Today, as promised, is the second half of my interview with Wendy Rathbone, author of the very lovely Letters to an Android, as well as a slew of other well-respected novels, short stories, and poetry. Wendy has just released her latest work, The Lostling, which continues the love story of Diego and Alec, and I thought it might be nice to get an idea of how Wendy works, and what is most important to her in her writing.
Wendy, what is your day like for writing? Do you write every day and how many words a week do you average?
When I am in the middle of a project, I like to write something on it every day if I can. There are life interruptions, of course. One big one is that nine months of the year I often travel for my business. For my own process, sometimes I can get a few words done in the morning, but I am most productive in afternoons and evenings. Evenings are good because there are fewer interruptions. I love to write late at night.
Sometimes, if my brain will not shut up but I am very tired, I’ll go to bed but continue writing pages in my journal. The next morning I will wake and transcribe them. I write a lot of poetry and I always write poetry longhand in my journal. But with fiction, while I have written scenes longhand in my journal, I write mostly on the computer.
It’s hard to give a word count on a weekly average. When I am first starting a project the writing is often slow. When I am more than half-way finished, the writing can get faster. I’ve had 4500 word days and I’ve had 500 word days. If I am on a roll, a good average for me is 2000 words a day. But when I did NaNoWriMo this year, my average for the first couple weeks of it was only about 1000 words a day.
Mostly, I just like to see that I’ve gotten something done every day because before you realize it, the words add up and you have a book. It can seem like, even with really low goals, I write fast. But I don’t write fast. If I’m writing every day, it just seems fast to others but to me it still seems slow. What I do is commit myself. It is amazing how many things I can find to do other than write. The commitment part is important.
What is it that you love most about writing and how has writing impacted your life?
Two things I love about writing:
1) Words. Using words to paint a picture. The sounds of them put together to make a beautiful sentence. The way an artist uses oil or acrylic, I use words. For me, stories are not only what it’s about, so that’s why I write poetry. For love of the words. I have probably written more poems than all my other writings put together. My poetry is endless. I have thousands. Over 500 have been published and my newest poetry book, Turn Left at November, is due this year from Eldritch Press.
2) When a story unfolds in heat and passion and I am pulled along there is almost nothing more exciting. I love writing when I am in love with what I am writing. I love getting to the end and having finished something I would like to read. When I get stuck or bored, I always ask myself, “What do you love?” Sometimes I make lists. Then I try to incorporate those things into the novel so I will love it and the boredom will go away and my love for the written word returns. I love to play with all five senses, and “hear” the textures of the words as well when they are read aloud. I work hard on the language of my writing.
When did you know you wanted to be a writer?
Since first grade, I was an avid reader. Among my favorite toys were books. When I was about 12 or 13, my natural inclination was to write to express myself. I started off writing poetry and there was a high associated with the creation of it that hooked me. By age 15, I was sure I wanted to be a writer of some form or other. Because I was hooked on science fiction in my teens and twenties, a lot of my writing verged on that genre, although my stories branch into many genres.
What other book projects are in your future?
I have two book projects right now. I am working on a vampire novel titled Lace. And I am putting together a collection of previously written vampire stories called Bitters. Bitters would be out by now except that some of the stories are old enough that they exist in paper manuscript or paper magazine format only. So I am retyping them. I could have them scanned, I suppose, but retyping them gives me the chance to update and edit them.
Is there something you’d like to say to your readers?
First I want to thank all my readers, and especially thank anyone who has taken time to review any of my books.
I also want to say to potential readers who have not tried my books yet, that I strive to be character-centric in all my books whether they are science fiction, vampire, romance, novel or short story. My tendency to write more often of gay or bi male narrators is a natural inclination as well, so to balance that I consciously place female characters in positions of strength and power. This is my preference, and I write what I prefer.
For example, in Letters to an Android, both main characters are bisexual males. One is forced into servitude by men and to men, although he was previously owned by a very wealthy female. The other chases his dream of becoming captain of a starliner. Along the way we encounter female ship commanders and female soldiers and outpost admirals. One reader commented she appreciated the polyamorous theme I delved into as well.
I should point out that in addition to a college degree in writing, my greatest learning experience in writing came from fan fiction. I wrote a lot of it in the 1980s and ’90s, and even some recent, too, (my licensed Vampire Diaries novellas: The Myth and Deep in the Virginia Woods are available on Kindle from Kindle Worlds) and I consider it fantastic for practice and learning in the art of writing.
My roots are fan fiction. From it I learned to love depth of character. I learned homoerotic subtexts and themes are completely acceptable (my personal preferences need not to be shied away from) and there is a wide readership out there for it. Fan fiction taught me how to allow my original fiction to soar wherever it wants to soar uninhibited. From that foundation, and my inherent love of poetry, the words burst forth.
Thank you, Wendy! I’m very much looking forward to your next work, Lace!