TQ: What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?
Lyn: A quirk in the way I write? Or in the writing itself? I don't think I have any particular quirks to the method—no special music, drink, place, time, etc—though I am getting surprisingly good at typing around the kitten who wants to sleep on the computer.
Writing-wise, the thing that always bewilders me is my sheer inability to number chapters consecutively. Somehow I always get to chapter 16 in the revisions and there are three of them. I just don't get it. It's not that hard to count upward, and yet…every single time, there they are, multiple chapters. Apparently my brain thinks the numbers go: 15, 16, 17, 16, 18, 16, 17… it's goofy.
TQ: Are you a plotter or a pantser?
Lyn: A bit of both, working in conjunction. I do a rough outline, then a detailed plot outline for the first eight chapters, then I start writing. But I don't hold myself to that outline if more interesting avenues appear. Some of my favorite character moments and plot complications arrive out of events that were never on the outline, and take me far from the original idea of the plot. But when things get stuck, going back and starting an outline of events is often enough to get me going again.
TQ: What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?
Lyn: I love the brainstorming process; it's a fever of delighted inspiration and a thousand tiny details scrawled on various surfaces. Then that energy fades and I have to sit down and turn it into prose. Not just functional prose, but something that really tries to encapsulate the giddy emotions I felt when conceiving of it: dread, awe, happiness, what have you. The hardest thing I do is translate inspiration to words. There's just no way prose ever reaches the shining image in my mind and that's crazy-frustrating.
Second to that? Probably practicing the dreaded BICHOK (butt in chair, hands on keyboard). It's just so hard to get started every day. Once, I get there, life is good, but those first ten minutes are sheer hell. I always feel like a kid put in time-out. Sit on that chair and don't wiggle! One of my friends writes while using her treadmill; I'm deeply envious of her physical coordination.
TQ: What inspired you to write the Shadows Inquiries series?
Lyn: I've always been a huge fan of urban fantasies, that mixture of magic and mystery, and the detective who's got to sort it all out. I'd written some short stories in that vein, and been frustrated because by the time I'd conveyed magic, setting, character, and added a mystery to the top, the stories were too long to go anywhere. Then, a friend asked me what would happen if two of the characters from those stories met? (Kevin Dunne, the god of justice, and Sylvie Lightner). I laughed, thought it was a fun exercise and started to figure out what Kevin could possibly need from her. Sixty pages of notes later, I realized I had not only my next novel but a whole world of trouble to explore, with rules of magic involving the boundaries between gods and men.
TQ: What sort of research did you do to create your world and mythology?
Lyn: I grew up on Greek myths they taught in schools (why do they teach us Greek mythology?) and the Cuban folklore I heard around Miami. So I was primed to find mythology fascinating. Over the years, I've read and collected loads of books on various myths, and since Sylvie is sort of a free-for-all, I let myself wander through, picking and choosing some of my favorites to include, then shamelessly altering them as I saw fit. I wanted the Sylvie books to really feel like they could be happening in our current world, so I mostly left our society as it is, only warped bits and pieces. I did have a nasty moment once when I put a magical battle in the Viscaya Gardens in Miami, and found that they had recently been closed for renovations. For a moment, I actually felt guilty! The perils of using real world places.
TQ: Describe Lies & Omens (Shadows Inquiries 4) in 140 characters or less.
Lyn: Wake up, world. Someone's been keeping secrets and Sylvie won't stand for that. It's time to pull back the curtain.
TQ: Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Lies & Omens?
Lyn: Well, I have an especial fondness for revelation scenes, or epiphanies. So Sylvie's major plot epiphany is one of my very favorites. But there are a lot of scenes, I really enjoyed writing in this book—from romantic elements to Sylvie action scenes where she's in way over her head.
Plus, I had a chance to use some of my favorite monsters in this book. I feel like I've been waiting years for a valid chance to put my version of these storybook monsters on a page.
TQ: In the Shadows Inquiries series, who was the most difficult character to write and why? The easiest and why?
