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[personal profile] aamcnamara
Blair tagged me a while ago, and then my life got ridiculous for a bit, so here goes!

What am I working on?
I've got three projects at various stages right now. Heartwood is a novel about a girl who can talk to trees—also family, grief, communal trauma, and friendship. It's midway through first draft at the moment.

I'm working on and dancing around and trying to avoid revisions on an epic fantasy short story, "Starling Road", which I love dearly and which is a bear to work on. Trying to do lots of things—a small intimate emotional story with scope and sweep and epic-ness—in a short space is characteristic of me, and failing to accomplish these things...pretty much equally so. (Edit: I have finished editing this and begun to send it out. Hopefully it works!)

And lastly, I've been doing research on the seventeenth-century Ottoman Empire for an as-yet-unnamed project. It will likely also be a novel, certainly something lengthier than a short story. I list it here because I know I need to do a lot more research before I can start drafting or outlining or anything, but I want to keep it in my head as a Current Project so it doesn't just slide away.

How does my work differ from others in the genre?
I'd have to have a coherent idea of "my work" to answer that question. (Also, "the genre.") My projects split between urban/contemporary fantasy and secondary-world fantasy. I've been more on the urban/contemporary side for years now, but I can feel a pendulum swing toward secondary world and epic fantasy coming. (I don't think I can explain it any better than that.)

That being said, my urban/contemporary fantasies tend to be heavy on the queer characters, the understated yet intense emotions, the sense of the universe's enormity (and relative lack of caring), and the focus on relationships (whether family, friends, or romantic partners). None of those are terribly unusual things, thank goodness, but there's a particular feel to my urban/contemporary fantasy that I suspect would be recognizable without byline. Once Kaleidoscope comes out you can read my story in that with my Crossed Genres story and see what I mean. Heartwood is also in that vein.

My secondary world fantasy...mostly hasn't happened lately, except for "Starling Road". I suspect it will be early-modern-influenced for a while, but that is the fault of my undergraduate thesis research. Four years from now I'll probably have found something else shiny to be fascinated with. And to my delight, early modern influences are not totally unknown in the secondary world fantasy genre; if nothing else, The Goblin Emperor is proof of that. I think it's going through what I will forbear from calling a Renaissance, and I hope to contribute to...that.

Why do I write what I do?
Because a short story in a Bordertown anthology made me feel like I wasn't alone any more. Because I want to give that feeling to other people, as many as I can. (This is one of the reasons I am so thrilled to have a story in Kaleidoscope.)

Because making up other worlds is one of the best ways I know to change perspective on this one. It's sort of what Bertolt Brecht says about theater: if you show a different time and place, and show how people work in that environment differently from here/now, it makes us think about how we are products of our time and place—and opens our eyes to the fact that things could be different.

And, well, because when you pour enough urban fantasy and YA and secondary world fantasy and epic fantasy and science fiction and random 'classic literature' and history of science and physics and queer history and post-colonial theory into a person who is me, this is what emerges.

How does my writing process work?
I begin with a first draft. I almost never outline before I start writing; when I'm partway through, if it's a longer project, I may go back-outline what I have already and start projecting into the future. Heartwood actually has a pretty thorough outline for the rest of it—which will change as I go, I've already had to restructure once, but still, it exists.

My first draft tends to be more of a zeroth draft. I have several of these for novels lying around that would need a ton of work to become something I'd be willing even to send anyone for critique. Heartwood is going to need a bunch of work too, though hopefully less (fingers crossed). Confession time: I've only ever really edited one novel, so there aren't patterns I can pull out yet. Can I blame college for this, since it ate up all my time and made first drafts of novels something I could do in a summer but consistent revision work on a big project well-nigh impossible? I'm blaming college.

...being a year out of college (yay!) I hope to get more seriously into noveling again. Heartwood is sort of a placeholder project in that I needed to Write Something, Dammit, but I would like to keep working on it and revising it after I have a full draft.

I started out writing short stories like I write novels now—first draft and then abandon—but they take less time so I've got more practice revising them. "Starling Road" happened in a single morning, and originally it was structured like a sestina. I've dropped that constraint, though some of the structure probably underlies how the plot turns, and have been stretching and re-working and tweaking it since then. Partly to make it more intelligible to other people, partly to illustrate more of what I brushed over, partly to be really clear about what the story is about (vs what occurs in it). This is standard for me. I have a tendency to stuff as much as possible into a short story, because otherwise my brain gets bored, and then I have to balance everything and make it comprehensible and etc. etc. etc.

I am tagging Brackett and Steph to carry on! I've been having fun reading people's answers to these questions and look forward to theirs.
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