We’re taking you inside the life of a fantasy author today, with our stop on the official blog tour for Julia Defiant. Author Catherine Egan stops by to blog about what her day is like writing fantasy – plus keep reading to learn more about her series, and enter to win copies of both books!
Everyone’s life is a juggling act. We multi-task our way through the seasons, and at our luckiest we tread a tightrope between screaming despair and grief at the state of the world, and the enjoyment of cinnamon buns and good books and the necessity of cleaning the bath-tub. It’s disorienting.
My life right now is pretty uncomplicated. My kids are both school-aged and writing is my day-job. I’ve never been much good at balance though. Here I am, trying to write a book and also be a person in the world:
Wake up and stumble through making breakfast & lunches & getting kids ready for school.
Burn eggs because I suddenly thought of perfect line to close dialogue scene I wrote yesterday and I don’t want to lose it.
Drop kids at school. Walk home thinking about this scene where two girls with every reason to mistrust each other talk on a factory rooftop. Have I laid the groundwork or is it weird that they would reveal so much to each other here? I need another scene between them first, to set this one up.
Make coffee. Check wordcount: 20,111 words on this draft so far.
Go through the Factory-Rooftop-Conversation scene and make small adjustments. Love this scene! Two girls baring hearts and souls, deep connection, my favorite! Feel very happy about killer new line at the end.
Whisper to self: This is going to be so good!
Writing brand new scene on factory floor to set up the rooftop scene. Hooray!
Glance up and see Older Boy’s homework, a project he worked on for hours and is supposed to present today, sitting on the table… where I left it… after taking it out of his folder to look at last night. In other words: my fault.
Angst. Am on a roll but guilt prevails.
Run to the school with the homework. Run back home. Make more coffee.
Feeling unfocused. Check Twitter. Many insights and much hilarity! I love Book Twitter! More coffee!
Look at clock. Scold self. Close Twitter. Feeling jittery. Too much coffee!
Read over Factory Rooftop Scene. In the glare of over-caffeinated spotlight-brain, killer line looks stupid & overwrought. In fact this whole scene sucks. What was I thinking? They are revealing too much. It isn’t earned yet. Delete the whole scene. Start over. Whisper to self: I suck at this.
Feeling good about an hour of solid work on new Factory Roof Scene. Whisper to self: Not bad. Delete set-up scene, which is no longer necessary with rewritten rooftop scene.
Eat lunch. Read news. Despair.
Phonecall from school. Heart plunges. Younger boy has a stomachache.
Go to pick him up, raging inwardly because this is WRITING time not MOM time. He is sitting in the office, skinny legs dangling, face pinched and sad. Am immediately flooded with love & sympathy. Holding his little hand as we go outside, nothing in the world matters but this.
He lets go of my hand and bounces down the steps, miraculously recovering the instant we are out of the building.
Go to grocery store with Younger Boy. Stand in dairy aisle daydreaming about what final scene of the book will be. Totally in love with final scene as imagined. Forget to buy eggs.
Younger Boy: Can I have a lollipop?
Me: No. You can’t leave school with a stomachache and then have a lollipop!
Mind drifts back to Factory Roof Scene. Something is missing. What, what, what? Pay for groceries & hand child his lollipop.
Younger Boy: I thought you said I couldn’t have one.
Younger Boy: Nothing.
Younger boy draws monsters while I put away groceries, fold laundry, wash dishes.
Me: You don’t seem sick.
Him, cheerfully: I’m all better.
Suddenly it clicks. I need a flashback scene – or even multiple short flashbacks interspersed with the dialogue, to highlight what is being said and more importantly what is not being said. The conversation on the rooftop needs to be a tentative dance with a storm brewing beneath it. This friendship will cost them, and they know it, they don’t dare say too much.
Younger boy: Are you writing your book in your head?
Me: (turning off water I’ve left running) I’m just thinking.
Younger Boy: Can I have chocolate chips?
Make some notes. Look up – we’re late and Younger Boy has a fistful of chocolate chips. He stuffs all of them in his mouth before I can say anything.
Hurry younger boy into shoes and out door. Run to get older boy from school.
Teacher says we need to work on his spelling. Something about particular vowel combinations and a computer program we can use. Inspiration upon inspiration piling up in my head re. the flashbacks I will sprinkle through dialogue. Why didn’t I bring a notebook? I nod avidly, hearing nothing.
Sit on sidelines of older boy’s soccer practice reading a really disturbing short story by China Miéville. Look up in time to see child assist goal in a scrimmage. Cheer like crazy. Feel weird dissonance between the horror of the story, the horrors of the real world, and this beautiful day, my kid high-fiving his teammates, blossoms sailing through the air, his brother examining an ant-hole several feet away.
Read during soccer drills. Wonder what China Miéville’s drafting process is like. Decide it can’t possibly be as messy and inefficient as mine.
Make dinner & help boys with homework.
