Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Tag! I'm it!

It's been awhile since I actually wrote a post---Kim's interview on Sunday only sort of counts---mostly because I've been alternately busy and sleeping. And I wish I could say I've been busy writing, but I've mostly been gaming. But, you know, it's important for me to have a well-rounded life that doesn't just consist of working. Or something. I've actually been running games recently, which is interesting, but it requires more work than just playing, especially if one is obsessive like me. But I have made a resolution to do more work on Archangel Errant, and I plan to be doing lots of edits on Catching a Man in August and September.

Anyway, one thing I've been wanting to post about is the cake I made for my coworker at the end of June. Way back in May she told me she wanted a chocolate and peanut butter cake. So my plan was to make the chocolate cake from my birthday cake (because it is the most amazing cake ever) and the peanut butter frosting from these brownies. But then, less than a week before I planned to make the cake, I found a recipe for a buckeye cake. As a good former Ohioan, I could not ignore this, so I decided to add the peanut butter cheesecake layer and the chocolate peanut butter glaze to my original plan. 

This went... less well than intended. You see, I ran out of baking spray. (In my defense, it's very hard to tell you're running out.) And I said, "Well, I'll just flour the pan instead. It'll be fine." Yeah, it was not fine. One cake stuck to the pan and fell apart, and the other was waaaaay less done than the first one and made a total mess. This was especially sad because the cake was so, so delicious, and I had to throw it out instead of eating all the crumbs. I had similar falling-apart problems with the cheesecake, and I way overestimated how much chocolate glaze I had. 

But I persevered! I made a box cake to replace the delectable-but-fragile one and managed to get the cheesecake in between the layers. And the result was quite pleasing to all involved. Well, except me, but I got over it and ate it even though it was full of salt. 

The other thing I've been putting off. A fellow Red Adept author did one of those chain blog post things and tagged all of RA's Team Fantasy. As the charter member of this organization (and the one who pays for the buttons), I feel it is my duty to comply, even if I do so almost 2 weeks late. So without further ado...

1. What are you working on?

I've got 2 WIPs at the moment. I'm waiting on my editor for Catching a Man, the first book in the Valeriel Investigations series, which I've announced and am hoping to have out in November. You can see more details on the Valeriel Investigations tab. Cover reveal is coming soon!

I am also working on book 3 of the Earthbound Angels series, Archangel Errant. Really. I'm working on it. I swear. It will get done. Eventually

2. How does your work differ from others in your genre?

Sometimes I think Earthbound Angels doesn't really. It's just another urban fantasy about angels. But, then, I have been reading reviews of UF books lately, looking for new ones to read, and one was commenting that UF books tended to fit the pattern of the kickass "strong female heroine" solving a murder. Or sometimes there's a strong male heroine too. And I realized Earthbound Angels doesn't really fit that pattern at all. Oracle especially is more world-building and philosophy than mystery. And Carrie does not ever kick ass. 

Valeriel Investigations, on the other hand, I created because I wanted to make something as different as possible. I read Poison Study by Maria V. Snyder, and I was just so amazed that she successfully made a military dictatorship the good guys. I wanted to do that, create a world that was totally different. So I made a totally fictional fantasy world that was like the 1950s with a few exceptions. 1. Women are oppressed, even moreso than they were in the actual 1950s. 2. The government is a monarchy, and the nobility are the elite of society whose exploits everyone follows in the paper. 3. Healthcare is socialized, but police investigations are privatized. So if your family member is murdered, you need to have investigation insurance and hire a corporation to solve the crime. Too different? Maybe. We shall have to see.

3. Why do you write what you do?

I've always come up with stories, and I think for the most part they reflected what I was reading. So since I read mostly fantasy, that's also what I write. Since the early days of the UF genre, I wanted to write one. Valeriel Investigations is the outcome of my many attempts to write a "supernatural detective story." For the most part, I write the plot ideas that I come up with that manage to spin themselves into full stories.

4. How does your writing process work?

Very slowly. Basically, I whine about how much I don't want to write until I get up the willpower to actually write. Then once I do that for awhile, I get more into it and don't mind so much. I've been making an effort to go into a writer cave and even go so far as to unplug my internet. (For some reason when I do this in a place my phone expects to have wireless, it won't connect to 4G, so all my notifications are stopped.) I try to write 1,000 words at a time these days. Perhaps someday I will get into a more motivated period and write more. But generally 2,000 is a super lot for me in a day.

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Interview with Kimberly G. Giarratano

Hello, everyone! Today we have with us Kimberly G. Giarratano, author of Grunge Gods & Graveyards, a YA paranormal about a girl investigating the death of the ghost she's in love with. In 1996!

