Wednesday, April 7, 2010

April Answers

Thanks for all the great questions! Here are answers:

From Anya:

How do you go about writing? Do you outline? The story arc or maybe each chapter and how do you develop your ideas/story and your characters?

My writing process is not so much a process as a reaction. A certain character or scene will get stuck in my head and I'll free write from there. I don't write in order, but write scenes as they come to me and then pull the scenes together.

In terms of arc and character development, I tend to think of my books as webs, not lines. The narrative spirals around a central character and her/his problem and then the web represents all the relationships - personal and environmental - connecting to that main problem.

The first time I outlined was for BLOODROSE and in that case I felt I had to outline because I already had so many scenes floating in my head I didn't want to forget anything. you listen to music while writing?


And do you feel like your characters "speak" to you and tell you what to write? :P

Ha! And, yes. While I wouldn't say they are dictating their dialogue to me, each character's voice is distinct and I'm often surprised by what they say. That happens to be one of my favorite parts of writing.

From Tina:

From what I can tell Niteshade is about Wolves and magic? Are these the only two elements that surround the universe or are there any other paranormal in this series?

It's about wolf warriors, called Guardians, and two factions of witches - Keepers and Searchers, who've been at war since the Middle Ages. That's all I can say without getting spoilery!

Do you have a playlist for the books? If yes, can you put it on your site for us to listen too?

I do have a playlist for my books and you can find a partial list here. I'll post the full list this summer as the release date gets closer. I can't post live links to the playlist because of copyright issues. Maggie Stiefvater just blogged about this frustration today. I wish I could post playable lists!

What kind of love story can we expect? A triangle perhaps? Or something complicated and juicy? ( Okay this one might be a spoiler one, so I don't expect an answer, but I had to ask;))

Yes, this is a bit spoilery and I have a strict no spoiler policy. What I will say is that there are two boys, Ren and Shay, and they make Calla's life very, very complicated.

Are you like any of the characters written in your work? Which one is your favorite?

I'm deeply attached to the whole pack, so picking a favorite is hard. I'd have to go with Ansel though. He's Calla's younger brother and is loosely based on my own younger brother. I also think Ansel is the character most like me because my brother and I are a lot alike!

I know that this series is only just starting and I think it's safe to say that your fans are already jumping up and down for October to come, but I was wondering if you have any plans or ideas to write something after this series?

Thanks so much! I'm jumping up and down for October to come too! There are three books and a prequel thus far in the Nightshade series. I'm also working on a YA steampunk series that you can read about here. But my writing time is nearly 100% consumed by Nightshade right now (which I love so it's fine), and it's likely that series will be a while in coming.

From Katarinasmama:

How many revisions did you do? And how did NIGHTSHADE's story change from it's initial version?

Hmmmmm. I did one round of revisions for my agent and another two for my editor...I think. It might have been three, but each time the revisions got lighter so the there were really two big rounds of revision.

I can't go into detail without revealing plot, but most of the changes were about offering more of Calla's inner dialogue (she doesn't like to share her feelings, so it was tough for even me to get them out of her) and switching up some timing of events in the narrative. The story itself is essentially the same.

From Anya:

How long did it take you to write the first draft of Nightshade? And then how long did the revisions take?:)

I wrote the first draft of Nightshade between Thanksgiving and Christmas of 2008. My agent, Charlie, requested the full ms in February 2009 and I got 'the call' from him at the beginning of March. I was at a conference in Seattle and it was 6:30 a.m. Pacific time (usually I'm in the central time zone) - that is by far the best early morning phone call I've ever gotten. I worked with Charlie on the manuscript in the spring and it went on submission that summer. Michael Green at Philomel pre-empted the series in August. My editor, Jill Santopolo, and I worked on revisions in September and then the book was off to copy edits!

Just an FYI - this pace is light-speed for publishing, I'm still amazed that I was so lucky to have my work picked up and moved onto the fall 2010 list so quickly as I'm terribly impatient. Waiting until October is hard enough! But it's much more usual to wait 18+ months for publication from the point of acquisition.

From Voidwalker:

Has there been any changes offered by your editor that made you cringe, but you did them anyway?

Are you trying to get me in trouble, Void? LOL. Seriously, I have an amazing editor who I trust completely. Jill understands my characters and the world of Nightshade so well and her suggestions are spot on. Whenever I have a question or am on the fence about an idea I can talk to her about it and we've never had trouble arriving at a solution we're both happy with. She is a rock star and I adore her.

On a related note to aspiring authors - you must be open to taking revision suggestions from critique partners, agents, and editors. Keep in mind that if you've done you're homework and found partners you trust, and an agent and publishing house that are the right fit for you, then everyone is on the same team. Everyone wants your book to be a success. Too often I think writers take an adversarial stance against agents and editors as if everyone is for some reason out to ruin their perfect book. There is no perfect book. Writing is a craft, you always are growing and improving with time. Your agents and editors are there to help you along the way. Be open minded to their ideas - you don't have to take them all, but you should listen with sincerity and realize that they are often right.

From Lynsey:

Andrea, as an aspiring writer who is currently working on my WIP, I'm really interested in your writing process. I've decided that I'm a bit of a "Pantser" but then I run into a brick wall and think "Hmm...I need an outline of where this is going I think". I also think that I struggle with dialogue scenes and I have to work on this. So, in conclusion - any advice and tips on the writing process please. Thank you! :)

It's awesome that you're writing Lynsey - keep at it! I've written a bit about my process above, but my advice is that it's pivotal to find your own process. Every writer I know works differently. Writing is such a personal craft that it's much better to learn what your style is and go with it. As much as there are writing advice manuals out there, I think at the end of the day it's really a matter of trial and error. It's also a great idea to find critique partners who you trust. I met my amazing critique partner, Lisa Desrochers, at the San Francisco Writers Conference. I don't know what I'd do without her!

As far as hitting a brick wall - it happens to all of us. When I run into that wall I turn to my number one scene creator: music. I either lay on my couch listening to music, or take a walk with my book's playlist on my iPod, it usually only takes a few minutes before new scenes or dialogue are filling my head.

Thanks so much for all the great questions guys! Watch for the next ARC giveaway coming soon!!


  1. Brilliant answers! This was nice, we get a good feel for the book and you even more now, so thanks:)
    btw..great names for the boys;)

    Tina (Goodreads)

  2. Great answers. I seriously can't wait for this book! And I'm super psyched to hear there's a love triangle. They are my weakness. Love them.

  3. Tina - So happy you like the names! Names are really important to me. I spend a lot of time picking the right one (I pick for meaning as well as the way they sound). I think I've just figured out my next blog post!

    Kim - Thanks!! Yes and if I do say so myself it is a delicious love triangle indeed.

  4. Ooh, that was fun!
    I'll be sure to check out that playlist mentioned...
    Love, Hannah

    P.s. I'm also jumping up and down!

  5. I had no idea about the playlist thing until I read Maggie's blog yesterday. What a shame for the artists in that group that their professional association is sabotaging outside marketing.

    And BTW, I also found the most awesome crit partner at the San Francisco Writers Conference :p

  6. Very cool. Thanks for the answers! I can't wait until people want to ask ME questions too lol.