Monday, February 26, 2024

More questions from my recent interview

This Week's Newsletter

This week's newsletter contains the following features:
(Feel free to skip ahead to what you want to read)

What's new with Ashleigh?

This week, I am posting the remaining questions from an interview I did in one of my writing servers last month. (You can read the earlier interview questions here and here.

Arctic Druid
You have some really cool names for your locations!
Which one is your favorite?
And do you have any other favorite world builds?

While I made up some of my character and place names, I used ancient Manx for a few of them. I think my favorite is Etoid Waefkysm. It means "Fair Winds" and is the name of the port city on the arctic side the the sea.

I also really loved building each location. For the smaller villages, I wanted it to be primitive, similar to a Native American village before the arrival of the Europeans. The cities are more like what I imagine port cities to be during colonial American times. And the druid's home? Its how I imagine a well-learned hermit would live if he secluded himself in the arctic.

It's cool that you had a general idea, then figured it out as you went.
Are you usually a Plantser?
Or was this trying something new?

I am totally a plantser. My first finished novel, I developed a detailed outline. But my characters had different ideas. So I gave up outlining as a general rule. This book was a more detailed outline (and was still pretty minimum compared to some plotters I know) than I have used in quite some time.

I'm curious what made you outline this one!
Was there something about the story that made you think outlining was needed?
Or was it the fact that it was a series?

This book was a derby project. When I was looking at all the covers, I wanted to make sure I could write a story for each cover I selected. Just because the cover was pretty didn't mean I knew what would happen. I meant to just scribble out a few lines, but the story just spewed out, including the sequel.

Now that I'm thinking about this, I went into the derby knowing I wanted to do a book for younger readers and something told me to do a hero's quest outline. I forgot if the book inspired the outline or the rough draft of the outline inspired the hero's quest. But i do remember sitting down and seeing how that one page rough sketch could fit into the hero's quest formula. And it was surprisingly easy, which is probably why the book was easier to write. It was as if the story was calling to me.

How did the cliffhanger thing work out for you?
Did you succeed? Were there places where it was hard to get a cliffhanger to work?
And do you have a favorite among the ones you came up with?

I have done cliffhangers once before, so I thought it would be easy. In fact, I'm finding it very difficult on the sequel. But for Arctic Druid, I think most of the scenes were cliffhangers.

Some worked out well, like the one where Eamon is freezing and closes his eyes at night uncertain if he will ever open them again. Or where he is confronted by a band of theives and looks to a friend, only to find the friend has joined the bad guys.

Other chapters, the cliffhangers aren't as exciting. There is one chapter that is different from the rest; it is more a journal entry describing how the darkness was formed and how to get rid of it. That one doesn't really end in a cliffhanger. And there are others that are just like (I'm paraphrasing because I don't have the book in front of me) "He set off into the unknown." Not exactly stopping in the middle of the action or anything but just enough to add some mystery.

As for a favorite? Thats tough. I think I'm a little too close to the story because I like almost all of them. There's the chapter that ends with the friend turning sides. And the one that ends with the druid telling Eamon...something important, but I don't want to ruin the story for you. I also like the one near the beginning where the village elder nominates Eamon for the quest. Or the one where Eamon runs away.

Do you have a question you would like me to answer?
Reply to this email and I will answer it in a future email.

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