Hello everyone! Today, I’m very pleased to have as my guest blogger one of my fellow Damnation Books authors Naomi Clark here to answer a few questions. Naomi lives in Cambridge, England. A mild-mannered office worker by day, Naomi is somewhat obsessed with giant creatures of the sea and is a devoté of 80s cartoons. Naomi’s novel, Afterlife, has just been released in e-book form by Damnation Books (see cover below), and her novel Silver Kiss is set for release next year (2010).
Jason: Naomi, your e-novel Afterlife was just released. Tell us a little about it.
Naomi: Afterlife is a tale of supernatural murder, ghosts, ghouls, demons and cocktails, starring Yasmin Stoker, a vampire-hunting wraith. On one of her regular hunts, she witnesses a mysterious ghostly girl pulling the body of a teenage boy underground. Who – and what – is this girl? And why is she attacking men around the city? Yasmin investigates, but it quickly becomes clear that somebody wants to keep her from finding the killer and they’ll do anything – including ambushing her with ghouls and cacodaemons – to stop her.
Jason: Is this novel the first of a series? How do you see the storyline developing?
Naomi: I certainly plan to make it a series. I’ve just started the sequel, Afterburn, and hope to write at least one more book after that. The main storyline will focus on Yasmin’s personal journey as she comes to terms with her own past. But she also has a potential demon war to contend with, not to mention the fallout from the events of Afterlife (can’t really say anything without giving spoilers, but here’s a hint: vampires! Necromancers! Angst!)
Jason: You also have a series of books contracted with Queered Fiction, starting with Silver Kiss, which is due out next year. What is that series about?
Naomi: Silver Kiss is the first of the Urban Wolf novels, a follow-on from my short story Wolf Strap, which was published earlier this year as part of an anthology. This series focuses on the werewolf Ayla, a lone wolf who has chosen to return to her pack, and all the complications that causes. Silver Kiss itself is probably best described as “Fight Club with werewolves, and also some drug dealers.” I’m very excited about its release next year. :)
Jason: When did you start writing? What were some of your early influences?
Naomi: I’m not entirely sure... I’ve always written, ever since I was very young. I started writing seriously when I was in my early teens. I wrote several (very bad) fantasy novels before doing a degree in creative writing and really honing my skills. Once I graduated, I wrote several (better) novels, and have been lucky enough to find homes for some of them. As far as early influences go, I loved Tamora Pearce’s YA fantasies, as well as Stephen King. The first urban fantasy I read was one of Mercedes Lackey’s, but it wasn’t until I discovered Anita Blake that I knew I really wanted to write urban fantasy.
Jason: Are there any particular themes to your writing? How do you come up with ideas?
Naomi: I usually find themes after I’ve finished the book – I rarely set out with any in mind! Ideas come in all forms – often I’ll find a character before I find a story, and start from there. Sometimes I end up cannibalizing old plots and characters and using them in new novels. One of the characters in Afterlife started out in a completely different series and had a completely different role, but he fit perfectly into Afterlife.
Jason: What’s the hardest part of writing for you, and how do you deal with it?
Naomi: I’m not very good at endings! I always end up expanding them in the second draft, as I tend to rush through the climactic end scene and leave a rather messy conclusion. The only solution I’ve found so far is to leave the book alone for a week or so, then go back and start reworking. Distance and perspective work wonders.
The other hard part, for me, is the fact that I have a day job to deal with, too, one that involves sitting at a computer all day. Sometimes when you get home after spending seven hours at a computer, the last thing you want to do is stare at a screen all evening, as well, even if it’s to do something you love. I’m still working on a permanent solution to this, but so far it’s just a case of “man up and do it.”
Jason: Are you more comfortable writing short stories or novels?
Naomi: Both, I think. My degree comprised short story writing for the most part, so for three years I hardly did any novel writing at all. I think the skills used in writing shorts are really valuable in writing novels, so I try to keep my hand in it by doing both. Novels are more fun though – there’s more time to get into world-building, character arcs, and so on.
Jason: What advice can you give to aspiring writers out there?
Naomi: Three things: Read, write, study. You need to read voraciously if you want to be a writer. You need to know what’s out there and what other people are doing. Be aware of what’s happening in your genre.
And obviously you need to write, or you’ve got no hope.
As for learning, that’s twofold. First, you’ve got to have the basic skills to put together a good story. Imagination alone isn’t enough – you need grammar, punctuation, pacing, world-building, all the gritty behind-the-scenes stuff. Without this, you’re going to have a hard time, so make sure you hone your craft!
Second: research, research, research! Before you even think of submitting a book to an agent or publisher, do your homework. The internet is full of sites that give advice to writers, and you should read as much of it as you can. There are plenty of bad agents, scam artists, and pitfalls out there for newbies, so arm yourself in advance.
Jason: What other projects or stories do you have coming out you’d like to highlight?
Naomi: Well, aside from Silver Kiss and its sequels (2010 and 2011), I have a short story titled Deadline due out in the January 2010 issue of Midnight Times e-zine. It’s a speculative fiction piece I wrote at university and am very proud of!
That’ll wind things up for now. Thanks Naomi for giving us some very interesting insight into your writing and creative process. Feel free to stop by any time. Good luck to you on all your future writing endeavors!
You can check out Naomi’s fiction at: http://www.naomiclark.net/. And coincidentally, I’m on Naomi’s blog, answering a few of her questions today, as well: http://naomi-jay.livejournal.com/179532.html?view=925516#t925516.
Bye for now!