Today's Absolute Write Interview features Ink Wench, a.k.a. Tracey. On her blog, she describes an ink wench as "a pathetic creature subservient to her writing and who infinitely prefers living in her imaginary worlds." I love that definition -- and I also love what Tracey says below about the themes in her YA novel, the draws of the paranormal/fantasy genre, and the joys of blogging. Welcome, Tracey!
Screen Name: ink wench
Post Count: recently broke 4k - yikes!
Favorite Forum: Rejection and Dejection, specifically the purgatory thread
What's the best lesson AW has taught you? Never give up. I think that’s one of the reasons I spend so much time in the R&D forum. I would have quit long ago without encouragement, and without meeting so many other people determined to succeed. So I like to pass encouragement along to others.
In real life, you are... Usually lost in my imagination, heh.
Book title: Just one? :-) I tend to have several I’m working on at once. ‘Twixt is the one that I found an agent with. Then there’s also Strange Misery, which is complete, and Necromance Me, which is almost complete.
Genre: ‘Twixt and Necromance Me are YA contemporary fantasy. Strange Misery is urban fantasy.
Describe 'Twixt in fifty words or less.
‘Twixt is about a girl who loses her dreams and her younger sister in a car accident. When she finds the underworld’s lost spell book for reincarnation, she hopes to use it to get her sister back. Instead she’s the one who ends up being reborn.
Like a lot of YA books, 'Twixt deals with themes of death. Firstly, why'd you pick this theme? And secondly how does 'Twixt stand out?
Cool question. I didn’t choose to write about death. Being the cheery person I am, I’d decided I wanted to write about a character who was totally miserable and had no hope for the future. Death—and that she feels responsible for killing her sister—just became part of that misery. When I think about it, it strikes me that ‘Twixt is more about rebirth. Gabrielle, my main character, has to journey, literally, to the underworld so she can return and start to live again.
One of the things that makes ‘Twixt a bit different is that my main character has some debilitating physical issues thanks to her car accident. She lives with chronic pain and it frequently gets in the way of normal (and paranormal) living. On the plus side, she can use her cane to beat off the creatures that attack her. There’s also a shocking lack of romance.
'Twixt is currently on sub to editors with your agent. Talk about this process. Lots of people say it sucks. Does it?
‘Twixt actually isn’t on sub at the moment. I had to find a new agent in January, and she pulled ‘Twixt from submission so we could work on revisions. But when I was on sub, I have to say I didn’t think it was that bad. No worse than the whole signing with an agent process is anyway. To me, the signing was the killer. Suddenly, I no longer had complete control over my writing life. At least when I was querying, I chose when to query, who to query, etc. Now… it’s all out of my hands, and that’s kind of scary. (I never realized I could be such a control freak before.) Subbing was definitely better than querying though. I knew I wasn’t alone in feeling dejected, heh.
You describe on your blog how much you love the paranormal and fantasy genres. What's its biggest attraction for you, and why you think it's so hot right now?
I’ve always loved paranormal, ever since telling ghost stories around the campfire in Girl Scouts. I think the reason is that fantasy/paranormal allows for almost anything. You can give in to your wildest imagination—and mine can get pretty wild—so the stories can go anywhere. Who’s never wished they could cast a spell on the people who annoy them? Or wished they could live forever, or be faster and stronger than a mere human? It also allows for vicarious thrills. The chance to experience living on the edge of death (sometimes literally), and as a whole humanity seems pretty intrigued by what happens after death.
I’m not sure I’d say paranormal is any hotter now than it’s ever been. Maybe as a specific genre, yes. But ghost stories, urban legends, myths, etc. have always been around and popular. I think we’ve only started seeing them marketed as their own niche. I also think the prevalence of female main characters in the genre has been a huge part of the success. No surprise that girls and women like reading about strong girls and women, and paranormal has embraced that sort of character.
Just recently you celebrated your one-year blog anniversary. Congratulations! Firstly, what have you learned about blogging and social networking (and their benefits vs. drawbacks) in this past year?
Thanks! Oh boy. I learned that keeping a blog regularly updated is a lot harder than I thought it would be. If I don’t want to post totally inane things, that is. (I’m sure I do regardless of intent.) But it’s been great to be able to put my thoughts out there and see if/when they resonate with others. I’ve gotten to (virtually) meet some great people through my blog and by visiting other blogs. It’s a great way to share and learn from each other.
The biggest drawback I can think of, besides the pressure to post, is knowing when to post a thought and when to hold back. Putting yourself out there is a good way to find an audience for your work, but like with the law—anything you say can and (potentially) will be held against you.
Secondly, what do you hope to accomplish and explore on your blog in year number two?
Good question, and something I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. I’d like to make my blog helpful to others in some way, but I’m not sure how. I’ve been thinking about doing series of posts on the querying process since I have a lot of experience with it, but there’s so much already out there. I don’t want to rehash stuff.
Besides landing a publishing deal sometime soon, what are your highest hopes for your career as a writer?
Fantasy writer, right? Wild imagination… :-) I’d love to be able to earn a living as an author. To me, that’s the dream—to make money entertaining other people with my stories. More realistically, I simply hope that I can do the entertaining bit. Reading has always been my escape, and I’d love to be able to create worlds and characters that others can lose themselves in.