27 September 2006

Author Answers with Mindy Klasky

Mindy Klasky is this week's featured author. She's got a new book out in stores, Girl's Guide to Witchcraft.

WN: You’ve got a new book out…what’s it about and what kind of readers would really like it if they picked it up?
KLASKY: GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT is a contemporary comedy with fantasy elements. It reads like the intersection of BRIDGET JONES'S DIARY and HARRY POTTER, telling the story of a librarian who discovers that she's a witch.

GIRL'S GUIDE appeals to readers who enjoy escaping the "real world" in their fiction - to readers who say, "I wish I had a magic wand to solve that problem at the office." While I hope that readers of my fantasy novels will join me in this new venture, I'm also hoping to find many new readers.

WN: What new challenges did you face writing “Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft” that were different from writing the Glasswright series or your stand-alone novel, “Seasons of Sacrifice?”
KLASKY: The Glasswright Series and SEASON OF SACRIFICE required extensive world-building, figuring out how things worked in a strange setting unlike our own world.

GIRL'S GUIDE required almost the opposite set of skills -- world-detailing, figuring out the telling details of our real-world existence, so that readers say, "I know *exactly* what she means! That is *precisely* what my life is like!" GIRL'S GUIDE is peppered with references to real world activities and places, which enrich the story and give it realistic depth.

WN: What’s your writing process like from when you first had an idea to getting the novel published?
KLASKY: Every novel that I've completed began with a character, a specific person whose voice entertained me well before I worked out the details of plot. GIRL'S GUIDE was no exception.

After spending a couple of weeks writing notes to myself in a journal, I decided that I knew enough about librarian Jane Madison to start figuring out her plot. I drew up a brief outline (approximately three pages, for a 400-page book), setting it up in a spreadsheet so that I could track page-length and word-count as I wrote.

While I completed some chapters of the novel by working in the mornings, before heading into the office and my "day-job", I wrote most of it on vacations from that "day-job". I took two Writing Marathon breaks for this book -- a week off from work (with weekends attached) so that I had two sets of nine consecutive days to write.

I revise each chapter a few times as I write. Once I've completed my first draft of the entire novel, I read through the manuscript once for substantive errors (e.g., characters' eyes changing color!) and then I read the completed manuscript once, out loud, to make sure that the words flow perfectly.

After that, the manuscript is beamed to my New York editor electronically. While I made a handful of changes in response to my editors' queries, I did not make substantial revisions on GIRL'S GUIDE.

WN: What is your favorite word and why?
KLASKY: My favorite *phrase* is "And then..." To me, this phrase conveys the essence of storytelling -- the hero went walking in his field. And then, adventures happened. And then, he returned home. "And then" is the essence of potential to a storyteller.

When you’re not writing, what do you do (hobbies, career, etc.)?

I work full time as the manager of a large law firm library. In my spare (!) time, I enjoy quilting, cooking, reading (both non-fiction and fiction, in the genres I write, and out of them.) I also relish "get-away" weekends with my husband, particularly to nearby towns rich in history and culture.

WN: What is the best/most influential book you have ever read and why did it inspire you?
KLASKY: For years, my answer to this question was THE LORD OF THE RINGS, because it opened up my mind to the wonder of a fully-realized fantasy world. Lately, though, I've realized that the Deryni novels of Katherine Kurtz, particularly her first trilogy (DERYNI RISING, DERYNI CHECKMATE, and HIGH DERYNI), had a greater influence on my career as a writer. Kurtz's novels are peopled with incredibly realistic characters, people who seem alive and breathing. Those characters first made me realize that *I* could write, that *I* could create stories and share them with friends.

WN: If you got stuck on a desert island with one of your characters, who would you want to be stranded with and why?
KLASKY: Melissa White, the best friend of the main character in GIRL'S GUIDE TO WITCHCRAFT. Not only is Melissa a sane, level-headed person who could provide wisdom and solace on a desert island, but she is a first-class baker who would find some way to create dessert miracles!

WN: What piece of advice helped you out the most as a writer?
KLASKY: "Writers write." I've seen this phrase attributed to many people; I believe that it was actually E.B. White who said it. Even when the story doesn't want to flow, even when the publishing establishment seems to teeter on the edge of solvency, even when the day job looms, writers write. Sitting down and putting words together builds the story. It's really that simple.

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