Monday, April 18, 2011

Meet the Author: Fred Warren

I'm very excited about this interview today. Fred Warren's book The Muse was so fun to read, and I know that you're going to enjoy this interview.

How do you get ideas for stories? Specifically, what gave you the idea for The Muse?

It’s little things--a picture, a phrase, a song--something I notice in the world around me that catches my attention and sticks in my head until I figure out what to do with it. In the case of The Muse, I kept running into instances of writers talking about “looking for their muse,” or “finding their muse.” It struck me one day that if somebody literally found their muse, it might not be a positive experience. What if you encountered an evil muse? What might happen? The story grew from there.

When did you start writing? How did you know that God called you to write?

I’ve always enjoyed playing around with words, and I liked writing stories and essays in school. When I got to college, I began writing more creatively as a sort of recreation, to relieve stress. I wrote more poetry than fiction then, but as I got older, fiction became a bigger and bigger part of it, but I kept it mostly to myself. I realized after I became a father and my kids started to grow up that I couldn’t keep writing solely for my personal amusement--stories are meant to be shared.

Has God called me to write? I’m still sorting that out. In some ways, I think it’s a question I can only answer in retrospect, after a lot more writing than I’ve done to date. I do pray for God’s guidance and inspiration as I write. If my stories touch people’s hearts and minds for the better, I think I’m on the right track.

Do any of your characters take over the story, or do they generally stay well-behaved?

My characters are usually very cooperative, but they do surprise me from time to time, saying or doing something I didn’t expect. In The Muse, for example, my villain waltzed into the story several chapters earlier than I had planned, in a manner and form that I didn’t expect, and it definitely changed the story. I’m happy when my characters do things like that, because I always learn something new about them that makes the story richer, even though it also means more work for me.

Why did you decide to write fantasy?

I enjoyed reading both science fiction and fantasy growing up, and it’s fun to write the kind of stories I like to read. It gives me the opportunity to put ordinary people into extraordinary situations and then see what happens. Fantasy is more flexible than science fiction, in that there aren’t as many real-world limitations on the things you can do, but the story usually chooses its own genre. I couldn’t have written The Muse as a science fiction story.

You have all sorts of fantasy creatures in the end of The Muse. Which one is your favorite?

Having spent some time in the Air Force, I have a particular affection for flying creatures, so the winged horses and gryphons were fun to write.

Are Jilly, Stan, or Davos based off any writers you know? ;)

Not really. I suppose there’s a little bit of me in Stan, by necessity (it comes out mostly in his sense of humor), but neither the character nor his story are in any way autobiographical. Jilly and Davos are more representative of their genres than any writer in particular, though my mental picture of Davos was sort of a younger, beefier Isaac Asimov.

Who is your favorite character that you've created? That you've read about?

That’s like asking me which one of my kids I like the best. I think they’re all wonderful, and each one has their own special charm. As far as other literary characters, I’d have to say Tom Sawyer, who was probably the first really strong fictional character I encountered when I was a kid. I admired his ingenuity and ability to think quickly in tight spots. Mark Twain is still one of my favorite authors.

How do you go about writing a book or story?

It usually starts with a root idea, as it did with The Muse. I’ll sketch out a general outline of the story, its setting, and the main characters, but I won’t do much more than that before I begin writing. I find if I try to nail down too much of the story in advance, it inhibits my writing and restricts my ability to do the creative things that make the story more unusual and less predictable. As ideas come to me, I’ll jot them down in a notebook, especially if it’s something a little further down the road that I I tend to “live” the story in my mind, visualizing it and playing it over and over inside my head. If I stay interested, I figure there’s a fair chance the reader will be interested too.

What do you do if you have a severe case of writer's block?

I usually take a break for a while--do something non-writing. I’ve found it’s easier to break through writer’s block when I’m not actively fighting it, because the frustration just builds on itself. I’ll often get a fresh idea in the shower, or while driving to work.

Do you have a favorite funny writing quote?

"Being an author is like being in charge of your own personal insane asylum."- Graycie Harmon

Thanks, Fred, for being a guest on Magical Ink.

You can connect with Fred on his blog, like him on Facebook, and buy his book The Muse at Splashdown Booka. Have a good week!

2 responses:

M. R. Pursselley said...

Thanks, Heather, and Fred, for this interview. It's always nice to hear from other authors and their writing.

Galadriel said...

I have a hunch my muse is...not evil entirely, but lightly sadist. How else can I explain all the deaths?


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