Welcome to the second feature on other independent authors. We’ll throw a bit of a spotlight on how they think and create their fantastic works.
We met Ruth Nestvold through the Online Writing Workshop for Science Fiction, Fantasy and Horror (more commonly known to members as the Oh-Dub-Dub) (and yes, there are a lot of OWW alumni who are fantastic writers). From her website’s biography, “She has sold stories to numerous markets, including Asimov’s, Strange Horizons, Scifiction, Gardner Dozois’s Year’s Best Science Fiction, and several anthologies. Her novella “Looking Through Lace” made the short list for the Tiptree award and was nominated for the Sturgeon award.
In 2007, the Italian translation won the “Premio Italia” for best international SF novel. Her “Big Fat Arthurian Fantasy” Flamme und Harfe (“Flame and Harp”) appeared with Random House Germany in 2009, and has since been translated into Dutch and Italian. The English original was published as Yseult: A Tale of Love in the Age of King Arthur in 2012.”
What’s the inspiration for your story? (or What’s the thing that makes you say, “Ooo, this is a story concept I can hang a novel on!” instead of just a neat-o idea to file away in the Curiosity Cabinet?)
Even if it sounds pedestrian, most of my ideas get filed away first, where they ferment for a while (or just moulder…). It isn’t until I take them out and play with them for a while, tossing them together with other ideas I’ve stored, that I start seeing ways they can become the underpinnings for a novel. Combining ideas that I at first never thought had anything to do with each other sometimes leads to that flash: Hey, that would be cool! I think I can run with that one! My novella Looking Through Lace, for example, came from the idea that a story about a women’s language would be cool, combined with wanting to tell a story revolving around the kind of cultural misunderstanding that comes from one culture applying its own rules and norms to another.
How do you find your characters’ voices? (or how did they find you?)
I tend to start with the idea and develop my characters to fit the story. To stick with the example of Looking Through Lace, my main character had to be female, since the women’s language could only be spoken among women. In order to have a position with the Allied Interstellar Research Association, she had to at least have a Ph.D. in Xenolinguistics. But since I wanted to throw her into a situation for which she wasn’t completely prepared, she couldn’t be too experienced either. Then I just started brainstorming and tossing ideas at her to see what would stick. And that’s how Toni Donato slowly started developing her voice.
Do you have a process for world building or do you just wing it and fill in the blanks as you go along?
I’ve tried winging it, but that doesn’t work very well for me. I need to have at least a basic framework for my world before I start writing or else I get stuck. As I write, I tend to come up with more details for my world, so I do fill in the blanks some, but it’s definitely not winging it. 🙂
How do you keep yourself motivated to stay on target? (or How do you not get bored with your current WiP? or How do you not get distracted with something new and shiny?)
I am usually working on several writing projects at a time in various stages of completion. Right now, I’m working on the second draft of a prequel to my Pendragon Chronicles books, Ygerna. Before that, I was finishing the first draft of an urban fantasy, Dragon Touched. I do also have all kinds of new ideas that are screaming to be written, but having more than one project that I’m working on in parallel helps a lot to keep me from getting bored.
If boredom strikes anyway, I like to sit down with pen and paper and start writing out the reasons this particular project interested me in the first place. If that’s not enough, I start brainstorming things I might be able to do or add to make it more interesting to me again. I like brainstorming with pen and paper. 🙂
You can visit Ruth at her site Ruth Nestvold – Indie Adventures and find her books here: