I am delighted to share a guest post by author Katie Cash (thank you, Katie, and your family, for your service and sacrifice) as she answers the question...
What would you share with readers about writing that might surprise them?
KC: One thing that I find still surprises me as I write is that writing is actually quite similar to reading in many ways. When I write, I often approach my projects with well-laid-out outlines and objectives to meet for each chapter. But I find that as I write, I envision the scenes in my mind and the characters seem to dictate the story for me! All my plans go out the window and the characters take over the telling, as though I am just the instrument through which the characters are telling their story. People always seem to find it intriguing to find out that I am often surprised as I write; that I don’t know exactly what’s going to happen when I begin each writing session. I guess it’s pretty comical, but it is also what keeps writing so thrilling! I feel the same intrigue and excitement as I write that I do when I’m engrossed in a particularly good book. I want to keep going to find out where the story will go… because even as the author, I usually don’t quite know what’s going to happen, even when I think I know!
Another part of writing that I think is fairly interesting and would surprise many readers is the amount of research that is required to author a compelling story—no matter what the genre! Even my young adult fantasy novels require hours of random, “useless fact” research. I’ve researched things as unrelated as cities in rural Switzerland, the various shades of brown eyes, how coffee beans are made (from the harvest of berries, to pulping, to drying and roasting), and the origin of many different types of names. The naming of characters is an elaborate process for me. First, I try to find several unique and interesting names that I feel suit the character’s personality. Next, I research the meaning and origin of the names in contention, and in the process usually discover new names that trump my original ideas. When I’ve finally decided on a first and last name combination that seems to suit the character, I research it to make sure no one has used that exact combination before in previous works—whether books or movies—and that there isn’t some famous person living in Romania or Uzbekistan with that exact same name. It’s a time-consuming process, but it’s worth it to produce amusing, unique names that actually have meaning and aren’t just randomly chosen for my characters.
by Katie Cash
GENRE: Young Adult Fantasy
A teenage girl in future North America discovers that she is heir to a magical map which transports her to another world called Praxis, where her position as Mapkeeper is held in high regard. She is expected to learn to use the map’s magic to help the creatures of Praxis defend their homeland against the dark magic of the Wardens, a group of ancient beings whose magic is stirring again after centuries of peace.
“So… why you?” Luke’s question jerked her back into the moment.
“I have no idea! Apparently the map chooses its keeper. See?” She pointed to her name at the bottom right corner of the map. Her brothers seemed suspicious, but impressed. “They said the previous Mapkeeper held the position for over fifteen years! But I can’t figure out what I did to be chosen…” She trailed off. She felt as though the past day were nothing but a dream, unable to wrap her head around the possibility that this was real. She rubbed her forehead—it was all beginning to give her a pounding headache.
“So what does the Mapkeeper do, anyway?” Mack leaned in to get a closer look.
“I’m supposed to try to figure out how to read signs the map puts out; how to make the map work for me. If the people of the other world, called Praxis, need help, I guess somehow the map lets me know. And then I’m supposed to be able to use the map as a portal and do whatever they need me to. I don’t know—it’s as confusing to me as it is to you. I don’t even know if I believe it’s real. It’s crazy, right? It can’t be real.”
“I don’t like that Mr. Quincy is involved.” Luke voiced what they were all thinking. “We should tell Dad. This is all so strange.”
“Please, don’t tell anyone else!” Lucy interjected, a chill of fear creeping up her spine. “I’m not supposed to tell anyone at all, so I’m trusting you both not to tell anyone. Mr. Quincy said if I lose his trust he’ll move me to the Capital!” A knot formed in her stomach.
“Don’t worry Lucy, I won’t tell a soul.” Luke met her gaze.
AUTHOR Bio and Links:
Katie Cash is an active duty military officer who lives in San Diego with her husband and their cat. She enjoys running, surfing, competing in triathlons, and, of course, writing. She also hosts an annual badminton tournament, rides a 150cc Vespa scooter, and plays the cello. She can most often be found exploring new running trails, at the beach, hunkered down writing in a coffee shop, or sampling a new local craft beer at one of San Diego’s many craft breweries.
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