Thursday, August 29, 2013

Interview with Hercules Editing

Just a quick post to link to an interview I recently completed with BZ Hercules of Hercules Editing and Consulting Services, who, by the way, have great prices on editing for any Indie Authors still in need. I have not personally used their services yet, but they are on my short list of considerations when I get to that point. Anyway, please check the interview out here:

Here's a snippet:

In exploring her characters, Bissell paints a picture of some complicated and intense personalities. “Ruth is a woman stuck in a rut. She is married to her high school sweetheart who turns out not to be the man she once fell in love with and now she needs a way out. She is naive but tough and determined. She can be impulsive and stubborn. She is slow to trust.
“Julien is a conflicted being with a good heart but a need for blood against which he can't fight. He is indecisive and uses alcohol to quiet his thoughts. He does not trust himself."

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Why I write about the places I've been

Those who know me personally, and maybe some who know me only virtually, know I love to travel. I've been fortunate to have been to many amazing places; Jamaica, Guatemala, Ireland, France, and many places throughout the US and Canada. I've also lived in many interesting locations, if even for a month at a time; my small hometown in North Central Iowa, Iowa City and Cedar Rapids, IA, Minneapolis, MN, Warsaw, MO, Kansas City, MO, La Antigua, Guatemala among others. These places have stuck with me even years after my time spent there.

That is why I write about these places. Sure, I could imagine being in many other locations and write about those. I'm sure I could do the research about those places and make it seem authentic enough. Many authors do this and do it quite successfully. I, however, find it much more real and raw to write about places I can see in my head, not because I've found photos on Flicker or looked at Google Maps, but because I can remember them from my own experience. Much like I try to use personal experience to enhance emotional content, or personality traits I've witnessed in myself, family, friends or strangers to enhance authenticity in my characters, I find that using places with which I am familiar makes them that much more real in my mind and hopefully that of my readers'.

My upcoming Novel, Beyond the Reach of Judgement features many places including Kansas City, MO, Las Vegas, Niagara Falls and Warsaw, MO. While in the big picture, my intimate knowledge of these places may not matter to the story's plot or flow, I feel that my personal experience has been valuable in several key aspects. For example - early in the plot my main male character, Julien, finds himself in a not so great part of town intentionally with ill-intent. How did I know where in Kansas City to send Julien for this story? Besides the fact that this neighborhood appears on countless lists of "Most-dangerous," I also use to live there. Here are some of my photos:

My old apartment building in the old Kansas City Osteopathic Hospital. While it does not appear in my story, it is interesting none the less.
My medical school was right across the street (thankfully) and was the main reason I choose to live in this neighborhood. It is a beautiful, but out-of-place campus, in a very old part of Kansas City
Next door, was the Seven Eleven.
 And these hotels, do feature in my story and were next door to the above Seven Eleven.

But it's more than just knowing the "bad parts" of town and the "good parts" of town, because most readers, unless they too have lived in those places, wouldn't know the difference and may not even care about the accuracy in a Paranormal Romance or Urban Fantasy novel. It's about knowing the vibe of the City and its people. It's about being able to understand that it could be possible for my characters to be what and who they are and do the things I wish them to do in that environment. It is because I can picture Julien living at 909 Walnut or similar highrise loft and driving through the streets to Independence Avenue to the motels rumored to have prostitutes in their walls and then later to party it up in The Plaza and Power and Light District. I've driven those same roads and walked those same streets. I've eaten at those restaurants and danced at those clubs.

By the way, for some awesome and stunning photos of Kansas City - recommend Eric Bower's Flickr Stream.

Niagara Falls at Dusk and Night:

Las Vegas:

I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject. Is firsthand experience important to making a location feel real or am I just a lazy/poor/unimaginative writer looking for excuses to show off my travel photography?