Read a few chapters of Terry Pratchett book to boys, thinking what a gift funny books are. I should write a funny book. Could I write a funny book? Teeter on chasm of everything-I’ve-ever-written-is-so-worthless-why-do-I-bother? Pull back from edge. Pat self on back for pulling back from edge.
Start to answer e-mails but instead end up making notes for mini-flashbacks I want to write tomorrow.
Husband: Are you even listening to me?
Me: Yes! I’m listening! I can type and listen at the same time.
This is a lie. I am a terrible human and wife and parent.
Realize that what I really need to do is fix my outline. The problem is the map. Pull up outline and start tinkering but it’s basically impossible to work in the evenings – my brain is fried, the boys are loud, this day needs to be done.
Put kids to bed. Wordcount for WIP: 19, 870.
But I know by now that the wordcount is not the thing. Sometimes moving backward is part of moving forward. Tomorrow I’ll fix my outline and rewrite the Factory Roof scene with flashbacks. Tomorrow I’ll get it right. Tomorrow I will be totally focused. Tomorrow there won’t be so many interruptions. Tomorrow I will not drink so much coffee and I will also pay more attention to my kids.
Fall asleep reading on the sofa.
Wake up when friend going through a work crisis calls. Sit on steps outside and listen. Manage to listen for real, for once, because at the end of the day my made-up stuff is just made-up stuff, and this is the end of the day.
Fans of The Rose Society, Graceling, and Six of Crows will thrill to the masterful world-building and fiercely flawed heroine in this heart-pounding follow-up to Julia Vanishes, book two in the Witch’s Child trilogy.
Adventure, murder, romance, intrigue, and betrayal with a 16-year-old heroine that is both fierce and flawed at the same time. Hypable.com
Julia and a mismatched band of revolutionaries, scholars, and thieves have crossed the world searching for a witch. But for all the miles traveled, they are no closer to finding Ko Dan. No closer to undoing the terrible spell he cast that bound an ancient magic to the life of a small child. Casimir wants that magic will happily kill Theo to extract it and every moment they hunt for Ko Dan, Casimir’s assassins are hunting them.
Julia can deal with danger. The thing that truly scares her lies within. Her strange ability to vanish to a place just out of sight has grown: she can now disappear so completely that it’s like stepping into another world. It’s a fiery, hellish world, filled with creatures who seem to recognize her and count her as one of their own.
So . . . is Julia a girl with a monster lurking inside her? Or a monster wearing the disguise of a girl?
If she can use her monstrous power to save Theo, does it matter?
In this riveting second book in the Witch s Child trilogy, Catherine Egan goes deep within the heart of a fierce, defiant girl trying to discover not just who but what she truly is.
Praise for Julia Vanishes:
Egan’s debut novel sparkles. A beautifully rendered world and exquisite sense of timing ensure a page-turning experience. Publishers Weekly, starred review
Readers will find themselves immediately immersed in the narrative and invested in the fate of Julia, who is both feisty and flawed. Booklist, starred review
Julia’s a wonderful, fully realized heroine. . . . For those readers waiting for the sequel to Marie Lu’s The Rose Society, a well-realized page-turner in the same vein. Kirkus
Haven’t started the series? Make sure to grab the Paperback of JULIA VANISHES:
My superpowers: high-kicking, list-making, simultaneously holding two opposing opinions
My weaknesses: fear of flying, over-thinking and then making bad decisions, excessive list-making
My allies: my made-for-walking-in black boots, Mick, the English Language
My enemies: decaf, low blood sugar, the passage of time
My mission: the coexistence of ambivalence and joy.
3 winners will receive a finished copy of JULIA VANISHES & JULIA DEFIANT, US Only.
- 6/5/2017- The Cover Contessa– Interview
- 6/5/2017- Booklove– Review
- 6/6/2017- Don’t Judge, Read– Excerpt
- 6/6/2017- Here’s to Happy Endings– Review
- 6/7/2017- Novel Novice – Guest Post
- 6/7/2017- Read. Eat. Love.– Review
- 6/8/2017- Fiction Fare– Spotlight
- 6/8/2017- Take Me Away To A Great Read– Review
- 6/9/2017- Two Chicks on Books– Interview
- 6/9/2017- Seeing Double In Neverland– Interview
- 6/12/2017- Wandering Bark Books– Guest Post
- 6/12/2017- A Dream Within A Dream– Review
- 6/13/2017- Tales of the Ravenous Reader– Excerpt
- 6/13/2017- Smada’s Book Smack– Review
- 6/14/2017- Crystal’s Chaotic Confessions– Spotlight
- 6/14/2017- Page Turners Blog– Review
- 6/15/2017- Wishful Endings– Interview
- 6/15/2017- Bibliobibuli YA– Review
- 6/16/2017- Book Briefs– Review
- 6/16/2017- BookHounds ya– Review