Today's respondent on the Author Insight Segment is Farida Mestek. Her YA Fantasy novella Almendra was featured last month on my book feature segment. Here are Farida's responses to my two questions.
1. What is it about your chosen genre that has inspired you to write beneath its mantle?
My imagination. I always imagine myself away and writing about an imaginary land where the course of things runs according (or sometimes against) my rules seemed like the thing for me. I don't think I ever planned on writing a fantasy story. I certainly was never a fan of the genre until Harry Potter came along, but I always loved the concept of magic and the possibility to use it within the limits of my story so it had to be a fantasy story. And then Almendra is such an out of this world thing that I simply couldn't place her within the confines of the real world. Thus she lives in an imaginary, fairy-tale land, inhabited not only by humans and animals but also by strange and even silly creates. She knows as little about her world as the reader at the beginning of the story, because she has never left The Upper Kingdom until that point and it's all very new and amazing and sometimes downright creepy and dangerous. She is looking for love — because it's supposed to get rid of the curse of unhappiness, loneliness and gloom that hangs over her own kingdom — but she has no idea what it really means and so her first choice is a disastrous one. It leads to devastating consequences and changes her forever. It's a fairy-tale with a twist and as a fairy-tale it's simple and straightforward. However, I have big plans for Almendra and The Upper Kingdom! In time, I intend to expand it into a three-book novel that will be quite complex and show more of the kind of magic that I like.
2. Describe the mechanics of you creative process...including aspects such as narrative and perspective choices and the basic idea-to-culmination approach you use when writing a novel.
I always start with a general outline of the story. I usually see the beginning and the ending clearly enough but as to how my characters get from point A to point B is often a mystery that I solve along the way. As I work on the outline, I'm putting the dots together, but I get plenty of surprises during the actual writing. A thought will strike me. A character will suddenly reveal something that I had no idea about. Writing is like playing a game: you know your destination, but as to the ways and means of getting there and the final result, well, I leave it up to chance and my imagination. However, I'm a very orderly person and I need order within my story, that's why I'm trying to be as detailed as possible during the outline stage. For example, with «Almendra» I estimated that I'd need ten chapters to get her where I wanted to and I also knew that each chapter would see the beginning and the ending of a certain point of her journey within its limits. I like each chapter to concentrate on one period, place, conversation, etc.. It helps me move the story forward. But I'm also great at procrastination and sometimes I work on an outline as long as I work on the book. And sometimes I can leave it off before I reach the end, because I get bored, and start outlining something new and I have to carry all the things I haven't written down in my head. And I forget things too, so when I come back to an abandoned outline, I either have to go back and remember or come up with something new.