Monday, March 6, 2017

On Writing Kissed By Fire: Notes on the Creative Process

First in a new series...I'm going to start blogging about my books as I finish them, just to document my process, research and any other notes of interest. 

My latest novel, Kissed by Fire, was inspired by my never ending desire to do something different. So I delved into the sea and wrote my interpretation of mermaid mythology, mixing it with a little astrology and adding in the cursed dragon brothers I introduced in Kiss the Dragon.

Some choices I made about the sea and mermaids:

1. Ariel is real and so is the sea witch...but it all happened so very long ago. It's more myth than fact to the mermaids in Kissed by Fire. Early feedback from first readers indicated they thought I was retelling The Little Mermaid so I had to better clarify how my world worked in rewrites. (I also re-read the original fairy tale which was a mind trip as it's obvious whoever came up with that tale knew nothing about the ocean or science.)

2. I challenged myself to have Mila's thoughts and setting descriptions in the book reflect the sea. I worked hard to create new idioms, metaphors and comparisons and remove anything that was too human. I constantly considered her environment--the sights, sounds and textures that made up her world--and how that would show up in the way she spoke and thought.

3. The sea witch ties into Greek mythology and is loosely based on Oceanus, a Titan who encircled the earth. I changed Oceanus' gender to female and didn't give her a body so much as the ability to attract mass to form one. She was my favorite character to write. I loved working with all the tentacles I gave her.

4. Did you know sound travels faster underwater than it does on land? I didn't use telepathy in my mermaids because of that. They vocalize across distance a lot like whales and dolphins do. Over the years, I've done a lot of research about the ocean, and whenever possible, I design my mermaids or undersea characters based on biology vs. magic. (Obviously, the sea witch is an exception!)

5. My 'sign' for the Zodiac Shifters series was Pisces, and as I wrote, I had no idea how I would incorporate the astrology in my story. When I started Kissed by Fire, I wasn't part of Zodiac Shifters so I had to think about how to insert the ZS theme into the book. 

As I researched, I discovered that the two fish used to represent Pisces are actually Eros and Aphrodite (gods of love!) in disguise as they try to get way from one of the Titans. That was the tidbit that allowed me to integrate them into the plot line...although I didn't quite see how all the astrology and mythology would tie together until I wrote it.

So there you have it. Some of the behind-the-scenes that went into Kissed by Fire. As far as the actual writing...it went a little like this...

It took two years and weeks of 16 hour days to finish this book. The characters were difficult from the beginning and they totally went off the reservation at one point...doing things I hadn't planned and refusing to cooperate with the plot I had laid out. It was one of those books where I had to follow the characters and trust I could fix any problems in edits. (Every book is different. Some come easy, some come hard. Kissed by Fire was a complete and utter a**hole!) 

I thought battling with this book was difficult, but the universe saw fit to give me a lesson in what hard really looks like. In the middle of my last round of edits, my father almost died from surgical complications. I lost several weeks of working time just when I needed them the most. 

My job as a writer is fairly flexible...except when I have a deadline and am pushing to get a book done and published. I somehow juggled days in the ICU with the last of my edits and got something out to Beta and ARC readers by the skin of my teeth. Somehow I made it. I'm still not quite sure how.

My dad made it, too! He's slowly recovering at home now and I'm very thankful for that!

In addition, I also workshopped parts of the story in my Odyssey winter workshop. This helped me tighten my writing and bring clarity to my world building. Kissed by Fire is the first book I've written that's been part of a professional level workshop.

Kissed by Fire was supposed to be a novella, short and sweet, but it stubbornly stretched and stretched until it turned into a full blown novel. I'm so glad it's finally DONE! Woo hoo!

As always, it's a fast-paced story with several surprises. You may think you know what's going to happen, but you don't. At one point, I wasn't even sure who was actually still alive!

Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoy Kissed by Fire! If you want to learn more about the story, you can find the blurb etc... over here.

Michelle

Note:Typos happen. Professional editors do not review my blog posts.You might spot an error because I am human*. You're welcome to point it out, but abusive language or tone (and that has happened, sadly) will not be tolerated.

*with aging eyes and dyslexia to boot!

3 comments:

  1. Sounds like an extremely complicated business writing books. Especially when it fights you all the way. I enjoyed reading your blog and look forward to reading many more. Also so very glad to hear your Dad is recuperating back at home now. I hope he is feeling much better every day. Thanks for letting us in on your creative process.   ;)

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