"My Writing Process" Blog Hop

This week, I am performing blog necromancy to participate in the Writing Process Blog Tour. Thanks to my good friend Maxwell at her blog The Wandering Quille for inviting me!

Be warned. Here there be hydras.

1. What am I currently working on? 

What am I not working on? I am the owner of a badly behaved plot hydra. What’s a plot hydra? Take a plot bunny. Before 50,000 words crawl onto the sheet, it gets severe Wheel of Time Syndrome. The bunny spawns several bunnies. It is no mere epic -- it’s an omniverse. It devours worlds, and stories. It spans type, and genre. Almost every single story idea I come up with, no matter how obscure or unrelated, somehow ends up being part of it. In fact, I am currently balancing three different epics, each of which I came up with independently over the past ten years, all of which ended up joining into one huge genre-spanning mess, which constantly spawns everything from one-off short stories to entire epics. I'm not going to go into every single plot bunny I'm working on, because within that pit lies the path to madness. (Though anyone who knows me well will tell you I fell into that pit long ago.)

However, here are the three main heads of my plot hydra:

  • Hrothgar's Lantern - This is a code name, because the series has yet to be named. It's primarily fantasy, and is a collected set of all the fleshed out legends that are referenced in Dark Arcana, and slightly in Deus Ex Machina. The central story is about Duía Tóbiasin, a young woman who dreams of being a sorceress. However, in that age, only men may inherit or study magical power. When she confronts the oracle of an ancient dragon god to sort out her predicament, he grants her an amulet that will let her hop between realms: her quest is to find a certain Betrayer, "rent his soul in twain," and bring back one of the pieces to the god. The story is about her discovering how far she is willing to go -- against society, against her conscience -- to achieve her ends. (Did I just, in fact, make that last bit up? Yes, I did. Funny how all the pieces can be there, but it comes together when explaining it.)
  • Dark Arcana - This is a science fiction/fantasy/steampunk time travel series. The ringship Arcaen has been traveling through space for 20,000 years. It's got another 2k years to go, but it's currently mired in a pocket of a strange galaxy, where eldritch beings from beyond the void are imprisoned. Then Ethan Brooke, a brilliant scientist, discovers the secret to breaching the gates of space and time, and all chaos breaks loose.
  • Deus Ex Machina - This is a science fiction-with-fantasy-plot epic. Michron Nebulon is a clone of the prince of humanity, and also a cyberpunk necromancer. When the prince disappears, Mike must embark upon a rescue mission through the murky recesses of the galactic VR network to trace the missing royal, and stumbles upon a cyberpunk conspiracy that stretches back towards the Dark Ages.

For July, I will be focusing on Extremities of Artificial Life, a virtual reality zen dystopian novel that delves into the backstory of the parents of one of DEM's MCs. It focuses on two young...humans...who have always lived on a utopian island city, where a powerful god entity living in the city grid gives everyone what they want, in return for their obedience. The people are programmed to be content, else suffer from anxiety, depression, and mental illness for deviant behavior.

2) How does my work differ from others of its genre? 

I’d like to think that it does, but let’s face it: I could make a laundry list of things that I try to do, but if past experience has taught me anything, I’d bet that I’d eventually come across other writers who have done each and every one of those things. It’s down to my characters, really; I just write what the adorable nutjobs in my head tell me to.. It may have been done before, but no one else could have come up with my characters, so my stories are new because my characters make them their own.

That said, while I make no claim to be the only person who does these things, I do enjoy pushing the envelope of genre boundaries. Dark Arcana has a plot that comes from fantasy, a “magic system” that is really science-based, people from all walks of life and history, and an aesthetic that is more or less steampunk. Its genre varies; it’s based on who the POV character is, and how much they know about what is going on with the workings of the world. Deus Ex Machina has an epic fantasy plot, but it’s probably the hardest science fiction out of my entire bunny collection. It takes place in spaceships, or cyberpunk virtual reality.

3) Why do I write what I do? 

Society will always tell you who to be,; reality will always tell you what you can’t do; popular culture will tell you what to like. Imagination has no such bar.

Some of the works that hit me over the head, and made me want to be a writer, were (including but not lomited to) the Time Quartet (Wrinkle in Time, A Swiftly Tilting Planet, etc.) by Madeleine L’Engle, Isaac Asimov’s robot stories and books, and the His Dark Materials trilogy by Phllip Pullman. These works were larger than life, and yet, still human; they taught me that anything was possible -- that the mundane could be magical, that the extraordinary need not necessarily be extraterrestrial. They taught me that magic was real, that science and imagination were extraordinarily powerful, and that people could shape their own reality. They taught me to look inward as well as outwards; they taught me what it was to be human.

Real life drums it into our heads that there are very few remarkable people, and that the rest of us are all ordinary. I write what I do because I want to believe that we can all be the hero. I want to believe that we haven’t forgotten the thrill of the new frontier, and that one day we’ll be living amongst the stars -- hopefully, without an apocalypse! I’d like to think that we have it in us to learn from our mistakes as a species.

I want to believe that we can all be free.

4) How does your writing process work?

Here’s where I should have some fancy answer that explains the magic, but really, I’m still trying to figure that out. I started off with the oldie-but-goodie, flying by the seat of my pants; while I came up with some great stuff that way, it also left a mess. Currently, I’m trying out various outlining techniques, in an effort to create a proper skeleton for the pants. I think my best strategy has really been pillaging structural elements from other stories similar to my own. I managed to finish one short story that way, so I suppose that counts as a success.

That’s about it, really.

Next week, tune in to my fellow writing buddy JadedKitteh at her blog Dragon Dreaming