Posted on June 26, 2010 by Flames
FlamesRising.com is pleased to present you with an exclusive look at the writing process behind author Meagan Hatfield’s SHADOW OF THE VAMPIRE. Here, Meagan talks about her path to publishing and offers some insight on her writing process.
As the release day for Shadow of the Vampire inches closer and I chat with more interviewers and newspaper editors, I have realized the one question I dread the most, is unfortunately the most commonly re-occurring one… “What is your writing process?”
Now it seems like such an easy question on the surface. However, it can also be a fully loaded one. It’s like everyone thinks that since you are a “published author” you must have some cookie cutter, fail-proof way to write a book that will not only be stellar in quality, one that will sell and will be a procedure others can follow like an outline and use to create their own books. Um, I hate to burst that preconceived bubble, but…POP! There it goes!
The truth is, there is no one true way to write a book.
No two writers write the same way.
And no, I cannot outline that guaranteed route for you to follow into a NYC publishing house.
Heck, out of everyone I know, my path to publication is the wonkiest, curviest and honestly, the luckiest I’ve heard of yet. I bid on a silent auction critique of the first chapter of my book with an editor perfect for the story I was working on at the time. I ended up with the winning bid of $25 and sent my work in. One year later, that editor called with an offer to buy the book. Not the normal route to a publishing contract. Usually, you query, get rejected, query, get a request and then get reject – rinse and repeat until you sell. Now, don’t get me wrong. Like most writers, I’d done the whole “query-rejection” dance for years. It’s just not how I ended up selling.
So, now that you know how unusual my sale story is, you can imagine how organic and free-flowing my actual writing process can be. Although I love my computer, it can stifle my creativity at times. Especially when facing that blinking cursor and horrifying first (and very blank) page. So, I tend to write freehand in a notebook instead and then type it in the computer later. The added bonus to this method is that I can tackle the first revision as I go. Plus, I’m visual and like to use different colored pens in the notebooks, draw little pictures, even costumes or attire ideas on my stick figure people if the mood strikes.
Being more visual, I also storyboard once I plot the book out on a huge poster board. I have a post-it fetish and use different colored ones for each character and for “love” scenes. With each scene mapped out like this, you can really see the visual flow of the story, how much face time each character is getting and ensure your villain isn’t just lurking around the corner menacingly every couple of scenes, but is a viable, tangible and (hopefully) scary threat. Plus, if something isn’t working or moving the story forward, I get to rip off a post it and stick up a new one. That is much easier than writing an entire scene only to have to trash it later after you realize it isn’t working.
Like many writers, I also use character clippings and inspiration pictures to help visualize the people in my story. I even have cut outs of different colored dragons, as well as vampires from The Lost Boys to Buffy for inspiration. Everything goes on a massive cork board wall beside my desk, along with any other notes or area maps I might need. As if all of that wasn’t enough to keep me on track, I also have a huge binder on my desk, covering everything in the series that I need to remember, (a fabulous idea I got from Yasmine Galenorn – thanks Yazza!)
When it comes to actually having to sit my butt in the computer chair and write, I almost always write to music. The songs take the place of colored pens and paper and keep my mind in the creative state I find conducive to writing. Usually, I create different playlists for each story. However, I wrote Shadow of the Vampire to one cd only, no playlist – “Breaking Benjamin’s Phobia,” I just looped it and played it over and over. The book is dark, bloody, violent, and full of torture and fight scenes as well as the intense passion you find in most romance novels. So the songs and mood of that album fit the tone of the book perfectly.
Now, is all of that what Nora Roberts does, Steven King, or any other writer for that matter? Is it something you can take and use as a part of your own writing process? I have no idea. I don’t even know if it qualifies as an actual writing process. But I find doing those little storyboards, looking at hottie pictures on the net…err, I mean researching characters’ clippings…and utilizing my post-it note addiction for good and not evil, all gets me in the frame of mind I need to immerse myself in bloody battles, romantic love that overthrows empires and the dark world of dragons and vampires I write about.
Meagan Hatfield – 2010
Shadow of the Vampire is available now at Amazon.com.