Congratulations to H.D. Lynn, who just released her debut novel God’s Play. She found time to answer a few of my questions about her writing process, offer tips to unpublished writers, and share a story about hiking. After you check out her great (informative and honest) answers, read on to see more about her YA urban-fantasy that is available now.
So, my first question is about how you write. So, are you a panster or a plotter? How do you approach a new idea?
As Yoda says, outline you must. New works especially require at least a simple outline or else the story can get really tangled. That said, for writing sequels, the outlines can bog me down in a swamp of tedium because I know the characters pretty well by then; it’s fun to continue the adventure and heartache with them. If it’s a BIG new idea, I write it down. If it’s a small detail new idea, I might make a note of it
Do you have the same critique partners for all your work or do you have different sets? And why?
Different people, for sure. Not everyone likes everything, and people are busy. No one has time to read everything I write because, to pull a humble brag, I’m pretty prolific and quick when I write drafts. There’s a core group, though, who are generally helpful when I want to mull over ideas about writing and fiction.
What is the most difficult aspect about being a writer?
Editing. Coming up with ideas—easy. Making an idea better—now that’s hard. (This is a great answer… Nathaniel Hawthorne — “Easy reading is damn hard writing.”)
What are your top three nuggets of wisdom you would like to share with unpublished writers?
- Don’t give up! You really never know what’s going to be the story that sells.
- Write you. People respond to authentic voice. I had a beta who said they didn’t read YA…and then they read the first chapter of my story and asked to beta all of it because they liked it so much.
- Surround yourself with positive people. I don’t mean kiss-asses who’ll give you an ego pat but people who can and will be there for you, aren’t self-destructive, or being critical to stoke their own egos. (great advice)
What is your favorite part of the writing process?
Writing! I love the feeling of falling in love with the characters, their stories, and the world(s) they inhabit. There’s nothing like when you finish a first or second draft, too, and know that this story is all yours; you made it. For that sweet moment, it doesn’t matter how good or how marketable it is—it’s just your little story.
Do you have any suggestions for editing drafts?
Anything that even feels a bit off usually is. I can power write, but I don’t even try to power edit; slow and steady wins the race during editing. The Golden Rule of Editing: If an editor says it, they’re probably right, and you’re probably wrong. This is not a bad thing, but it’s not a feel good process.
What do you think is the most important element a story should have?
It should, above all, be a story. It doesn’t matter if you use 5 Act structure, 8 circle plot points, or the snowflake method—it has to be about a person, multiple people, or an amorphous entity wanting something, struggling to get it, and reaching some type of conclusion about their journey. Anything else is boring. Characters without motivation or agency are boring. Convoluted plots without realistic characters are pointless slogs. Cool worlds without coherent plots are just paintings. You’ve gotta catch ‘em all to make a story.
Do you have other stories in the works?
I have the sequels to God’s Play outlined, and I’ve started to write the next book. I also am finishing a set of rough drafts for an adult urban fantasy trilogy.
I wrote a blog about self-doubt being a new demon I encountered. Do you have any writing demons?
Imposter syndrome. It’s pernicious and jumps me like a mugger at the most inopportune moments. This might be because succeeding never feels like I think it will in my head.
If someone wrote a book about your life, who would star as you in the movie version?
People in Hollywood are tan and pretty, and I am neither of these things. I’m a huge fan of Eva Green, though, so I’d pick her just so I could be like ‘EVA GREEN PLAYS ME IN A MOVIE.’ I mean, I’d put signs up on my house that’d say that.
What led you to this genre?
I’ve loved fantasy for a long time. While I read across genres, I always come back to fantasy, and there was never a question of writing another genre. Urban and contemporary fantasy are great to write because they’re fantasy that asks questions about our world while looking towards the future. God’s Play happens to be YA, and there’s a part of me that’ll always relate to teens because I can’t seem to leave my ‘awkward and weird’ phase behind. I just embrace it better as an adult.
Funniest hiking story 🙂
I got caught in a thunder-snowstorm over Memorial Day weekend on a mountain pass. When I got back to the car soaking wet and cold, I couldn’t stop laughing—it was super crazy. I’ve also played a game where, to save phone/ipod battery life, one person will put in a headphone and sing the songs that come up on their player and the person without the headphones will do their best to sing along. We’ve weirded out a lot day hikers with this game, especially because I’ve got a playlist loaded with Amanda Palmer songs. (This has the bonus benefit of warding off bears.)
This one isn’t mine, but a friend got stalked by this thing on the trail. He nick-named it the Demon Grouse because it hissed and stalked him. 🙂
And here is it… God’s Play. Read on and then go grab a copy.
Genre: young-adult, urban-fantasy
Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press
Date of Release: September 18, 2014
Available at Amazon
Sixteen-year old Toby was trained by a family of hunters to kill shape-shifters — but he has a unique weapon in his arsenal. With a touch of his hand, Toby can lift the magical protection shape-shifters use to disguise themselves as human. It’s an unusual skill for a hunter, and he prefers to kill monsters the old-fashioned way: with a blade.
Because of his special skill, Toby suspects he may be a monster himself. His suspicions deepen when William, a jackal-headed shape-shifter, saves him from an ambush where Toby’s the only survivor. And Toby doubts William helped him for purely altruistic reasons. With his list of allies running thin, Toby must reconcile his hatred of shifters and the damning truth that one saved his life. It’ll take both of them to track down the monster who ordered the ambush.
And Toby needs his unlikely alley because he has a vicious enemy — the infamous Circe, who has a vendetta to settle against the hunters. Toby has to unravel the mystery of his dual nature. And he has to do it on the run — before Circe finds him and twists him to her own ends.
H.D. Lynn is like Harry Potter in one way: she’s currently renting an apartment with a bedroom under her building’s stairs. Other than this, she explores fantasy worlds through storytelling like anyone else. She loves books with a mix of humor, adventure, and horror, and especially enjoys the urban fantasy genre. GOD’S PLAY is her first published novel.
When not writing, she enjoys hiking, climbing, and running. She’s a voracious reader, and has found listening to audiobooks while backpacking to be a perfect mix of two of her favorite things. She currently lives in Connecticut, but finds herself on the road often.