Saturday, November 12, 2011

Writer spotlight

Nina graciously requested me to be a guest on her blog, and I decided to return the favor and have her on my blog, so without further adieu I Introduce you to her take it away Nina.

Firstly, when did you realise that you were a writer?

I've actually always been a writer, or ar least one for as long as I can recall. I always wrote short stories and I've kept from the time I was old enough to write coherant sentences. I was about 16 when I started thinking being an author would be an amazing job, but considered it a pipedream. It wasn't until I was 26 and realised Journalism wasn't keeping my interest as much as I thought it would, I started playing with the idea of writing a novel.

It's only been over the last few years I've thought about it seriously and in the last year, it's become my sole goal to finish the first draft of nowhere to run and go from there.

Do you have a specific writing style?

My writing style tends to be that I write in the style of a movie. From scene to scene. I cover the thoughts of each character and want to project the feeling that my readers are watching a movie inside of their head. It comes from being a huge movie buff and in some ways the influence of Quintin Tarrentino.

Can you tell me a little about the current projects you are working on and what stage of finish they are at?
I'm currently working on Nowhere to Run. It's the first draft (although I have edited it about five times to ensure it is perfect) and I'm 285 pages into it. It's about 98,000 words so far and I'm close to the end of it. The idea is to finish it by the end of December, so I can do a first edit, a rewrite and then a second edit and then if needed another rewrite.

on top of that I have started writing Live and Let Die, but have pushed it aside for now. I've got a million and one ideas for novels and want to work on a few character's I have developed within my head. If I have my way, I will be a very prolific writer.
Is there a specific genre that you prefer to write for, and if so what is it and why?

I'm currently writing crime, but I'd like cross over every genre. A Million to one is also a crime novel but I have a vampire series in the works as well and I'd like to try my hand at romance. One thing that has started to intrigue me is the many crime writers who actually start as romance writers.

When did you start playing with the idea of writing a novel and what inspired it?

I don't think I consciously started thinking about writing a novel so much as I was playing around on a Saturday night and started writing, What started off as something that came to mind turned into a prologue and then a chapter and then two chapters and so forth. The inspiration came from reading too many James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell novels.

How hard has the journey been - both emotionally and mentally, on yourself as a writer?

Emotionally and mentally a writer's job is always hard. People who don't write don't understand the days you have bursts of writing when it consumes you and all you can think about it getting those words out. Then there are the days where you stare at the blank screen for hours on end, not knowing what to write. Add in the juggling a 'day' job because you can't afford to stay at home and write just yet (Isn't that every writer's ultimate fantasy), time restraints and the constant self-criticism and uncertainty as to whether you will be published, and you've got a basketcase waiting to happen.

Can you tell me what you've learnt so far?

If you don't try, you will never get anywhere. It's taken me a long time to realize I have to try my hand as an author, otherwise I will drive myself crazy with all the what ifs. I've learnt I need to have a thick skin. I'm not sure if I am there yet, but I am trying to develop one. I have learnt that it's ok to self-doubt as long as you don't allow you to cripple it.
I've also learnt that there are a lot of terrible novels out there from writers who probably should never have been published. If they can get published, then there is hope for me.
I've learnt you need a great editor. You need patience, tolerance and a certain amount of insanity to stay sane.

I've learnt that I am a stronger writter that I would have thought of myself. That, there are so many other writers out there trying to make it and unless you do something different, your novel wil just be one of many agents see. You need to make it special and stand out from others. On top of that, I've learnt write everyday. Even if it is one sentence. Write. The more you write, the easier it becomes. The more you write, the better you will become.

And read. Read the genre you want to write for. Read the hottest books out there at the moment just so you know the market that is appealing to readers. If you're writing crime, read books about crime procedures. Read true crime. Read novels about profilers. If you're writing a medical drama, read about medical procedures.

Research, research, research. Research your market. Research so when you write, your scenes are accurate.

Some writers prefer to write in the morning, locked away in the study. Others at night. What is your own writing process and are there certain quirks you have that are uniqely you?

I prefer to write at night, but it does not always happen. I do have a day job, which means that night is the only time I can write. I try and write at least a couple of thousand words a night, but it doesn't always happen. Sometimes, I am so drained, I don't feel like it. Weekends are my writing time and the nights become my haven. Throw in music and coffee, and you have my idea of pure heaven.

I don't think I have certain quirks when it comes to writing. I tend to have a notepad by my laptop when I write so I can add notes to the notepad about what needs to be written further down the track. I have to listen to music when I write, simply because it inspires me and I need the ability to block out noise yet have noise at the same time.

Which writers inspire you?

I read a lot. Every genre. I'm the original book whore. I'll try any novel at least once. Writers that currently inspire me are Beverly Barton, J.T Ellison and Tess Gerritsen. They are all amazing crime writers, with exceptionally strong characters. When I first realized I loved writing and wanted to be one I was about 16 and I was reading Jackie Collins. I wanted to be the next Jackie Collins. I still admire her writing and her characters. I think James Patterson is someone to be admired. His novel Kiss the Girls is one of my favorites. It's very well written and just twisted in the same twisted way I'd like to write. On top of that he is the king of self marketing. He controls every aspect of his novel- from the PR, the advertising, the writing, the marketing - everything - It's not something all writers have the pleasure of and it's admirable.

other writers that inspire me are Stephen King, Anne Rice, JR Ward, Julie Kagawa, Meg Cabot, Lori Foster, Norah Hess, Madeline Baker, Hannah Howell, F Scott Fitzgerald, Cassandra Claire, and Ilona Andrews. I could name a million and one ways.

