, and we worked to sneak “The Year of Disasters” into issue #7 last year as her debut novel, A Stranger in Olondria, was due that summer. Buzz was already building and Small Beer Press soon released a multiple chapter PDF preview which I happily devoured, waiting for more. But, as sometimes happens, the book was moved to this year’s publishing schedule instead. Released to some fantastic reviews early on (Library Journal gave it a starred review, and Locus praised its “elegant language” and “revelatory focus”, calling it “the rare first novel with no unnecessary parts … the most impressive and intelligent first novel I expect to see this year, or perhaps for a while longer.”) it has remained a book of interest; Strange Horizons published Newcastle University’s Nic Clarke’s review just last month. And this week, after some months of growing impatience on my part let me tell you, the book was released in audio as well. Now, for the guest column series The Hardest Part, Samatar writes about her 13-year struggle with the book’s 7th chapter. Who believes in lucky numbers, anyway?
By Sofia Samatar:
The hardest part of writing A Stranger in Olondria was Chapter Seven.
At the end of Chapter Six, Jevick, my main character, sees a ghost. This is a young man enjoying the pleasures of a foreign city—he’s a merchant, a student, an amateur philosopher, a wanderer in bookshops and cafés. The first six chapters of the book have an even, contemplative tone: Jevick’s story is part memoir and part travelogue. Then a ghost starts haunting him, and his whole world changes. My writing needed to reflect that change. How? Read the rest of this entry »
The Hardest Part: Jeremy Zerfoss on Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative FictionPosted: 13 November, 2013
Life is sometimes a fortuitous sequence of events and meetings all leading to someplace interesting. For example: artist Jeremy Zerfoss started doing work with Jeff VanderMeer; I was publishing a review of VanderMeer’s non-fiction collection Monstrous Creatures and found room for Jeremy’s fantastic limited edition dust jacket cover; and then was later able to commission Jeremy to put together his amazing cover for Bull Spec #6 to celebrate all things VanderMeer. Looking back, I barely remember the process on my end of asking for that cover: “Do something weird and cool, thanks!” is probably as far as I got, and before long this amazing thing grew and became the cover. This process was quite short and brief, not taking years of back and forth collaboration via email, phone, and perhaps coded telegraphs or carrier pigeon missives, as the process Jeremy writes about here: that of working with Jeff to create Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction.
By Jeremy Zerfoss:
Blunderbook: Or The Hardest Part Of Working With A Murderous Bear
Hello everyone – my name is Jeremy Zerfoss and I’m the main illustrator of Wonderbook: The Illustrated Guide to Creating Imaginative Fiction by Jeff VanderMeer, newly released by Abrams and available wherever awesome can be found.
Sam asked me to write a bit about the hardest part of working on this two year (OMG!) project and it took a bit longer than I expected since for a book that was this crazy, and this unprecedented — there were quite a few obstacles to tackle.
So… let me break this down as best I can: Read the rest of this entry »
I know Roanoke, VA author Mike Allen primarily through his fantastic speculative poetry (his poem “Hungry Constellations” is currently featured at Goblin Fruit) and in his role as editor of both his poetry journal Mythic Delirium and his anthology series Clockwork Phoenix. But he’s also quite an accomplished short fiction writer, with stories in Solaris Rising 2, Beneath Ceaseless Skies, Weird Tales, and his Nebula Award nominated story “The Button Bin” in Helix. (Though, admittedly, I didn’t catch it until it was podcast at Pseudopod.) And, with The Black Fire Concerto, he’s a published novelist as well. Here, Mike writes about the potential pitfalls of outrunning your own story.
By Mike Allen:
The hardest part of writing The Black Fire Concerto? Maintaining the pace without losing sight of the story. Read the rest of this entry »