Wenonah Lyon [kentcrone]
What did you first read? How did you begin to write? Who were the first to read what you wrote?
We didn't have children's books at home, but I remember my mother reading to me from a collection of poetry. Little Orphan Annie was a favorite. My mother loved reading, but considered it self-indulgence, one should be doing something useful. When I started first grade, I learned to read very quickly - I could read the comics in the newspaper by Christmas. This was in Detroit. We moved to Atlanta and I went to a school next door to the public library. That's when I had access to books.
My mother, as she got older, read every night before she went to sleep. But she still felt guilty about reading during the day.
I didn't write things down for years. I told stories, to myself at night in bed, to my younger brothers and sisters, to my cousins.
What is your favorite genre? Can you provide a link to a site where we can read some of your work or learn something about it?
My website has links to published fiction (and non-fiction) that is on the web.
What is your creative process like? What happens before sitting down to write?
Usually, language - a phrase of sentence interests me and I sit down and start playing with it. Sometimes, imagining a character or a situation.
What type of reading inspires you to write?
I read almost anything - anything but sex and shopping. I write what I like to read, and that includes literary fiction, F, SF, murder, children's books...
K.C.Constantine, a murder mystery writer whose work is set in the rust belt of Pennsylvania, writes like an absolute angel: his command of demotic language is incredible. I can hear the words in my head when I read him. He's a better sociologist than most sociologists, better literary writer than most literary writers. He's a good reason for looking on genres as a cataloguing device rather than anything about a book.
What do you think are the basic ingredients of a story?
Character, plot, context, language... pretty much what I learned in high school still works for me as the necessary ingredients in a story. If one is strong enough, I ignore problems with the others.
What voice do you find most to your liking: first person or third person?
I use both. A useful exercise, I think, is to transpose a story to the other voice. Some stories that don't work suddenly do work in another voice. It's also useful to play around with the narrative voice.
What well known writers do you admire most?
Julian Barnes, Margaret Atwood, Salman Rushdie... Ray Norsworthy is someone whose work I've read on a writers' site and who has published a book or two of short fiction that I've bought. I read part of a novel of his on the recent Amazon.com new writers' contest - he's fantastic and ought to be well known.
Among F and SF writers, I like Modesitt, Cherrhy, some of the new urban fantasy, especially Briggs, Armstrong... I enjoy Lackey, especially the Valdemar stuff and the recent magic series. I never liked elves and cars, though.
Murder? K.C. Constantine, Ian Banks, Reginald Hill.
Poetry - I like James Dickey a lot. I've got a weakness for narrative poetry, poetry with plots and stories. Browning's Last Duchess, Tennyson's stuff, the Iliad, Frederick Ahl's new translation of the Aeneid is very good and something I'm currently reading.
Are you equally good at telling stories orally?
I think so. I've spent a lot more time telling stories than writing them down.
Deep down inside, who do you write for?
Is writing a form of personal therapy? Are internal conflicts a creative force?
It's not personal therapy, but it does provide a sense of controlling a chaotic world. Since bringing order to chaos always seemed like a major goal of therapy, in that sense I suppose it is.
Internal conflicts a creative force? I don't think so - I think that's part of the 19th century myth of the tortured genius.
Does reader feed-back help you?
Yes. I love reader feedback.
Do you participate in competitions? Have you received any awards?
Occasionally. I've won one competition - the 2004 Yosemite Writers' Conference first place for short fiction.
I don't like to pay to enter, so usually avoid comps.
Do you share rough drafts of your writings with someone whose opinion you trust?
Yes. My husband, writers on Zoetrope.com, a writers' workshop.
What discipline do you impose on yourself regarding schedules, goals, etc.?
What do you surround yourself with in your work area in order to help your concentrate?
My work area looks like a tip. Currently, stacks of books on a nearby table, bills to pay and bank statements to file next to the computer. A tube of toothpaste taken out of a recently unpacked suitcase...
It's a small room with books on shelves on three walls, books to be shelved all over the floor, magazines on the floor next to my chair.
None of this helps to concentrate. But I don't know what to do with the stuff, so there it is.
Do you write on a computer? Do you print frequently? Do you correct on paper? What is your process?
I write on a Mac and rarely print.
What sites do you frequent on-line to share experiences or information?
Zoetrope, I've made friends there as well as learn a lot about marketing and publishing. I like Critters.com as well. That was the first writing site I joined.
In the UK, writewords.co.uk
What has been your experience with publishers?
Not particularly good. TOR, for example, looked at the synopsis plus first three chapters of my fantasy novel. After thirteen months, they asked to see the rest. After another eighteen months, I got a standard 'dear writer' form rejection. This was particularly irritating since I'd sent them £38. worth of postal coupons. (They asked for 'return postage' and I thought they might make notes on the original copy; usually, I say 'disposable copy' and simply send a reply envelope.)
I've sent a re-written version of the book to some other publishers willing to look at unsolicited material. Some reply, some don't.
A month ago, another editor has asked to see the whole thing, based on six chapters and a synopsis.
Magazine editors, on the other hand, are prompt and fairly often tell me why they don't want whatever I've sent in.
What are you working on now?
A new urban fantasy, written from the point of view of a non-shapeshifting sister of a werewolf. It's fun to do.