What a fantastic blog tour, thanks to the lovely Gabrielle Carolina at The Mod Podge Bookshelf who put it together. I’m so grateful to all the participants, who made the lead-up to THE FLAME IN THE MIST’s arrival in the world feel so special. They all gave the book a fabulous send-off.
The tour ended with a Twitter chat last Saturday, officially from 6-7pm EST. Fun! At 7:20 we were still going strong but I had to wrap up because of dinner plans, so we didn’t get to everyone’s questions. Gabrielle, who was hosting, emailed me the list of remaining ones and suggested I post answers on my blog. So here they are, with (hopefully) an added bonus: they’re not limited to 140 characters.
Thank you so much to all who chipped in, including those of you who lurked on the sidelines. Vivien, Amber, Heather, Lisa, Tabitha, Farah, Dena, Holly and Erin - Here's your questions.
I would love the girl who played Jemma in the book trailer to play her in the movie. (Notice how I said "the movie" like it's going to happen? Here's hoping…). She looks strong, moody, harrowed, determined...
(If you missed the trailer, you can see it here.)
The only problem is she's French-Canadian and doesn't speak English! In any event, I'd like an unknown to play Jemma, like Harry was in a certain movie…
And just as Harry's contemporaries were also played by unknowns, I'd prefer that Shade, Feo, Digby and Talon were, too.
The adults could be known actors, though. I won't give away the whole book cast, but here's a few:
Nox Agromond. He has to be handsome but craggy looking, and in his mid to late 30s. Able to look dark and dangerous as well as kind. Add dark eyes and long dark hair, and Joaquin Phoenix would do nicely...
....Or how about Christian Bale?
Then there's Nox's wife, Nocturna: Beautiful and ruthless, exotic-looking. Eva Green (Casino Royale) has the perfect face for her. Also, she's French, which is perfect fo Nocturna's heritage.
Yes...let down that hair, add in some dark contacts, and Eva looks the part.
Marsh: Someone like Kathy Bates, only she'd have to be in her 40s.
"Leave Jemma alone, or you'll have me to answer to, you evil-begotten Agromonds!"
Mmm. Take off the watch, though. And let's make that a hatchet instead of a gun. Or perhaps a vial of magic potion.
Vivien: Character or plot first?
They come as a bundle. I can't think of a character without their story being part of it, and likewise, a plot without a protagonist is like a can of beans with no beans in it….if that makes sense!
Holly: Did you plot or pants the story?
Both, Holly. I outline, and sometimes even write a rough of each chapter, but I really like to let go and pants within the boundaries of what I know has to happen. That way, unexpected things can happen which makes it all the more exciting. But for me, it's important too to keep the outline in mind so the over all plot doesn't get too sidetracked. Ultimately, everything that happens has to serve the story as a whole.
Erin: Most fun time researching the book
The forest scene with Bryn concocting herbal remedies! I wanted to be sure they were authentic.
Dena: How long did it take you to write The Flame in the Mist?
Over all I'd say about five years, in between songwriting, traveling for work (lucky me!), hitting a couple of looong road blocks…and…oh, this and that, you know. (Ok, you don’t. And I’m not telling...)
Heather: Who would you consider your writing muses?
J.K. is an author who inspires me, without a doubt, for her amazing world building and for the doors she's opened in the children's fantasy market. Then, for books I read very early on in my life, an English author called Enid Blyton. I adored her stories, which were all adventure-driven, and I'm sure inspired my own love of mystery and adventure in children's lit. I read them over and over as a kid, and they stand the test of time—they still sell amazingly well in the UK. She's kind of a part of me, in my bones. Then for courage in the face of times when women weren't supposed to write, George Elliot. She blazed a trail, and no mistake.
Heather: highs and lows of authorhood
Highs: Seeing my book in stores! I just saw it yesterday at a Barnes and Noble on the "Top Picks for Children" shelf…that made my day!
But the ultimate high is hearing that people love it. A friend emailed last night to tell me that a friend’s daughter who she’d brought to my book launch last Friday has already read the book twice, and is now quoting from it! That warms my heart like nothing else. It’s the raison d’etre for everything, and makes all the hard work worthwhile.
Lows: Snarky reviews. Of course I want everyone to love the book – what author doesn’t? But one size doesn't fit all. I don't care so much about someone not liking it; everyone's entitled to their opinion. But there are snarks out there, book sharks who seem to love shredding authors’ work – and confidence, and I dread seeing any like that. One answer might be to avoid all reviews!
The other thing is worry that it won't sell. In the end, I have to take the advice of one of my own characters, Jemma's mentor, and Trust. At a certain point, there's not much else any author can do about the big picture.
Heather: How do you overcome writer's block?
There's never a time when I can't write anything. Even if I'm stuck in a WIP, I can write something else, even if it's a rant about being stuck! So for me it's not really about "writer's block" so much as discovering what the particular problem is. Often, it's a resistance to getting to work because I'm stuck on a plot point, something that's not yielding. Then, I'll try several things. For example:
1. Write around the problem. Perhaps explore more backstory about a character or a scene. Not that that will get included, bit it can loosen up creative juices.
2. Do something else! Read, relax…Taking time off can give distance, and space in which my mind can come up with the solution. Other times, it's just a question of giving my mind more space to mull over a problem and let the solution come.
3. Free writing. Just…give myself a limited time, and one, two, three, go. Let my fingers gallop over the keyboard without regard to spelling or punctuation. Often something will jog loose if I do that.
Heather: What do you do to unwind after writing?
Walk. TV. Be in nature.
Get back to some roots.
Farah: Your writing traditions?
The best thing for me is to write First Thing. Pre-email, social media, anything. Grab that cup of tea, nestle into my writing cave (aka Chair) and get going.
Tabitha: Reaction to seeing your cover?
When I saw the roughs (b&w sketches): Wow! Seeing it in color: WOW! The hues are my absolute favorite, and I loved the mystery of it. A few small things needed fixing, but once they were, I was very happy.
Lisa: is there any significant meaning on the cover to the story?
It's more of a symbolic depiction of the contents than a literal translation of a scene - there's no point at which Digby is with Jemma when she sees all those ghosts. So you have Jemma front and center with Digby "having her back" (i.e, watching out for her) while somehow helping to shepherd those small ghosts, while Agromond Castle broods in the background, an ever-present threat because of its evil inhabitants.
Heather: If you could meet any writer living or dead who would it be and why?
William Shakespeare. Because his use of the way words sound to evoke emotion is amazing. Plus his insight into human nature is unbelievably astute, even by modern standards. Not to mention that his writing was beautiful.
The man was a genius, and I would LOVE to meet him! I'm not afraid of bardolatry.
Amber: Which authors would you want at a dinner party?
Any of my Lucky 13s pals!
Amber: What book or series would you like to see on a screen next?
You mean, besides THE FLAME IN THE MIST? (I could hardly resist that, could I?)
Next on the list would be one I believe is actually in the works, Leigh Bardugo's SHADOW AND BONE (Grisha Trilogy). I hope it is, as it's one of my favorites of 2012, and I can't wait for it! But don't get me started on the cast list for that one...
Heather: What's a book you wish you had written?
Actually…there’s none I wish I’d written. I admire a lot, hugely, and strive to learn from them. But if I’d written them, they wouldn’t be the books that they are.
Thank you all so much for your questions!