Monday, 29 August 2011
Author Spotlight - Q&A wth Gloria Clover
STEPH: I don't much about Washed Under The Waves. What's it about?
GLORIA: My pitch line is: The Princess Bride meets the King of kings.
Washed Under the Waves is a speculative romance, set in the unknown future at such a time when the King sends out his children to reclaim his lost lands. The idea of the series is that each story will be set on a different island in the Archipelago of Solomnus. These islands are somewhere in our world that we just don't know about/see now (for whatever reason.) Each story will focus on a different prince or princess sent from the King and a responding heroine/hero that already resides on the island, dealing with a different deception that holds the people of that island captive.
In Washed Under the Waves, Prince Geoffrey Athan D'Ambrose is sent out first. He has some pride issues, so I gave him a sweet, guileless heroine in Lady Tayte Bashan. She knows she's a poor ruler and even wonders if she should be ruling at all.
But the King is always about bigger issues than the obvious ones, so he tells Athan to disguise himself as a tutor instead of the prophesied prince ... and the romance develops from there.
STEPH: Where did you find the inspiration for it?
GLORIA: This seems silly, but I decided I wanted to write a speculative novel in an unknown place because I wanted to work on writing better scene descriptions, and I hate to be told I got the facts wrong. So I thought: It's my made-up place. If I want loquats and plums growing on the same island, I'll make it that way.
Yep, that was the original spark for going speculative.
STEPH: How long did it take you to write?
GLORIA: Rough draft, probably about 10 months. I'm not a speedy writer and I only write a few hours a day, maybe on average 4 days a week.
STEPH: How important is setting to the novel?
GLORIA: I don't like writing description. I know it's important to have the reader grounded. Particularly in Fantasy and Sci Fi. But I'm not a big fan of details for the sake of details. I'm practicing and trying to be more setting oriented. But I'm not there yet.
5. Did you have to do a lot of research for the novel?
I am a Seat of the Pants researcher. I don't research until I hit a place in my novel and I need to know __________. Then I Google. And may I just say, the "I'm feeling lucky" button is my friend.
STEPH: Hollywood just told you they want to make a movie of your novel. Cast the leads!
GLORIA: Ah. This is the only novel where I ever picked a movie star before I wrote the book. I actually googled Orlando Bloom pictures and took notes on specific characteristics of his face. Then I closed out those pictures and wrote my descriptions of Athan from those notes.
Tayte's character actress needs to be young and innocent and able to do "simple." I'm not up on the up-and-coming young actresses. When I made the book trailer, I used Catherine Zeta Jones because I knew she had long, black hair, the most telling of Tayte's physical characteristics.
STEPH: What do you want people to take away from the novel?
GLORIA: That the King writes the best story for each of us. Life may be or seem like a pain, but God always has purpose. And though we think if we had the power, we would rule the world a better way, we're wrong. We'd just make it worse. (Look what we do with the limited power we have.) :-)
STEPH: Are you a plotter or a panster?
GLORIA: I plot gently. Loosely. Like I try to live. Willing to embrace whatever comes my way. I know some back story. I know some internal conflicts. I try to have a few external plot points to be working toward.
When I start writing Washed Under the Waves, I knew Undae's (the island's) history, so I knew Tayte's and her people's history. I didn't have much on Athan. He was from the King. He was going to be the best guy I could write (with pride issues.) At the end of the first chapter, when he sees Tayte's black hair for the first time, I wrote:
"It took him a moment to realize he had just ogled her like a slave trader preparing to purchase. It took him another moment to realize her hair was as black as the dungeon he’d been born in. Black as a storm night. Black as the hair of Undae royalty. She was the princess?"
Well, I knew all that except ... what's this about Athan being born in a dungeon? Where did that come from? He's a child of the King. But, suddenly, Athan had some back story, too.
And that's how I write.
STEPH: What's your writing space like?
GLORIA: The spare bedroom in our little white box. It's about 10' by 12' with two short, high windows. I can see nothing but clouds out the one my desk faces, except that they recently built a cell tower that sneaks into view i
STEPH: Tell us a little about the state you live in.
GLORIA: I'll make the distinction to say that I'm from western Pennsylvania, or PA as we say in PA. We have four seasons -- Pre-winter, Winter, Post-winter, and Road construction. Actually, we do have very distinct, all four seasons here. This year we had a wet spring and a quite warm summer for this area. Usually we have only one week where the temperatures reach 90 degrees. This year we had nearly a month. I've heard that we are the third most overcast area in the USA. That's easy to believe it is true.
I still live in a rural area, small farms, helpful neighbors. Don't be afraid to drive if you want to go anywhere, but Pittsburgh, Erie, and Youngstown, OH are all within an hour's drive. We call the carbonated drinks, "pop." We often pronounce the small river (creek) as what most people get in their necks (crick), and wash often comes out like "warsh." And if you hear someone use the phrase "yins," yeah, well, that's western PA for the plural you. Here's my last colloquialism:
Back in the day, when I was writing my first full novel and had set it in western PA (write what you know), I had my heroine straightening her home before the hero arrived. In western PA we call that "redding up" the house. I didn't have any clue how to spell the word. I'd never seen it in print. Befuddled, I asked my mother. She calmly explained that was just a word used around here and that I should probably choose another. I couldn't think of another word. I still remember her face when she suggested, "Clean."