Tag Archives: Tiana Warner

The Great Literary Blog Hop

I was recently approached by fellow editrix and  fantasy authoress Vanessa Ricci-Thode to participate in something called a blog hop. Vanessa published her novel The Dragon Whisperer last year and now has another book in the works. Honestly, I don’t know where she finds the time and energy to do all these literary things and raise a child too.  When she first mentioned the blog hop, I didn’t have a clue what it was, but I soon learned it would give me an opportunity to blab about my writing. What writer can say no to that? Thank you, Vanessa, for giving me the kick in the pants I needed to start blogging again.

As part of the blog hop, I’m required to answer four questions. At the end, I’ll provide links to the websites and books of some terrific writers who are taking up the challenge to continue this blog hop. So without further ado, let’s get started.

1.  What are you working on/writing?

As far as paid work goes, I’m currently editing the third book in a series of thrillers. The novel is action-packed, well-written, and suspenseful, so I’m really enjoying the process. Editing flows quite easily when the material you’re working on is so good. I consider myself very fortunate to be working with this particular author, who not only writes well but is very pleasant to deal with and shares my love of dogs.

There’s also my novel, Virginia’s Ghost. The book is a cozy mystery with a supernatural element. My protagonist, Virginia, is an auction house employee who encounters a rather demanding ghost named Constance from the 1920s. She realizes the ghost is trying to tell her something important, and precisely what is revealed as she reads Constance’s diary, written when she was a young woman. I include several diary entries, so I’m working with two first-person narrators. Simultaneously, mayhem and murder begin happening at the auction house, and the ghost is ultimately the key to making sense of all the chaos. Past and present are interwoven, and the book is really about the extraordinary connection these two women from separate eras forge and how they affect each other.

It does feel as if I’ve been writing Virginia’s Ghost forever, but after two rounds of edits by professional editor friends, I’m finally at the end of the writing process. Recently, I posted Chapter 1 on this site, and received eighty-eight Facebook likes, which astounded me! Because I’m a fanatical perfectionist, I’ve printed out the whole thing to read one more time and tweak as needed. About a month from now, we’ll be starting the cover and page design, which I’m very excited about.

Virginia'g Ghost book cover

2.  How does your work/writing differ from others in its genre?

I call my book a cozy mystery, but I doubt it is, strictly speaking–it’s just what it’s closest to being. One way in which it differs is that my protagonist isn’t really a sleuth as such and certainly doesn’t see herself as taking on that role. Instead, she has chaotic circumstances thrust upon her and copes as best as she can. Virginia’s Ghost does have a number of the characteristics of cosy mysteries, though: it’s set in a very closed community and features a victim who dare I say deserves to die. As well, there’s no graphic sex or violence, so it’s suitable for all ages. And although I intended to write a page-turner, I also like to think it’s more than a whodunit.

3.  Why do you write what you do?

I’ve been very influenced by my previous career. I worked at an auction house for about fourteen years and always thought it would be an excellent setting for either a mystery or a ghost story (I ended up combining both). There’s something both intriguing and slightly creepy about being surrounded by dusty old antiques that suggested both of those genres to me. I have a fascination with past eras, particularly the 1920s, so I wanted to bring a nostalgic storyline into the book–the story of Constance, the beautiful flapper ghost.  As well, there’s always a lot of adrenaline surging through the auction world–the pressure of crazy deadlines and the excitement of a live auction–that I thought would make for a dramatic book. And I met a lot of eccentric people, both clients and fellow employees, who I’ve drawn on in creating the characters for the book. The day I left that job, I thanked the staff for providing such wonderful inspiration for the novel I would one day write. Some of them looked a little worried when I said that. I guess they didn’t want to find themselves as a character in the book–particularly a villain or someone who gets murdered. But my characters are composites of various people I’ve met in my life.

