Another friend this week on the blog… the lovely Mary Maddox joins us on the blog this week!
What were you like at school?
I was shy and withdrawn and, in grade school, occasionally violent. Early growth made me the tallest kid in class, so I fought with boys and girls alike. As a young adult I met the father of a kindergarten classmate. “I remember you,” the father said. “You’re the one that scratched my little Billy in the face.” It was an embarrassing moment.
In junior high and high school I worked toward the goal of winning a college scholarship somewhere outside Utah. I liked my classmates, but as a non-Mormon, I often felt like an outsider among them. And I wanted to know more of the world. I worked hard in school and became a National Merit finalist. In the end I achieved my goal with a scholarship to Knox College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program.
Were you good at English?
I was good at most subjects. For a while I thought about a career in mathematics. At fifteen I participated in a National Science Foundation summer program for gifted students, taking college-level classes at San Diego University. It was a stressful experience and I became so depressed that my concentration and performance suffered. Years later I wrote a semi-autobiographical short story about the experience that was published in Huffington Post.
After that summer, my attention shifted to English, particularly creative writing. I was lucky enough to have a gifted teacher, Phyllis Gillins, who taught me the basics of writing and introduced me to some
wonderful books, including Flowers for Algernon, one of my favorites. The stories and plays I wrote under her guidance won national contests and resulted in my winning a scholarship to Knox College, a small liberal arts college famous for its creative writing program.
So, what have you written?
I’ve published Talion and Daemon Seer, the first two books of the Daemon World series. A third novel, not part of the series, is coming out this spring. I’ve written several other novels that are better left unpublished. In addition to “Mandarian Training School,” the short story at Huffington Post, I have stories at The Scream Online (“What Love Is”) and in the anthology Awesome Allshorts (“Smilin’ Mike”). Two other stories can be downloaded from my website. “Yubi: A Love Story” is free to all while “Catalyst” is a gift for whoever signs up for my newsletter.
Give us an insight into your main character. What does he/she do that is so special?
Lu, the hero of the Daemon World series, is a daemon seer. She possesses the power to see daemons and anchor them to the physical world. Specifically, she anchors the daemon Talion and his companions. He forces her to swear obedience and bear a child for him — a child who will eventually replace her. The overarching story chronicles Talion’s efforts to control Lu as she comes to understand her power and struggles to break free.
What are you working on at the minute?
I’m writing the first draft of Daemon Blood, the next book in the series.
What genre are your books?
The daemon novels are horror/dark fantasy. The new novel, Darkroom, coming this spring, is psychological suspense. Though it lacks a supernatural element, Darkroom has some harrowing moments.
What draws you to this genre?
I enjoy reading scary and suspenseful books as much I enjoy writing them. While I was struggling with a tender sex scene in Daemon Seer, it occurred to me that writing love scenes is harder for me than writing violence. Love scenes are far more nuanced. You have to pay attention to who your characters truly are; otherwise the scene will devolve into clichés.
How much research do you do?
My research includes a fair amount of reading and sometimes visits to the places where my stories are set. It’s a great excuse to travel. No matter how much research I do, it never seems quite enough. I always need to do more while I’m writing. My latest online research for Darkroom focused on the art at the Denver airport. It’s an amazing collection, but not one that pleases everyone.
Do you write every day, 5 days a week or as and when?
There are periods when I write every day for a while and periods when I write three or four times a week. When I’m not writing at all, I feel aimless and become depressed.
Do you write on a typewriter, computer, dictate or longhand?
I write notes and outlines in longhand. I’m a fan of notebooks that have notched paper inserted into discs that form the spine. Levenger’s Circes is the best known of these. The system lets me rearrange sheets of paper and move them from one notebook to another, so I can jot down various ideas in a small notebook then transfer them to the large notebook where I’m outlining the book.
I write first drafts on my iPad with a Bluetooth keyboard so that I can sit somewhere besides my desk. For word processing I use either Pages for iPad or Storyist. I bought Storyist recently because someone touted it as a substitute for Scrivener. So far I’m not that impressed. It offers some tools for organization, but the backup procedures aren’t as seamless as those for Pages.
For subsequent drafts I move to my desktop and work use Scrivener, mainly for its organizational capabilities. It’s nice having flexible outlining, setting and characters notes, and research materials at hand. Most editors prefer to work with Word, so near the end of the writing process I export the manuscript to Word. Scrivener remains a valuable reference, though. Although Scrivener can produce an eBook or a layout for a physical book, I prefer InDesign. Ideally, I’d like to pay a professional to do all the production, but my budget usually won’t allow it.
Do you work to an outline or plot or do you prefer just see where an idea takes you?
I make an outline, if only in my head, but rarely stick to it completely.
Do you proofread/edit all your own books or do you get someone to do that for you?
I did all the editing and proofreading for Talion. I’m a good line editor and I understand grammar, so I figured I could handle the job. The first edition was such an embarrassment that it literally kept me awake at night, squirming at how sloppy and incompetent it made me look. For the second edition I caught the worst typos but ignored larger issues — problems that developmental and copy editors would spot at once. In the third (current) edition, most of those issues have been resolved and very few typos remain. By the end I’d rewritten twice and combed through the manuscript about twenty times. The process was mentally and emotionally exhausting. For Daemon Seer I worked with a developmental editor, a copy editor, and a proofreader. It cost money but saved me work, time, and embarrassment.
Thanks so much for joining us Mary! Please be sure to follow her and check out her work!
Amazon Author Page: http://www.amazon.com/Mary-Maddox/e/B003VSUF3U/