I thought it might be fun to start the tour with an interview I did of Mind Over Mind, kind of a catch up, but also a nice explanation of the characters and world:
1. This novel has quite a history, doesn't it?
I started this in college as a short story for a science fiction class. I wrote it more out of spite than anything; my midterm paper got a B because the professor didn't like my analysis of some story I've long since forgotten. He loved the story and thought I should make it into a novel.
I spent the next year working on that novel, and even sent it out to several publishers, who all sent me very nice form rejections. So I gave it up, finished college, became an officer in the military, got married and had kids, then started a writing career.
In 2001, I was homeschooling two kids and had a toddler and a baby at home, so I decided to brush off the old novel and try again. I thought it'd be easy until I saw how, well, shallow it was. The character was a cool college Mary Sue with psychic powers, and Joshua was a hick sidekick. TRIPE! Ten years of living had given me some perspective, and I realized I needed to rethink the whole thing. I did love the premise, though, and Kanaan and Tasmae (known as the Miscria.) So I rethought poor Deryl until he ended up with a tortured history and was living in an asylum. Joshua became a protégée intern (and went from country hick to Black kid from the suburbs--don’t ask how; I don't question these things.) The book then had enough meat to become a trilogy. It took another ten years to find it a home, but I'm pleased as punch to have DragonMoon publishing it.
Characters are more complex, as is the plot. There are some important issues the characters are dealing with, from mental illness to abortions to attempted suicide. Frankly, it's just overall more fun to read, too.
3. What would you say your aspirations were for Mind Over Mind?
To get read--by a lot of people. Thousands. Tens of thousands. (Help me out here, folks and buy it?)
To have the trilogy out in the next few years. DragonMoon has the second book, and I need to write the third next year.
4. How much work did you put into the story itself before you started writing? Was this outlined before the computer was even warm, or did you just start writing before you started?
I tend to be a seat-of-the-pants writer. I know the beginning, the end, and some of the stops on the way, but the characters lead me through the story. This one, of course, had the general idea written out with the college draft; but I am discovering so much great stuff as I write. I often imagine scenes for days or even weeks before starting, but because I'm writing another project at the time rather than because I'm waiting for it to gel in my mind. I sometimes write scenes or snippets in a file for safekeeping.
5. Neuro-Linguistic Programming is a psychological concept you use in the book as a way for Joshua to help Ydrel with his “issues.” How much research into it did you have to do for the book?
Most of it came from a very interesting book called, Frogs into Princes, which I'd had to read in college and fortunately kept all those years. I also had an NLP therapist read the book to make sure I had accurately portrayed the use of NLP (at least within allowance for the fantasy setting.)
6. Back when you were interviewed for ISIG2, you mentioned how you were more into fantasy than science fiction. Yet, you made this one a work of science fiction, even using fantasy novels as a template in some rather scientific uses. What made you decide to do this as SF, and not fantasy?
That's funny; I've always thought of this one as fantasy, since Deryl has psychic powers. Sometimes the lines between fantasy and science fiction blur; this must be one of those times.
7. How much work went into designing the various alien cultures?
As much as has been needed for the story. I know that sounds like a snarky answer, but it's the truth. I spend a wonderful lunch hour with my astronomy professor in college playing with the orbits of the planets, but otherwise, the characters teach me their worlds as I write them. Barin came as a particular surprise as I neared the end of Mind Over Psyche. I had not imagined an underground world whose civilization collapses on a regular basis by an unknown natural disaster (which is really the Miscria of Kanaan using her telekinetic powers to push the planets apart from each other.)
8 What, if anything, surprised you while writing Mind over Mind?
How vicious I can be to my characters? I've seriously messed with Deryl's mind, literally and figuratively. But he's so much more interesting this way!
9. Do you have any advice to blog readers who are thinking about writing their own novel?
If you don't sit down and write it, it won't get written. Start there.
10. Last chance: What do you think is the one thing we should all remember about Mind Over Mind?
That there will be a second book! In Mind Over Psyche, Deryl escapes the asylum, inadvertently taking Joshua with him. Deryl will meet Tasmae; Joshua will learn his has an ability of his own; Tasmae gets to go fabulously insane; and Deryl will at last confront The Master.