Lyn: Demalion, Sylvie's love interest, is probably the trickiest, though the bad guy in Gods & Monsters gave him a run for the money. The problem with Demalion is that Sylvie's a very opinionated, very prickly woman, and I had to make sure that Demalion's attraction to her felt real and not just plot-convenient. I didn't want him to simply be Sylvie's yes-man. I wanted the reader to feel that Demalion has his own life, his own agenda, and that he doesn't always agree with Sylvie. I want the reader to think they honestly respect and like each other despite all the arguing; when you're writing the romance (such as it is), it's very easy to just wave the authorial magic-wand and say "They're in LOVE!" But readers are smart; if the characters don't really have any reason to be fond of each other, they'll notice and the romance will fall flat. Romance, like comedy, is more difficult than people think.
Oddly enough the easiest character to write is Alex Figueroa-Smith, Sylvie's assistant. Alex is cheerful, friendly, organized, sensible, and, I'm pretty sure, is the only human Sylvie is actually afraid to anger. Alex is the friendly office tyrant. Honestly, Alex is closest to wish-fulfillment as any character I write: she's just so competent! I wish I had half her organizational skills.
TQ: Who is/are your favorite character or characters from the Shadows Inquiries series?
Lyn: It sounds greedy or arrogant to say this, but I love a lot of these characters a ridiculous amount. Every book has one side character that I fall a little in love with. But I think my favorite has to be the least human: Erinya, the fury. She's all id and bad behavior, and that makes her fun to write. At this point, Erinya is equal parts terrifying and exasperating to Sylvie. She was originally supposed to be a one-book character but kept creeping back. And ultimately, Erinya really makes an impact on Sylvie and the world.
TQ: What's next?
Lyn: I'm heading back to my 2nd world fantasy roots, trading in Sylvie and her guns for more elaborate world-magics and a whole slew of new characters. The heroine is, surprise, surprise, a bit difficult and prone to making enemies—it seems to me that characters are always surrounded by enemies; I like the idea of her deserving a least a good share of them.
And because I can't just abandon Sylvie's world completely, I'm working on a series of short stories and novellas set along her timeline, though from alternate points of view. Demalion may finally get his say without Sylvie interrupting him every two seconds.
TQ: Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.
About Shadow Inquiries
Lies & OmensShadow Inquiries 4
Ace, April 24, 2012
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Sylvie Lightner is a P.I. specializing in the unusual—in a world where magic is real, and Hell is just around the corner.
After escaping secret government cells and destroying a Miami landmark, Sylvie’s trying to lay low—something that gets easier when a magical force starts taking out her enemies. But these magical attacks are a risk to bystanders, and Sylvie can’t let that slide.
When the war between the government and the magical world threatens the three people closest to her—her assistant, her sister, and her lover—Sylvie has no choice but to get involved with hidden powers bent on shaping the world to their liking. Now, with death and disaster on the horizon, even if Sylvie wins, things will never be the same...
Gods & MonstersShadow Inquiries 3
Ace, April 26, 2011
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
Sylvie Lightner is no ordinary P.I. She specializes in cases involving the unusual and unbelievable. When she finds the bodies of five women in the Florida Everglades, Sylvie believes them to be the work of a serial killer and passes the buck. But when the bodies wake and shift shape, killing the police, Sylvie finds herself at the head of a potentially lethal investigation.
Ghosts & EchoesShadow Inquiries 2
Ace, April 27, 2010
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 320 pages
The new urban fantasy series that has readers jumping at shadows.
Chicago cop Adam Wright has picked up a spiritual hitchhiker, the ghost of a dead man who desperately wants to live again. So he turns to supernatural P.I. Sylvie Lightner to rid him of the spirit-a spirit she finds strangely familiar.
Sins & ShadowsShadow Inquiries 1
Ace, April 28, 2009
Mass Market Paperback and eBook, 368 pages
Sylvie Lightner is no ordinary P.I. She specializes in cases involving the unusual, in a world where magic is real-and where death isn't the worst thing that can happen to you.
But when an employee is murdered in front of her, Sylvie has had enough. After years of confounding the dark forces of the Magicus Mundi, she's closing up shop-until a man claiming to be the God of Justice wants Sylvie to find his lost lover.
And he won't take no for an answer.
What: One commenter will win a copy of Lies & Omens from Lyn! US/Canada ONLY
How: Leave a comment answering the following question:
Do you have any favorite Private Investigators who specialize in the supernatural?
Just leave a comment.
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Who and When: The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a US or Canadian mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Thursday, May 3, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.
*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*