Some of us members of The Lost Genre Guild, a group of Christian spec-fic writers, have set aside the month of October to spotlight one another on our blogs.
Today we have the privilege of meeting Caprice Hokstad, who writes the Ascendancy Trilogy fantasy novels and creates science fiction under the nom de plum of C. F. Vici. She interviewed me on her blog yesterday, and now I’m returning the favor.
I chuckled at her disclaimer, “I have *NOT* read any of these authors’ works…” Well, neither have I, so I’m not going to tell you these stories are must-reads. But I don’t hesitate introduce you to them. We can all try ’em. We might like ’em!
So let’s hear from Caprice:
Q. How long have you been writing?
A. Fiction? About fifteen years.
Q. When did you feel called to write?
A. I don’t feel like I have been “called” to write as some sort of mandate from God. If God tells you to write, of course you should obey, but God hasn’t really told me I have to write. Does a Christian have to be “called” to knit? Or can it just be a hobby? I don’t believe crosses or fish symbols must be woven deep into every design of every scarf in order for knitting to be a legitimate use of a Christian’s time. I enjoy writing and my beliefs will affect everything I write, but I don’t think I am “called” to write.
Q. Where do you get your ideas for your stories?
A. I really don’t know. I have a very weird brain and thoughts pop into it without any return address.
Q. What are your thoughts on critique groups?
A. I think they are important for beginners. I also think it’s incredibly hard to find one that is helpful. You need people to understand the genre and you need at least one or two people in the group to know more than you do about the craft. I prefer one-on-one critique “partners” over groups.
Q. Was it hard to develop a writing style?
A. Huh? I’m not even sure I know how to develop a style. I just write. If I have a style, I didn’t do anything to impose it. It’s just me.
Q. Have you dealt with writer’s block? If so, how did you overcome it?
A. My biggest block came from limiting myself to working on only “worthy” (i.e. publishable) projects. I am having trouble finding an audience for my published books. So, instead of writing the third book in that trilogy, I spent a lot of “blocked” time looking for a new project that would help me find or build an audience. I came up with a great setting and a good plot for an undersea science fiction, but it’s dead in the water for lack of good characters to pull it off. So then I started writing fanfiction for fun. Once I allowed myself to write for fun and for readers instead of for publishing, I had a lot less trouble with writer’s block. I regularly pump out about 5000 (final draft) words a week now.
Q. Do you find a part of your personality sneaking into any of your characters?
A. Yes. More with villains than heroes. But isn’t that what makes it fun? It’s socially acceptable to plot the perfect crime for a character to pull off. Characters can say and do what I can’t.
Q. Were there any scenes you found difficult to write? Made you angry or made you cry?
A. I find scenes difficult to perfect, but not really to bang out. I want a precise progression of thoughts and emotions and I’m never happy until the words produce the exact effect I want. I play with word choices and sentence structure a lot. Do I cry? Yes. But that really isn’t saying much since I cry over movies and TV shows and reading blogs and all kinds of other things too.
Q. Do you use outlines or let the story develop on its own?
A. I didn’t use an outline for The Duke’s Handmaid at all. I made a very rough one for Nor Iron Bars a Cage, but even when I use outlines, they are very loose and I do a lot of seat-of-pants fill in.
Q. What do you want your readers to take from your book(s)?
A. I want them love the story. I want them to feel elated for the climax, but sad because it’s over. I want to leave them hungry for more. I want them to pass it on to a friend or two or five. I want them to feel strongly enough that they go post a review on Amazon or sit and write me an email just because they feel like they need to talk about it.
Q. Can you share any upcoming projects with us?
A. My short story/mini-novella “Fettered Soul”, which is a prequel to my novels appears in the bestselling anthology “Aquasynthesis” from Splashdown Books. My seaQuest fanfiction is presently available for free at http://UnderseaAdventure.net. I am finally writing the third book of my Ascendancy Trilogy, as yet unnamed, but should be released in 2012.
Q. How do you respond when someone comments that certain elements (magic, vampires, zombies, etc.) in your story does not fit in what they consider to be Christian?
A. I tell them that any Christian label has been applied by others, not by me. I usually ask that person if they consider Narnia “Christian” and if they say yes, then I point out all the magic, witches, lack of mention of Jesus, bloody battles (or whatever they object to) in that. If they say no, then I say, “Fine, I’m with C.S. Lewis in the mainstream then.”
Q. Tell us a little about yourself. What do you like to do when you are not writing? What is your temperament, etc.?
A. I like swimming and I am obsessed with the ocean. I love the beach, but I don’t go there very much because of driving and the crowds. I hate crowds. I love going to Sea World or the Birch Aquarium when they’re in off-season. I really want to learn to scuba dive someday, but it’s too expensive to consider right now. I also would love to live in an undersea colony.
Q. When creating a character, where do you begin? Do you give them a background even if it may never be mentioned in the storyline?
A. It depends on how important the character is to the story. Minor characters, no, I don’t bother. However, minor characters have been known to grow into main characters and I’ve had to go back and fill in their history in order to use them more extensively.
Q. Where can readers find your books and contact information?
Q. What is your writing routine? Do you need peace and quiet, soft music, or does it matter?
A. I prefer peace and quiet, but that isn’t always available to me. I never purposely add noise like music or TV, but I live in a mobile home with four other people and our house is situated in a mobile home park where I’m too close to neighbors, so I can’t always escape other people’s noise. I can usually edit with more noise than I can handle during a first draft. Sometimes, if the distraction level is too great, I just have to change modes and do something else that doesn’t require as much concentration (like read email, do facebook). I have been known to sacrifice sleep in order to get good writing time.