Today’s post was supposed to be posted on Galit’s site, but unfortunately life interfered with her posting schedule and I’ve stepped in to post her interview questions. Thank you for putting them together, Galit!
Interview with Carin Marais, Christelle Bloem, Kim Wainer, and Elliot P. McGee.
Can you tell us a bit about yourself?
- Carin Marais: Let’s see… By day I’m a copywriter and translator for one of the local publishing companies where I work in print magazine and digital advertising. By night (and usually for an hour or so before work) I write speculative fiction in Afrikaans – my first language – and English and contribute articles to the likes of The Mighty and Speculative Grammarian. This year, as in 2012 and 2016, I’m also giving a paper at the local medieval society’s conference. My hobbies include reading, crochet, knitting, and quilling and cardmaking. I’m basically an uber-nerd.
- Christelle Bloem: I am a teacher and an active Christian. I am married and I love to spend time with friends and family. I love to stay busy and to bake.
- Kim Wainer: Hello, I’m Kim! I’m a copywriter by trade, which means that I work with words on a daily basis (which is and isn’t a good thing for the fun kind of writing). I have been a writer basically since I taught myself to read at around 6 years old, and no matter what I do I always come back to narrative. I also love to bake and decorate cupcakes and things – it’s a very calming kind of creative outlet.
- Candice Burger: I’m 30, I live with my family and two dogs. By day I am an administrator and at night I try to be a writer. I love music of all kinds, and cooking.
Describe your book in 1-2 sentences.
- Carin Marais: The Knowledge Stones – A prequel to the main series of The Ruon Chronicles, The Knowledge Stones follows apprentice Knowledge Seeker Trevian and the Ruon Zala in their race against the evil of the Khalver to keep the Knowledge Stones – which may hold the secret to defeating the evil in Airtha-Eyrassa – safe. Porselein (my WIP Afrikaans novel) – In Nisamy, where magical porcelain masks are the order of the day, mask maker Lishara must not only make a new mask for the leader of the city but also face her own demons and the memories she lost when the mysterious Erasj showed up.
- Christelle Bloem: In this world, Humans now have incredible abilities and those that don’t are described as Ordinaries. The whole series is about how these facts have altered the world and created dangerous perceptions.
- Kim Wainer: Jozi Flash 2017 is a diverse collection of flash fiction from a similarly diverse collection of ten writers from Johannesburg. It features 80 stories across eight different genres, with inspiration from the artwork of Nico Venter.
- Candice Burger: It is a collection of short stories of different genres each one of my eight stories is snap shot of me and my world. In a way it is also a collection of little experiments in genres I would never dream of touching.
- Elliot P. McGee: Which book?
What is the one thing you must do before you sit down to write?
- Carin Marais: Switch on some music and make tea – those two things are basically always present. And, usually, take the cat off the laptop or notebook.
- Christelle Bloem: I have to be comfortable and get something to drink, like coca-cola.
- Kim Wainer: I don’t really have any writing rituals, but I do usually make myself a good cup of tea before I get to it. Tea makes everything better!
- Candice Burger: Put music on.
- Elliot P. McGee: I need a cup of coffee.
From start to finish, how long does it take you to write and edit your novel?
- Carin Marais: It depends, really – I’m writing Porselein as part of a writing course, so it should be ready for editing by the end of the year and then editing will be a few more months. The actual writing and editing will be about seven months, with about 5 taken for research and outlining. But that’s in-between me working on the Ruon Chronicles series, short stories, and a paper for an upcoming conference in August. I may have become a bit busy this year… My flash pieces can take anything from an hour to a few days.
- Christelle Bloem: It can take me a month to write the first draft of a book. I haven’t finished a novel, editing included.
- Kim Wainer: That’s kind of a loaded question, because my novel is still a work in progress! Anyway. The Jozi Flash anthology was compiled over the course of a few months – a story a week until we had each submitted a full complement of flash fics, and then about a month of working with our fearless leader and editor Nicolette to polish each one until it shone.
- Candice Burger: The stories for Jozi Flash 2017 about three month from start to finish.
Where did you get your book idea from?
- Carin Marais: The Ruon Chronicles started taking shape after reading The Myth and Magic of Embroidery by Helen M. Stevens. It sometimes helps to read “strange” books. And I like needlework. And I like the idea of the heroes of the story not necessarily being kick-ass by physically kicking ass.
