Author Interview: Sarah Buhrman

It’s been a while since my last blog. I’ve been caught up with sleeping problems lately. Worst part of sleep for me is no matter how much I seem to get, my fatigue makes it feel like I’ve had one or two, even if I have ten….never mind. Writing has actually gone very well for me lately. The Aegis Mora is currently at 45k after an incredible few weeks for it, and I plan to finish the first draft by the end of the year, hopefully. Of course, I said I’d finish book 1 in a year back in 2012. That failed three times!

Without further ado, here is my latest interview with the lovely Sarah Buhrman. Take it away!

 

1. First of all, tell me about yourself! What do you write?

I’m a bit of a renaissance author. I write non-fiction essays, technical papers, poetry, romance/erotica, horror, children’s books, YA, and the list goes on. The only things I don’t really get into are Westerns and Mystery, but with the right plot, I might do it. My true love since the beginning has been sci-fi/fantasy and all their sub-genres.

2. How do you develop your plots and characters?

I use an outlining technique where there are 8 major points for the plot to hit. This gives me the overall story. I fill in the gaps with details and subplot in the outline. Once I have that done, I can write the story. Sometimes I go back and tweak the outline because I got a better idea, or what I wrote made the changes to the outline necessary. I find that the structure, as flexible as it is, gives me the direction I need to make a good overall plot. Otherwise, I tend to wander… and I am a wanderer who is lost.

For the characters, I find that they just kind of appear in my head, fully formed. Once I have a character, I don’t think of characteristics, I realize them. It’s like, oh, yeah, Joe likes his coffee the way that woman just ordered hers, or that is the shade of blue that Kathy thinks makes her look dead. Things like that are more of a dawning of awareness then a conscious applying of characteristics to characters.

3. Tell us about your current project.

Which one? Like most authors, I have a lot of projects going at once. Currently, I have 14 active works-in-progress.

Fluffy Bunny is the sequel to Too Wyrd, in which Nicola joins a healing commune and discovers it is a corrupt cult that brainwashes her.

The Crystal Wise is about a group of people with psychic powers who turn crystalline when they use the powers.

The Second Princess is a YA fantasy about a girl who runs away from her destiny and finds out that things are not always what they seem.

Paper Dragons, a Mid-Grade fantasy, is the story of a Chinese-American boy who is accepted into a guild that teaches ancient paint magic that brings the new years’ Chinese dragons to life.

The Monster of Bobcat Ridge is about a shapeshifter police chief who has to work with an FBI agent to hunt down a serial killer targeting shifters.

I also have some non-fiction and children’s books in progress.

4. Who would you say is the main character of your novels? And tell me a little bit about them!

The main character of the Runespells series is Nicola Crandall. She is a single mother to Ella, a Heathen witch, and introvert. She has a nice little business selling oil blends and incense online, and she loves her isolated lifestyle. Occassionally, she misses being closer to her friends, especially her oldest and best friend, Joseph.

Nicola doesn’t seek the spotlight, so when she ends up being “the hero”, she resists it a lot. She finally accepts that she’s the one who has to do this thing, but she stares down (literally) Odin to ensure she does it as much on her own terms as possible. She respects the gods, but she doesn’t feel as though she is beneath them, ever. It’s this unconscious confidence that pulls her through a lot of the issues she faces.

Nicola uses magic, but it’s a subtle thing and there’s always a part of her that wonders if she is crazy for believing in it. Because of this, she balances a very firm belief in the paranormal with a very logical and skeptical analysis of each encounter. This attitude has rubbed off on Joseph, and really confused Mercy when she confesses her identity – she expected a shocked reaction.

5. What advice would you give new writers on how to delve into creative fiction?

Go to workshops, conferences, and writing classes. Do NaNoWriMo. Anything that gets you more information about your craft, or more motivation to get it done, do it. Even if you never use a bit of info, it might help you understand what is missing in one of your pieces. It works like that. And read.

Also, don’t do this for the money. If you do, learn about the industry before you get too involved. This isn’t to discourage you. You just don’t want to be planning your first book release and get an unpleasant surprise that you won’t be a millionaire within a month. There’s a certain balance of hope and realism that keep you on track in writing.

6. What real-life inspirations did you draw from for the worldbuilding within your book?

My husband is from Indianapolis, so I drew heavily on his knowledge of the city. I also looked up a lot of the places I use and made them pretty close to accurate. I have a scene where they hide in these underground tunnels and Hound Dog talks about how there’s a section of the tunnels where you can take a tour of them. This is a real thing. There are catecombs under Indianapolis and you can tour a section.

Since this book is urban fantasy, set in contemporary “real” world, with a fantasy twist, I went with a pretty realistic setting. Maybe Indie streets aren’t quite so empty in the middle of the night, but that’s poetic license for you.

Other works that I have, I use a pretty solidly real world-base. I have a sci-fi that occurs on another planet, so I used evolutionary theory to come up with a variety of creatures to inhabit the planet.

