Monday, January 9, 2012

Interview with Emily Devenport

What (and how many) works have you released? What are they about?
Nine of my books were published conventionally by NAL/Roc. They were adult science fiction novels, and I wrote them under three pen names. One of them, Broken Time, was nominated for the Philip K. Dick award. These earlier books were all what you might call Space Opera, really dramatic stories told in far-flung space empires, from the viewpoint of likable female characters. Probably the most popular of these titles were Shade, EggHeads, Broken Time, and Belarus. When the publishing world started to collapse on itself (just before Borders declared bankruptcy), it became much harder for midlist writers like me to get new contracts. But at the same time, online publishing was starting to take off. I was beginning to feel like I wanted to shift gears and write YA titles, maybe even a little Urban Fantasy. I realized I could hire a professional editor and publish ebooks through Smashwords and Amazon. I published two new books, The Night Shifters (Urban Fantasy) and Spirits Of Glory (YA) as ebooks. I also published my backlist title, Broken Time, as an ebook, and I plan to release most of my backlist titles that way within the next few years, reclaiming my Emily Devenport pen name.

How did you get the idea for your work? What lured you to your topics?
This may soundwacky, but I get most of my ideas from vivid dreams. I've evenexperienced time dilation in my dreams, very similar to what happenedto the characters in the movie, Inception. For a more detailed version of that experience, visit my blog. The ore ideas for Spirits Of Glorybegan to take shape in my mind after I dreamed about a rainstorm thathappened during an event I call “fractured time.” If time isn'tflowing at its usual speed, this is a very interesting experience. Ialso dreamed about the scene where my main character, Hawkeye, istrying to run away from some scavengers. At the end of that scene,she encounters a southern god named Dagger. These were odd butintriguing bits and pieces, and they made me wonder what else mighthappen.

What scene, topic, or section was the most intense (or visual) for you to write?
There is a scene where my characters have to run up several flights of stairs. If they can't get to safety in time, they'll be swept away forever,like the missing people in the Forbidden Cities. This is anotherscene that was inspired by a dream, and I really wanted to capturethe fantastical quality, while also conveying the terrible danger thecharacters are in.

In the event that your book became a screenplay (or documentary), who would you like to see included in the casting?
I actually could see Spirits Of Glory asa movie (or even better – as a miniseries), but I don't picture anyone in particular in the roles. I think as long as they were goodactors and actresses, I would be satisfied. With a story like this,the special effects would be more important. And even though the CGIstuff would be necessary, I'd hate to see that overdone. Sometimesgood, old-fashioned cinematic effects are better than CGI.

If you could meet anyone or see anything (characters, locations, events, abilities, creatures, etc) from your novel, who or what would you choose?
There is a minor character named John Davies I'd like to meet. And I'd love tospend a little time with Hawkeye's assistance animals, Wolfy and Brat. I'd also like to visit the libraries in the Forbidden Cities.

How did you go about selecting your cover?
I have a friend who is a professional artist. She did the cover for my firstebook, The Night Shifters, so I asked her to do SOG, too. I really liked the result.

Do you have any upcoming projects? When can readers expect them?
I just published an adult horror/fantasy novelette titled Pale Ladyon Amazon and Smashwords (warning, there is some strong language in it). I'll be publishing another one of my backlisttitles, Belarus, within acouple of months (adult SF). And I'll be publishing a new YA titleabout the same time, The Terrible Twelves,which I co-wrote with husband, artist/writer Ernest Hogan. TTTis about a girl with a troublesome talent that makes her miserable and attracts monsters.

Why did you become an author (or start writing)?
Writing was a compulsion. It first hit me when I was about twelve years old, but Ididn't know what to do with it back then. I couldn't really finishanything, and I got frustrated easily. The desire to write didn'treally start to seriously take over my brain until I was about 21. Then it hitme really hard, almost like the onset of a mental illness. Fortunately, I was able to do something about it by then, instead ofwalking around talking to myself.

What do you love the most about being an author?
I love the fact that writing about a world makes it more real – you really getto explore it instead of just getting tantalizing glimpses of it inyour dreams.

What or who inspires you to write?
I find music really inspiring, especially classical music. It's like that scenein the beginning of Fantasia, where the sounds of the music create images in your head. I find the British composer, Ralph VaughanWilliams, especially inspiring. I mention a piece of his called TheLark Ascending in SOG. I think it wold make a great theme song for this if it were a movie/TV show.

What is the top cause you champion?
I think our City, State, Regional, and National Parks need to be fully funded,protected, and expanded (in the U.S. and the rest of the world). They are treasures beyond measure.

What advice do you have for anyone who is interested in becoming an author?
Being a good writer takes more than talent. You have to be able to learn fromyour mistakes, to keep persisting even when you keep failing, and tokeep working at a project even though it turns into pick & shovelwork (I promise you, they ALL do at some point). In the beginning,the first thing you need to do is make sure all of your tools are ingood shape (grammar, spelling, and punctuation). After that, youneed to learn your craft, which means you'll do a lot of writing AND reading. Iwouldn't recommend a fiction-writing class, but a class inscreenwriting might help (it would teach you to think visually). Writers' groups can be helpful sometimes, but you have to be able torecognize when they're just wasting your time. If you want toself-publish a novel, hire a professional editor to go over themanuscript and kick your butt. You'll learn a lot from the process,and you're more likely to end up with a polished product that peoplewill enjoy reading.

What is the one thing your readers should know about you?
More than anything else, I love to laugh.

If you could do anything (for a career), besides being a writer, what would do?
I would love to work for the U.S. Geological Survey, or for one of the National or State Parks. But I would keep writing, anyway.

Aside from writing, what are your hobbies?
I love to hike, to garden, and to travel in the Southwest U.S.

What is…?

…your favorite author?
(Yoips! I can never pick just one!)

…your favorite book or series?

…your biggest literary inspiration?
When I was younger, I loved Octavia Butler. Her books thoroughly blew my mind. Right now, I'm really impressed by Stephen King – I just reviewed his new book, 11/22/63 on my blog. I love that he always takes chances, pushes the envelope, and bravely explores places in the human heart where most people are afraid to go.

Do you listen to music when you write? If so, what artists? If not, do you have other muses?
Listening to music often helps me capture a mood or a particular setting. But Iusually can't write while listening to music with lyrics, or theydistract me. Though Patty Griffin has a song titled “UselessDesires” that I quoted at the beginning of SOG: “Goodbye to all the window panes, shining in the sun, likediamonds on a winter day, goodbye, goodbye to everyone . . .” Those lyrics reminded me of the Forbidden Cities of the south,standing empty because all of the inhabitants mysteriously vanished,overnight. The first time I heard that song, I actually got a chill.

Is there anything that helps you write or is unique about your writing process?
Besides listening to music, doing things outside really inspires me. But I also feel inspired when I watch movies. I think up alternate plots,or imagine the characters in completely different (sometimes radically different) circumstances. Other than that, I just have to sit down and get it done, often during my lunch hour at my day job. After so many years of writing, I can be very disciplined about doing that, but in the early days I needed a lot more time to sort of stumble around.

Which, if any, character do you feel has the most of your characteristics (behavioral or otherwise)?
Brat Cat. (I'm only half kidding.)

Thank you for participating!

Where to Find Emily Devenport:


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