Questions again . . .

Part three of the Book Lover’s Club competition questions.

Loony Lihn asked: Is she proud of her book? Because I bet people get this thrill when someone compliments something they’ve made/written. And also, are you glad you chose to follow this storyline or did you think one of your other ideas would have made a better story?

In a word: YES. I am very proud of Madigan Mine. Sure, there are still minor things I would probably change — they tell you never to read your work once it’s published, and they’re right! — but overall I love the book and I’m extremely pleased with the finished result. And yes, I am always thrilled when someone tells me they like it as well. Especially when it’s someone I don’t even know. Because, you know, only my friends would bother to tell me they like my work, and that’s just because they’re being nice, and blah de blah. Stupid inner critic. 🙂

In answer to your second question, I write the ideas that are ready to be written, and write them until they are either finished or stop working for some reason. Madigan Mine never stopped working, so it wasn’t really a matter of choice. I don’t get too many ideas for novel-length works (I’m a short story writer at heart, and probably always will be), so once I knew the idea for Madigan Mine could be a novel and started to write it, that was really it. I know a lot of writers have a backlog of novel ideas but I’m not of that tribe. I have the novel I’m working on and, if I’m lucky, the novel I will probably work on next if it percolates enough in the meantime. Short stories, though, sheesh. I have waaaaaay too many of those knocking around in my brain.

Juliet Ramone would like to know: You have a masterly command of the art of creating depth of mood and feelings that are simultaneously negative and dark yet illicit great energy and light. Every sentence, every word, every grammatical point appears deliberate and highly polished and yet it conjures raw emotions. What are the processes involved in producing this duality of language? Is it simply an innate ability (if so, I’m jealous), or do you produce copious drafts?

This is a really difficult question to answer. My use of language feels innate, but really it comes from a lifetime of reading and absorbing the words and sentence structures of other writers. Sometimes consciously, especially these days when I find it quite hard to turn off the inner-writer and “lose” myself in a book, but mostly unconsciously I suspect. It feels like I have developed an “ear” for language in the same way a musician has an ear for music. Although I’m tone deaf and can’t sing or play a note, I will often use words that “sound” right — literally, the sounds the words make when read aloud, their flow, their rhythm, the way they fit together, the beats between them. All the while maintaining syntax and meaning, of course. I’m not sure I’ve really answered what you were asking, but I’m also not sure I can do any better than that!

In terms of drafts, I don’t go through too many as a rule. With my short fiction, there is usually just the single full-length draft and then — providing there are no major plot-holes or structural issues — a couple rounds of polishing. With novel-length manuscripts, there are necessarily more “drafts” floating around, as there is more editing required to get to the publication stage. Novels are bigger, more complicated beasts, and are somewhat impossible to hold in your head all at once so more problems get through to the first full draft. But I should stress that I am a very slow writer. I revise and re-write as I go, so my “first” finished draft might be closer to another writer’s fourth or fifth. Everyone approaches the craft in a different manner. I’m a tortoise in the initial writing, but a fricken caffeine-fuel hare in the edit stage. 🙂

And from Janice Channer: I would like to ask Kirstyn when her writing career took off? Was being an author always something she dreamed of as a child, and who or what inspired her into writing?

I’m not sure my writing career has really “taken off” yet but the publication of my first novel, Madigan Mine, has certainly stepped it up to a new level. Having a novel out there means more people have access to my work, which is fantastic. As much as I love writing short fiction, and as proud as I am of the stories I have had published over the years, it is usually very hard for people to find them.

I’ve wanted to write for almost as long as I can remember. I was quite a solitary child and always made up stories to entertain myself, and sometimes my sisters. And I was an incurable bookworm, reading books far above my age group once I soon exhausted the ones meant for girls like me. Once I realised that books are written by people, once I made that connection, I knew it was what I wanted to do with my life. For this I blame my mother, who let me read anything I damn well wanted and let me dream anything I damn well dared.

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