I do love inserting a fantastical or paranormal element in the real world, though. It makes me warm inside.

7) What inspires you to write?

I dream, vividly. When I remember more than just a few images, I find I usually know a lot about the backstory of what occurred in the dream. Once in a while, I’ll have a dream that is just perfect for a book – that’s how Too Wyrd started, actually. The problem is, I don’t have a lot of success getting back into the dream to finish the story. I want to know the ending, so I have to write it.

I do that a lot, where I find I’m simply writing the stories that I want to read. It’s not quite as satisfying when I do the writing, but when I put it down for a bit and come back to it, I’m usually quite happy with it and drawn in. If I’m not, it’s time to rewrite.

8. What was the hardest part of writing this book?

I actually use a lot of the historical mythology of the Norse gods. Primarily, I use the Havamal, which is considered to be the words of Odin. When he gave up his eye, some of the knowledge that he got in return was these 18 spells, which he describes in the text. I used those spells as the Runespells – the sigils that Nicola must retrieve.

Also, the whole point of getting the Runespells is to stop Ragnarok from happening – at least right now. Odin prophesized Ragnarok, in great detail, but the text doesn’t explain what happens before Loki escapes – essentially, why does he break free at that point? I am using the details of Ragnarok and that black space in the prophecy.

So I have a lot of documentation to fall back on, but I’m also writing fiction… but I’m also trying to keep the prophecy as true to the text as possible. That balance can be tricky. I have some freedom to fictionalize, but there are some hard boundaries to that. It’s an interesting balance, a lot like writing historical fiction.

9. What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

I love when Nicola meets Odin’s ravens, Huginn and Muninn. I’m really happy with the way they came across. But I’d have to say that my favorite chapter was Chapter 6, which I call the eating pizza scene. They are in a hotel, talking about the demons they just encountered, Mercy being a Valkyrie, the true nature of gods and magic… and eating pizza. It’s so much a situation that I could see myself getting into – like, “omigod, demons! We got away! Let’s order pizza and talk this through.” There’s a lot of humor, a lot of epiphanies, and it’s just a very grounded scene in the middle of all the crazy.

10. Did you learn anything from writing this book and what was it?

Well, I learned I can write an entire novel in 6 weeks. But more importantly, I learned that my husband is the very best support system I could ever have. Like many authors and writers, I have a lot of anxiety around my work. He dealt with my verbal self-flagellation so well. He talked me through it every time I decided I wanted to quit. Because of him, I didn’t have to battle my internal editor by myself. It was great.

11. It’s sometimes difficult to get into understanding the characters we write. How do you go about it?

I don’t really have any trouble with it. I have a problem NOT identifying with characters in books and movies, so when a character comes to me, I know who they are, what there personality is, the whole thing.

Now, what I know about them and what I expect from them can be two different things. When I wrote Keith in Too Wyrd, he was the bad guy. I went to write his death scene and he snuck in and redeemed himself – the jerk. I realized he wasn’t the kind of guy to do the whole big and bad thing, even though I had planned on him being the bad guy. It turned out much better though, once I revamped the plot to account for the realities (so to speak) of Keith’s personality. So, I know the characters, but I sometimes make assumptions about them that don’t work.

12. What are your future project(s)?

Right now, I’m working on Fluffy Bunny, the sequel to Too Wyrd, as well as Threadreader, the first in a new series, M.A.G.U.S., and The Crystal Wise, a standalone paranormal sci-fi. I’m going to be focusing on those for a while. I’d like to get my output up to no less than two releases each year, maybe double that. I’d be happy with that, but I doubt my current life situation will allow that schedule. I’ll try for it, though.

13. If you couldn’t be an author, what ideal job would you like to do?

I love to cook. I have a PT job as a cook and barista in a small business coffee shop, where I get free coffee. That’s a pretty sweet gig for a writer. I suppose as long as money isn’t too much of an issue, that’s where I’d want to be. I’ve done the lab tech thing, and the regulatory thing, office schmuck, documentation, billing… all kinds of things. Most of it is way too high-pressure. I always felt like each company was trying to be more important than it really was. But everyone respects the importance of coffee… and we don’t take ourselves too seriously.

14. What is your preferred method to have readers get in touch with or follow you (i.e., website, personal blog, Facebook page, here on Goodreads, etc.) and link(s)?

You can find everything I’m on at my website: http://www.authorgoddess.com/ , but if you want to actually get a hold of me, say hi or whatever, find me on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorSarahB/. My twitter and blog are @AuthorGoddess and https://authorgoddess.blogspot.com/ , respectively. Goodreads is https://www.goodreads.com/KalisaraWolfcat or just search “Sarah Buhrman”. I’m actually pretty easy to find.

Thanks for your time, Sarah. I like food!

I hope to return soon. I can’t make any promises, but I’ll try and come back later this week with a weekly roundup if I have the energy too. Back to editing and writing!

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