Sunday, October 10, 2010

Monday Guest Blogging Post: The Fabulous Janice Hardy

Today on GotYA's Monday Guest Blog segment we have the fabulous Janice Hardy. I had the extreme honor and pleasure of meeting Janice on Saturday at a book signing for Blue Fire. She was approachable and friendly, and I'm so thrilled I got to meet her in person. Truthfully, I'm not really surprised to find her so nice in person since she's been that way since I met her. When I first started out on AbsoluteWrite, Janice was kind enough to review my YAUF query....several times! For the release of The Shifter, Janice held a contest on her blog where you could win an ARC for the best "why did the chicken cross the road" joke. I won with my education inspired "Why did the chicken cross the basketball court? Because the Ref was calling 'fowls'!"

On the biography front, Janice is a long-time fantasy reader. She always wondered about the darker side of healing. For her fantasy trilogy THE HEALING WARS, she tapped into her own dark side to create a world where healing was dangerous, and those with the best intentions often made the worst choices. Her books include THE SHIFTER, and BLUE FIRE from Balzer+Bray/Harper Collins. She lives in Georgia with her husband, three cats and one very nervous freshwater eel.

Are these FANTASTIC covers or what? Just GORGEOUS!

Unrequited Writing Love
I’m a fantasy writer, with a little science fiction thrown in. All the stories that come to me have some kind of speculative element. As much as I love these kinds of tales (I wouldn’t write them if I didn’t), I also love stories set in the real world with real problems. Dark problems really, tragic ones that I hope no one I care about ever has to go through, but I love reading about them. I’ve tried to write stories like those, and failed miserably.

We’ve all heard it. “Write what you love.” But what do you do when what you love doesn’t love you back?

Identify what you love about those stories
It isn’t the real world aspect that keeps me up late reading about a dying boy. It’s how he deals with his inevitable death and what he does with the time he has left. I realized I like stories about people facing horrific problems and handling them best they could. So when I plan a story, I think about the things I can do that tap into that idea. In my fantasy novel, The Shifter, I used the idea of losing your family and being forced to do terrible things to save the only family member you had left. In the sequel, Blue Fire, it was having to work with the people who killed that family. Survival in the face of tragedy and rising above that. I may have done it differently than my favorite real world writers, but I tried to create that same feeling I get when I read those stories.

Steal ideas. After all, imitation is the highest form of flattery, right?
Naturally you don’t steal real ideas (that would be wrong), but if you love a concept, think about ways to apply that concept to your genre. If you’re drawn to tales of forbidden love, but you write techno-thrillers, looks at ways that forbidden love can affect the terrorist plot you’re working on. Make it more than just a subplot between the hunky hero and the sexy scientist he goes to for help. Make it thematic and let it influence the entire story.

Think outside the book
Every genre has its own tropes (common themes and ideas), but don’t be afraid to think outside of those. All fantasy must have magic? What if it didn’t? What if your fantasy story captured the feel of a historical novel? Westerns need to take place in the Old West? That didn’t stop Star Trek or Firefly. Both TV shows used the “trek into the wild frontier” idea and applied it to science fiction. Just because a genre usually has certain elements doesn’t mean you have to use them all. Maintain the essence of that genre (you can’t have a murder mystery with no murder, for example) and you can do pretty much anything you want. I did this with magic in my books. Instead of traditional fireballs and lightning spells, I made healing something dangerous, something that could kill.

Be true to your story
No matter how much you love one type of story, if it doesn’t work with the idea you have brewing, don’t force it. But that doesn’t mean you have to give it up entirely. If that forbidden romance will feel contrived, see if a forbidden friendship would work better. If there are no terminal illnesses in your sci fi world, then look at things that come to an inevitable end. The “death” doesn’t have to be literal. Concepts can be applied to anything, so find the concept that inspires you and see how that can enhance your story.

A little creative thinking can help you take the themes and ideas you love to read, and apply them to the stories you love to write.

Blue Fire Blurb
Part fugitive, part hero, fifteen-year-old Nya is barely staying ahead of the Duke of Baseer’s trackers. Wanted for a crime she didn’t mean to commit, she risks capture to protect every Taker she can find, determined to prevent the Duke from using them in his fiendish experiments. But resolve isn’t enough to protect any of them, and Nya soon realizes that the only way to keep them all out of the Duke’s clutches is to flee Geveg. Unfortunately, the Duke’s best tracker has other ideas.

Nya finds herself trapped in the last place she ever wanted to be, forced to trust the last people she ever thought she could. More is at stake than just the people of Geveg, and the closer she gets to uncovering the Duke’s plan, the more she discovers how critical she is to his victory. To save Geveg, she just might have to save Baseer—if she doesn’t destroy it first.

Link to Blue Fire Online Retailers


The Other Side of the Story Blog

Thank you so much, Janice, for guest blogging with us. I can't wait to snuggle up my coveted autographed copy of Blue Fire!!!


Kaitlin Ward said...

Great post, Janice! Your advice is always so valuable.

Melody said...

Great covers, great advice, and it's looking like a great story! These are definitely going on my TBR list. :)

J.S. Wood said...

Thanks so much, Janice!!

I can't wait for my daughter's copy to arrive in the mail. She thinks it's so great you live in Georgia like her and loves Nya. She also says you're one of her favorite writers!!

Janice Hardy said...

Thanks all! I've been so lucky with my covers. Illustrator Brandon Dorman is just amazing.

J.S. Wood, always fun to meet another Georgia gal. :)

LeishaMaw said...

Great post! :)