Do you have a writing routine?
Not really. I don’t write every day, and when I do, it’s usually in the evenings and usually at home. I tend to also have my phone with me, in case my Mom calls or my bff is bored at her job, and we’ll text back and forth. I think the most recent one involved the words “awesomeness” and “bodacity.” Inspired by Kung Fu Panda naturally.
The first draft of Seranfyll took a total of about three months, and the subsequent edits took about another six months. I had written the first 20 pages in 2009, put it aside to write something else, and then returned and got serious about it in early 2010. I released it as an ebook in May and the paperback in July of this year.
I did a little Googling into European styles, architecture, and weaponry of the 17th and 18th centuries. I also had to look up some things on horses and fencing. And I wanted the narrator and characters to have British voices, but I’m from Texas and the longest I spent in the UK was 10 days, so I’m not very well versed in the accent. For that, I mostly turned to British authors, movies, and Top Gear on the BBC. I do have to admit, though, that the accent research was probably more pleasure than business.
The nice thing, though, about writing fantasy is that you can borrow from all sorts of places and make everything else up.
It’s different every time, but I usually start with an outline. And by “outline,” I mean a rough synopsis of the story. And by “rough synopsis,” I mean my brain vomits and my hand scribbles something semi-coherent on several pages of a legal pad. And whatever comes about from that is always different from the final product.
After that, I’ll either start writing the first few chapters long hand or I’ll go straight to the computer. I think for Seranfyll, I wrote almost half of the book out by hand before I took it to the computer. For the sequel, I wrote the “outline” and half of the first chapter, but I’ve been working the rest on the computer.
It’s an adventure for me just as much as it is for the reader. With Seranfyll for instance, I literally started out with a slave girl who was just bought and freed by a handsome young man while he was drunk. I didn’t know either of their names, their ages, their histories, their personalities, or anything.
I know that sounds rather silly, because isn’t this all supposed to be in my head? And for me, the answer is “sorta.” When I write, I have a beginning, and I have a vague idea of how things are supposed to end (i.e. the brain vomit previously mentioned), but everything in the middle is up for grabs. Sometimes I’ll be writing along and all the sudden a character will do or say something that completely throws me off (I had a lot of moments like that with Domrey). And sometimes, I have an idea of how things are supposed to go, but then the characters will get themselves into a hot mess and I’ll have to figure a way for them to get out of it. I love the discovery of it all.
For the first draft, I write from page one to the end. When I go back to edit, of course, I jump around a lot. But I may make notes to myself from time to time. Especially when I’m at my day job and I’m between deadlines, if an idea hits me, I scribble it onto a scrap of paper and shove it in my bag until I get home. I remember once I had a lot of ideas nagging me, and I had all this paper in my bag. And then I stopped by the store to pick up some groceries and when I went to pay and reached for my wallet, all these little papers sort of exploded out of my bag. It was a little bit embarrassing, but it was also pretty funny.
About Christina Daley:
Christina Daley made her first book with neighborhood friends when she was four years old. They “wrote” out some semblance of lettering with crayons, cut up a cardboard box for the cover, and bound it all together with clear adhesive tape. It was brilliant.
Quite a few years later, Christina tried her hand at writing a “real” book. Seranfyll is her first released fiction work. She lives in Dallas, Texas, with a pet plant named Herb.