People sometimes talk about books as if they are babies, raised by the author and ultimately sent into the world to make their fortunes. We even wish authors a “happy book birthday” on their publication day! In the last month, I’ve been thinking about the similarities and differences between “book babies” and actual babies, since I’m in the position to compare the two directly; as it happens (as it was meant to happen), my new book and our first baby were both scheduled to debut in the first week of November.
My son turned up a little early, which made the launch of The Silence of Six slightly easier, but it has still been an interesting experience juggling my new life as a father with my life as a writer with a day job. I decided to put books and babies side by side in the chart below. Like books and babies, it’s still a work in progress, and I left a few things out. Do you have anything you would add or disagree with? Let me know in the comments below!
This post originally appeared at Pub(lishing) Crawl on Dec. 3, 2014.
[Click to embiggen]
Early this year, the British Academy of Film and Television Arts launched its interview series, In Conversation, with Benedict Cumberbatch. (Good choice!) Something he said about how he researches a new role struck a chord with me:
[Research is] a security blanket. Not all of it — very little of it ends up on screen, often. And it’s just to take a little bit more possession of the extraordinariness of what I’m being asked to do. Because it’s so far removed from my experience. It just gets me a little bit more… It just gives me a little bit more courage to pretend to be something I’m so far from.
[Watch the quoted clip, or the whole interview, here. Video will play automatically in a new window.]
I literally couldn’t have said it better, because I’m not Benedict Cumberbatch! But I feel the same way about novel research. Obviously, before you start writing about something you don’t know much about, like say computer hacking — the topic of my next book, The Silence of Six — you have to find out more about it. But the tricky thing about research is you don’t necessarily know what information you will need before you start outlining or writing the book. The natural solution is to learn everything you can, just like Sherlock, but as Cumberbatch said so sexily: most of that isn’t going to end up on the page, and it shouldn’t.
Continue reading at Pub(lishing) Crawl
Photo by I.W. Gregorio
Today, I was honored to speak to some amazing teen writers and readers at the Little Flower Teen Writers Festival about the importance of diversity and how to approach writing from perspectives other than their own. I promised to post some links to read more about this topic, and I hope these are useful to anyone interested in reading and writing more diverse books, even without the context of my presentation.
Art by Tina Kugler/ tinakuglerstudio.com
Read More About It
Writing the Other: A Practical Approach by Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward, Conversation Pieces vol. 8, Aqueduct Press, 2005
Diversity in YA – http://diversityinya.tumblr.com/
Rich in Color: Reading and Reviewing Diverse YA Books – http://richincolor.com/
Articles & Data:
2013 Statistics, Cooperative Children’s BookCenter, University of Wisconsin – http://ccbc.education.wisc.edu/books/pcstats.asp
Diversity in 2013 YA Best Sellers –
Kid Lit’s Primary Color: White –
Diversity is Not Enough: Race, Power, Publishing –
Want More Diversity in Your YA? Here’s How You Can Help –
We Are Still Not Doing Enough for Diversity in Kidlit –
Where’s the African-American Harry Potter or the Mexican Katniss? –
We Need Bigger Megaphones for Diversity in Kid Lit –
Why Hasn’t the Number of Multicultural Books Increased in Eighteen Years? –
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is –
Why We Need Diversity in YA Fiction, Plus Book Recommendations –
My Take on Diversity in Children’s Books While Growing Up:
One of my favorite parts of writing happens when I’m not writing. You know, those moments during the day when you’re thinking about, maybe even dreaming about, the story or the characters in your work in progress. I love brainstorming, whether it’s my own book or someone else’s work, because there’s a sense of play to it; you aren’t committing anything to paper yet, so it doesn’t take much work. (It also may not feel like work, so you might worry you’re just procrastinating, but trust me, it’s useful.) You can feel free to be as goofy or wild as you want–you’re just throwing things against the wall to see what sticks. And it’s cool because you’re working on your book anywhere and everywhere: in the shower, walking your dog, on line at the bank, riding the train, reading other books, watching TV, in meetings at work. A little part of my brain never stops thinking about my novel.
I can’t speak to every writer’s experience, but this is how my imagination works. The more I think about the story, the more ideas I have. Often, my subconscious mind makes connections that needed days, weeks, or months to develop. Initially, I avoided outlining because I wanted to give myself as much of that flexibility as possible to discover the story and let it develop organically, but I’ve since realized that outlining can also get you thinking about the whole thing much earlier, and there’s nothing limiting about it–it’s just one path, and you can take the story in different directions any time a better idea presents itself. I like research for the same reason; all that reading feeds me more ideas and opens up new possibilities.
So this book I’m working on… It started with a lot of brainstorming and outlining, then I started drafting it and inevitably veered off from the outline a bit. I got some great notes from my editors, and I just completed the first major revision—a few hours ago. As I tried to re-imagine the plot and characters and come up with a better ending, the whole process reminded me of something very old, something from my childhood: Choose Your Own Adventure.
[Read the rest of this post at Pub(lishing) Crawl]
The fabulous Kate Tilton, friend to authors, invited me to participate in #K8chat, her weekly Twitter chat for people interested in publishing, writing, and reading. Find us on Twitter from 9 – 10 p.m. Eastern tonight (1/16)! We’ll be discussing writing workshops and critique groups and how constructive criticism can improve your writing.
To participate, just follow the hashtag #K8chat — and remember to include it in your Tweets so everyone can see it. You can also follow me (@ecmyers) and Kate (@K8Tilton) on Twitter.
Visit Kate’s blog for more details on tonight’s chat and her upcoming chats, every Thursday at 9 p.m.