Dec 082011

Today I have an interview with Emily Devenport, author of several books.

What’s the hardest part of writing a book?

Probably the middle is the hardest.  The original inspiration for a book can take you about 100 pages into it, but then it kind of runs out.  A lot of would-be writers stall at this point.  The fun has gone out of it, and they’re flummoxed by the pick-and-shovel stage.  The only thing that gets you through it is a mixture of faith and compulsion.

What’s your favourite part of writing a book?

I actually have two favourite parts.  I love the fire and inspiration that drives the beginning of the book.  That stage is pretty heady, you feel like anything is possible.  But I also love writing the last part of the book, when I see where the story is going and I feel really confident.  When you write the last words, it’s such a huge accomplishment.  I’ve done this 14 times now (some new stuff will be forthcoming in 2012), but I’m always at least a little surprised to finish a manuscript.

What inspired you to become a writer?

It was a drive rather than an inspiration.  I have very compelling dreams.  I’ve even experienced time dilation in dreams, rather like what happened to the characters in the movie Inception.  It will seem like days have passed in just a few hours.  A handful of times in my life, I have dreamed that years went by.  I’ve seen some pretty dazzling stuff in my dreams, and my daydreams can also be quite spectacular.  For years, I simply entertained myself with these visions, telling myself stories to pass the time while standing in line or trying to make it through a day at school or work.  When I was about 21, the compulsion to write became really strong, so I started writing stories.  After a few years of that, I could write novels.

What kind of research did you do to write this book?

I didn’t have to do any research to write The Night Shifters, I just worked on pure inspiration.  That’s a big change from my adult SF novels – most of them required some digging in books and more than a few conferences with my scientist friends.  But I’m not out of the woods.  I’ll be doing some heavy-duty research for a couple of new YA projects.  For The Order Of The Dragon, I need to learn something about the horses Mongols rode (and still ride).  I also need to find out a few things about the war horses armoured knights rode.  And for Lord Monkey (sort of a kung-fu Cinderella story), I have watched hours of sword-fighting scenes from movies like Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Rob Roy.  I will be seeking plenty of advice from my friends in the SCA about sword fighting.

What are your thoughts on ebooks? (i.e. love them, hate them, wave of the future)

Ebooks should be very beneficial to writers and readers.  For years, writers have been at the bottom of the totem pole.  If our publisher didn’t want to buy one of our book ideas, we had to just scrap it.  But now we can publish our own work, and actually distribute our books to readers.  We still need editors (I pay a professional to edit my manuscripts), and we have to be a lot more savvy about packaging and promotion, but that’s a good thing.  We get to be in charge.  And our readers can afford $.99 to $4.99 a lot more easily than the hard-copy prices.

I don’t think traditional publishers are going to go completely out of business, but I think they’ll change the way they do a lot of things.  If they can figure a way through these tough times, they may come out of it a lot stronger, with more options for writers and readers.

Do you read reviews written about your book?

I read the good ones (anything 3 stars and above), but tend to avoid the bad ones.  The bad reviews just bring me down, and I find I can often glean more good criticism from the good reviews.

Do you keep track or write reviews for books you read?

I review some books.  In fact, I do reviews for Amazon in the U.S., as Emily Hogan.  I review a variety of things: books, albums, movies, even the occasional shoe.  But I don’t review everything.  In fact, I only do 5-start reviews, for things that I really love and for things that aren’t as well known.  I figure the really popular things don’t need my help.

Did you base any of the characters on real people?

When I first started writing novels, many of the characters were based on people I knew and even partly on myself.  I think a writer can’t help but do that – we keep our family, friends, and acquaintances in our heads, rather like stored files.  But eventually, new characters show up out of the blue, people you never met until they tapped you on the shoulder.

Do you have a writing routine?

I don’t, because I have to do my writing in my spare time.  But even if I were a lady of leisure, I think I might be a bit erratic.  I love to garden and to hike, and I’m always stumbling across things in the house that need to be done.  I may be a bit ADD, but that sort of works for me.  If I get too hung up on having a routine, it can really end up sabotaging me.  I just need to go with the flow.

How long did it take to write your book?

I started poking around with ideas for The Night Shifters over 30 years ago.  For a while, it was a short story, and then a novella.   But it never seemed quite right until I turned it into a novel.  And even then, it wasn’t until my editor looked it over and made some comments that I finally realized what was missing from the story and how to make it work.  In all, it probably took about six months to complete the novel, because I wrote it on my lunch hour.  I got my first laptop around this time, and I think the laptop has been the biggest help to my writing.  I don’t have to scrawl notes anymore, then take hours to transcribe them.

What types of prewriting activities do you do? (i.e. research, outlines)

Sometimes I do both research and outlines.  But my outlines are never rigid.  I often start with just a few intriguing notions, maybe an interesting character in an interesting setting, or a situation that played itself out in a dream I had the night before.  I often can’t see the end of a book until more of it has taken shape in my mind.  I’ll scrawl all sorts of notes to myself, then forget to look at them.  Later I’ll stumble across them and laugh, because the story has gone off in an entirely different direction than I thought it would.

The Night Shifters by Emily Devenport

Hazel loves to dream. She would rather be asleep having fantastic adventures than focus on anything in the waking world. So when the sun doesn’t rise one morning, Hazel is not upset. In fact, she is more than ready to go back to her dreaming when she discovers a list of instructions that have mysteriously appeared on her kitchen table. What Hazel doesn’t know is that these instructions will lead her down a very dangerous path into a territorial war between the demi-gods of her dreamworld. Will Hazel be able to navigate the destructive forces of the gods or will she become trapped in her dreams forever? 

Buy the book online: Amazon, Smashwords, B and N
About Emily Devenport:

I’ve been published under three pen names: as Emily Devenport, I wrote SHADE, LARISSA, SCORPIANNE, EGGHEADS, THE KRONOS CONDITION, and GODHEADS. As Maggy Thomas, I wrote BROKEN TIME, which was nominated for the Philip K. Dick Award. As Lee Hogan I wrote BELARUS and ENEMIES. My books have been published in the U.S., the U.K., Italy, and Israel. I’m writing as Emily Devenport again, and I have two new titles out from Smashwords: THE NIGHT SHIFTERS and SPIRITS OF GLORY.

I’m also an undergraduate studying Geology and a volunteer at the Desert Botanical Garden in Phoenix.

Connect online: Blog, Goodreads, Twitter

  2 Responses to “Interview: Emily Devenport”

  1. Nice and informative interview. enjoyed reading about this author.
    like reading challenges,check out this fun challenge.

  2. Excellent interview. I really like your questions Sarah. I never thought of the middle of a book being difficult to write but it makes sense now.

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