Some really lovely reviews/contests have been coming in!
- Mihir over at Fantasy Book Critic did a great review of Spirit Eater and Spirit's Oath, my Miranda short story! They're also giving away a signed copy of the Omnibus through March 10th, so don't forget to put your name in the hat!
- Tor.com had a great, very in depth review of the omnibus as a whole. In addition, Stefan (author of the Tor review) is giving away ANOTHER copy of the Omnibus on his own (fantastic) review blog, Far Beyond Reality. This give away ends today, though, so hurry over before it's too late!
Also, I have been darting about the internet writing things both about writing and about my own books! Here's a round up:
- I wrote a post for Orbit all about Nico, so if you want to know more about how the little demonseed came to be, please be sure to check it out!
- I did a guest post for fantasy writing blog Magical Words all about tension, complete with visual aids!
- And I did an interview for Waterworld Mermaids about writing and the Eli series. Very awesome site, so happy they invited me over!
Ok, enough business, let's do some questions!
@Mathew_Braun asks How do you write characters whose experiences and background are different than your own?
This is actually something I struggle a lot with. As I mentioned in my Nico post for Orbit, I had a lot of trouble with Nico because of exactly this reason. Nico is shy, I am emphatically not. She's also quiet, I talk more than Eli (not really, but that apple didn't fall far from the tree, if you get me). The experiences and backgrounds are less trouble for me than the character themselves. Experience and background are really just the stimulus, it's the character's reaction to that stimulus where things get really hairy.
Writing characters who are not only different from me, but different in ways I have trouble understanding, is something I think I'll struggle with for the rest of my life. But it's a good sort of struggle, the growing kind. With Nico, I had to slow down, listen, and do a LOT of rewriting before I got her down. It was a slow, messy approach, but that's the rough part of trying to make your characters people. People tend to be messy, and just like with friends you don't understand, sometimes you've got to slow down and talk to your characters before they'll come clean, or talk at all. In the end, though, you get a diverse and deep cast that can hold you through several books, and that's worth a lot of effort.
Jessi in the email box asks How much control do you have over your covers?
There are two answers to this - a bunch and almost none. My publisher, the ever amazing Orbit Books, actively solicits my input on every part of the Eli books. However, publishers are in business to make money, and while they work with me a lot, in the end, they choose the cover they think will sell the most copies. I'm happy they do this, because I also want to sell many copies so I don't have to go out and get a real job again. The cover they choose might not always be the one I envisioned in my dreams, but it's almost always good, and if I have serious issues, the art department listens and does their best to compromise with me. I've never had a cover I flat out hated (thank god), but I will admit I like the new covers a LOT more than the old ones.
They just look so much more "this is a fantasy series" to me.
Of course, this is just the experience of one publisher and one author. Every house works differently. I've known some authors who were involved every step of the design and others who didn't see their cover until it was up on Amazon. Most authors fall somewhere in the middle, but if you're a new author (or a hope to be new author) and you have strong opinions about your cover, make them clear (in a polite way) right from the start, and then get ready to compromise.
As the author, you do have some measure of final veto power, and that can be tempting to use, especially if you hate your cover. Before you fire the nuke, though, consider, no one wants your book to do better than your publisher. If they have a cover, they picked it for a reason. They paid money for that cover. Digging in your heels and saying NO helps no one. Instead, try to figure out how the cover can be changed to make it less odious. Publishing is a small town, and no one benefits from burned bridges.
Well, I hope that was entertaining! As always, if you have a question about Eli/publishing/writing you'd like me to answer, please send it to me via Twitter or through my contact form. I look forward to seeing it!
Thank you for reading, and as always, thank you for helping to make Eli a success!