Kate on writing…
What motivates you to write?
Authors are supposed to have profound reasons for writing, but I was tricked into it. A friend asked me to help edit his memoir, then contribute to his blog, and then edit a novel he wrote with his grandchildren. He published his books on Amazon — what a thrill to see them there and find reviews from readers. When NaNoWriMo, (National Novel Writing Month) rolled around, he encouraged me to try and helped me edit the result into a book that, if I do say so, is not terrible.
I realized I could do better and learn more about this strange thing called writing. I’m not good at crossword puzzles, but here was a puzzle that really grabbed me. What will people be like in a world I create? What about danger, adventure, and survival on a planet as close to real as I can make it? I was hooked.
How many hours a week do you spend writing?
I feel my most creative in the mornings, so I write for two or three hours most days. I can edit and tend social media in the afternoons, so another couple hours there. When I’m in outlining mode my schedule is more erratic. I need to take long walks and afternoon naps to help me think. I also read for an hour or two, since reading in part of writing, whether fiction or how-to-write. I limit my social media time so it doesn’t eat my life. Of course, once on the internet, some science news story usually inspires a poem each week.
Your biggest writing distractions?
If the house gets too noisy, that’s a problem. I like to write in quiet. But major distractions happen when I hit a block in a story, when I’m not sure how a character should react, or can’t get them from here to there. Or some cute bit I love doesn’t fit and should be chopped out, but I just can’t do it yet. Then everything from a full laundry basket to that annoying internet becomes irresistible.
What are your favorite books or sites you go to for writing tips / advice?
There’re thousands of books and sites, but a lot of it is repetitive. I like Stephen King’s book On Writing, a combination of advice and memoir. But I’ve gotten the most from KM Weiland. It’s not that her advice is unique, but somehow for me, I “got it” from the way she presents information.
I use books for writing advice, but there are also workbooks, software, nd classes out there. If you like podcasts, I’ve found good stuff at Andy Chamberlain’s Creative Writer’s Toolbelt.I think it’s important to find both the approach and format that makes sense to you.
Although I occasionally listen to free webinars from various sources, I haven’t found them as satisfying. Expect an upsell for pricy courses (webinars aren’t free for no reason) and they seem to contain ten minutes of information packed into an hour (read sarcasm.) That said, I have collected some good tips, so if you’ve got the time, try a few.
Have you ever cut anything from your book and why?
Oh yes! When I cut large sections, I move them to a “out-takes” folder to save. I feel better that way, just in case I can ever use something I chopped. I have a lovely descriptive piece where a character spends a weekend in a desert cabin. But it simply didn’t do anything for the story, so it sits with my out-takes.
Least favorite thing about writing?
Typos! I hate to make stupid mistakes. (I prefer awesome mistakes.) I swear typos emerge spontaneously from the quantum foam. I once published a book and checked the preview on Amazon, just to admire my work. And found a typo on page one! Arghhh! At least I could fix it right then.
Kate as a reader…
Your most influential book(s)?
Star Trek, The Original Series. Okay, it’s not a book. There are a bunch of Star Trek novels and I’ve read some of them, but I mean the TV series.
Star Trekgave me a taste for science fiction. There were certainly elements of pure fantasy in the show, and all the Star Treks are famous for techno-babble that sounds science-y but isn’t real. But they explored beyond anything I knew, they fought and loved, and they often solved problems with their brains. They met wonderfully advanced races (pure mental power allowed for cheap special effects!) while maintaining their own sense of worth. I want that.
Tell us what you are currently reading and your verdict so far?
I’m reading Red Risingby Pierce Brown. It’s a phenomenally popular book in a scifi/fantasy dystopian genre – the sort where teenagers fight and kill each other in “games.” There’s lots of violence and suffering by all involved, more than any one of us could endure because they’re all supermen and superwomen. Like other stories in this genre, adults are either corrupt, downright evil, or ineffective. The genre also favors primarily medieval sorts of weapons with flashes of high-tech, and high-fashion. The main character must win the games to maneuver into a position where he can topple the evil society. You may think this is predictable stuff.
Red Risingdelivers all the requirements of the genre, and grandly. The main character repeatedly ruminates about a lost love that drives him and makes him unwilling to accept mere revenge. He feels guilt over some of the terrible things he must do to win – not just in passing, but deeply, and sometimes he suffers consequences. The story is wonderfully done and never devolves into merely a video game plot.
At one point when I was getting a little tired of the violence, I laughed out loud when a character said the same thing – that he was getting tired of the game. How about that – an author who can read my mind.
If you could have a signed copy of a book by an author (dead or living) what book would it be and why?
The Gods Themselvesby Isaac Asimov. This was one of the first science fiction books I read, and young love is always special. It’s only recently I learned Asimov wrote the story in response to criticisms that his books didn’t have sex or aliens. This one has aliens, alien sex, and a cool physics premise.
Oddly enough, I’m not a big fan of Asimov’s Foundation trilogy (the original three books.) They feel dated to me. Maybe not surprising since he wrote them in the early 1950s. Although The Gods Themselveswas written in the early 1970s, so it’s old too. I guess it shows how he changed as a writer.
Kate Rauner writes science fiction novels and science-inspired poetry, and serves as a volunteer firefighter. Now living on the edge of southwest America’s Gila National Forest with her husband, cats, llamas, and dog, she’s achieving her life-goal of becoming an eccentric old womanT.
About the book…
You are living in your latest novel. Where are you living, and what is it like?
I’m on Mars – a very real Mars based on exploration by Earth’s rovers and orbiters. In the first book of the series, I was one of twelve settlers, with no way back to Earth and my life in jeopardy. We were cold, sick, and threatened with terrible deaths.
In the latest story, the colony has matured. I’m snug inside my thick stone habitat, one of several scattered across half the planet, wherever the early settlers found minerals and water ice vital for survival. Like most of us, I’m content inside my bay, frightened by the barren, radiation-blasted surface. Thanks to robotics and our Artificial Intelligence handling survival chores, I’m free to follow whatever vocation appeals to me.
But I hear there’s an obsessed young man who wants to change the surface of the planet forever, who’s joined one of the elite Guilds. I hear there are burgs where people live desperate lives. Glad I’m safe from all the ambition and all the danger. I am safe, aren’t I?
Join the first twelve Mars colonists as a strange illness and hostile world threaten their colony’s existence. Then through generations, follow one settler in each book as they struggle with their deadly planet, fellow colonists, and Earth to survive and build meaningful lives. Someday there will be real settlers on Mars and they’ll tell stories like these.