Wednesday, May 28, 2008

The Fairy Dust Element - Trish Wylie

'Where do you get your ideas from?' is one of those questions authors are asked so many times we barely even flinch after a while. We don't mind answering it, don't get me wrong... but it's always been more interesting to me how that initial spark of an idea becomes the finished article on the page. Because having the idea is one thing, making it a book that people all over the world might enjoy? Now that's fascinating!!!

Since I was first published I've been fortunate enough to have met many, many, many writers both published and unpublished. But the one thing we all understand is the one thing it's really hard to explain to other people. You see, when it comes to writing there's an intangible... an unexplainable element... one thing we just can't teach someone no matter how hard we try...

I call it fairy dust.

And when it arrives, I can't begin to tell you how much more enjoyable it makes my job! I know the millisecond it gets here, cos that's when my characters really come to life; they speak to me, they argue when I'm wrong and place obstacles in my way till I fix it, they tell me things outta nowhere that I didn't even think of before. And when any of those things (particularly the last one) happen - the story grows wings. I LOVE that. It also tends to be when I pick up speed in the word-count so that may have something to do with it too ;)

Earlier this year I lost my fairy dust. And writing without it? HURT. I mean REALLY HURT. Every word, every line, every paragraph and every page was dragged from me like someone was pulling off my fingernails with tweezers and running them down a blackboard behind me. At my lowest moment I spent two and a half hours moving single words back and forth inside one paragraph - I jest you not. One word in a sentence moved down a few words then moved back ten minutes later. And still the paragraph didn't read right. I was almost suffering a writers version of O.C.D. I wanted to start something new - not an option; deadline. I wanted to quit writing - not an option; getting too old for most of the jobs I used to do before and I need to eat... I wanted to cry - so I did. Usually every single time I re-read what I'd done the day before. I spent days in tears. I hated what I was doing. Had I burned out already?

Where was my gosh darned fairy dust!!!

Maybe it's part of my pantster mentality? You know plotter = someone who plots, pantster = someone who flies by the seat of their pants? I'm of the latter persuasion. I know the basics of the story and the characters and their problems and a few key scenes but after that I wing it. I had a conversation online with a very good writing buddy but a few days ago and we both agreed that for us, it's more organic that way... theoretically... When it works it really works. These people become real and part of the adventure is where they lead us. Maybe not a very professional approach to some but to me a big part of why I took up writing in the first place was because I LOVED it. Still do. I love to write as much as I love to read and watch movies and daydream. To me there's a little touch of magic in all those things. Set a whole bunch of rules in place and it suddenly seems more like work. *shudder*

Thankfully, with this latest book I've been working on the fairy dust has reappeared. Can't tell you how relieved I was about that!!! I started out tentatively, was scared if I'm completely honest. But somewhere in the middle, little details started to appear that I hadn't planned. Where did a hurricane in my hero's past come from for instance? That wasn't in my outline. It changed it, added a new dimension... brought him to life a little more... led to yet more pieces of information I would never have thought of on my own... Fairy dust. Yay!!!

Course now I have the burn out fear out of my head I now get to worry that the lack of fairy dust in the one that caused me so much pain will show to the reader. We writer's do like to worry about such things, especially when we're lucky enough to have loyal readers out there. And one of the things about category or series romance is that we produce a lot. It's the nature of the business. Burn out is a very real risk. Repetition is a very real risk. Slipping standards not so much (we hope!) - cos we care and cos we have editors who care (thankfully!) And I know I've read books by other authors that they claimed had been horrific writing experiences for them but it never showed on the page... so maybe it won't show in mine as much as I think?! I'm crossing my fingers as I type...

Readers are like gold dust to authors. No readers = no career. End of. And every penny or dime or cent or whatever currency they buy books in is precious. So what happens if you get a favorite author who you feel has let you down in a book? Do you quit on them, give them the benefit of the doubt, consider it a glitch? Its a tough call, especially if you read on a budget. And you can see how much I've thought this one through, can't you??? Maybe it's because I had a favourite author and she was an auto-buy for me and then I hit one and the magic wasn't as obvious to me as I read. I did try again. And again after that - I'm a Leo, we tend to be loyal that way. But it was never quite the same for me and I was gutted. I still have her earlier books on my keeper shelf and I re-read them over and over, but it might be a while before I run out to snap up a new one as it lands on the shelf. Now that I'm at the writer end of the scale I feel guilty about that. I can't help but wonder if she lost her fairy dust too? Maybe she did and still can't find it? See and now I want to go to her house and give her a hug...

So have you read a book you thought was sprinkled liberally with fairy dust? One where the characters were so real for you that you thought about them long after you closed the cover? Somewhat ironically I'm now in the position where my latest one is ready to go and I'm loathe to hit send cos I know I'll miss it so much. Can't win with me really. Or like me have you had an author you loved but lost faith in? (Don't name names here gang or for me The Salem Witch hunt will soon seem like a Sunday Picnic...) Would you try them again? Would you maybe library a couple to see if the magic is back for you? Or once you've lost faith is it lost? Yes, cos if you say yes to the last one I won't at all stress over it will I? Terrific, now I'm a masochist. I should just ask you if I look fat in this outfit while I'm here too, shouldn't I? Get all that angst out in the open in one go...

I did a competition to win a copy of my May Presents release Her Bedroom Surrender last time I was here - I'm not only pleased to say it's a finalist in the Short Contemporary Category of the Booksellers Best Award under it's Modern Heat title Breathless! (A fairy Dust book btw) but I'm also pleased to say I have a winner - Aideen! So Aideen please email me and I'll pop you a signed copy in the post!

