Friday, August 31, 2012

GUTGAA: Meet and Greet

Deana Barnhart

I heard about GUTGAA: Gear up to Get an Agent on twitter the other day and thought, "Hmm, I AM gearing up to get an Agent!"  I'm excited to participate in what I can, though I don't think that my manuscript is ready for an Agent's eyes yet, so I will stop when we get to that point.

Some things about me:
  • I'm a Youth Services Specialist at the Library, which means that I have one of the best jobs in the world.
  • I am a well-rounded geek in the fields of Star Trek, Star Wars, Joss Whedon, MST3K,and a million other things in the world of geekdom. You have to let your Geek Flag Fly!
  • Favorite books at the moment and of all time, in no particular order: 
    • Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern, 
    • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, 
    • Zombies vs Unicorns by EVERY AMAZING YA WRITER, 
    • The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexander Dumas, 
    • Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, 
    • Breathers: A Zombie's Lament by SG Browne, 
    • FABLES graphic novels by Bill Willingham.
  • My current work in progress, The Mirror Tells No Lies, is an adult fantasy.  I'm reluctant to call it an updated fairy tale because it's actually about a new generation of heroes, magicians, and monsters dealing with the consequences those famous "happily ever afters."

Oh, and to the questions I was supposed to answer:

-Where do you write?

Anywhere I can whenever I can.  My Laptop goes with me everywhere.  Honestly I get most of my writing done with me in the break room at the library over lunch break.

-Quick. Go to your writing space, sit down and look to your left. What is the first thing you see?

Since everywhere is my writing space, to the left you'll probably see Diet Coke or tea.  Have to hydrate and write!

-Favorite time to write?

If I wasn't stealing spare moments and didn't have to get up in the morning for work, I would write in the dead of night all of the time.  Midnight to 3 in the morning.  Nothing to distract you then.  No one is on twitter and nothing is on tv, everyone is asleep and the words feel like they flow out like water.

-Drink of choice while writing?

Darn, answered this already.  I will say that I tried what I called "the Hemingway experiment" and drank alcohol while I wrote and it was an abysmal failure, so caffeine infused beverages it is!

-When writing , do you listen to music or do you need complete silence?

Music, and I'm not picky about lyrics.  Lyrics inspire me; I write scenes to songs that move me.  I feel like this current WIP is brought to you by Florence + The Machine.

-What was your inspiration for your latest manuscript and where did you find it?

Oh man, what a convoluted story this is.  When I watched 10th Kingdom when I was kid, and resolved to write a great fairy tale.  Then it didn't come to me until years later in college, when I started to look at my love of fairy tales through the eyes of a struggling young feminist.  We love princesses but they are so passive in their lives, when actually the evil queens are the active women.  Is that why they were seen as evil, because they dare to take control of their destinies?  Could beauty love a beast if the beast were a woman and the beauty were a man?  Wouldn't it be great to see a heroine making hard choices for her happily ever after instead of falling into it?  Those were my big questions, but ultimately it's all about characters right?  Once I created characters to tackle these questions with me, the story became a lot more to me than "an updated fairy tale with a feminist twist."  They fought and loved and struggled, and I love them more than the fairy tales their inspired by.

-What's your most valuable writing tip?

I hate these, because they give the impression that you, as a writer, know what you're doing, which I would never wish to say.  I'll just quote someone who did know what they were doing, Ray Bradbury, in a response to a fan letter one of my friends sent him.  "Write: Everyday, Everyday, Everyday."

Friday, March 30, 2012

For the Joy of Reading

I think reading for the joy of reading has taken a lot of hits this week.  There have been several articles (which I've decided not to link anymore so they don't get anymore page views because of me) that have stated that we should be reading to learn and we can only be learning from adult literary fiction and classics.  I disagree wholeheartedly, both that anyone should be telling anyone what they SHOULD be reading and that there isn't a great deal to be learned from Children's, YA, and Genre fiction.  So, I've decided to celebrate some books that have given me joy despite their genre or intended age group.
The Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket - Labeled as Children's fiction, I don't think anyone should miss these books because Daniel Handler "Snicket" is a master of the voicey, character narrator.  I think these are gems of literature.  Also not to be missed by Snicket are his holiday books, "The Latke Who couldn't Stop Screaming" and "The Lump of Coal" because they are some of the best satires on holidays out there.
The Diary of a Wimpy Kid Series by Jeff Kinney.  These were actually meant to be books for adults but were turned into children's books and became phenomenons.  As an adult, however, I really enjoy the satire of middle school, a hated grade for nearly every one of us.  Kinney's indictment of lock-ins is a particular favorite of mine, as I hate lock-ins and always have.
The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier - This one is shelved in the YA section with good reason, it is a brilliant indictment of bullying.  I think every kid should read it just to see how mob mentality is born and how it is manipulated.  It shows just how cruel we can be to each other even when we're schoolmates.  This book is also a frequently banned book, so between some telling you not to read YA because you are an adult and some telling you not to read it as a teen because of it's violent and sexual content, it seems there is never a right age to read this book, and that's a damned shame.
Zombies vs. Unicorns edited by Holly Black and Justine Larbalestier.  I picked up this book because I knew it would be fun, and it was indeed.  It's full of a Who's Who of the best YA writers out there right now.  There's social commentary, dark and adult themes in each story.  There's also a good helping of fun.
So there you have it.  Books that brought me joy and learning outside of the literary fiction world. I've been inspired by classics and awed by the language in literary fiction, but there are gems in all writing that you can find when you read for the joy of it.  Anyone else?