So, I had about half of Grunge Gods & Graveyards left, so I decided to read a bit before I went to bed. And after a chapter or two, I realized I had to know what happened and stay up and read the rest of it. Which led to much tiredness the next day at work. Do you, as the author, have the appropriate amount of shame about this?

Shame, no. As the mother of three young kids, one of whom is a newborn, it is only fair that everyone be as sleep-deprived as me. Truthfully, I am flattered. Having someone tell me they read my book instead of sleep is the ultimate compliment. Because in my house, sleep is like a depleted resource.

You chose to set Grunge Gods in 1996. As someone who went to high school in the 90s, I found this interesting, because it felt like a strange mix of the past and too close to my life to really be the past. Were there any unique challenges you faced writing about a time 15-20 years in the past? How many times did you say to yourself, “Well, she can just call someone… Crap, no cell phones”?

I actually embraced the no-cellphone rule. Having cell phones can interfere with plot points. For example, the main character received a text message that could’ve helped her avoid the killer – that sort of thing. It’s easier for me if no one can contact anyone. Busy signals. Answering machines. I can work with that. More conflict that way.

The tricky part about writing a story set in the 90s was thinking I could rely on my own memory for historical accuracy. I’d mention a song but then I’d have to go online to make sure the song was released before September 1996 (when the novel takes place). Also, because it’s historical fiction, kind of, sort of, I had to check events and dates constantly. For example, Tupac was shot and killed in 1996. I had to incorporate his death into the story even though he doesn’t have anything to do with the plot. But I remember Tupac’s death and I remember talking about it with my friends in high school. It would affect Lainey and her friends who loved his music. If I was talking about such an even in 1996, so was Lainey.
The other challenge of writing about the 90s is that it made me feel old. I’m 35, but I might as well be 95 when I’m writing about VCRs and cassette tapes.

As I understand it, you were also a high-school-child of the 90s. Did you base any of Lainey’s experiences, or those of her friends or non-friend classmates, on your own personal high school memories?

Lainey and I are the same age, but we’re not much alike. I was not such a bad girl. I didn’t drink or sneak out to riverside parties (I also didn’t live near a river) and I was a much better student than Lainey. For one thing, my Spanish grades were excelente. However, Lainey and I have similar tastes in music and TV. She watches the same TV shows I did as a teen. Like Lainey, I taped 120 Minutes on a Sunday night (on VHS – the show was on late) so I could watch it the next day. My best friend and I would watch X-Files together over the phone. I did steal something else from real life. There is one scene where Danny is flipping through Lainey’s music collection and he says, “I’m totally going to judge you by your taste in music.” I stole that line from a classmate when I was studying abroad in Spain. I heard him say it to another student as he was flipping through his CD binder. I thought if I ever write a book, I’m putting that line in there. Fifteen years later and voila.

Tell us something you know about one of your characters that never made it into the book.

I guess it’s implied, since I don’t come out and say it, but Aunt Marilyn knows a thing about ghosts. Just sayin’.

So what’s next on your writing agenda? Will we get more stories about Lainey? I know there’s at least one ghost in Grunge Gods whose mystery I’m still dying to solve!

I have an idea for the spin-off to Grunge Gods, featuring the mysterious Lady in Blue, but I haven’t outlined it yet. I’m currently working on another YA ghost story/mystery but it’s set in present-day Key West. I’ll give you the story sentence: Two seventeen-year-olds must solve a sixty-year-old murder before a malevolent ghost destroys a family-owned bed and breakfast. Told in dual POV, the story has mystery, romance, a sexually frustrated ghost and roaming roosters. Ya gotta love Key West.

You’re a bit of an expert on the young adult genre. What direction do you think the genre is headed?
I guess my first job as YA Expert is to clarify that young adult isn’t a genre. It’s an audience level. No one calls adult fiction a genre, but there are plenty of genres that make up adult fiction. Same for YA. As for where it’s headed…I don’t know. I think the trajectory it’s on is pretty awesome. Once upon a time, writing for teens was considered beneath an author. Like, “why wouldn’t you want to write for adults?” Now you have big-name authors like James Patterson and Harlan Coben writing YA. Currently, my biggest gripe is media outlets writing opinion pieces on YA without having any idea of what they are talking about. If you want to understand YA, talk to a librarian or a YA author or a reader. Don’t ask a columnist.

Okay, random question time. You’re in a YA novel, and your One True Love is a member of a supernatural race. What do you want him to be and why?

Awesome question. A witch or warlock, I guess. Someone with magical powers who can conjure up a spell to clean my house in a matter of minutes. Or fold the endless piles of laundry. Or cook dinner. I hate chores.

What’s one question you wish someone had asked you on your blog tour but no one did? Question and answer, please.

Q: Can I babysit your kids for free?
A: Sure! How about now?!