How do you think they have influenced your own writing?

James Patterson and Patricia Cornwell definitely influenced my genre of choice. Jackie Collins has influenced the use of strong female characters are with Patterson have influenced me to write with plenty of twists and turns. I think a lot of the time we are influenced by writers without realizing it.

Is there anything you find particularly challenging when writing (Research, psychological, literary etc?

Staying dedicated is tough. Psyching yourself up to believe that you can do this, that success is just around the corner can be a challenge. Researching for me is fun. I've been lucky enough to read enough books to know that certain aspects of my novel already but I enjoy other aspects. It's amazing how much research you can require at one time and then how little you require at others. I tend to choose places I have either been to or lived at, so it makes the experience of writing about it more surreal and more realistic. The current novel is in Los Angeles, where I've previously lived and been back plenty of times since.

My biggest self challenge is pushing self-doubt aside. It can hold me back. I feel as if I am doing it all for nothing but also know that even if I am not published through a big publishing firm or picked up by an agent, I am ultimately writing for myself. I write because I enjoy writing. I write because I don't know how not to and I write for friends and family, who want to read my writing.

You're currently working with an editor to complete your novels and make them agent worthy - what tips would you give other writers searching for a good editor?
I'm currently not looking for an editor, but that is a process I will be taking up soon. There are associations within Australia where I can find professional editors and I will look into them. I also have friends who are editors from my time studying Professional Writing and Editing. In my experience you need an editor you feel that you can trust and one you are going to like and who is going to like you. You need an editor who is going to be firm but gentle. Whether we believe it or not, all writers including myself - have egos and our novels are our babies. They need to be truthful and brutal but gentle and prepared to hold your hand at times.

I think it's important to get referrals from other people who have used an editors services. Get examples of their editing style and see if it will work for yourself. Get an editor who is going to be willing to go the long haul with you. That means going through many rewrites with you, what is and what is not working. Get an editor who is prepared to tell you what is not working but is willing to accept that you are the writer and ultimately you will know what works for you. You may not always agree with each other but you need to find a common ground with each other. If an editor works for you, then stick with them. What can make a career for you, can also make a career for an editor.

Research prices. I have not had the chance to do this yet myself, but it's important to find out what is the best cost and compare it to other editors. You don't want to underpay an editor but you don't want to overpay them either.

Ultimately they may edit your work, but you need to remember you are the one in control. You just need to be prepared to let your novel be culled sometimes it will be done brutally and other times not so much. See it as a process that will help reshape your novel into the best it can be.

In your opinion what makes a book worth reading?

Strong characters, a well developed plot and a writing style that flows effectively. I am very dialogue driven, so I enjoy novels that are the same. I hate novels that are overly descriptive and underly descriptive. For me, I need to be able to lose myself in the novel completely. The novel - even if it is fantasy needs to be completely believable to me. If it is not, then it is not working.

As a writer, the changes to technology have both open and closed a number of literary doors. What do you think are both the good and bad points of the introduction of e-books?

The new technology is both exciting and scary. I'd prefer to be published in hard copy but if it's e-book format then I would be ok with that too. The ideal would be to be published in both. I recently read an interview with a series of book store owners who say that as much as people are increasingly buying ebooks, they believe hard copy novels will never go out of style. People have the need to read hard copy. They love the feel of a fresh new book and the smell. There is something soothing in owning book physically. From my point of a view as a reader, I never go anywhere without my kindle. I read prolifically and quickly. I can read a 300 page book in 90 minutes. It makes more sense for me to carry a kindle. Having said that, I still buy hard copy books to read at home because I like being able to curl up with a book and flip the pages. It is less clinical than reading a kindle at home.

The good point with the new technology is that it does open more doors and allows us as writers to have a foray in many different writing markets. However, the bad points are it can make it tougher to break into the writers market. E-books are the latest trend but I think this new technology can disconnect readers from writers.
What's your next project?
the Next project is Live and Let Die but I also plan on making Nowhere to Run as part of a series. I have ideas for at least 15 novels based on this series. I also have a short story called The Perfect Crime I'd like to turn into a full fledged novel. A vampire/fallen angel/witch apocalypse series to write and a handful of romance idea including a series about a family. Basically, I have a lot of ideas that need to be developed.
And last Where do you see yourself in 5 years time?

Published, with an amazing agent. I'd like to be back in the States, particularly because most of my novels are set there. For me, I am no longer thinking if I get published and now when I get published.

You can contact Nina D'Angelo through her blog or through twitter janinedangelo and her facebook page Nina D'Angelo- author) All the links you can find on my contact me page as well as a generic bio with additional details.

1 comment:

Keisha Martin said...

It was a pleasure participating in my first author/writer interview Nina is so awesome.