L.C. Aisling tagged me for a random online interview. My apologies for taking so long to get around to responding!
1. Questions can be about everything. You can’t change the questions.
2. Answer must be at least 3 lines long and must be answered truthfully.
3. Don’t like the question? Look at Rule number 1.
Only then may you assign the next blogger to answer your ten questions.
- What is the strangest thing you’ve written on?
Erm — surface or topic? I used to write on my jeans in high school. Sometimes notes to myself, sometimes doodles.
Although many of my stories combine odd elements, it’s quite possible the strangest things I ever wrote were scientific, when I was in grad school. The olfactory system of fish.
- Who labels the books with genres? We as writers do or the publishers do?
Genre is primarily a marketing tool, created so readers who like one book can find others like it. Publishers created labels to make it easier for readers. Authors can try to write within a specific genre, which makes it easier for everyone else to know whether this story or book is something they want to look at. Authors don’t always get it right: the book is not SF romance just because there’s a romance subplot.
- How do you feel about killing off main characters?
Sometimes it has to be done, but it’s hard. I love my characters. It probably sounds silly to some people — characters are just fictional constructs, and killing them off means little more than stopping writing about them. On the other hand, if I want my readers to care when it happens, I have to care.
- Do you avoid certain topics in your writing?
I don’t actively avoid subjects so much as I choose to write on other things. There are a ton of themes and ideas that can be written on and explored. Most writers grapple with, at most, a handful, no matter how many works they create. For example, you could look at Jack Chalker’s work, most of which involves some sort of physical transformation of people, and see that at the same time, the underlying character isn’t changed — if anything, it is accented and brought forth more clearly. (Of course, I don’t have as much of an oeuvre yet, so it’s probably harder to definitively say what I do write about.)
- Why does water that has sat in a bottle taste so foul after a year? It’s the same water, isn’t it?
Yes, but the plastic is subject to chemical processes, out-gassing and the like. It’s not just water — every winter when I take blankets out of the plastic bins they’ve been stored in, I need to wash them because of the smell. They were put in the bins clean. The bins are clean. The smell shows up anyway. Thinking about maybe putting in some Bounce dryer sheets this year. I’d try cedar balls, but I know that they are actually acidic and can damage fabrics.
- Do you prefer working on one thing at the time or do you work on multiple ideas at the same time?
Multiple things, always! I will hit a point where I focus down to just one project because I’m trying to get it finished, but I’ve always got lots of things going on. Part of that’s focus — if all I have to do is one thing, I’m much less likely to settle down to doing it. Part of it is because it gives my brain a break — if I’m having trouble with one thing, I can always shift to another to let my subconscious work on the problems for a while.
- Do you have a favorite character?
Whichever one I’m writing about at the moment! (Yes, I know this answer isn’t the required length, but there’s really not a lot more to say.)
- What if paper wasn’t invented? What would you, as a writer, use instead?
That’s an interesting question. There are all the options that were used pre-paper: clay, cave walls, papyrus, animal hide. I don’t know if our civilization could have created computers without the cheap, readily available paper that litters my house, so I’m going to assume that computers aren’t an option. I think, if that were true, I’d be a storyteller, perhaps, but not a writer. It’s hard to create multiple works of any length with something as labor intensive as clay tablets or parchment. Not impossible, but highly unlikely.
- Tell something about keeping your unused ideas.
I try to jot down any idea I think might have promise — writing it in a notebook, jotting it down in IM chat with a writer friend, or noting it in a file of ideas. I don’t often have time to go back and see what I haven’t gotten to yet, but I know that if I ever do feel the need to scrape for ideas, they’re there. I know I have more ideas than I’ll ever get to, but I hold onto them just the same.
- How personal is writing?
Oooh, how long is a piece of string? It really varies. A lot of my flash pieces are just brief shining thoughts I had, not necessarily attached to anything in my life. On the other hand, a friend of mine really hurt me once by dating a guy she knew I liked, and that flavor of betrayal and unfaithfulness has shown up more than once in my work. (Nothing that’s available yet. Maybe I find it too personal to share?)
I’m supposed to tag someone now and ask ten questions of my own, but I’m not sure what to ask yet. So — if you have any comments or responses of your own to these questions, feel free to say something in the comments. Or ask me other random questions. Who knows — I might answer!
These are really interesting questions – and answers! Most of the writer interview questions are rather mundane.
Olfactory system of fish? *wrinkles nose*
I wish I could work on more than one thing at a time. I try to but then I get confused as to which world I’m in. 🙂
Yep! I can dissect out the nose of a fish. 😀 Not many people care to test this, oddly enough. On the other hand, because I also rotated through a lab that worked on vision with fish as a model system, I can also dissect out fish eyes, and I have done that on at least one occasion outside the lab. (My landlord and landlady were having a barbecue and had purchased a whole fish, but it was too large to fit on the grill. With the head cut off anyway, I showed their son and nephews what the eyes looked like inside.)
I’ve never had problems tracking which world I’m in — I consider it similar to doing multiple subjects in school or remembering what’s going on in more than one TV show I’m following. I know not everyone works that way, though. 😀