Now that the novel has been officially released, Becca is on a blog tour and today she’s stopped by Write Me Happy. Each day she will be posting a bit more of her novel on her blog Inspiration for Creation so make sure to check out the tour schedule below to gain access to the goodies.
Q: When I started reading Foreign Identity I quickly realized that this novel was going to keep me on the edge of my seat! Tell me about what inspired you to write this novel.
A: The short answer is: a writing prompt. A list of ten little words on a website called the Creative Copy Challenge (http://www.creativecopychallenge.com) was the initial spur for Foreign Identity. (Check out that blog because it’s loads of fun and an excellent community.)
The long answer is a little more complex, though. With those ten words I was the only one (of maybe twenty or thirty writers) who went the science fiction/thriller route and launched into a full-fledged novel. What really drove the story was my own desire to solve a puzzle.
At the time, I was in the height of my Lost-watching days and I wanted to create a story with that same feel. I wanted to emulate the pull I’d felt when watching the show—the way it teased me with questions and yet made me believe if I tried hard enough I could solve the mystery behind everything. That’s one thing about me—I love puzzles. I enjoy trying to put all the pieces together when I read any story, and the best ones are those that I can never quite solve because of their unexpected twists and turns.
So, (logically or not) the way that I began Foreign Identity was with a puzzle of my own. I wrote the first scene with the man and woman who couldn’t remember their pasts and were trapped in a room with interlocking chains and a closet full of keys. Beyond that there was nothing. I had no outline, no character sketches, no plan for where in the world the story would go. But what I did have was a puzzle. That situation alone stirred up a myriad of questions. Who were the people? What did they have in common? Why did they have amnesia? Who imprisoned them? Why was the answer to escape left for them? And what was on the other side of the door?
Through that one scene, I’d already created a mystery for myself that rivaled the thrill of watching Lost. All I had to do was figure out the answers to those questions. When I came up with an answer, I had my story. Then I just had to write the rest.
I’ll admit, this isn’t a standard way to go about writing a novel and I wouldn’t recommend it to a new writer. But it worked for me in this case. Every book I’ve written since has had a full outline before I started writing.
Q: Foreign Identity is a fabulous blend of science fiction, mystery and romance. When you first began writing, did you know it would turn out this way?
A:Other than wanting it to have mystery, I didn’t really think about genre when I started. I’ve written four full novels and all of them have contained fantastical elements and a romantic sub-plot. Those are the types of stories I like to read so they are the ones I end up writing. I plan on hanging out in that sort-of real, sort-of speculative world in most, if not all, of the novels I publish. And yes, I plan on publishing more books—as early as later this year!
Q: How long did it take you to write, start to finish?
A: I started April 20th, 2010, so it’s been just over two years. The first draft of the story took me about a year and a half to finish, and that version underwent massive changes, including the addition of 14,000 new words. The reason it took so long is because Foreign Identity was always my side project. I had other books I was focusing on, so the first two thirds or so I only wrote in snippets. Also, I started out writing it as a series. Using the given prompt words on the CCC, I’d write and post one section at a time on the website, twice a week. That kept me working on it regularly but also kept me from progressing very quickly. Eventually I stopped doing the posts and wrote the ending much quicker than I’d written the first part.
Q: The main characters have their own unique personalities despite their inability to remember themselves. Which of the main characters are you most like?
A: Without a doubt, I’m most like Jax. I’ve already mentioned my affinity for solving problems. From scene one it’s apparent that he has that same drive. In fact it’s a bit of a problem for him sometimes, as you’ve seen in the story. Despite his need for logic, he’s also the artistic one, and I can relate to that aspect of his character.
Kel, on the other hand, was a more difficult to write. Her personality needed several transformations before the story was complete. In the beginning she had been too weak; she didn’t have enough backbone to be likeable, let alone to be a protagonist. Then when I added a stubborn streak, it ended up hardening her a lot more than I’d wanted. So I had to go back over the story again and soften her around the edges.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to become a writer?
A: March 29, 2009, during a Sunday church service. Actually, that was the day I first really considered whether I could write a book. I knew all it would take was a solid idea, and that was the day I had the inspiration that led to my first novel. I grabbed a church handout and started hastily scribbling notes for characters in Flawed, an urban fantasy series I hope to publish in the near future. So it’s been just over three years.
Q: Do you have any writing rituals? Perhaps a favorite place to sit or music that just must be playing?
A: My writing habits are more by necessity than choice. I write in the evenings because I’m a night owl and that’s when my kids are asleep. I also like to go out to write pretty often, often at Starbucks.
Q: What and/or who inspires you?
A: I get inspired when I hang out with other Creatives. I’m also inspired to write when I see my friends succeed in their writing, whether it’s overcoming writer’s block, finishing a novel, pulling in lots of blog traffic, getting published, or becoming a bestseller. There’s something contagious about watching others succeed.
Q: Publishing your first novel is so exciting! How do you plan on celebrating?
A: I’m having a local book signing party, so I’m sure that will be fun. Aside from that, not much other than diving back into my next book. I’m planning on publishing my second novel, Gateway to Reality, later this year. Look for it sometime around October.