4.  How does your writing process work?

What can I say? It’s slow and painstaking. This is because I’m an editor too. My sentences barely have a chance to squeak out before I’m polishing them to within an inch of their lives. I try to tell myself just to write, but it’s nearly impossible to quiet the professional editor in my head. But I’m also a better writer since I became an editor. I think I must have been pretty awful before.

I’m actually not too sure how many drafts of Virginia’s Ghost I’ve done–it’s either five or six, I think. It often tell my editing clients that it’s a good idea to start with an outline, but I didn’t do that myself. There–I’ve come out of the closet as a non-outliner! Actually, though, I did put together a synopsis of all my chapters after I’d written my third draft, and it did help me see what wasn’t really adding up in the narrative. And doing this helped me get unstuck and move forward.

***

I now pass the baton to my chosen blog hoppers, who are as follows:

Tiana Warner. Tiana is the author of The Infinite Knowledge of J.T. Badgley, an intensely dramatic science fiction novel that takes place on a planet called Zielaarde but illuminates much about life here on Earth.  As you’ll see from Tiana’s website, she’s also an accomplished poet. You can read my interview with Tiana here.

Pat Krapf. Pat has just published Brainwash, the first of a series of techno-thrillers featuring tough, no-nonsense private investigator Darcy McClain, formerly an FBI agent, and her sidekick Bullet, a giant schnauzer. Pat is currently following up Brainwash with two more Darcy McClain thrillers, Gadgets and Genocide.

Martin Turnbull. Martin has written the Garden of Allah series of novels, which are set in Hollywood’s golden age. If you love the thought of rubbing shoulders with screen legends like Greta Garbo and Errol Flynn, you’ll love Martin’s novels–The Garden on Sunset, The Trouble with Scarlett, and Citizen Hollywood.

Ali Lawati. Ali is a children’s author who has written The Jungle Adventure of Chimpoo, a whimsical tale of a monkey family.

 

New Book Release: The Infinite Knowledge of J.T. Badgley by Tiana Warner

Tiana Warner has just released her first novel, The Infinite Knowledge of J.T. Badgley. The 23-year-old author hails from Abbotsford, BC, and works as a software developer. Earlier this year, I had the pleasure of working with the gracious Tiana on her book, a young adult science fiction novel. But The Infinite Knowledge is really so much more than this genre label suggests. I thoroughly enjoyed chatting with Tiana about her book, and hope you will enjoy our interview.

CK: What was it that prompted you to start writing The Infinite Knowledge of J.T. Badgley in the first place, and how long did it take you to write the book?

TW: I’ve wanted to be a writer for as long as I can remember. When I was 5 I would write stories and staple the pages together and sell them to relatives. I started writing The Infinite Knowledge near the end of high school, when we studied classics like Gulliver’s Travels and 1984. I knew then that I wanted to write a book with a purpose—so I started with the topics I feel passionate about, and everything else followed. It took me six years because of university, but in the end I’m glad I was patient.

CK: In the book, the unsuspecting protagonist Jake (J.T.) plummets via a portal through space and lands on the planet Zielaarde, a planet very like our own in some ways. Through your portrayal of Zielaarde, what kinds of things were you trying to say about Earth and its inhabitants?

TW: I want the reader to interpret much of it for themselves, but I will say that I had a fun time exploring certain contemporary issues. Some of these issues are more light-hearted, while others I take more seriously and feel strongly about. The inhabitants of Zielaarde often reflect the way we humans regard the environment, technology, and each other.

CK: The book is an excellent read—it’s dramatic and suspenseful, and I wasn’t sure how it would end until it actually did end. As well, it’s often funny—the reactions the Ziels (inhabitants of Zielaarde) and Jake have to each other were quite amusing. But the book is also very thought-provoking and serious. Ultimately, what thoughts or impressions did you hope to leave readers with?

TW: I hope readers come away thinking about said contemporary issues, but I also hope they think about their own roles and abilities in this world. The book is primarily written for teens, so when I was writing it I wanted make sure I avoided telling the reader what to think, and focused on simply provoking them into thinking. Jake faces the same identity-crisis problems that so many teens face around the time of their high school graduations, and he’s at an age where he starts to gain awareness and scepticism of philosophy and religion. He is forced to gain a stronger sense of self in the book, and I hope Jake’s self-exploration also encourages such thinking in the reader.

