I like how you twisted expectations in this original fairy tale, even subtly giving away the end in the title. Did you envision the whole story at first or did it come together more slowly?
I’ve had a few stories that appeared fully formed and needed only to be written down, but “The Queen’s Reason” wasn’t one of them. I had the opening lines and had to work out everything else from the implications in those lines.
What was your biggest challenge while writing this?
I started to say “balancing the humor with the serious elements,” but that would be nonsense. They’re part of the same thing, and in this story especially. The humor serves to both obscure and reveal the true point of the story, so the hardest part was keeping the humor focused, and not putting in a funny line just because I thought it clever but otherwise served no purpose.
Everything seems lovely and nice in the kingdom, now that the Queen has her Reason back, but she still hasn’t found someone to marry. Do you have any ideas about that, or what else might happen next?
We talk about happy endings and tragic endings and such, but the fact is that stories don’t really end, short of the heat death of the universe. There’s always something that comes next, if there’s anyone left standing. I’ll write more about those characters or that world if the stories show themselves, but as often as not it’s best left to the reader’s imagination.
What is your usual process for writing a story, as far as planning, drafting, and revisions go?
Whatever planning I do is usually internal and obscure even to me. For anything short of a novel, usually I begin with an image, a character, or in this case just an opening. The trick for me is recognizing that a story is there, regardless of how it begins. At that point I have no more idea than the reader would of what the story is about, so I write the story because I want to know, too. It’s a little different for a novel, in that I usually know who’s involved and what the ending feels like before I start. After that, of course, it’s all open.
My first drafts are pretty clean and when I’ve written something that really works I’ve found that it normally doesn’t need a lot of revision beyond a good continuity/copyedit and minor tweaking, but there are always exceptions. One of my favorite stories needed a complete rewrite, start to finish, because I’d failed to understand what the story was really about. Fortunately that doesn’t happen often. If a story just doesn’t come together, however, usually no amount of revision will save it.
What are you working on now?
The fourth book in the Yamada Monogatari series. The working title is The Emperor in Shadow, and if everything goes right it’ll be out late in 2016. I’m also in the middle of pulling up stakes and moving from Mississippi to upstate New York. As you might guess, things are a little crazy right now.
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