We were recently asked some questions about our writing and our methods as writers. Here are our responses:
Are you a full-out plotter? Are you a "let's see what happens" pantser? Or do you think you fall somewhere in between? Describe your process in coming up with and executing a story idea.
Adrian says: I'm by nature a pantser. I will plot things out if necessary, like when I'm writing a murder mystery. I don't really have a process in coming up with a story idea. They come to me from out of the ether--in the middle of the night sometimes--and then I write the story idea down.
Cindy says: I have to admit to being a "let's see what happens" pantser. I've tried to be more methodical and plot things out in detail, but somehow the characters always take me by the hand and lead me down another path. They just start "talking" to me as I write the scene, and they tell me they're not going to do as I want them to do. (Very much like children, it seems!) I'm not sure I have a set process for coming up with story ideas, but I read quite widely and expose myself to a lot of different people and subjects as a freelance writer/editor, so I'm constantly being inundated with potential characters and stories. Once I get a feel for "a character who has a story that needs telling" I start to envision the opening scene with my main characters and allow myself to be taken on a ride from there.
**Where is the most interesting place you have ever traveled? If you haven't traveled much, where would you absolutely love to go?
Together we've traveled to several Civil War battlefields and sites, such as
Wilson's Creek in Missouri, Lookout Mountain/Chattanooga in Tennessee and Chickamauga and Kennesaw National Battlefields in Georgia. Recently, we stopped off at both the Gettysburg and Antietam National Battlefields. (Hint: Try not to tour both of these within 48 hours--there's way too much to see at each to do them justice.) We're hoping to return to both of them someday soon and visit other Civil War sites in Virginia and West Virginia as well.
We both used to do French and Indian War re-enactments, so we really enjoy touring historical places and speaking with others about the significance of what happened there and the historical personalities involved. When we were in England visiting Adrian's family, we enjoyed touring castles and other historical sites in County Norfolk.
**What have you never written about, but want to some day?
Adrian: I've had the idea for a SF story knocking around for years, but haven't got around to writing it beyond working up a few notes.
Cindy: I've always wanted to write a more "hard science fiction" novel about a near future that may or may not come about and the consequences of our actions in bringing such a world into existence. I'm not saying it would be Orwellian in tone, but it probably would be much more "serious" than anything I've been able to publish so far (in fiction at least).
**Describe for us how it felt the first time you actually completed a manuscript.
Adrian: Jubilant! There's nothing better for me as a writer than the moment when I type "The End."
Cindy: I think I was shocked the first time I completed a romantic-comedy novel. It had taken some time to write that first draft (as I had two very young daughters underfoot at the time) and my first thought was, "What do I do now?" Luckily, I joined a writer's group not too long after finishing that book, and I learned a lot about rewriting and polishing a manuscript for publication, so much so that I eventually sold the book, The Fixer-Uppers. (And it is still in print/e-print, too. You can read about it at my contemporary/fantasy romance persona's website www.cynthianna.com.)
**Did you write stories or make up stories as a child? Do you remember what any of them were about? Tell us...
Adrian says: I did write a short story at age 8 or 9. It was about the pilot of a 1930's Grumman Goose seaplane who discovers pirate treasure in the South Seas. I can even remember the title - "Barry Linton's Treasure." I might just revisit the idea as a full YA novel one of these days, although the 80's TV series "Tales of the Gold Monkey" seems to have stolen my idea!
Cindy says: Oh, did I ever make up stories when I was a child! I remember my mother helped me write my first "picture book," which was a story about a dining table full of talking objects who came to life late at night…
The salt and pepper shakers were characters, as was the butter in the butter dish and the sugar bowl, etc. I drew the pictures in blue ball-point, as I recall, on scrap paper, and my mom wrote the words of my story beside the pictures and bound the pages all together, and I then made proper cover for it. (I was about four or five years old, and we didn't learn to write until first grade way back when. We didn't even have to attend kindergarten!)
I hope I can find the remnants of my first "book" someday in all the boxes of nostalgia I've inherited from my late mother, but I fear it's long been lost. Still, I am ever so proud to say I "wrote and illustrated" my own book before I even attended school.
**Consider the main character in the last book you had published with DBP. What was different or special about him or her?
Olivia is different from a lot of our other heroines because she's 1) a young adult (age 17 in the first book) and not a mature adult (as we both usually are drawn to write), and 2) she's a strong person who acts on the courage of her convictions.
That's not say Olivia is a person without self-doubts--because all of us question our own motives from time to time--but Olivia is special in that she has the innocence of her childhood and the love of her family fresh in her mind when she faces the challenges of being abducted and taken to an alien world. Her bravery is genuine and not jaded by a long past that many older characters have. In other words, she hasn't grown overly cynical.
Olivia feels free to take a moral stand and to do whatever is necessary to bring about change on BloodDark to help her new friends and her new love, Hernando, survive and thrive there. It's quite refreshing to write from the perspective of a young and positive heroine who has the energy and guts to tackle challenges without shying away from them.
**Do you have a favorite inspirational quote/scripture/poem that you feel motivates you?
I like this quote:
"We are all of us lying in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars." --Oscar Wilde
Cindy: My favorite poem is "Success" by Ralph Waldo Emerson. Its last stanza is particularly motivating:
"To know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded."