Thursday, July 29, 2010

From Formspring: Assorted Questions pt.3

As promised!

While writing your books, do you focus on that story exclusively, or do you work on multiple projects simultaneously? asked by mrsbrownstar
I usually work on more than one at a time, editing one of my books while writing another. Sometimes I’ll be writing more than one at a time. I did this with Max’s first book, which I wrote while working on the fourth book in the Dragon’s Blood Chronicles. I don’t know if I’ll be able to keep up at that rate once I start having to do promotion, but with the way my attention fluctuates, I have to be working on more than one thing at a time.
Since vampires are host to a demonic virus could they be possessed by another entity like a ghost or something?

The virus that turns people into vamps changes their physical makeup so that they are closer to demons than human. Some demons (Voidborne) can possess others of their kind. Ghosts are a different matter, and aren’t something I’ve addressed much in the books.

Why do penguins march so much when they're such great swimmers? Is it because they're trying to adapt to life on land? ARE THEY PLANNING ON TAKING OVER?!

Decide for yourself…

Could a Komodo dragon beat a vampire? I know it's not an actual dragon but they are pretty badass.

Yes, Komodo dragons are pretty bad-ass. But, their hunting method makes taking down a vampire unlikely. Komodos hunt by hiding in tall grass or trees until something walks by. Then they lash out and bite it. If the target survives (most do) they get infected with all the super bacteria concentrated in the Komodos’ teeth. The subject then dies a few hours or days later, and then Komodos track the smell to the corpse and chow down. Since vampires are immune to disease and heal very fast, the Komodo would have to kill then in the initial attack. At that point, it would depend on the size of the Komodo and the age/power of the vampire. However, vamps can’t regenerate limbs so, if the Komodo got him in the leg, he could probably finish him off. This assumes that the vamp wasn’t carrying a weapon, which most of them would.

You don't ever do the cliche in your books where they knock someone on the head and then they're fine do you?

No. Having been struck in the head a number of times, in my books I treat concussions with the respect they deserve.

What would you suggest for someone transitioning from writing persuasive essays to writing fiction? What common ground do they have?

In both cases, you have to keep your reader’s attention and interest. There will be a temptation to replace most (or all) exposition with dialog. Fight this. Some exposition in dialog is fine, so long as you break up long blocks of dialog with action. Too much exposition in dialog is boring and confusing. In addition to losing track of who is talking, you’re also giving your readers what would in the legal system be considered hearsay. Readers would rather witness the events themselves, rather than hear about them from the characters. Exposition in dialog is fine for characters giving background or establishing events from their past, but major plot points shouldn’t usually be described in dialog. For a perfect example of how boring and annoying this is, read Bram Stoker’s Lair of the White Worm. In Dracula Stoker was able to tell the story from multiple dialogs (in the form of letters and journals) but in Lair… he simply has the main character return home each day and tell his butler about all the spooky shit he saw and did. It is so annoying and dull.

But, the best advice I can give for this is also the best advice any writer can give: read. Read the kinds of books you like, the kind of books you want to write and even books you don’t want your book to resemble. Learn from them. Feel free to imitate their style, because the more you write the more your own voice will emerge.

Whats your favorite?

Cookies and Cream. No, wait...Ringo.

Are we not all predatory animals by instinct? If humans ceased wholly from preying upon each other, could they continue to exist?

No. Yes.

Do you ever get yourself angry on purpose to self-motivate? asked by accuseanaccuser

I don’t usually find anger very motivational for writing. Sometimes I get sad or angry when writing a scene that is sad or angry. 

Do you ever write naked? And if so can you please describe what that looks like? And can you do it in a sexy voice? And in the scene can you please have a Winston Churchill blow up doll? That will really help get things going...

Yes, no, NO, and absolutely not.

Since vampirism is a blood borne demonic virus, could someone become a vampire from having sex with a vampire?

Yes, any fluid transmission can spread the virus. However, only a small portion of the population is susceptible to the virus. Otherwise, the planet would be overrun with vampires. For whatever reason, most people can’t get infected. Even among those who can, the virus is spread best by blood-to-blood transmission. Saliva and semen will spread the virus, but it works faster if one of those fluids comes in contact with blood.

Would the echelon ever consider the killing of a dragon by a non-dragon justified? What if it was for a vendetta they considered dubious?

The Echelon doesn’t care what non-Dragons do. If a non-dragon managed to kill a dragon, they’d consider it that dragon’s problem. The only way they’d consider it worth their time would be if someone had decided to eliminate dragons, and appeared to have at least a remote chance of succeeding. Neither event it likely and both the odds of both are almost nil.

Would it be considered dishonorable combat for a dragon using powers or abilities particular to its type? Like a much smaller dragon that uses shape shifting for example.

Not usually, as long as they were natural abilities the dragon possessed and not augmentations from sorcery or technology. While a few dragons have shape-shifting abilities above the others—like Aoni’a’s ability to take any human form or Wenonah’s ability to take animal forms—it’s unlikely those would be much help in a fight with another dragon, unless they were just trying to hide. There is a dragon in one of the later books who has augmented the natural aura of obfuscation that dragons exude (that’s why most humans can’t see them) to the point that it works on other dragons—at least until she attacks—but her use of that power isn’t considered dishonorable: it’s part of who she is. However, a dragon strapping an air-to-air missile to it’s neck would be in poor taste, to say the least.

How much territory is claimed by dragons, and how big are they usually (the territories)? Where are the largest unclaimed areas?

Dragon’s value quality over quantity, the largest territories tend to be in areas where humans can’t or won’t live. Dragons that enjoy being around people claim entire cities as their territory, while more solitary dragons stay where there are fewer people. The largest dragon territorial claim is probably in Antarctica, where an ancient named Wotan lives. He probably claims the entire continent, though there are several other dragons living there. As far as unclaimed areas, dragons tend to assume any land connected to theirs is part of their claim if no other dragon has claimed it. This only becomes a problem when another dragon tries to claim it or take it away. Fortunately, most of these disagreements end peacefully, as the less powerful dragon submits to the more powerful one without a fight.

How much influence would you say arguing with people online has had on your writing style? asked by accuseanaccuser

I’m not sure, but I know it helped me learn to type really fast.

Angus, what do your cow eyes see?

Grass. A lot of grass.