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Friday, June 13, 2014

Writing Process Blog Hop #2: Sue Bursztynski

What are you working on?

Right now, a short story, straight historical fiction, about Dr "James Barry", a woman who lived as a man for most of her life in order to be able to have a career as a doctor, something not usually possible for women in the nineteenth century. I first heard of her when I was researching for my book Potions To Pulsars: Women doing science. She was passionate about her work, kept her hospitals clean, performed the first caesarean operation in which both mother and child survived and fought duels at the drop of a hat. A truly cranky lady of history! If I don't sell it first go, I may have to add fantastical elements to sell it to a spec fic market. Fingers crossed!

How does your work differ from others in your genre?

I've had some good reviews for my first novel and some awful ones, but none so far has said, "This is just like all the others." Not one. I did get some that said,"Well, that was different!"

I suspect I annoyed those who thought they were getting an urban fantasy in which the heroine would have two suitors, a smouldering Byronic vampire/Faerie Prince/Selkie Prince and a gorgeous werewolf, and readers could say they were "Team Fred" and "Team Joe"... and it turned out to be a mediaeval fantasy seen from the boy's viewpoint, in which he and the girl had to put off their romance till the danger to those they cared about was over.

Actually, some liked that. ;-)

Why do you write what you write?

Mostly, I write speculative fiction, with the occasional piece of historical fiction. I write it because I love telling stories and because what I have to say needs more scope than mainstream fiction affords. I write for children and teens because children's and YA fiction is one of the last refuges of story, as opposed to "beautiful writing" that isn't actually about anything in particular, and because you can't bullshit kids.

How does your writing process work?

It depends on what it is. If I'm writing to a deadline, I write late at night. I have to be up at six to get to my day job, so I don't sleep much at those times. I sometimes go to a local cafe, to get away from the distractions at home. I start with the germ of an idea and research the background, sometimes first, sometimes as I write the first draft. For my stories set in the 1960s I went to the State Library to read the newspapers of the time, not just the subject I was looking for - the Beatles in Melbourne, the day of the first moon landing - but letters to the editor, advertising, the TV guide, articles about what else was happening that week or that year. For my mediaeval stories, I have read whole books about the role of women, the church, life in the cities, life on the manor, knightly training. I also looked up stuff about real wolves as opposed to the were variety for my novel. I read books of folklore about faeries(I was pleased to see in Melissa Marr's bibliography that she'd used many of the same sources for Wicked Lovely). Anything that helps in my world building! I play mediaeval music to get me in the mood(though I often stop writing to get up and dance!)

So, that's me! Any writer out there who'd like to be hosted here for their writing process? Email me.

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