Monday, February 04, 2008

Make-Believe Mondays With Caitlyn Willows

Today on Make-Believe Mondays our guest is Caitlyn Willows.

Caitlyn, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.

Caitlyn: I’m in the preliminary stages of the second of my paranormal series with Loose Id. The first book was Into The Lair, a paranormal erotic romance released last fall. In this story one of the main characters was a shape-shifting, long-lived, black jaguar – Wyatt Caldwell (aka El-ian). He was so compelling a character, I felt he deserved his own book. Loose Id agreed. His story, Into The Night, is slated for 2008 Fall release at Loose Id. In this book we see a man who is trying to come to terms with his role as leader of his people and the loss of the woman he loved. We also see the turmoil of a woman whose belief system has been shaken. She’s not the person she thought she was. In fact, she hates the life she created for herself and now struggles with the changes coursing through her.

Debra: So, she must create a new life for herself. I find those stories so interesting.

Ray Bradbury said, “We are cups, constantly being filled. The trick is, knowing how to tip ourselves over and let the beautiful stuff out.” How do you keep your creative cup filled?

Caitlyn: Believe it or not, my latest method is PLAY. This will probably sound very strange, but I’ve rediscovered the wonder of make-believe by playing with my two young grandsons. Everything is new in their world (ages 3 and almost 2). The world stops for them when I am with them, and I thoroughly enjoy playing in the dirt, slaying dragons, “cooking”, playing cars, and making up games with them. It fills my heart with joy, makes me laugh, and helps me be creative. It’s fun to watch their minds work on developing their own “story line” as we play, and I really have to be on my toes to keep up. I also enjoy doing cross-stitch. I refer to this as coloring with thread. When I’m working on a project, my mind can easily drift to other things, such as plot points for a story. Reading, both fiction and nonfiction, and watching movies or television are also great ways for me to refill the well.

Debra: Play is essential I believe and this theme shows up again and again, every time I ask this question. :-)

Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?

Caitlyn: They come alive from the instant I begin a story. I listen to what they have to say, what they are feeling and experiencing. It always feels like great magic when that happens. I go inside myself and let the story breathe. Sometimes there are glitches in communication, but I find that if I can take some time to let myself “daydream” about the problem, things work out very well.

Debra: "Let the story breathe" (I am writing that one down - love that quote)

Some very famous authors have played with language, creating words for people or places that no one has ever heard of. Have you ever played with words in that way and if so how?

Caitlyn: I’ve never played with words, but I have created places for my characters. (Actually, I did create words in the Star Series I created a couple of years ago.) Anyway…I take everything I’ve seen, done, heard, and everywhere I’ve been, read about, or watched to create a believable world for my characters. This works no matter if that world is historical, contemporary, or fantasy. It works for physical locations and the emotions involved. I’ve also become a shameless eavesdropper and often use conversations overheard to help create the characters.

Debra: For some writers, dreams play a role in creating fiction. Has this been true for you? Have you ever dreamed a scene or an image that later wound up in one of your books?

Caitlyn: I became a writer because I had a dream about a place and people and thought it would make a great book. I started writing the very next day.

Debra: Fascinating. What a great story that is!

Caitlyn: But that’s the extent my dreams have ever helped me with writing. I have some really, really weird dreams…and they never mean a thing. Although, perhaps the weird dreams are a way of getting garbage out of my head so I can write better.

Debra: As a child did any particular book or author pull you into their imaginary world?

Caitlyn: Not that I can recall. The first book I remember reading to death was The Night Before Christmas, and I had that one memorized at a very early age. In elementary school I wasn’t all that fond of reading. Then I became fascinated with the action/adventure and super hero comic books the boys read. They were always so much more entertaining than what was available for girls. I can remember different phases I went through—reading Gone With The Wind, digging through the school library to find the scandalous passages in Hemingway’s books, cringing at the school’s required reading list, loving Shakespeare. I remember the first time I read a book by Victoria Holt—I was hooked on romance from that point on, but still loved reading horror, too. I’ve always had an overactive imagination, something I’ve managed to pass on to those two little boys.

Debra: If there were no categories for books, no reader expectations to meet, and you could create the wildest work of imagination that you could think of what kind of story would that be?

Caitlyn: That’s a hard question to answer because I’ve been blessed with publishers who allow (and want) me to write to my muse. I’ve never been given any restrictions. I’ve always been encouraged to “go for it.”

Debra: Is there anything else you would like to add about the role of imagination, and dreams in creating fiction? Any other message for our readers?

Caitlyn: Don’t restrict children. Let them have their play, their games. Get on the floor and play with them. Let their imaginations soar. Nothing is more wonderful for them or for you.

Debra: Hmmm, I might add to that. Don't restrict yourselves, either. Imagination should be allowed to roam free. It's one of the very few things that can't be taken away from us.

Caitlyn, thank you for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers.

Readers can visit Cailyn at:
Catherine Snodgrass
aka Caitlyn Willows

Debra's News/Debra is watching:

Over on Title Wave this week, I blog on Mondays (and today I am talking about plagiarism), on Wednesday Ruth will be blogging about Boycotting Valentine's Day and Lois blogs on Friday.

AT2 sister, Gina Black is doing free book giveaways over on her blog.
This week, the book is Wicked Woman, AT2 sister Denise Eagan's American Title II finaling book. Pop over to The Gina Channel to get in on the action.

Debra's first novel, A Desperate Journey, will be released by Samhain publishing July, 2008.

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