If there was one quirky thing you do while writing that you guess most others don’t, what would it be? Or one critical thing that you do now that you wish you would have known when you started?
Quirky I probably don’t have, unless you count the need to have headphones on as quirky. One critical things that I wish I had known: it’s okay to make sweeping changes to the manuscript in the first edit.
How long does it normally take you to write a book, and then after, how much time is spent changing/editing things yourself before other people even see it?
Also, how does your brainstorming/creative process work when you’re coming up with new ideas and spinning whole worlds out of nowhere?
Comfortably, six months. Sometimes stuff has to cook in our heads and we don’t realize how to fix something until later. Each individual book is different. Magic Slays took forever. I hate that book so much, when I think about it, I want to stab it. It’s not a bad book and I like the way it turned out, but it took so much effort. I don’t even know why. Magic Rises, for example, was pretty easy. There were a couple of weeks toward the end where it was all BOOK, BOOK, BOOK and we kind of worked and wandered around in a daze. When we started out, we had a year for each book, so we were overachievers and would turn things in early. Now, at six month mark, ready or not, the publisher wants the manuscript.
For someone looking into getting published, how would you recommend getting an agent and/or an editor, and which is more important? I know you have posted an answer to a similar question before, as I remember reading it, but for the life of me, I can’t find it as the keyword search for this website doesn’t work well with my thought process.
I’m going to send you to Jeaniene Frost. She has an excellent FAQ on this subject on her website.
Do you ever change how a story will play out because of what your fans want?
This is a complicated question. When you write a book and let it go, it belongs to the readers. Readers develop certain expectations. Then if you release a sequel, inevitably some of these expectations will be met and some won’t be. For example, after the Magic Burns came out, we got a review that said, “This author is weak. You know what would be cool? It would be cool if at the end of the story the main character died. Like someone takes a brick and bashes her head in. Now that would be ballsy.” It’s been done before and didn’t turn out well – see Conan Doyle – and I have zero interest in being that “ballsy.”
So readers will have expectations, but it’s still our book. When we come to a plot element that will likely provoke a lot of negative reactions from the majority of fans, we try to look at it to make sure it really needs to be in there because the story requires it and not because we’re feeling ornery. Writers also look at a bigger picture. Sure, if we kill that character off, we will have a backlash. But maybe the readers have grown complacent, and the book lost the real sense of danger, so the fight scenes are no longer thrilling, because nobody is dying.
But it would be hypocritical of me to claim that we don’t take the fans’ wishes into consideration at all. For example, we received several emails telling us that readers really like Barabas. They like that he is a dangerous, brilliant guy, who happens to be gay and that we didn’t write him to adhere to any particular stereotype. We probably won’t kill Barabas any time soon, because people who wrote to us mentioned that there are not many characters like him and they identify with him.