Wednesday, May 21, 2008

Author Guest Blog Post - J.F.Lewis

Some days previously, I reviewed and had a giveaway of Staked by J.F.Lewis. This is one damn fine kick-ass story about a vampire who doesn't realize the depth of his powers, makes the funniest of comments in the direst of situations and compels readers to like him even as he's killing, blood-sucking and sleeping his way across the book with abandon. And it ends in a delicious cliff-hanger too! After reading it, I feel it's one of the finest Vampire stories I've read in recent times.

That said, the author was kind enough to stop by and leave a comment on my review. After I got over the awe factor, I pestered him for a guest-post and he was gracious enough to agree. Below is a post by Lewis after reading which you can't help but admire this author for his personal candor, his strength and of course, his writing.

Without further ado, here's J.F.Lewis :


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Void City ConfidentialA behind the scenes look at the writing process of Staked… OR What Kind of A Weirdo Makes His Protagonist Fight Werewolves On Ice?

Void City. What a place. There are strip clubs run by vampires, waste disposal services run by Japanese ogres… all kept out of the notice of the human inhabitants by a very fragile artifact called the Veil of Scrythax, that’s stored in a vault beneath the Highland Towers. In Staked, the reader gets just a few tantalizing hints, but it’s what makes Void City work, just as much as Fang Fees (the vampire equivalent of Traffic Citations) and the occasional game of hockey that just happens to be played by a team of werewolves called the Void City Howlers. You see, Void City is a character that’s every bit as important as Eric or Tabitha. If Void City doesn’t seem believable, internally consistent, then the rest doesn’t matter. I know how it all works whether I’ve mentioned it in the book or not.

aBookworm asked if I’d do a guest blog giving a behind the scenes look at Staked, its creation and maybe a little bit about how I write and why…

I’d like to say that there is a magic method, but if there is, I haven’t found it yet. J The real secret to being a writer is to write… and write a lot. As soon as I get my kids into bed, I duck into my home office, turn on a little music (lately I’ve been listening to a lot of power metal, guys like Edguy or Kamelot) and begin to type. I have a rule that I spend at least an hour writing every night even if I don’t feel like it. I try to spend at least four, but I don’t always get my wish and well, I can’t disappear quite so early every night without my wife lynching me.

I essentially wrote Staked as a rebuttal of vampire novels where vampirism is the ultimate coolness pill. In most of those books, you get bit and bam: you can dance; you know how to dress well; you’re young, beautiful, bi-sexual, and saddled with more ennui than you can shake a stick at. Staked is very angry stuff by comparison. Which bring us down to the darkside… the reasons why I write. William Sanders wrote something a few weeks ago that really spoke to me and he’s been kind enough to let me quote him here.

He wrote: “Most of the best writing is at some level a scream.”

I got goose bumps when I read that because that’s a large part of where my writing comes from. Eric’s rage is something that I have a very personal acquaintance with, because when I was younger, I had rage blackouts similar to his (but without the bat wings). I learned to control them- I haven’t had one in twenty years- and one of the reasons that I write what I write is to focus those negative emotions into a creative outlet. Fortunately that’s not the only reason I write, or my work would be a very uncomfortable read. The other reason I write, the light and happy one, is that I like to entertain people. I can’t dance, but I can strings words together in a way that some people find amusing. So basically I take those bad emotions and turn a negative into a positive. To me, you can’t really separate the two.

As for how I write, in the grand scheme of plotters and pantsers, I’m a pantser. I plot by the seat of my pants. If a scene feels right, I’ll put it in and figure out why it happened later. For me, writing the first draft is a process of discovery. When I start writing, I have an initial scene in mind, a central problem, some specific scenes that I’d like to work into the book, and a general idea of how I want things to wrap up. I’m not too concerned about how I’ll get there, so long as everything makes sense. Occasionally, I even have some lines I’d like to work into the book. Lines like:

In the end, a friendship between a vampire and a human is like a friendship between a dog and a chicken nugget. Sooner or later, the nugget is going to get eaten; the only real question is how many bites it will take.

Whenever people ask me what the writing process is like, I think of editing and revising. You see, I might write twice as many words as will appear in a final draft- then, the edits begin. Just think how different my first novel, Staked, would have been if I’d refused to edit and revise- because originally, the first sentence of the first draft was “Somewhere in the middle of my rant it occurred to me that I’d killed Roger and arguing was no longer important.” Those who have already read the novel will understand how different it would have been without Eric’s skeevy scheming best-friend from his living days around to taunt Eric the way only best friends can. It was in the editing stages that my agent suggested adding sports and alcohol, and the werewolves on ice hockey fight was born. My favorite scene, near the end, where Marilyn, the geriatric love of Eric’s life, confronts Tabitha, the newly undead love of Eric’s death, wasn’t even my idea at all, but something that my editor asked me to put in.

If this sounds like a haphazard process, I guess it just goes to show you how lucky writers are to be judged on our final products and not our methods of arriving at them. It takes a lot of people and a lot of time to really polish a manuscript and make it shine. That’s why we have acknowledgement pages.

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4 comments :

  1. VERY GOOD INTERVIEW AND MMMMMMM FOR STAKED!! LOVE ME SOME VAMPS AND I HOPE I CAN WIN THIS ONE AS I JUST SAW MESSAGE FOM INBOX!

    GOOD LUCK ALL AND WOULD YA SHARE? LOL

    HOTCHA
    linda_bass@sbcglobal.net

    ReplyDelete
  2. Glad you guys enjoyed reading it. I loved this article. And it's given me the courage to ask other authors as well :)

    ReplyDelete