I love your second question, and yes I see similarities between motherhood and birthing a fictional world—beyond the idea that a manuscript is like a child. When you first open the door to fiction writing, everything is new, a blank slate, a clean page; anything is possible. You don’t really get that with nonfiction. And it’s definitely like that when you have a new human life in your hands. There are no limits. It’s frightening sometimes, but it’s also incredibly exciting. Maybe this is why my fiction will always have a combination of realism and myth. I never want to lose that sense of anything is possible, everything is.
Yes, there’s a set schedule, which I’m happy to share with you:
Every Monday: YA author and WU co-mama Kathleen Bolton
Every Tuesday: My day
1st Wednesday: Agent Donald Maass
2nd Wednesday: Urban fiction/romance author Ann Aguirre
3rd Wednesday: YA/fantasy author Sophie Masson
4th Wednesday: Women’s fiction author Barbara Samuel
Fridays have traditionally been our interview day. Kath and I split duties here, interviewing authors and industry pros we think will interest our readership.
Our contributors generally send their work to either Kath or me to post, though some post on their own without difficulty.
A little history: There are actually two very different forms of this story. The version you’ve read was written between 2005 and 2008, once I realized the book had to center around the relationship between the twins. But when I first began writing Last Will, in 2002, I intended only to write a love story between Maeve and her friend Noel. Noel was an antiques dealer, so I gathered lists of interesting things that I could describe in his shop. I wanted to set the first scene of the book at an auction house, so I randomly chose one item from the shop’s list for that scene. That item was the keris, which is a Javanese sword or dagger. When a friend read the scene, she said she liked it and asked if the keris would be in the rest of the book. This sounded like a good idea, so I later did some research online and was awed by the potential for story linked to the keris alone; it’s an item rich in mythology. Later, Moira appeared. Between the keris and Moira, the book took on a decidedly unromantic tone, which led to the rewrite.
More than half of my research regarding the keris took place online—through keris-related websites and even weapon message boards. I have one valuable book as well, The Keris and other Malay Weapons, published by The Malaysian Branch of The Royal Asiatic Society. This 179-page volume is loaded with fascinating information.
I just reviewed that old file—talk about a walk down memory lane. I sent several pages of ideas to Random House, including some story and character descriptions, and 35 pictures. A full 17 of those pictures involved a woman in water. I pushed the idea of water because so many of Maeve’s nightmares involve water and it was thematic. One of the pictures I sent was of a woman with red hair in the water, though it wasn’t even 1/10th as beautiful as what RH designed. Last Will’s cover was the first option presented to me, and it was the last.
Random factoid: I mentioned that there were two version of my novel. Well, the one scene I kept from version one of the book was the emotional climax between the twins, which is reflected on the cover of Last Will. How’s that for kismet?
Most surprising might be how many friends within the blogosphere have stepped forward to help promote the book—through interviews like this one and other invitations. I’m sincerely flattered, humbled and grateful.
Most challenging has been finding a balance between promo for Last Will and work on my second novel.
Of course I love our authors at Writer Unboxed—I have oodles of books on my keeper shelf by Barbara Samuel O’Neal and Juliet Marillier—but otherwise I’m less apt to attach to an author than I am to a particular book. My favorite book is Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife; another is Mark Haddon’s The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Nighttime.
TW: Readers can keep up with the latest on my website at http://theresewalsh.com/ and contact me directly through the site as well. I welcome reader feedback.
Thanks again for having me, Donna! This has been fun.