Happy spring! Hope your weekend is off to a great start. Today as part of Small Press Month celebration, I'm featuring another author interview -- this one with Karen Lee Field. Enjoy...and don't forget to leave your comments for a chance to win that prize pack of books!
Welcome, Karen...Can you tell us a little about your background?
I mainly write fantasy for adults and children, but I’ve recently ventured into paranormal stories too.
Over the years I have attempted to help unpublished writers cross over into the published world. In 2003, I organised a competition and asked Australian authors Jennifer Fallon and Fiona McIntosh to read and judge the stories submitted and then give feedback, which they did. It was inspiring for all the writers concerned to receive feedback of this type. I’ve also run year long workshops through my website where writers help writers by giving in-depth critiques over several edits until each and every writer (those who stay the distance, of course) has a polished short story to submit for publication. I’m pleased to say that several of those short stories have now been published.
As a writer I know how difficult it is to get noticed in a world where every second person wants to write the next best-seller. I’ve seen some trash in my time, but I’ve also seen some gems that deserve publication and it was those manuscripts that forced me to try and bring their authors into the lime light.
That's wonderful -- I always love to hear about authors giving back. When did you first begin writing? Was there an event or moment in your life that triggered your desire to write?
I was about 11 years old when a teacher asked us to write a short story as homework. The only stipulation given was that it had to have a beginning, middle and end. My story was a mystery, which I was extremely proud of. On the day our stories had to be read out in class I sat and listened to a lot of rubbish, still pleased with my own efforts. And then a boy stood up and read a story about a spider and its web. I was transported into an imaginary world of colour and wonder. I was the spider! When the boy sat down, I looked at my story through different eyes and knew my story did not compare to what I had just experienced. I vowed at that moment to improve. That spider and its web have been my inspiration ever since.
Great story! Now, tell us about your latest writing project or published title.
In 2007 I decided that I would organise the publication of an anthology. I enlisted the help of Sasha Beattie, editor, and Heather Anderson, artist, and together we sifted through almost 140 submissions. The end result is “Speculative Realms: Where there’s a will, there’s a way”.
The anthology brings together thirteen original stories by authors around the world. They are stories of fantasy, science fiction and horror for adults which will entertain, provoke, startle, amuse and resonate long after the last page has been turned. The stories are themed, but there are unexpected twists which make them unpredictable.
Sounds intriguing...I'm sure some of my blog readers would love to pick that up! How do you go about developing your characters?
I believe characters are as important as the overall plot, if not more important. I like to write a brief storyline for each of the main characters. It’s important to remember that everyone sees the same event or situation differently. They have motives, backgrounds and personalities that differ, so it’s important to know how each person will react to the events unfolding around them and why. Naturally, their reaction will sometimes spark another reaction from other characters and you need to know where all this leads. With luck, you’ll end up with lots of tension…which always keeps the reader interested.
What advice would you give to new writers just starting out?
Write. Don’t talk about it or dream about it. Do it.
I have a lot of people tell me that they can finish a short story without much trouble, but they can’t seem to finish a novel length project. I believe planning a project of this type is essential. How much planning is done is up to the individual. You might want to plan every detail – character profiles, chapter scenes, individual plotlines, etc. Or, you might do just as well with a brief outline which prompts you towards the next plot point. Whatever type of writer you are…knowing the beginning, middle and end will give you a good guarantee that you’ll finish the project. And remember, every word you write takes you one word closer to the end.
Do you ever suffer from writer's block? If so, what do you do about it?
In my opinion, writer’s block doesn’t exist. Distractions, being unprepared and laziness exist and they are the things we have to learn to deal with. Being a writer takes discipline. If you can’t force yourself to stop playing computer games when you are supposed to be writing, get rid of the games. If the internet distracts you, delete access to it from your computer or simply unplug the cable for an hour and force yourself to write. Don’t whine about it. You either want to write or you don’t.
I’m in control, so if my mind is blank, then I’m either too tired to write or I haven’t done enough planning to know where my story is going. Either way, I shouldn’t be blaming something that doesn’t exist.
Ah yes, discipline -- I heartily agree! Karen, thanks so much for being here today. Is there anything else you’d like to mention?
If you want to purchase a copy of the anthology “Speculative Realms: Where there’s a will, there’s a way” or if you want to find out more about the stories and authors, visit the Speculative Realms website – http://www.speculativerealms.com/
If you want to find out what I’m doing, feel free to visit me at Scribe’s Writing Desk – http://www.karenleefield.com/