Tuesday, February 24, 2009

Interview with Regan Black!

I'm excited to have one of my favorite authors here today! Regan Black is an awesome writer. I loved her Justice Incarnate series tremendously. She has a wonderful new series: The Pixie Chicks and I'm so thrilled she'll be here with us today! :)





1. How did you first become interested in writing?

Reading. I read all the time, even with a flashlight under the covers when I was supposed to be sleeping. (Still do.) I read all kinds of things from Anne McCaffrey's fantasy world of Pern to sweet teen romances. Being well read, having a true love of reading, made English and literature classes easier and I must have shown an aptitude for writing because all my teachers thought I should go into journalism.

2. Do you use an outline or write by the seat of your pants?

I'm a pantser. I've tried outlining and pre-writing and actual plotting, whatever you'd like to call it, but at the heart of it, I just sit down and let the story lead me. I've learned to use a rough guideline and notes to keep me on track, but I love the rush of a new discovery. Sadly, this makes for more time in revisions, but I'm happier and more productive when I'm not fighting my natural process. According to Deb Dixon (author of Goal, Motivation, and Conflict) I'm also a quilter, which means I'll often write parts of the story out of order and piece them together in the rewrites. In July, one of my critique partners (a die-hard plotter) and I will be giving an online class for the LowcountryRWA chapter on the topic of Pantsing vs. Plotting - I guarantee that will be one riot of a classroom.

3. What inspired your latest plot?

The Pixie Chicks, my young adult series of short stories was inspired by my own high school years with the marching band and the social whirl that went with it. When I was a kid it was still pretty safe to walk around town with friends at night (though the pterodactyl patrol could be pesky) so that's often what we did. I cringe to think my own kids would do that now (my parental prerogative.) One of the places we found was this huge old garden full of statuary, hedge mazes, etc. and we'd dare each other into games of hide and seek. None of the statues were actual portals, but our vivid imaginations gave us thrills aplenty.

4. How many books do you think will be in the series?

As many as Quake wants to put out there. These shorts are fast and fun to write and I love the characters more with every misadventure. Writing Pixies is a great outlet, especially when I'm working on longer books, because it's an affirmation that I can make it from a beginning, through the middle, to a great The End.

5. Where can readers purchase your book? Links to share?

YA Pixies are available at Quake (http://www.quakeme.com) and fictionwise

My full length adult thrillers Justice Incarnate and Invasion of Justice are available from Echelon Press (http//:www.echelonpress.com) as well as fictionwise, Amazon.com and Justice Incarnate is available at Kindle. (Invasion is coming soon to Kindle, as are the Pixies)

Readers can meet me on my blog at: http://www.regansrealm.blogspot.com
Or learn all sorts of Regan trivia at http://www.reganblack.com
I'm a regular contributor to the Quake Teen-seen blog too: http://teen-seen.blogspot.comThey can follow me on twitter: http://twitter.com/ReganBlack
and Myspace is more for the adult stuff but I'm there http://www.myspace.com/reganblack
I also write articles on greyhounds too for http://www.associatedcontent.com look for the Regan Black byline.

Thanks Jenny!



Thanks so much to you too, Regan! :) It's truly a great blessing that you'll be here to respond to comments and questions during the day! Thank you tons for that as well!!


Warmly,
Jenny:)

28 comments:

Regan Black said...

Good morning everyone!

Thanks so much to Jenny for posting and hosting today!

=)
Regan

J.R. Turner said...

So appreciate you hanging out, Regan :)This is awesome!! :)

Warmly,
Jenny:)

Samuel Morton said...

HAve you decided what you really want to be ;)

Sam

Regan Black said...

I've decided I can't wait to see you at SC book festival and give you my answer in person!

:P

Regan

shelburns said...

Great interview! I love to hear about a writer that doesn't need an outline or prewrite. We teach these strategies to children, but some of them don't need it. I was in the marching band too. Would love to read this.

shelcows AT gmail DOT com

Sue said...

Hello there,

First of all, cheers for a fellow pantser! All this time, I thought I was a minority of one. :)

Secondly, I'd be interested in your perspective on what, if anything, clearly differentiates YA from middle-grade targeted fiction?

Thank you,

Sue

Regan Black said...

Thanks for joining us today. Kids are such good examples of free flow creativity.

Go Band!

Regan

Regan Black said...

Hi Sue! Pantsers always think they're alone because Plotters are the most organized about educating writers...just kidding (I offer some very organized and informative classes). =)

To address your 2nd question: I think the YA market usually lumps all those readers together, but there are differences and the market should get more niche-defined according to demand.

In my opinion, (and my experience as a parent) it comes down to volatile content. Adventure and coming of age stories, in any genre, keep middle schoolers reading, while YA titles are geared toward the high school set: still 'safer' content than adult books, but more serious topics.
What shelf a kid shops depends a lot on the kid's preferences and maturity. I have lots of older teen fans of my Justice series, but the sex content keeps those books out of their school libraries.

I think YA addresses the next stage of maturity for readers. High school readers crave a meatier story and a more involved escape. Not quite adult, but no longer satisfied identifying with the 11-14 age hero/heroine.

What a great question, thanks!
Regan

Christy Weber said...

Hi Regan. Thanks for sharing!

As an amateur writer, I need the structure of outlining and plotting, but I also find myself at the beck and call of whatever creative ideas I get - whenever I get them. I let the juices flow because I like it when the juices flow. What do you do when creative sparks get in the way of what needs to get done?

