Recently I was tagged to do a #WIPjoy blog post. For those who don’t know #WIPjoy (as far as I know, since I’m new myself) is a Twitter tag wherein writers share insights and behind-the-scenes info about their works-in-progress via daily questions and answers. I’d rather not spend a whole month answering those questions on Twitter, but I thought doing a blog post would be fun, so here we are!
#1 Introduce your WIP…
My w.i.p. these months is a fantasy/adventure novel titled Where the Woods Grow in Flames, a sequel to my December 2016 release Where the Woods Grow Wild.
#2 Why does your protagonist pull at your heartstrings?
Martin’s a simple guy trying to do simple things, but they don’t stay simple for long, and it’s his struggle to lead his friends through difficulties and manage more…personal aspects of his life that establishes that connection for me.
#3 How do you get to know your characters?
By writing. That’s how they tell me who they really are in their own time and in their own way. You can’t force it.
#4 Share a line about your premise!
I think this exchange between Martin and Mayor Clarenbald sums up the premise quite nicely:
“More will come, you know, and we have to be ready.”
“Ready? Ready. Yes, ready. We should be. I can only do so much, though. People say I’m a reasonable mayor, and I tend to agree, but I don’t know what to do when monsters like these roam my streets. It’s not natural, and I only deal with things that are perfectly natural, like festivals and luncheons and petty squabbles among neighbors.”
#5 How easy is this WIP to write?
It’s a sequel, so most of the characters are already established. That makes the creation process simpler. However, it’s been a bumpy ride as far as the plot. A lot of hard things happen, and I want to maintain a balance of positive/negative. It’s a challenge.
#6 Which character is hardest to write?
Illo. Fans of Where the Woods Grow Wild really liked her, but in the sequel…let’s just say she goes through a lot. She’s definitely getting a lot of character development.
#7 Tell us about you and your work!
I write (generally) light-hearted fantasy stories, focused more on simple adventures than on epic wars or stuff like that. I’m snarky and sarcastic, both in writing and in person. In December 2016 I released Where the Woods Grow Wild, which has been my favorite novel project so far!
#8 Who is your protag’s best friend?
Martin’s best friend is Elodie Tuck, the mayor’s mischievous courier and co-protagonist in the book.
#9 How did the main characters meet?
Martin and Elodie have known each other since they were born, having lived all their lives in the small town of Bardun Village. Their friendship started when a shy nine-year-old Martin semi-successfully delivered a fistful of flowers to Elodie’s house.
#10 Anyone suffering from a broken heart?
#11 Share a line about love or hatred…
“[He} may have put on some weight, and he may have lost his memory, but if I’ve learned anything about him today it’s that he still loves you, and he can still be brave if it’s for you.”
#12 What was your protagonist’s past like?
Rather dull, to be honest. Martin spent his whole life in Bardun Village, and that’s not exactly the most exciting place to live. His mother left him to find work in the neighboring town and has yet to return. It’s a good thing he has Elodie to keep him on his toes.
#13 What’s a message about relationships in your book?
Relationships can be (and are meant to be) pure and based on mutual edification. Physical attraction is not the basis for a relationship. It should never be a driving factor.
#14 Which characters get along worst?
Probably Illo and Podgin. They’re friends, but they have a terribly cranky and sarcastic way of going about it.
#15 At its best, my WIP’s dialogue is…
Witty and snarky while still driving the characters towards deeper connections.
#16 I love how I describe things when…
The description flows along with the action. I prefer not to stop and describe objects/people. I want my description to be subtle, almost invisible, while still painting a vivid and palpable picture.
#17 I love how I depict characters because…
They’re different from each other, and that makes for a lot of entertaining interaction. They all developed naturally, some more willingly than others, but I really feel like I’m working with real people.
#18 Share an example of your best prose!
I mean, it’s a first draft still, so I’d hardly call this ‘best prose’, but it’s a short passage I had some fun with…
Later that night, as the moon framed the clock tower bells, the Cabbage Cart Inn received an unexpected visitor. He crept along the path from the main road and reached for the brass knob on the front door, only to find the place locked. Not to be deterred, he snuck around to the back and fiddled with the rickety door there. Bolted as well.
He explored the whole perimeter of the building, making sure to stay well away from the pig pen, before finding a window he could pry open. Sneakily, cleverly, he stole up onto the sill and slipped through the crack without making a sound.
Then he tripped on his own feet, fell, and landed in a shallow pan with a metallic thump.
The pan, having been placed at the top of a precarious stack of its kin, slid from its position with its newly acquired passenger. The ensuing avalanche of pans, pots, and cooking utensils created such a clanging commotion that Bramble huddled on the floor in a trembling mass until the last bouncing spoon came to rest.
“Oh dear.” He grabbed his floppy ears and yanked hard. “Mustn’t make a peep.”
He waited, small and invisible in the kitchen’s shadows, his blinking eyes the only evidence he was even there. No footsteps ran his way, and no one pointed and yelled at him, so he scooted to his feet and made for the door. His button nose prodded the air, and his face puckered.
“Mustn’t breathe the stinky-stench. Mustn’t turn into an onion!”
#19 I love my world/setting because…
The contrast between a very simple village and a very wild forest makes for some fun plot-play. The village forces me to focus on a smidge of reality, while the forest allows my imagination to go ham.
#20 The relationship I root most for is…
Martin and Elodie, because I love them both to death and because the alternative is Podgin and his truffles.
#21 I’m most impatient to hear reader reactions to…
Some of the plot twists/reveals I’ve got in store. It’s a sequel, so a lot of the groundwork is already laid for some pretty special moments. (What, you thought I’d tell you something specific?)
From the protagonist’s (Martin’s) point of view…
#22 Describe yourself in five words:
Clumsily determined. Traditional. Uhm…attached?
#23 One thing you’d change in your past?
Having my hand back wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. But I’ve learned to live without it.
#24 Favorite ways to relax?
Anything away from the Cabbage Cart. Probably with Elodie. Walks through the clover fields or trading secrets in the apple orchard.
#25 A line you were proud to say:
I know the one, but I haven’t said it yet. I still have to rehearse a few hundred more times in my head before it’ll come out half-adequately.
#26 Tell us about where you live:
I live in a small, bare room over the Cabbage Cart kitchens. It’s not so bad once the evening cools off and the onion fumes roll out the window.
#27 Do you sympathize with (or relate to) the antagonist?
On a good day, I pity him. Don’t get me wrong, I wish he’d never interfered with our lives, but I think, way down, that I understand him. Just a little bit.
#28 What are you self-conscious about?
Ehem. My missing hand. My clumsy way of doing tasks that others don’t think twice about.
Back to the author (a.k.a. me)…
#29 How long do you expect to be working on this WIP?
A few more months, at least.
#30 What do you hope touches readers the most in the story?
The end. I’ll be wrapping up all loose ends, and I think a lot of the story lines will have a surprisingly touching conclusion. We’ll see.