I was asked to take part in the Writing Process Blog Tour by C.P Lesley, a fellow writer of historical fiction I met in a Goodreads group. You can visit her blog here.
C. P. Lesley, a historian, is the author of The Not Exactly Scarlet Pimpernel—her 21st-century take on the classic Baroness Orczy novel, The Scarlet Pimpernel (1905)—and Legends of the Five Directions, a series set during the childhood of Ivan the Terrible.The Golden Lynx (Legends 1) is in print; The Winged Horse (Legends 2) will appear in June 2014. She is currently working on The Swan Princess (Legends 3).
Here are the questions I was asked to answer for the blog tour:
1) What am I working on?
My first novel, a historical novel called The Ambitious Madame Bonaparte, was published in December. It’s based on the life of Elizabeth Patterson Bonaparte, the American beauty who married Napoleon’s youngest brother Jerome. A few short weeks later, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Fortunately, we caught it at Stage 1, so I didn’t need chemo. However, going through radiation was debilitating enough, and it prevented me from jumping writing into working on my next novel. Now that I’ve finished my course of treatment, I’m back to researching that project, a historical novel based on the true story of a woman who was taken captive during one of the most brutal Indian wars in U.S. history.
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
This is a very difficult question, but I’ll make a stab at answering. For one thing, there don’t seem to be a lot of historical novelists writing about the United States in the early 19th century, which is when my first book is set. Second, I try very hard to make the background history both interesting and clear to the readers so they can understand the broader context of the specific events of the book. Finally, I’m not afraid to write about characters that some readers might dislike if they met each other in real life. I feel that one of my jobs as a novelist is to help the reader understand why people make the choices they do from their own internal perspective, whether I approve of those choices or not.
3) Why do I write what I do?
I’m drawn to characters more than any particular time period or subject matter. I wrote about Betsy Bonaparte because she was a feisty woman who defied society’s expectations for her and, in the process, overcame enormous adversity. I’ve always been fascinated with characters who have a complex personality. I often fining myself writing about people who have been deeply hurt and about the ways they try to cope with that or recover from it.
4) How does your writing process work?
For me, it’s crucial to be able to listen to the story and let it tell me where it wants to go. I’m not the kind of writer who could ever churn out 50,000 words in a single month the way NaNoWriMo participants do. I can’t force the process because I need time to hear my characters; if I can’t hear their dialogue in my head and if I can’t hear the narrator describing the setting or the action, I’m not ready to write. Usually, I hear approximately half a chapter further along than the scene I’m currently writing. Whenever I do try to write beyond that point, then I find myself driving down a dark road without headlights. Invariably, I get lost.
Next week the blog tour will continue with posts by the following writers, whose blogs I all follow:
Michelle is a native New Yorker who blogs at The Sunflower’s Scribbles on her projects, writing, reading, and whatever else strikes her fancy. She is currently working on a historical fiction novel.
Krystal Jane writes paranormal and fantasy. She also blogs about writing and sometimes random things at the Narcissistic Rose.
Author, Actor, and Artist, Marc Royston holds degrees in English, Theater, and Information Technology and the equivalent to a B.S. in Biology. In consequence to the Great Recession, Marc lost his home, his job, his retirement, all savings, and most of his belongings. Destitute, he has since lived with family and friends. Marc Royston is currently editing the first four volumes of Part One of his serialized novel, A Wizard’s Life. He has a blog of the same name.