So, as promised, Writer Chicks returns with more from my discussion with author, blogger and micro-publisher TA Miles. What follows is a compilation of some of the larger themes pulled from our 8 page chat, where we touch on subjects such as where we find inspiration for our stories and characters and just what these characters mean to us…
We pick up the discussion on the subject of sequels…
TA: Sequels in books tend to gain depth the way movie sequels don’t, lol. I think they do come more alive simply for the fact that they (the characters) and their circumstances become more familiar. They begin sharing more and in greater depth. And this isn’t just between you and them, but among themselves as well.
The inspiration for my stories seems to always be by chance circumstances. I’ll happen to be listening to a piece of music that has someone show me something in vivid detail, or I’ll look at a picture, or be out walking and I’ll hear someone’s voice or their personality will manifest. One aspect of the Bhast series was inspired by a racing video game. One of the characters showed up while I was playing it and told me that they’re an athlete. For Immarcescible, it took meeting several characters all sharing various stories (some of them on Bhast) for me to finally meet the person who all of the stories are essentially revolving around. So I have folders of pieces from different times and places, and they kind of worked me backward to the starting point. My personal interests…the things I believe draws these characters to me lie strongly in spiritualism, history, and culture along with things metaphysical/paranormal. You’ll find if you explore that ghosts, spirits, angels, and various entities appear frequently and even in worlds not Earth there’s always a lot of demonstration/presence of culture. I think the last and probably more important thing to them is my fascination with and willingness to understand psychology…not in just clinical terms, but sociological. I learn a lot through them and through myself, and through people in general. I love to observe and ponder humanity.
And now I get to ask you…what do you think draws your characters to you? 🙂
Me: In terms of the characters…I think they are built or manifested based on the story that needs to be told. When I was thinking about the themes for The Purple Morrow, I really wanted to write about redemption and how a person comes to that place, if they can. Somehow I knew the main character had to be a man even though I had never really written from that POV before. I had no idea what he looked like really or much about him until I started to write. Then he became a hunter, was from the Wolf Clan which was a part of a Mother Clan and a sister to two other Clans. Sort of like connect the dots. In regards to Kelen, the other MC, I sort of had a ‘vision’. I was walking home from the bus thinking about what my book needed next and I knew I wanted to highlight a particular Rover to create a main villain. Then Kelen’s whole introductory scene popped into my head. I was soooo excited to write him! To this day people tell me he is one of their favorite characters. Secondary characters seem to crop up when they are needed and take form based on what the story is telling me. The more I write and the more I get to know this particular story the easier it becomes to hear each character’s voice. So, I write intuitively often starting from the beginning and writing right through to end, just making it up as I go along based on what feels right at the moment. 🙂
TA: I remember hearing about how you met Kelen, which was one of the things that let me know what style writer you are. The style you and I go with I call an organic style. We just let things grow naturally. That isn’t to say that the other end of the spectrum is ‘processed’. I consider the planners and outline writers to be landscapers or architects. They envision something in advance and then build it to suit that vision. And, of course, there are many styles that would fall in between. It’s all personal and ultimately doesn’t matter because the end result is someone’s piece of art. I don’t know why people think writing is any different than any other art form. You have an inspiration or a vision, you develop a style, and you work it.
I love to start at the beginning and go, not knowing the outcome. It’s so much more engaging for me. I’m a naturally curious person and I love to solve puzzles and explore. 🙂 Currently, we have a significant mystery stacking up on us in the sequel to Blood Lilies. I have no idea what they’re going to do about it.
Me: Yes! The mystery! I’m taking a pause from my dragon story because even though I know what follows in terms of a loose outline, I don’t know how to get there yet. So I’m waiting for the story to work itself out. One day I’ll sit at the computer bursting with ideas and I’ll continue it. It’s really cool to run into someone like you who understands and can relate to the process that works for me. I suspected from the time we met on the sci-fi group that was the case. 🙂 We should start a group for ‘touchy-feely’ writers lol
TA: Lol! We could be our own therapy group. I had similar suspicions when we met. It’s great to stumble into a kindred spirit. 🙂 I know what you mean with having to step away for a while sometimes. It’s why I have several WIPs. Sometimes the characters in one world or story just need to take a break. I’ll go spend time with other people for a while and get back to them later. The last thing I want to do is force them. And some of them get irritated with that kind of pressure anyway. They’ll tell me when they’re ready…or when I’m ready to comprehend what they have to say in some instances. And, of course, when I’ve been away from one group of characters for a while and get back to them I get all sappy and ‘I’ve missed you guys!’….which is a good feeling and provides the energy to get writing.
Me: Oh! That’s cool. You do get it! I remember reading an article where the writer listed the pros and cons of not writing multiple WIPs at the same time, concluding that only writing one at a time was best. But not for me. I get burned out when all I do is work on the same thing for a year or more at a time, which is a truth I just discovered. Now that I have multiple things going on, granted it takes longer to finish a project, but I feel more interested and stimulated about writing. Plus, it’s fun to dabble in different styles and formats instead if just books…
What I loved about this discussion and why I chose to post it, is that it highlights the fact that everyone finds passion and inspiration in different ways and that it’s okay! It’s great to meet others who may have similar or even different ideas and be able to share on these subjects. Not just about the technical stuff but also about the heart of the craft we so love. After that discussion, I felt so energized and inspired, and even now, months later, I still feel that way.
So what about you, Reader? Have any thoughts or comments you’d like to share? How do you go about finding your characters or stories to pen? How do they develop from your initial idea to the full-fledged final version? Who do you talk to about writing and what do you usually discuss?
For those who wish to learn more about TA Miles and her work, you can find her at Raventide Books.