Welcome to the Rangers book fair event! I’ll be taking questions about Rangers, the Sam & Sam world, writing, and anything else that looks like fun. Post your questions in the comments and I’ll pull them up here and answer them.
I’ll try to update from time to time when when I’m here, live, but be sure to subscribe to future comments so I can reply to your comment to let you know that I’ve answered it.
I am offline for the night. Feel free to leave a question in the comments and I’ll catch up with you tomorrow.
How do you write? Where? I’ve got a laptop that I use for all of my writing. I run these things into the ground, and this one is in its last season of life. The mousepad is wearing thin, the spacebar and most of home row have shiny spots, and we’re getting into performance issues, but I’ll hang on until the bitter end because I hate change. For as long as I’ve been writing seriously, I’ve had a writing nest. It moves around the house, but it invlolves a flat surface for drinks and snacks, a pile of blankets, and a couch of some kind. For my first NaNo, JJ tore apart a sectional and made a chaise in the front room for me so I could be off in my own, brand new space for writing. Since, I’ve gotten a real, live chaise that I’ve used on and off, but now I’m in the living room where I can listen to queued up music videos while I work. The music situation needs work…
What do you like to read? It’s actually been a while since I’ve gotten to sit and read books cover to cover like I used to. Life got packed out, and one of the secrets of independent writing is that there is literally no end to the useful, productive things you could be doing. So I pick the ones I want to do most (more writing!) and the things that are most useful and I do those, and right now reading goes into a small corner of time. That said, I love Terry Pratchett for his sense of wit and observation, and Neil Gaiman for his creation of atmosphere and theme. I don’t read many short stories, but those are what I prefer from Neil Gaiman. I love the sense of history I get from Stephen R. Lawhead. He creates the mythological world that the people of the celtic world believed existed. Which is so cool, and has influenced my sense of historical fantasy considerably. I went through a phase where I read every partially-finished piece of Tolkein fiction I could get my hands on, but that’s an investment I can’t make anymore.
I got a copy of Rage. Do I start with it or Rangers? Hi! Welcome, InstaFreebie person! Rage was such an interesting piece of fiction, for me. I knew so much about Carter because of the things that happen in the first four books of Sam & Sam, the plot elements were all basically there. I just needed to thread them all together into one place, partially to see if I could even write Carter. The man terrifies me, because I never know for certain what he’s going to say or do. You can start the series with either Rage or Rangers. If you start with Rage (and read through the subsequent prequel novellas, yet to be released, but coming soon), you’ll know a lot more of Samantha’s secrets and back story, but they aren’t spoilers to the things that happen in the Sam & Sam books. If you want to read them in recommended order (which is simply the order I would consider them to be ‘forward’), I would do the first four books of Sam & Sam and then the Book of Carter novellas any time after that.
(Kerry) Will Carter measure Jason? It said in your book that Sam thought that Carter needed to measure Jason. If Carter is 1 and Sam is 5, where is Jason? Sam said that one time that Jason isn’t special, but I really think he is. lol I love Jason. Sometimes I feel bad, because I’m supposed to love Sam, but Jason is just… he comes out of nowhere. Measuring him is certainly going to happen, eventually, but I expect it’s going to be one of those things that Carter knows about a long time before he mentions it to anyone else. That’s just how he plays his game.
One of the things that was important to me, going into Sam & Sam was that none of the characters are ‘the chosen one’. It’s a fun trope, and that’s why everyone does it, but it feels like it cheapens what that character accomplishes, because, well, ya know, fate was pulling for him anyway. Jason is about as close as anyone has gotten, but I’m going to try to hold the line. Everyone is what they are because of the choices they’ve made and the experiences they’ve had.
(Kerry) Where do you call home? Do you get to go state to state to look into what you’re going to write about? I talk like a midwesterner and I think like a southerner. My facebook page says I’m from wherever I’m currently writing, because that’s where I exist. 😀 Pen names are ephemeral. I root UK Wildcats and Peyton Manning. I do try to travel to see places where I have a lot of important things going on – I have been trying to set up a trip to Chicago for an upcoming His Dark Mistress novel, because you just don’t get the way the stores breathe air conditioning on you in Miami from Google Streetview, but I’m a shameless user of Streetview. The building where Sam, Samantha, and Jason ended up in, in Detroit, actually existed, and I have a picture of it in my notes, but if you look up the street address now, it’s been demolished. That was so cool, to me – that that building existed when I wrote my story, and not anymore.
(Kerry) In Sam and Sam, I love the over lapping of characters, of the Greys and the Rangers. The Greys to me are those relatives that are really annoying but you really love them. I have a few relatives like that – you wonder why they’re still standing. Anyway, will we see them interact more? I love the Rangers, but after reading about some of the Grey, I just find them funny in that in horrible, “OMG what the hell did they just do” kind of way. And will we see a few more Rangers come out to play too? In a release I’ve got scheduled a bit out (2017 if I’m lucky and don’t… squirrel!) Samantha refers to Spake as a rabid duck. I’m itching to write Rabid Duck, a Sam & Sam companion novel about Spake and his wife, Miranda. Even more than writing Carter scares me, writing Spake is terrifying because I’ve never got a clue what’s going to come out of his mouth until he opens it and starts talking. At least Carter makes sense, most of the time… The prequel novels I’m releasing now have a few of the Grey characters popping in and out of them, and another companion novel I’m writing right now has several of them who make appearances. They’re kind of rock stars in their world, so they tend to show up if anything important or interesting is happening. The Rangers are a little bit trickier, because they don’t rise above the way the Grey do – they keep their heads down and just do the job. I’ve wanted to write a novella about Kara, but it hasn’t gelled into a real story, yet. I think I’ll have a book at some point that’s out on the road without Sam and Samantha around, and there will probably be a lot more Rangers in that one, but the cast has already exploded on me. Sometimes I wonder how big a universe I can build before that starts to get fatiguing, but then I look at Terry Pratchett. He is my magic rule of thumb. If he got away with it and I loved it, I’m allowed to at least try. 😀
(Kerry) Is Samalina getting sucked dry by the blood pendant around Sam’s neck? And if so, now that everyone seems to be getting stronger can they stop the protection and use something else to protect Sam? Where do you get these ideas? I wouldn’t say that Samantha is getting sucked dry so much as she wears it like a day-to-day magic burden. Taking it off is actually one of the very first images in the opening scene to Gone to Ground, which will be Sam & Sam book 8. I don’t know when I’ll get to writing that, but I have an accumulating pile of images that will eventually overflow and turn into a book.
Which is where a lot of the ideas come from. A pewter cross dipped in blood and left to dry just kind of stepped up and selected itself as an image, and I hung onto it until it found its time in the story. Some books, I write with an outline and some I write without one, and some have an ending from the very beginning and some just have a few key images that I’m going to hang something on, when I get there, but I write in a very visual way, and I trust that my instincts are the best thing I’ve got going for finding images that are worth capturing, and for understanding what it is about them that’s interesting and relevant to the story. Sometimes they’re really surprising, when I go back after I’ve written the ending.