This time out I'll offer a copy of my May Modern Heat Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy to a random commenter...

To find out more about Trish and her books you can visit her Website or her Blog.


Virginia said...

The book that comes to my mind that was sprinkled liberally with fairy dust for me was Elizabeth Hoyt's The Leopard Prince, I still think about the book and its been a while since I read it. Great book!

There is also an author I have read and loved for years, but her last two books were just not quite the same, but I will still buy her new books when they come out. I think it is the story line she is going with totally different then the way she used to right.

Dina said...

I like to read abour fairies.

Congrats Trish on being a finalist for your book. :) I like your new title "Claimed By The Billionaire Bad Boy".

Pat Cochran said...

I have read a book which was liberally sprinkled with what I call
"Angel Dust." It was about angels
and I dearly loved the book. I still
have the book and and have read a
new release about those same angels.
Like Dina, I too am taken with the title about the Billionaire Bad Boy.
I'll have to look for your book!

Pat Cochran

Michele L. said...

Congrats on your new book! The cover is hot! Also, the title is temptation itself!

Here are some books that leap to mind that seem to be sprinkled with the merry fairy dust,
"The Smoke Thief", "The Dream Thief" by Shana Abe'
"Body Movers" by Stephanie Bond
"Bet Me" by Jennifer Crusie
"Dead Until Dark" and the other books in her series by Charlaine Harris
The Harry Potter books by J.K. Rowling
"The Book Thief" by Markus Zusak
among many others.

Michele L.

Ellen said...

I have an author I loved to read but the last book I read I didn't like and didn't think was her best work. Would I buy another of her books??? I did and it was good. So yes I would give an author a second chance but not sure if I'd give the same author a third chance.

Jane said...

I would definitely give an author a second and probably a third chance before I write them off for good. It takes a lot to disappoint me in terms of books, so I haven't really abandon any of my favorite authors yet. Debra Webb's "Nameless" was a recent book that just held my attention and stayed on mind after I was done. The suspense was gripping and there was the right amount of romance thrown in.

Maureen said...

Right now I'm reading a book like that. I had pulled this out of my TBR pile and it's called Juliet's Law by Ruth Wind. I'll try a few books by a favorite author before I stop buying his/her books since some storylines are just not my favorites no matter how well they're written

Sue said...

I love when a book really pulls you in, and holds you long after you've finished it - problem is after you finish it, you want the 'what happened next. Don't you love when you are reading a M&B and suddenly realise a secondary charactere is one you read about before, and you get the mini catch up!
Steven King is one of those that when he is good he is very very good, but when he is bad he's just... blasee... I won't say bad, he can still hold you, but it has a by rote element to it.
I'm currently trying to muster all my fairy dust to write my first lines, I know my character, the situation, but still havent' committed them to paper... Do I fear that my story isn't good enouhg, or worse still that my writing isn't good enough!
Ok, forget fairy dust I need some chocolate to work through this conundrum (anyone got a theseraus)...

Cheri2628 said...

Ooops! My original post disappeared, so I am trying again. I just hope I don't end up with 2 posts.

I am glad that you got your fairy dust back! I love the cover and title of your new book.

If I read a disappointing book by a favorite author, I always give then lots of chances. The only time I don't is when the author starts writing in a genre that I don't enjoy.

Cherie J said...

Nalini Singh's psy/changeling series books are full of angel dust for me. As far as a favorite author having a disappointing release, I would not stop reading their books after just one flop. Depending on how bad a flop it was I might not pay full price for their next book but rather wait until I could get a used copy. It would take several flops in a row for me to totally give up on an author.

Estella said...

I would give an author a second and third chance.

CrystalGB said...

I would give an author more than one chance if she/he had a book that didn't appeal to me.
I have read books that have had the fairy dust effect. I always rush to the author's website to see if she has other books I can buy.

Sally said...

Hi Trish. I was quite prepared to dislike Gabe, he'd been so much talked about and anticipated, but have to agree, after I'd lost the compulsion to slap him silly he's great, a really strong compelling yummy male. I dont think you lost your fairy dust, I think Gabe had it, as he didn't seem to want to let go once his story was told! Glad he's given it back.

My favorite book which I wished would go on and on was Raintree Haunted by Linda Winstead Jones. The hero Gideon is really well written, and has some wonderful glowing going on, although I won't reveal more or I'll spoil it! Anyone who hasn't read it should do so.

Looking forward to the next Trish book.

Aideen said...

Hi Trish,

Your fairy dust was just hiding and now that it has been found again I'm sure you'll be better than ever.
Authors cannot and should not be written off after one book that might not have been up to their usual standards, that's just silly. Life itself is nothing if not one big chance after another, after get the picture.

As I'm here, I'm thrilled to be your winner and I've sent you an email but I'm not entirely sure about your address. So would someone be good enough to confirm it for me? Anyone at all reading this and I'll be very grateful.

All the best,

buddyt said...

You speak about losing your Faerie Dust and even though I am not a writer, I can sympathise with that.
I sometimes feel the same way and believe me Faerie Dust is not only need by writers but by all of us.

Usually I find that the loss is occasioned by simple the everyday trials and tribulations of living and staying sane ! Personal tragedies such as deaths etc can also lead to its loss

Luckyly for most of us, things eventually settle down again and it comes back.

All one can do is keep on going and try to remain optimistic.