- Christelle Bloem: I had a philosophical discussion with a friend of mine and from there the idea of humans and ordinaries started to shape.
- Kim Wainer: Each of the flash fiction stories was inspired by an artwork by Nico Venter and (in some cases or) a key line. One of my favourite things about the anthology is the fact that we were all given the same thing to work with, but filtered through all of our different brains each story in each genre is completely its own animal.
- Candice Burger: For Jozi Flash we had a picture and a word prompt. I took further inspiration from work I had in progress as well as music and a bit of genre research.
Just for fun 😀 Pick your favorite color, animal, and food.
- Carin Marais: Favourite colour – Turquoise (the colour of happiness) Favourite animal – now that’s a difficult one… let’s say domesticated – cats; wild – elephant; sea creature – narwhal (the unicorn of the sea); bird – green wood-hoopoe… no, fish eagle. Fine, it’s both. Favourite food – It’s a tie between bobotie (spiced and slightly sweet minced meat with an egg-based topping usually served with rice spiced with turmeric and sultanas) and melkkos (milk, sugar, cinnamon, and dough cuttings).
- Christelle Bloem: Red, Elephant, and Pizza
- Kim Wainer: Colour – purple, Animal – llama, Food – who can choose just one?!
- Candice Burger: Favourite Color: Pale Purple, Favourite Animal: Butterfly, Favourite Food: Chocolate
What is your writing process like?
- Carin Marais: I usually make notes and write general outlines using pen and paper, before I use Scrivener to actually write in. I find it difficult to write longer pieces, even short stories in Word now! For some flash fiction, I do a few drafts by hand, rewriting the whole thing every time and then making changes in another colour pen. But it depends on the amount of time I have for a project. Some are only edited on the screen. Usually the Microcosms entries. Research happens during the outline stage mostly, although I may find that the story changes while I write and that I need to just write the piece and mark where I need to check my facts or add more detail. The main software I use is Scrivener – which I can’t live without – and Aeon Timeline – which is exceptionally handy when writing in a secondary world and planning a series. On my phone, I usually use WriterPlus to make notes or jot down ideas that I can later transfer to good ol’ pen and paper.
- Christelle Bloem: I usually start with something new in my book and I start dictating how my characters are feeling.
- Kim Wainer: I am a sprinter, not a long-distance runner. I tend to write in bursts, giving myself a set time to focus my mind and crank out the next couple of hundred words, whatever those may be. Often I find that once I get myself writing, I continue with the action long after the designated time has passed. Sometimes all you need is to give yourself a push to start to build some momentum or start writing something that actually turns out to be going I am also not a plotter – I find out what’s going to happen pretty much at the same time as my POV character does when I’m writing a first draft of something (and sometimes when I’m trying to fix it, too). I usually have a key moment that I try to work towards, especially with short stories and flash fiction, rather than knowing exactly what story beats I want to hit.
- Candice Burger: I start with an idea then find my main characters and build from there. From there I just write.
- Elliot P. McGee: Messy.
What is the latest book you’ve read that inspired you?
- Carin Marais: If I go for non-fiction, it’ll be Finish by Jon Acuff. Fiction is The Lays of Beleriand by JRR Tolkien, edited by Christopher Tolkien. The depth Tolkien put into his work is just astounding. I can’t wait to read the rest of the History books Christopher Tolkien edited.
- Christelle Bloem: Tosca Lee-The Legend of Sheba
- Kim Wainer: I recently read Release The Bats by DBC Pierre and although it’s partly filled with self-indulgent literary-author-showing-off it is also partly filled with some actual advice and interesting takes on the process of writing and putting together a compelling story.
- Candice Burger: Message’s Angel and Rat Catcher
- Elliot P. McGee: Any book inspires me, even if I put it down and don’t finish it. The latest titles I’ve read include Oathbringer by Brandon Sanderson, The Caves of Steel by Isaac Asimov, Stallo by Stefan Spjut, and Milk and Honey by Rupi Kaur.
What is the best advice you’ve been given?
- Carin Marais: Less is more. I tend to add too much to my fiction when I have unlimited words to play with. I try to treat all my fiction a bit like flash fiction.
- Christelle Bloem: To write whatever is in your heart and whatever you believe in.
