Monday, March 15, 2010

Make-Believe Monday with Rosemary Jones

Today on Make-Believe Mondays my guest is Rosemary Jones.

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

Rosemary: I’m always working on multiple projects. Right now, one project with a firm deadline is a short story requested for a fantasy anthology. The other is a new idea that started last year with a rejection from an editor. I had been asked to outline a potential trilogy but the project never happened. I was looking at my notes and thinking that I liked certain characters but I wanted to go in different directions than the original outline.

Debra: 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?

Rosemary: I read. Constantly. I don’t think I could be a writer without being a reader first. My newest electronic toy is an e-book reader that lets me check out books from the library. It makes grabbing a little extra reading time so easy – I can always whip it out on the bus or during a break in the day.

Debra: Yes, how could anyone create books without loving books? Writers must read. In all the interviews I've done here on MBM, you're the first to mention eBooks as a way to feed your creative well.

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

Rosemary: If I’m writing about them, they are already alive in my head. Perhaps because I spend much of my outlining time pondering how people would be reacting in the plot situation, what type of person is being called upon to deal with graveyard ghosts, and so on. All my novels have started with a very specific person in my head: I can’t get started until I know who I’m writing about. For me, fantasy simply doesn’t work if the characters aren’t alive with all the quirks and wonderful flaws that real people have. In Crypt of the Moaning Diamond, I knew the leader of the Siegebreakers was a forthright young woman with a quick temper and a rather messy look. Which meant sparks had to fly when she came up against the very polished and proper Captain who hires her mercenary band. In City of the Dead, the heroine is younger, still seeking her place in the world, and somewhat plagued by having too much family. She lives at home, and the entire family is involved with maintaining the city’s haunted graveyard, and she wants to find another career. Except she is very good at dealing with ghosts, ambulatory skeletons, and the wizard who shows up at her doorstep.

Debra: 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?

Rosemary: I play word games all the time in my stories, but more with names. All the uncles in City of the Dead have names that mean wisdom. In Crypt of the Moaning Diamond, my heroine is named Ivy, an odd choice for the daughter of a druid (ivy chokes trees) except her name is a symbol of her parents’ arguments: her mother picked a name sure to annoy her father. These games remain deep background, as long explanations always get cut out of the final versions. But I know why those names exist and they influence how those characters act.

Debra: Oh, that is fascinating. And this is a good example for new writers of how you trim backstory. Sometimes you need that backstory to write your way into the tale, but it doesn't mean you leave it there.

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?

Rosemary: I daydream certain pieces. So if you see me just sitting under a tree somewhere, staring up at the leaves, I’m not sleeping on the job. I’m thinking up a scene.

Debra: Bless the daydreamers for they are the story tellers of tomorrow. And give thanks for the trees who have watched over the and given root to those dreams. It was one of my favorite things to do as a child, that scene just as you described.

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

Rosemary: Dozens. I collect and read children’s books to this day and ended up co-authoring the Encyclopedia of Collectible Children’s Books. Off the top of my head, my big favorites as a kid in fantasy and science fiction were: L. Frank Baum, Edgar Rice Burroughs, Alexander Key, Andre Norton, Ursula K. LeGuin, and various volumes of fairy tales. These days, on my YA shelf, authors whose work I purchase immediately are J.K. Rowling (I came to Harry a little late, about three books into the series, and then gulped the lot as quickly as they were published), Kenneth Oppel, Philip Reeve, and many more. It is obviously impossible for me to stick to just one name in a question like this.

Debra: What a marvelous list you have provided.

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?

Rosemary: Take the journey that you want to dream about, but take time to think hard about the question: “what would a human being really do in a situation like this.” So much fantasy written falls a little flat because we turn the protagonists into these impossibly wise, strong, and basically overpowered superheroes. Going back to the very first fantasy novel, Homer's Odyssey, Odysseus catches our hearts because he is such a flawed and often weak man. He can’t help boasting, even when it gets him into trouble. He loses his temper. He makes mistakes. But he also figures out how to overcome his magical and mythical opponents because he has the most compelling quest of all: after ten years at war, he wants to go home and see his wife and child.

Debra: Excellent advice. Readers please visit Rosemary at

Rosemary, thank you for joining me here on this Make-Believe Monday.

Debra's News/Debra is watching:

This weekend I had a lovely dinner with my publisher who was in town for convention. It was another first and a fun night I will always remember. I'm looking forward to the Romantic Times convention at the end of April where I'm hoping to meet my editor for the first time face to face.

This week I am also getting ready for Gulf Wars which is an SCA event (medieval reinactment) and I will be attending Wed the 17th to Sun the 21st. My books will be available in Merchant Rose at That Special Touch, booth 85, from Wed. evening until Friday evening and I'll be around to sign them.

I'm very excited to be staying in a period pavilion tent for the first time and this and other experiences will likely make their way into the medieval story I plan to write soon. So it's going to be quite the busy week.

Check my website for book signings and other events

Love and light,