Tansy Rayner Roberts’ Power and Majesty has just burst forth onto the scene … a little like an alien birth but with more sequins and glitter … actually, come to think of it nothing like an alien birth, but with even more sequins and glitter, shiny fabrics and a lot of velvet. Her half of Twelfth Planet Press’ impressive two-fer, Siren Beat (the other half was Robert Shearman’s Roadkill) was an awesome look at how amazingly packed and engaging a compact piece of writing can be. Here, she disucussed the science of donuts and other stuff.
1. I love/hate writing to a theme because …
I love it usually because I come up with stories I wouldn’t have thought of otherwise. Having some kind of structure is good for me – faced with a blank page I come up blank, but my creativity needs limitations to rail against, in order to produce the good stuff. Which means, of course, if no one else is providing rules or themes then I have to make up rules for myself in order to blat against them like a bug on a windscreen.
2. I almost gave up writing when … but then …
Giving up *writing?* Are you high? I have stopped (paused) writing at various times, but that’s more of an “if I keep trying to write under these circumstances I will make my brain explode so I’m taking a little break now for the good of the universe” sort of thing. The longest period without writing was probably the one started during my first pregnancy, and that was to clear the decks for finishing my PhD thesis before the baby to came. Needless to say, the thesis *wasn’t* finished in time which blew the plan out and out, so I had a big gaping two year hole in my writing life that I am still papering over. The thought of giving up altogether is totally alien to me. Even when I wasn’t writing for publication, I was playing an RPG that involved producing thousands of words a month (um, okay a week). Let’s face it, I’m wordy. It’s all got to go somewhere.
3. What’s the worst bit of feedback you’ve ever had? Either in the sense of it being utter crap OR being so annoyingly awfully true that you wanted to eat your own head in annoyance?
“This book is not good for the following X, X and X reasons and pretty much I think I don’t want to be your agent any more so bye” was a bad one. I am paraphrasing, of course. There was also a “This book is not publishable, either you write a completely different book from scratch or… wait, did I say or? Nope, no or.” Ahh, my early 20’s, such fun times. The most frustrating feedback though is always when the critiquer is trying to turn the work into what they want rather than a better version of what it is – write your own damn book! I get stressed & defensive when people get judgy about my fictional characters and their life choices.
4. Which sale caused you to Snoopy Dance around the room?
It’s hard to look past my very first sale – going from 0 to novel at the age of 19 was a pretty extraordinary thing. I think I stopped breathing for about 12 hours. But really the sale of Power and Majesty meant the most to me – from submission to acceptance was about 8-9 months including a very nailbiting 48 hour period of “omg there’s going to be a MEETING at which my fate will be DECIDED” and at the end of it I felt like I had run a marathon despite the fact that I had really had little to do with the whole process once the original ms. was sent off.
5. Donuts (or doughnuts) or danishes?
Doughnuts, I think. Even a very cheap ordinary doughnut is most excellent when you dunk it in a cup of tea, whereas danishes are only good when they come from the fancy German bakery I never have time to go to. The best doughnuts are bought hot from a van at Salamanca Market, squidged into extremely ugly bulbous shapes, and are best eaten so fast that the hot sugar doesn’t have time to burn your fingers.
Book trailery goodness: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-h18RVylmXw