Saturday, 11 February 2012

Letting Go by Laura Bickle + Giveaway

Button made by the very talented Susi! Thank you!!

I am very happy to welcome back to Ex Libris one of my favourite urban fantasy authors and all around nice person Laura Bickle! Laura was one of the first authors I discovered thanks to blogging and her original and beautifully written stories as well as her friendliness won me over instantly. If you haven't had the pleasure of reading her Anya Kalinczyk or Oracle series yet I recommend you check them out, they are brilliantly unique and I guarantee you that Laura's lyrical writing will captivate you. (To get a first glimpse you can read my reviews of Embers and Dark Oracle). So please give the warmest welcome to Laura!

Letting Go
by Laura Bickle

Writing a book is often a process in letting things go. I know that seems counterintuitive, because the creative process is all about conjuring something from nothing. But there are certain points along the process that are about releasing control and allowing the story to have a life of its own.

The story starts out as an idea in my head, safe and cuddled in a warm dark nest. What if a dragon lived in the salt mine beneath the city of Detroit? What if the Oracle of Delphi survived to the modern day? At the end of the world, who would survive? I ruminate about it, journal on it, flesh it out, doodle. The idea is warmed with plenty of daydreams, sketches, and mutterings about its future.

Then comes the first surrender.

When the idea congeals, when I have a shiny blue egg of a concept, I often run it past my crit partners or agent. I like the idea, and am even more than a bit in love with it - but does it make sense? Is it even remotely marketable? Had it been done to death before, and are people sick of seeing this?

The key part here is having honesty, having people I trust who will tell me that the timing for the idea isn't right. That the market isn't right. That I haven't solidified it enough in my head, that it needs time to develop. Sometimes, an idea will get tucked back into sunny back cage of my mind, to incubate and perhaps hatch in another time. Occasionally, it's necessary to murder an idea outright - crush it quickly and bury the shell in the back yard. But sometimes, I hit upon something that I feel that I can move forward with, that might be something that other people will like to read.

Then I have the most control in the process. The idea and I are alone for months, behind a closed door, as it hatches and grows. I feed it with squirming bits of research, outlines, and note cards. I'm completely immersed in it, listening to its every chirp. I dream about salamanders, dragons, and ghosts. I'm playing with Tarot cards and dragging home stacks of books from the library. I become acutely aware of what I *don't* know about arson investigation, quantum mechanics, or Amish culture. I work to fill in the gaps while the characters begin to come to life. I'm obsessive at this point. There are no other projects but this one. Laundry piles up and science projects fester in the refrigerator.

I feel flow. This project is mine, all mine. I put the flesh on the bones of its skeleton, watching the pinfeathers sprout and make shadows against the wall. One day, it's fully formed and feathered, and I type "THE END." It's become my Galatea, and I can see the flesh seething underneath the stone.

Then comes the second surrender. And the third.

I give the manuscript to my crit partners. They cull through it, tell me what's working and what's not. In trust, I make changes. I feel control slipping away. I edit it, give it to my agent. She works through it and I have a new set of alterations to make.

The book is changing. I can feel it. It's moving out of my hands, blinking and warbling.

And then all the surrenders to follow. If I'm lucky enough to sell it, I transfer that twitching bird to the hands of an editor. She will mold the feathers to fit her vision, change it from a sparrow to a raven. We'll do content edits and line edits. The project will pace and caw as others fuss over it. The copy editor will go through it, searching for those inconsistencies that I've grown blind to and smooth the plumage. Others will assign it a cover, describe it in back cover copy.

By this time, I realize that the book is no longer mine. It has slipped through my fingers in a flurry of feathers, gone out of the nest. I've given up control and given it up to the world.

I always feel a pang of sadness at that. That I can no longer cluck over it, feed and protect it like I used to. At this point, it's perched on a shiny branch, watching me with an alert eye and stretching its wings in anticipation of being released.

But it's meant to be out there and make its own way in the world.

Laura Bickle (also writing as Alayna Williams) writes urban and young adult fantasy. She’s written four novels for Pocket Books: EMBERS, SPARKS, DARK ORACLE, and ROGUE ORACLE. Both DARK ORACLE and ROGUE ORACLE are National Novel Writing Month books. She has two upcoming YA novels with Houghton Mifflin’s Graphia line in 2012 and 2013, beginning with THE HALLOWED ONES in fall. 

You can find Laura at her official website / blog / Facebook / Twitter


Laura has generously offered a signed paperback copy of Sparks to a lucky commentator!

To be entered all you have to do is:

1. fill out the main form so I have your contact info (just once, if you have already filled it out for a previous giveaway that's enough)

2. leave a comment and tell us about one of your experiences when you had to gather your courage and take that metaphorical leap into the unknown. (could be anything from finally going on that trip you have been dreaming about for years, or starting pottery to find out if you were talented, etc. Anything where you had to battle and conquer your fears)

Giveaway is open worldwide and ends on 15 March 2012.

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