CK: One thing I enjoyed about the book was your ability to really get inside Jake’s  experience. He suffers immensely, and the reader is keenly aware of his every thought, sensation, and emotion. Was it difficult to write in this intense sort of way?

TW: It certainly took more than one draft before I was able to fully portray Jake’s thoughts and emotions. It takes a lot of focus and imagination to pretend you’re an entirely different person in an entirely different place, and then to describe exactly how you feel and what you’re thinking at that moment. I find that it helps to imagine a situation using all of the senses.

It’s interesting when you’ve been pouring out the deep thoughts and emotions of a character for years, and then it comes time to actually let other people read it. It feels too personal, like they’re about to read into part of your soul. I guess that’s how you know you’ve really put everything into a character.

CK: Tell me about your fascination with astronomy and how you’ve brought this into the book.

TW: It’s funny, because when I was a kid I hated learning about space. I was afraid of it and tried to avoid thinking about it, because I couldn’t understand how space and time were even possible. I still can’t understand it. I guess writing this book was a way to overcome that. I pushed my own fear and uncertainty onto Jake. When you pick a topic that you feel very strongly about—whether that feeling is of love or hate or obsession or fear—you write about it more passionately. What strengthened the passion was when I decided to take an introductory astronomy class in my last year of university. It was without a doubt one of the most interesting classes I’ve taken, and also a very sobering one because it makes you realize how small we are in such a vast universe. By the time that class was done I had already written most of The Infinite Knowledge, but I was still able to apply some of the science I learned to the story. It’s fun inventing concepts when you write science fiction, but what’s more fun is when you can relate your made-up concepts to real science.

CK: Your love of animals was really obvious to me in the way you portrayed certain creatures in the book. Can you tell me a bit about this love, and how it informs the book?

TW: There’s never been a time in my life where I’ve been without a pet, and I think a dog will always be my perfect companion. It takes owning a dog or a horse to really understand the bond you can have with one. As Betty White once said, “Animals don’t lie. Animals don’t criticize. If animals have moody days, they handle them better than humans do.” I tried to portray such human-animal friendships in a couple of ways in the book. An important, loyal character doesn’t always need to be a person.

CK: Which writers do you like to read, and which have been most influential on your work?

TW: My favourite author of all time has to be J. K. Rowling. I’m a Harry Potter superfan. In general, I tend to enjoy a wide variety of books and authors, although I mostly find myself reading YA. I wouldn’t say any one writer has influenced my work, though. Everyone has a writing style and I tried to distinguish my own, as well.

CK: Do you have any advice for aspiring writers?

TW: I think a person has to have a certain level of obsessive passion in order to write a full novel, so my advice is “Don’t hold back.” The best part of writing—and especially sci-fi—is that you get the freedom to create whatever you want to create. It’s your book and you control everything inside of it, so do what you want with it! Immerse yourself in your book’s world. Tape outlines and photos and maps to your walls, write down ideas in your cell phone as they come to you, make a playlist that inspires your characters, get those Crayola window crayons and write inspiration on your mirror—whatever it takes for your book to materialize. Then, when you write your first draft, don’t even pause to think about the format or spelling errors. Just let those creative juices fly, and do your editing later.

CK: Are you currently working on another novel? If so, can you tell us anything about it?

TW: I’ve been harbouring an idea for about a year, but haven’t had the chance to give it a good go. I’m very excited about it. It’s different from The Infinite Knowledge, however, and has a more mature theme. That’s all I’m going to say, since I’m still outlining the plot at this point! I’m also trying to convince a friend of a friend to let me write a story based on his very interesting life.

For more information about Tiana Warner and The Infinite Knowledge of J.T. Badgley, please see the author’s website: http://www.tianawarner.com.