I would like to extend a big welcome to Chuck Wendig to the blog today. I really enjoyed the first novel of the Miriam Black series, Blackbirds and was very lucky to receive an early copy of Mockingbird. Needless to say I am very interested where Wendig will take Miriam next on her journey and I have just recently purchased Double Dead which I am looking forward to reading.
Hi Chuck, welcome to Book Chick City. Is your thought process or planning different from when you are writing novels than when you are writing screenplays, blogging or gaming?
Well, story is story. Good story is good story, and bad story is still bad story. So too with writing. Storytelling is a fundamental language that has as its letters and laws things like conflict, plot, character, and so on and so forth. So, knowing story is key.
That being said, each medium demands its own format – its own tips and tricks and nooks and crannies. Each has a kind of texture that the other does not. Blogging I can just jump out of the plane and build my profane parachute on the way down. Screenplay follows a very specific format (three acts, 90-120 pages, very precise page-to-page particulars). Gaming forces you to take your ego out of the equation and learn how to give the tools to someone else (“The Player”) to create her own story.
So, the story is the story, but how that story slides into the format-shaped space is different for each and does require its own brand of planning and plotting.
What do you think the biggest challenge has been in your career so far?
The tiny human, AKA “B-Dub,” AKA, my son. I know what you’re saying, “But a child isn’t part of your career!” and to that I say, “He’s my editor.”
Okay, he’s not my editor. But he is a very big part of my life and, y’know, he’s a toddler. He’s insane right now. He babbles and grows and learns new words every day and the day must accommodate him—which means I have new flaming chainsaws to juggle in terms of work stuff.
Do you think there is more pressure on authors now then there was 5-10 years ago due to the rise of social media and the expectation by fans to be active with blogs, Twitter, Facebook etc?
I honestly don’t know. It’s possible, and yet, I like to think of those things as “pressure-venting” rather than “pressure-adding.” And they can be informative, too, in a hive-mind sense.
Do you have a favourite place or time of day to write?
Nope. I want to be able to write anywhere and… er, anywhen. That said, I do have a fairly straightforward schedule: get up at 6, write in the morning, edit or perform other administrative duties in the afternoon, drink profusely by evening, fall down in a pile of my own sick by midnight.
What inspired you to start writing the Miriam Black series?
Death. Death in my life. Death in everybody’s life. It’s uncontrollable, and we all have it in common. Miriam is both the fulcrum of that tragedy and also the pivot point on which fate can change.
Miriam isn’t the most likeable of characters but at the same time as the reader you are really routing for her. Was this planned or did she just evolve that way?
I didn’t think too hard in the beginning as to how likable she was. As the book is often fond of saying in terms of fate, “it is what it is,” so in regards to Miriam one supposes she is who she is.
In Mockingbird you used symbolism and mythology extensively. Is mythology an interest of yours or did you think that Miriam’s story lent itself to Greek tragedy?
I’m a huge fan of mythology. It was a nice place to inject some of that early interest of mine into this twisted modern urban fantasy horror noir “thing” I’m writing.
I don’t know how specifically tragic Miriam is in the technical sense – I mean, in the day to day her life is definitely a tragedy in which she is responsible for her own problems. She’s constantly digging pits for herself and falling into them. That said, it remains to be seen whether or not her eventual ending—or, “ending”—will be tragic. That suggests her overall story ends on a down-note.
Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn’t.
How many novels are you planning for the Miriam Black series?
I have six books in mind officially, but new Miriam stories (long and short) pop into my head every day. She’s taken up space. She’s cleared out walls in my head and sits up there, smoking and cursing at me. So, I’ve got plenty of books to write, and one way or another, they’ll get out there.
Have you planned out the whole of the Miriam Black series or are you working on each book at a time?
I have a scope of the series in mind. I kind of know how it ends… or, at least, a very specific factor of the end. But I work book-to-book, mostly. The long-term is painted only in broad strokes.
The Miriam Black series is very different from Double Dead did you find it difficult to switch to a different genre?
Would you believe that I don’t consider them all that different? The Miriam Black series has more “fantasy” to it, but it’s still horror in a way (or horrifying, at times), but both are grim. Both deal about death. Both offer protagonists who seem unlikable but somehow (like a worm in an apple) bore the way to the center of the story and reader’s hearts. Both are forced to deal with alarming new circumstances and are offered a chance to both grow and shrink their own relative monstrousness in these new circumstances. Both are dealing with a bad background that doesn’t end well that made them who they are today. Oh, and lots of naughty language in each!
As this is our ALL HALLOWS EVE event, can you let us know if you celebrate Halloween and if so how?
I do celebrate Halloween! I dress up like a serial killer and run around the neighborhood “serial killing” people! With candy and pumpkins. And also, KNIVES. Okay, maybe not. Our Halloween here is in flux — we have a very small person living with us (not yet two years old), so we don’t exactly know what our new routine is for that weird and wonderful day.
Thanks for answering our questions, Chuck!
Chuck Wendig is equal parts novelist, screenwriter, and game designer. He is the author of the novels Double Dead, Blackbirds, and Mockingbird. In addition, he’s got a metric boatload of writing-related e-books available, including the popular 500 Ways To Be A Better Writer.
He currently lives in the wilds of Pennsyltucky with wife, dog, and newborn progeny.