T.L. Bodine joins us today. You may remember her query from our Query Con (here it is to refresh your memory). Now her book is out. She was game enough to answer a few of my random questions:
Where did the initial idea for Tagestraum come from?
It started as a Nanowrimo project in 2009 with the single thought, "What if a child were kidnapped by his imaginary friend, who thought he was doing the right thing?" The original concept was much different from what ended up on the page. I'd initially thought that it was much more of a Peter Pan story about unwanted children. When I started writing, though, my main character took over the helm. As I got to know Adrian, I realized that this story was deeply personal for him, and the plot took a pretty dramatic turn.
Which part of the publishing process was the most surprising?
After carefully considering my options and pursuing both paths for a while, I ultimately decided to go indie. Being an author-publisher, basically everything has been a learning experience. The surprising thing: It's a tremendous amount of fun. Having total control is daunting, but it's also exhilarating, and it forces you to become a problem solver. If something isn't working out the way you want, it's up to you to figure out why and fix it. That's strangely empowering. Also, hands-down the most fun aspect of publishing has been collaborating with artists for cover designs. I've done it three times now, and seeing the cover come to life is always magical.
If you could give yourself any piece of advice before you started writing, what would it be?
"Finish your drafts." When I was first getting started, I had a tendency to start a project, lose steam, and abandon it. Or I'd spend years picking at a book one piece at a time, never really getting anywhere. The day I learned to sit down and finish a draft before trying to edit or tweak it was huge for me. You can't edit a story that isn't finished, and you learn more about storytelling from actually finishing a narrative than you do from starting a half dozen others.
Plotter or panster?
A little bit of both. I used to be a hardcore panster, but I'd often get lost in the middle. But outlines are a little too stifling because I need time to experience the story as the characters do. So instead I write a "zero draft," which is an incredibly loose narrative -- somewhere between an uber-rough draft and a very detailed outline. I usually write this by hand, and what will become an entire chapter might take up just a few paragraphs of text as I describe what needs to happen next.; I flesh it out as I type it and by the time it's transcribed I have a decent working first draft.
Quiet room or noisy room when you're writing? How quiet do you need it? What sort of noise?
It's never quiet in my house, so I have to learn to work with distractions or nothing gets done. I really enjoy writing with music, though. As part of the preparation phase of a new project, I'll always put together a playlist to act as a soundtrack and try to listen to it whenever I sit down to write. It triggers my memory about how certain things are supposed to look, feel, sound etc. and helps get me in the mood. You can actually listen to the Tagestraum soundtrack if you're interested.
Your writing area/desk: a place for everything and everything in its place or if anyone ever straightened it, you'd never find a thing?
I'm probably the least organized person on this earth. On my desk right now I have a stack of unsorted mail, a bottle of nail polish, several video game cases, some receipts from god-knows-what, and a cat.
What is your current pop culture obsession (book, TV show, movie, webcomic…)? What are the rest of us missing?
I'm a late adopter of pretty much everything.; I mean, I only started watching Doctor Who last month. I'm always like, "Oh my god, you totally need to check out this new thing!" and then realize it's been out for years.
Your "zero draft" sounds a lot like my "short draft". Funny how we all do things so differently and yet the same.
Anyone have any other questions?
Some relevant links:
Working as a child welfare agent, Adrian has seen a lot of disturbing things. Nathaniel Weaver isn't the first kid in the city who’s ever gone missing, but his disappearance haunts Adrian in a way he cannot entirely explain. Maybe it’s because the child looks so eerily similar to himself. Maybe it’s the drawing that Nathaniel gave to him the last time they met: a cloaked nightmarish figure that Adrian recognizes from his own dreams.
When Adrian returns once more to the scene of the disappearance, he finds a doorway leading to another world: Tagestraum, a bizarre and often treacherous faerie realm powered by human dreams. The world itself threatens the safety and sanity of any human that crosses into it, and several of its denizens are eager to harvest errant humans for a little raw energy.
Adrian knows that he’s the only person who can find Nathaniel – but to do it, he must battle both dangerous inhabitants and his own worst nightmares, and each night that passes brings Adrian closer to losing himself completely.
T.L. Bodine spent most of her childhood traveling with her blue collar family and living in the sort of small towns where horror movies are set. She received a bachelor's degree in English from New Mexico State University in 2007 and briefly pursued an MFA in creative writing before realizing that she was better suited to writing than talking about it.
She currently lives in Las Cruces, New Mexico with her boyfriend David and a small zoo of rescued animals including a toothless chihuahua, two cats, and several geriatric rats.
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