Regan Black said...

Hey Christie!

To stay on track, I set a timer for 10-15 minutes, let the interrupting idea free, so it will quit bugging me, then get back to the primary project.

That's usually enough time and the bonus is a full 'ideas' file for whenever I may need it.

Regan

Sue said...

Hope you don't mind a second question from the same person!

Having glanced over both the Echelon and Quake sites, I notice that they place a lot of emphasis on authors developing marketing strategies for promoting their work.

How do you balance your time when it comes to your family, your writing and your book marketing?

Thanks again,

Sue

Regan Black said...

I love questions - no matter who's asking! As for balance, I'm not familiar with the concept.

Just kidding.

Friends advised me to set office hours and while that sounds ridiculous, it does keep me happier. I don't block a full eight hours a day to write (wouldn't that be cool!) but I block my best two hours - meaning that time of day when I'm most creative - just for 'writing forward' on the current project. Of course life intrudes sometimes, but I've gotten better at controlling that time.

Next, I've learned to do family stuff when the family's around. I used to get hung up on providing a clean home, but my kids thought it happened magically, so now they pitch in more and most of the household chores happen while everyone's home to help.

Book marketing is the tricky part, because I can get sucked into a vortex never to see daylight again. But I'm becoming more savvy about online options. (I have to be with the orthopedic issues my daughter's been having that keep me tied close to her needs.)

Honestly, when it comes to marketing, I'm following good examples like Jenny, and learning the stuff my publisher wants me to learn about online promotion. For instance, I've learned blogging doesn't have to be my one way ticket to an asylum. I pre-plan my posts and try to keep it simple and I've discovered I can write blogs, etc, in the evenings while I watch TV with the kids. There's a learning curve and obviously it takes time to grow a readership. I've started offering online classes too and that helps combine promo efforts with helping others which is important to me.

As for how I divvy up my time, the family comes first, but with both kids in school that still leaves me plenty of time to waste - I mean write! I try not to let editing, marketing or housework steal my best writing time because that spells disaster for my mood and writing confidence - just ask my kids! =)

Just a tip: If you know your reader and where to find that reader, the promo and marketing strategies are much easier to develop. I was surprised when my primary audience for the Justice series wasn't who/where I thought they'd be. It took some revamping of the plan, but I kept at it.

Does that answer your question?

Regan

Sue said...

Does that answer your question?

Yes, thanks. For the most part. I assume then that most of your marketing is handled online?

Who were you expecting to be the primary audience for the Justice series? And who did they turn out to be?

Regan Black said...

Sue, at this stage (both books are over a year old) my primary marketing is online. And of course, Pixies are ebook only, so that's online.

I keep personal appearances close to home - mostly schools and libraries these days, with the occasional event like SC Book Festival this weekend. Local bookstores are happy to have me back as soon as I have a new full-length release, so it's nice to know I have a good reputation.

As for my audience, I'd thought my readers would be primarily female romance/sci-fi readers. It soon became apparent that at least 50% of my readership were male sci-fi fans, so I had to rethink the campaign that was initially aimed only at women.

Regan

Jeanne St. James said...

Great interview. That was fun to read!

Regan Black said...

Great picture you've got there Jeanne! Inspiring!

;)

Regan

Chester Campbell said...

Enjoyed the interview, Regan. You mentioned keeping personal appearances close to home. I blogged about that today at http://murderousmusings.blogspot.com. With the economy like it is now, I think lots of writers are looking for venues closer to home.

Regan Black said...

Very good point, Chester!

Regan Black said...

Just finishing an email interview about greyhounds adoption and fostering - what a cool day all around!

Regan

J.R. Turner said...

Regan, you have been SOOO awesome all day long!! Thank you bunches for joining me when I know your day is so hectic :)

You truly do rock!

Warmly,
Jenny:)

Regan Black said...

You're too kind! We really need to meet in person one day soon!

J.R. Turner said...

Most definitely, Regan! I have books that need autographing!! :) :)

Are you going to be anywhere in April or May? Any conferences? Maybe I can work it out to come to one. That would be way cool!

Warmly,
Jenny:)

Regan Black said...

April I'm doing the online workshop and I haven't looked at May yet. (shame on me!)

Printer's Row is an option, but that's June. Do you ever go to that one?

Regan

J.R. Turner said...

Printer's Row is great!!! I'm going to be there, with bells on! ;)

I'm definitely bringing my books for you to sign now!! :)

Awesome!

Warmly,
Jenny:)

Regan Black said...

It's a date!

Regan Black said...

Well, it's past my bedtime! Thanks again for a wonderful day Jenny!

Smiles to all!
Regan

Mary Cunningham said...

GREAT interview Jenny and Regan. I loved the pteradactyl patrol! Can't wait to read Pixie Chicks!

I'm with you on the outlining. I write by the seat of my pants, too. I think every writer should just do what comes naturally. Don't try to copy another writer's style or habits.

I get to meet Regan at the South Carolina Booka Festival!! YAAAY!

Hoping to meet you sometime, too, Jenny!! :>)

Mary
"Cynthia's Attic"
http://www.cynthiasattic.blogspot.com
http://www.woofersclub.blogspot.com

J.R. Turner said...

Thanks so much, Regan, for hanging out with us yesterday :) I'm so happy that you had a great time!

Warmly,
Jenny:)