- Kim Wainer: I can’t remember where I first read this – it was probably a throwaway line in some blog post or other – but my go-to writing advice is “when in doubt, blow something up”. It doesn’t matter what kind of story you’re writing. Chances are, there’s something you can blow up, and it will inevitably shake things up in the story and force you to write more in order to figure out why it blew up and what the consequences of that are. Think about your characters in a different way – how do they react to something so completely left field and unexpected? Once you get writing on that, you can pick up some momentum and break through the block that was hemming you in.
- Candice Burger: Just write, don’t worry about spelling or grammar just write. A first draft is not meant to be perfect.
- Elliot P. McGee: The answer, and it remains the same given or giving, is to keep writing.
Before we say goodbye… Do you have any advice for aspiring authors or new writers?
- Carin Marais: Write as much as you can, whatever you can, even if other people will think it’s weird. Practice, practice, practice. Read how-to books if you can or listen to writing podcasts. And also read whatever you can lay your hands on. You never know when it will inspire a story.
- Christelle Bloem: Put your head down often to write, even if it is only once a week. It’s easier to keep writing than to keep starting.
- Kim Wainer: This one I can attribute – it’s from the Writing Excuses podcast. The acronym is BICHOK: butt in chair, hands on keyboard. Sit down and write. That’s it. That’s the key. It’s as easy and as bone-chillingly, mind-numbingly, wrist-achingly difficult as that. You must write to find your voice. You must write to find your characters. You must write to finish your story, and the next one too. That’s the advice of damn near everything I’ve ever read or listened to distilled into three sentences. I’m not saying I have this cracked myself – I have to fight for my words, whether I’m fighting my job or fighting myself – but it’s my Oprah “what I know for sure”. The world wants to hear your damn story, so get good enough to tell it and then FINISH IT. Also, NaNoWriMo is a gem and y’all should definitely take part, if only for the sake of creating a community for what is usually one of the loneliest professions known to man. Even if you don’t finish, connecting with and learning from people around you and thousands of miles away is a precious gift – and it feels great to be able to bitch about characters misbehaving to people who will understand instead of slowing backing away and calling the nearest psychologist.
- Candice Burger: Find out what works for you. Be open to advice but if it doesn’t work for you move on. Don’t be afraid to make a mistakes you will never learn or grow if you don’t.
Enter our International Giveaway
Win free copies of eBooks by three Jozi Flash 2017 authors:
Beneath the Wax by Nthato Morakabi
1723: Constantine Bourgeois is a man of many secrets. Artisan by day, killer by night, he turns his victims into wax figures for his shop.
2045: Richard Baines works for the renowned Anthony Garfield Historical Museum. His mundane existence is a stark counterpoint to his fascination with serial killers and science fiction.
Constantine’s nightmares drive him to undertake a journey to uncover a long-forgotten secret. Richard’s research uncovers a company secret and the mystery of Madame Bourgeois.
Two men, two timelines, and truths that will only be revealed when they look Beneath the Wax…
Dim Mirrors by Carin Marais
Dim Mirrors is a collection of 39 flash fiction stories that open windows into worlds of fantasy and nightmare. Interwoven with images from mythology and folklore are the themes of love, loss, and memory. The comical “Not According to Plan” leads to more serious and introspective works like “Blue Ribbons” and “The Destroyer of Worlds”, while mythology and folkloric elements come together in stories like “The Souls of Trees” and “Ariadne’s Freedom”.
Sketches by Nicolette Stephens
Like art sketches, flash fiction stories are fleeting moments captured in a few hundred words.
In a world without men, the first boy child is welcomed as the saviour of his race; a cuckoo clock holds death and destruction in its beautifully carved figures; and a snowman holds a silent vigil of peace during war.
In this collection of 50 stories, illustrated with her artwork, the author delves into worlds of imagination and reality inspired by words and drawings.
*Terms and Conditions –Worldwide entries welcome. Please enter using the Rafflecopter box below. The winner will be selected at random via Rafflecopter from all valid entries and will be notified by Twitter and/or email. If no response is received within 7 days then I reserve the right to select an alternative winner. Open to all entrants aged 18 or over. Any personal data given as part of the competition entry is used for this purpose only and will not be shared with third parties, with the exception of the winners’ information. This will passed to the giveaway organiser and used only for fulfilment of the prize, after which time I will delete the data. I am not responsible for despatch or delivery of the prize.