Wednesday, February 26, 2014

What You Know

“...talented young novelists were all going to these MFA programs and being told, 'write about what you know,' which is brilliant advice for your first novel but it makes them helpless on their second novel.” ~ Tom Wolfe

I suppose my first novel, the YA 'The Middle of Nowhere' was a 'what you know' story. It was very much based on a place I lived, the people I knew there. I am pleased enough still with my effort on the book but I do see it as essentially a practice piece. I learned the craft there and have been able to work more quickly and confidently on my writing since.

I do doubt that I will ever write another Young Adult, even though I have a good idea where all those kids' lives would be going over the next couple years if I chose to pen a sequel. The setting and some of the characters will, however, reappear in more ambitious adult novels. Eventually.

Indeed, the Steinhatchee area – which is essentially what the fictitious town of Ruby stands in for – has appeared in many songs and poems, as well as a handful of short stories. A big chunk of my past was spent there. I've spent enough time and done enough things in different places to pretty much write about what I know indefinitely.

But, instead, I went to a fantasy for my second novel. I felt that a complete break with the themes of the first book was in order. It also gave me more freedom to say what I wanted to say.

My third novel, the second book of 'Donzalo's Destiny,' is still officially set for release on March 1 (though it is already available for purchase). 'The Shadow of Asak' is similar in length to the first book, 'The Song of the Sword,' bringing the total for 'Destiny' to 93,000 words — so far. It truly is all one fairly lengthy novel, even if I am dividing it into 'books' for publication. There should be two or three more of similar size, bringing 'Donzalo's Destiny' up to somewhere around the 200,000 word mark.

I may get onto the next book, tentatively titled 'The Sign of the Arrow' now or I may work on another project and give Donzalo's saga a rest. At any rate, I know where the story is going so there is no problem with writer's block. Except I haven't quit decided which pairings of lovers will occur by the end.

Which, incidentally, will probably not be the end of Donzalo. There well may be more novels with him – and undoubtedly some of the other characters – showing up.

As always, the books are available both at the Arachis Press site and at our bookstore at Lulu. By the way, if you are a reviewer, contact me and I'll see about getting a free ebook to you (EPUB or PDF).

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