Today, I’m joined by Abby Jones, author-blogger extraordinaire! I hope you enjoy getting to know more about her writing process.
1. When did you start writing?
I started writing in about 2000. I hated English, grammar and anything to do with diagramming sentences in school. I was homeschooled and I’m sure my Mom thought I was a lost cause. I did love to read. I read and read and read. I would hide just so that I could read uninterrupted. In junior high, my Mom asked me to write a story for school and I did – it was a personification of my cat. She thought it was really good, but I still had the “eckkk, English” response. Sometime in 2000 my boyfriend/now husband read Lord of the Rings and was inspired to write. His inspiration turned into my inspiration and I started writing. We wrote together for about three or four years and then he went on to other things. I did not. I was hooked.
It took me over eight years to write a story with “The End” at the end. I wrote myself into several corners and couldn’t find my way out. So I would set the story aside and try again. In 2008 I started When Skies are Gray. I switched from traditional fantasy to urban fantasy with serial killer antagonists. I found
my voice. As soon as I finished that novel I started Inheritance, which I finished in a year. Happy Thought followed quickly after that. With three novels under my belt, a blog and several WIP I think I found my voice and my place in the writing world.
I wasn’t really ready to publish when I finished my first two novels. The indie world had just started and I had lots of research and polishing to do. I did need to get some feedback on my writing, so my husband suggested a blog. In Jan 2012 I started my blog. I write about movies, music, and books. I have a writing journal. I do a Weekend Quote from something I love. The focus of the blog is my weekly series. I took Inheritance and broke it down into weekly post which I share with the world. When that finished I started When Skies are Gray. I’m 14 post into that series.
2. Are you a pantser or a planner?
I’m a total pantser. I tried to outline my stories when I first started writing them, but then quickly lost interest in the story. The story had been told and I was off on other things. I don’t do much pre-planning.
3. Can you give us an idea of your writing process?
Generally, I get an image in my head. Something that moves me or captures my complete attention. Once I have that scene, I start telling the story that would lead up to such a moment and then what would happen in the fallout.
Often in the middle of writing the story, the story will derail as I get to know the people and plots involved.
I will also find stories based upon feedback from readers. Some of my readers have requested more involvement of particular characters which has spawned whole new stories. My core fans can be very influential in my writing.
Because I’m such a pantser my work requires lots of polishing. After I finish a novel, I send it off to a handful of close friends to look for what I call my “Reservoir Dogs” mistakes (someone getting shot for no reason) and my “you look trustworthy. Would you like to join our noble quest?” mistakes (no logical reason for the relationships in the story). They check out the plot, the characters, the settings and look for any glaring mistakes, plus they tell me what they loved, hated, or want more of. While they’re reading, I set the book aside and start working on my next novel. During this stage, I have one of my other novels up on the blog as a series which is really a twice a week polishing of the section going up.
So, after a novel is written I have friends read it. Next, it goes up in my blog which requires polishing and more polishing. After it’s been on my blog, I print it out and take a red pen to it. I hope all my efforts will produce a well written novel when I’m ready to publish.
It is often after this third or fourth rewrite that I feel like I have a grasp of my characters. I wrote When Skies are Gray back in 2008, but it’s just now going up on my blog and facing a major rewrite. It’s been 7 years since I first met these characters and I’m just now getting a really good hold on them.
But, that’s how my mind works.
4. Which authors have influenced your work?
The Bible: not an author, but a book. Not only am I a Christian and so I write about redemption and grace, but the Bible is one of the biggest influences on fantasy as a genre. It has prophecy, a hidden king, salvation and war to end all wars.
After the Bible, J. R.R. Tolkien is the biggest influence on my work. I will never grow tired of his story, nor his use of language. The great friendships in his story and the sense of great sorrow and great happiness woven together are probably the things I take away most from him.
Dean Koontz, Stephen King , Michael Crichton, and Vince Flynn have influenced me with their pacing, horror, thriller styles and their lack of care with their main characters. They aren’t afraid to drag you through the horror. Sometimes you make it, sometimes you don’t, but you’re never the same afterwards.
Diane Setterfield and Dennis Lehane with their amazing wordsmithing.
Robin McKinley, Elizabeth Kostova and Bram Stoker with their amazing vampire stories.
Hundreds of others I can’t begin to name.
I will continue to post on my blog every week with my books broken into a series. The links are below. I hope to publish my novels soon, but each time I plan to do it, I find something that needs to be cleaned up a little more. I’m in no rush to be published as I would rather have fewer works that are good, than many that are just okay.
6. Any tips for new writers?
Write. Write. Write. Get your head out of the indie publishing cloud until you have found your voice. This only comes with writing. Keep it up! I didn’t find my voice until I got out of Swords and Sorcery which is where I felt I belonged. When I switched to urban fantasy with a strong thriller/action feel I found out what I loved to write. You’ll know it when you find it!
7. Any tips for old writers?
As someone who has been writing for 13 years, I think it’s safe to say that we need to just keep writing too. Write and rewrite. 🙂