Monday, October 06, 2008
Make-Believe Mondays with Claire Delacroix
Today on Make-Believe Mondays I'm thrilled to introduce my friend from RWAonline, Claire Dleacriox.
Claire, first, tell us a little bit about the manuscript you’re working on now.
Claire: Right now, I’m working on the third book in this new future-set fantasy romance series with fallen angel heroes. The world of these books is a gritty place, it’s post-nuclear and pre-Apocalyptic, and essentially the angels are volunteering to sacrifice their wings in a last ditch effort to save humanity. Each hero takes a mission to fulfill on earth – his idea is that he’ll regain his wings when the quest is complete, but love seems to change their minds! The first book in the series is out right now (October 2008) and is called FALLEN. It’s had some terrific reviews and has a gorgeous cover – you can read the back cover copy and an excerpt on my site:
The second book, GUARDIAN, comes out next October and the third – the one I’m writing now – will be out in October 2010.
The challenge in writing these books, set in such a different world, is finding different facets of that world to explore in each book. I’m having a great time with the series, although each book comes together more slowly for me.
Debra: Claire, I've always been fascinated with angels and I'm thrilled you are writing this series. I am ordering the first one today. Can't wait to read it!
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?
Claire: I’m a big fan of Julia Cameron’s book THE ARTIST’S WAY – I do my morning pages daily and my artist date every week. For me, playing with colour seems to help me to solve problems in books or figure out what comes next in the story.
So, my artist dates usually revolve around the pursuit of colour and new images – I’ll go to an art gallery or a museum or a guild store and look at the displays but not read the explanations. I visit stores that sell colourful and beautiful things – tile stores, fabric stores, bead stores, yarn stores – anywhere that there’s an avalanche of colour. I also like to walk - in busy cities, in different neighbourhoods, in the woods, on beaches – I think it’s healthy to explore new environments.
Invariably I bring souvenirs home with me - balls of wool that I’ve bought or pebbles from the beach or magazines from the thrift store - but those give me items to play with once I’m home again. Beach pebbles can be arranged in the garden, for example, or around a potted plant. Sometimes I make collages, just to play with the colour and shapes. I try to play a bit with texture and color every day as visual stimulation seems to encourage my words to flow.
Debra: You were the first person to tell me about Julia Cameron's book, and I am ever so thankful to you for that. It is excellent.
Is there a point when your characters begin to come alive and you can see and hear them?
Claire: Yes. It happens in two phases. There’s a point right when I begin the book that I can hear them talking. I feel at this point like a landlady eavesdropping on the new tenants (they’re in the rental apartment in my imagination). That gets me started and is usually a very exciting point.
Then, when I’m about 100 pages into the manuscript, there’s a bigger challenge – that’s when they get opinionated. Often, they don’t like the story I want to tell and either modify it or have an entirely different story that they’d like to live. This is both exciting – because the characters have become real – and irritating – because I don’t really know what they’re up to yet and because they often have better ideas than I do – but it always works out well in the end.
If they don’t start arguing with me, then I worry.
Debra: Oh, what fun! I like the eavesdropping idea. Silent characters make me nervous. It usually means I have taken them somewhere they don't want to go and they just haven't told me yet. Stubborn arguing characters are good. Well, I like your endings. :-)
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?
Claire: I frequently use dreams in my work, or more accurately, use the energy of dreaming to create my work. One of the challenges in writing a work of fiction is to ensure that it’s not predictable. One of the ways to avoid predictability is to put characters into very challenging situations, situations in which there appears to be no way out.
The problem is that sometimes I don’t know the way out either! But there always is one and I’ve learned to trust in that, that I wouldn’t have thought of the situation if it couldn’t be resolved. And often, I find the solution in dreaming.
If you fill your mind with a question or a problem before you go to sleep, you will often dream of the solution. Before you fall asleep, think about the question or problem. Examine it from all sides. Think of all the variables that created it and all the things that need to come out of it. Roll it around in your mind so that it’s the only thing in your thoughts and do this until you fall asleep.
When you wake up in the morning, probably 8 times out of 10, you’ll know the solution. You might remember the dream and you might not. You might “remember” the solution shortly after you awaken – the shower is good for this, in my experience – but it will come to you before you sit down to work. If not, repeat the exercise the next night. It seldom takes me two nights to find a solution and never takes three.
It works for questions other than “what comes next” in the book, too!
Debra: Oh, thank you, Claire! I am going to make that a new practice. What an excellent way to problem solve. (For more than the creation of fiction, I am thinking.)
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?
Claire: I think that book is FALLEN! I wrote FALLEN when I wasn’t sure what I was going to do. The historical market had slowed down a lot and I wasn’t even sure that I wanted to write more medievals anyway. I felt restless and ready for a change. The problem was that I was already writing contemporary romances as Claire Cross, so I didn’t know exactly what else I wanted to do.
Then this character marched into my office. She said her name was Lilia Desjardins and I had to help her get something done. Gid, her estranged husband, was dead, and the cops thought it was an accident but Lilia knew better. She thought Gid had been murdered and was going to find out the truth, no matter what the price.
I assumed she was crazy in love with Gid, but no, she told me she owed him this, that finding justice for him was the least she could do for him. I was intrigued.
I was even more intrigued when Lilia headed straight into danger – what a dangerous world she inhabits! - and met a very yummy cop. Was Adam Montgomery her friend or her foe? He certainly had a bunch of secrets…
Debra: And now I am wanting to know what those secrets are ... ;-)
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?
Claire: I think we all need to remember that we are creative beings. No matter what you do to make a living or how you pass your time, you’re creative. The thing is that when we allow ourselves to be creative, when we explore creativity in our lives in any way, we feel more vital and alive.
Remember that problem solving is an expression of creativity. The ability to look at any situation and find a solution no one has considered is creative. The ability to get any number of people working together productivity is an exercise in creativity. You don’t have to be an artist in your working life to be creative. Expressing yourself in your home, in your garden, with your décor, personal style and even your cooking is all creative. There are many kinds of creativity, and each one is just as valid as the others.
So, don’t dismiss yourself as “not creative”. Do something that only you can do, or do something in a way that only you would think to do it. Let yourself play, and you’ll probably feel a bit lighter for it.
Debra: Such beautiful and encouraging and empowering words. Claire, thank you so much for joining us here on this Make-believe Monday to share a little bit of the magic of writing with our readers. I knew it would be a treat.
Claire: Thanks, Debra, for having me!
Debra: It's been my great pleasure.
Please visit Claire at
Visit Dragonfire online at www.deborahcooke.com
Visit Château Delacroix at www.delacroix.net
Visit Claire Cross online at www.clairecross.com
Blogging weekdays at www.delacroix.net/blog