Since we moved to Brooklyn, I’ve felt like an explorer learning about a new planet, But I do have another life–I’m also a writer. In southwest Wisconsin writers are a rare species. but in Brooklyn they say that no matter where you live there’s probably a writer living next door–or at least on the next floor of your apartment building.
Today my two lives–explorer and writer–have come together in a blog post about writing. I’ve been asked to answer a few questions about my writing process for a ‘blog tour.’ Many thanks to Stephanie Golightly Lowden, author of Jingo Fever and Time of the Eagle for inviting me to participate. Stephanie’s novels grow from historical events that embody themes which are still relevant today. In Time of the Eagle, Autumn Dawn and her brother—the only survivors of the smallpox epidemic that raged through their Ojibwe village—must find the courage to survive alone through the harsh winter. In Jingo Fever Adele battles bullying and intolerance because of her German heritage
. Read Steph’s blog here: http://www.golowd.com
Here are the questions I’m answering for this tour.
1) What are you working on?
For thirty years the core and inspiration for my writing has been the hills and valleys of my country home and the rural people who live there. So I wondered what would happen to my writing when I was surrounded by a forest of concrete and crowds of people from all over the world. And I was pleased to discover that the one is just as inspiring as the other. At this point I’m still working on a science fiction novel set in the future. I’d been struggling to make the urban landscape feel real to me, but I’m finding that easier now that I live in the middle of one of the biggest urban landscapes in the world. The first book has sprouted a sequel set in a rural past, and I’m relieved that my sense of the rural landscape is still as vivid in my mind as it was when I could see it outside my window.
Sci-fi novels are a departure for me–I usually write historical fiction. In New York, history is all around me. Every day I walk where the Battle of Brooklyn raged during the Revolutionary War. One of my grandson Oskar’s favorite playgrounds backs up to the house that was George Washington’s headquarters. I can see the Statue of Liberty when I cross my street. So it will come as no surprise that I’m thinking of writing historical fiction set in New York. I’ve already written about the Revolutionary War so now I’m looking for a story about Brooklyn in the Nineteenth Century. I’m also writing more short fiction for younger readers—inspired, of course, by Oskar.
2) How does your work differ from others of its genre?
I write adventure stories—mostly set in the past. I love using specific detail to make the past come alive, and I’m known for my strong characters—especially the women. Though my books have historical settings, my characters struggle with issues that are still problems in today’s world. The background for Riding the Flume, for example, is the early conservation movement and the destruction by logging of the finest stand of sequoias on earth.
3) Why do you write what you do?
I’ve always wished I had been born in another century. Because I can’t actually travel to the past, I write about it instead. When I’m writing about history, I feel that I’m living there. Then, too, I firmly believe that those who forget their history are doomed to repeat it. I’m doing my part to help us remember our history and hopefully move forward in caring for the earth and each other.
4) How does your writing process work?
When I’m writing a novel I start with a setting. I research the history of the place until I discover a character with a conflict—often someone who is loosely based on a real person. Then it’s like one of those mazes we used to do as kids. I know the beginning of the story—the entrance to the maze. And I know the end—the maze’s exit. As I write I discover how to get from the entrance to the exit. Sometimes I run into dead ends and have to go back to the beginning and start again. But I slowly find my way through the maze to the end of the story. I know I’m on the right path when I find that the seemingly random details I throw into the plot are actually crucial for events that happen later. That’s when it seems like magic.
Science writer Vijaya Bodach is next up on the blog tour. She has published over sixty stories, articles and poems in leading children’s magazines and forty science books for budding physicists, botanists, and mathematicians. One of her favorites is, India, a Rainbow Reader from Compass Publishing presents the history of India for young readers
And her newest picture book, Ten Easter Eggs, is a counting book. It will be released by Scholastic’s Cartwheel imprint in 2015.
Read her blog at: http://www.vijayabodach.blogspot.com/