I’m really excited to share the below video podcast on Meet the Author. Despite ridiculous nerves, it was great fun and I think it went well. I hope you like it, too!
The Shadows We Make – Reader Question #3
As you may know if you’ve read prior posts, I invited the followers on the Jo Allen Ash Facebook page to send me questions they might have about The Shadows We Make—characters, settings, something they might be wondering about the writing process, or whatever (within reason) interested them. The third question, from D.H., is:
Are you ever surprised by the characters’ stories and how they lead you forward?
Answer: For me, a one-word answer to this question sums it up: Always. I think most authors will tell you how characters have a life of their own, coming into their brains sometimes as total strangers, although before long taking up deep-rooted residence in the grey matter with their own unique personalities and motivations. Often, then, when a person is writing, the character so embedded into the subconscious will dictate where the story is going next, or at least their portion in the telling. It is, of course, the writer who is doing this, but it doesn’t feel that way and the results are often surprising and gratifying, because you can sense the “rightness” present in the character’s decision. As long as the author keeps true to the goals for the story, those multitudinous moments when the character takes you by the hand and says, “No, not that way! Over here. Come on,” works out to be the best direction for the story in the long run. I know many of my characters deserve my deepest gratitude for their assistance!
If you want a visual example of this process, watch the movie “The Man Who Invented Christmas” about Charles Dickens’ writing of A Christmas Carol. It’ll be the perfect time of year soon to indulge yourself with it anyway, and you’ll remember this blog and say to yourself, “Oh, well heck, so that’s how it happens.”
Thanks, D.H.! Who’s next?
The Shadows We Make – Reader Question #2
As you may know if you’ve read prior posts, I invited the followers on the Jo Allen Ash Facebook page to send me questions they might have about The Shadows We Make—characters, settings, something they might be wondering about the writing process, or whatever (within reason) interested them. The second question, from Bella M., is:
You mention that Grace and her brothers get their names (as well as Grace’s green eyes) from her mother’s side. Who is her mother? Where do the names come from?
Answer: Although not explained in this book (The Shadows We Make) and only touched on in the next (The Thrice-Gifted Child), Grace’s mother, whose name is Aine, is a descendant of an extremely ancient line with ties to Earth. When her ancestry is discussed, the land from which her mother’s people are said to have originated is referred to by the ancient name of Eire. There will be more about this lineage and what it means to Grace.
Thanks, Bella M.! Who’s next?
The Shadows We Make – Reader Question #1
I recently invited the followers on the Jo Allen Ash Facebook page to send me questions they might have about The Shadows We Make—characters, settings, something they might be wondering about the writing process, or whatever (within reason) interested them. The first question, from Don J., is:
How do you decide when to switch from one character to another during the story?
For those of you who have not yet read the book, The Shadows We Make is written entirely in the first person through the point of view of three different characters. Each character has her or his own unique voice. What Don wants to know is how I choose to switch the character/point of view throughout.
Answer: It’s not unusual to switch back and forth between points of view (POV) in fiction, but in this case, the switching is taking place between characters speaking in first person, making the task a little more challenging. As to how the decision is made to switch from one person to another, it is, after all my years writing, a matter of instinct, so it took me a while to figure out how to answer Don’s question.
I’ll start with the reason a writer (or at least this writer) switches from one character/POV to another character/POV. The switching over from one character to another helps to keep the pace going, keeps the tension up and, especially in the case of first person POV, offers glimpses into another character’s thoughts. Thoughts which are otherwise hidden to the reader, especially if what a character says and what he or she thinks, feels and does is entirely different from their verbal cues, or even their physical actions.
I am not an outliner (although, I’ve occasionally been forced into it), so I am unable to describe the switch as a decisive point along the storyline. For me, an answer to Don’s question is going to run something like this: The switch is not a concrete, has-to-be-this-way decision. The switch comes when the story and the characters demand it. It’s sort of like driving. You make a turn in the road when the time comes, when you subconsciously (or consciously) recognize the needed change in direction. It’s as though I find the characters waving me down, saying, yes, yes, this is the way. Wait until you discover what we have in store for you down here. As long as I don’t diverge too far off the path, the story I’m carrying in my head together with all the characters’ voices, emotions, motivations, contrariness, will get me and them where we’re meant to go.
Thanks, Don! Who’s next?
A Well-Spent Afternoon
This past Saturday, I had a wonderful, fun afternoon signing books. Thank you to Barnes and Noble, particularly Natasha, for providing me with this opportunity. Everyone who stopped by the table (whether purchasing a copy of The Shadows We Make for signing or not), asked the most amazing questions, prompting some wonderful and in-depth conversations, so thank you! You were all great. All in all, the day was a success!