Get to know the ladies of Sable Grace.
Authors of Ascension
Can you tell us a little about yourselves?
Sable is the writing team of Heather Waters and Laura Barone. Yes, we were friends first. Yes, we do have some common ground. But no, we are not very much alike. That’s probably what gave Sable such a voice different from our own separately.
Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?
H: For me, it was just there forever. I don’t remember a specific moment where I thought I’d like to try writing. I just remember my dad bringing home boxes of letterhead from work that was going to be thrown out and I’d fill every single page up with stories a la Christopher Pike and R.L. Stine. After my son was born in 1998, I do remember sitting down to write my first book – rather than just a story that was in my head. That book finaled in some contests and got me my agent a couple years later and I was hooked.
L: Writing for me was a form of escapism. I’d read everything I could get my hands on—even when I was told I couldn’t because it was too mature or scary—and when I ran out of books, I took the next logical step and started rewriting the endings to those I’d enjoyed reading. I had an English teacher who insisted on journals. Most of the class groaned, I did a little dance because I could fill the pages with my own stories or poetry or whatever thoughts came to mind. In 1994, after finishing a book that had awesome potential but fell way short of even a ‘good’ read, I told my husband I could do better than that. His response was, “Prove it.” And I’ve been writing since. (Note: I have reread the author in question and discovered that she has awesome books that now sit on my shelf—right beside the one that set me off on a path or writing my own book. I’ll be forever grateful to her.)
What surprised you the most about the writing/publishing process?
H: About publishing – how freaking slow it is! We wrote Ascension in 2009 I think (Laura can correct me if I’m wrong) and are just now seeing it in print. When I wrote for another publishing house, I had my first taste of hurry up and wait, and it hasn’t changed with a new publisher! When you don’t have patience, it can be extremely painful. The other thing that surprised me was how little bad reviews bother me. I’d get bad scores in contests before publishing and they would tear me up. But reviews… I just shrug them off because I know I didn’t write for those people. I write for the people who get me. I’m thankful for the bad reviews if only because it means someone gave me enough time or money to at least give me a try. But other than that, they don’t faze me a bit.
As for writing – the fact that I can still be surprised is surprising! Every time I think I know where a story is headed, bam, surprise. It swerves and takes a more interesting path! Who wouldn’t love that?
L: I remember going to RWA chapter meetings and hearing the speaker say that a book you read today was written two years ago and I would mentally shrug and think it really can’t take that long. Ha! Yes, it can—and does. We wrote Ascension in June 2009 and it just made its debut on the shelves. Just shy of the two year mark.
The writing surprises are awesome! I love learning about a new character or event that wasn’t planned but popped up and refused to go away. I still remember Heather’s shocked comment when Geoffrey let us know he was Irish.
How do you develop your plots and characters? Do you use any set formula?
H: The question “What if” is my best friend. One question leads to another and another (which I’m sure drives Laura nuts sometimes) because as surely as I can come up with a new plot development or character, I’m backing up and saying, “Crap. That won’t work because…” and we start all over.
L: The “What if” doesn’t make me crazy—okay a little but only sometimes :)—and I love the way new ideas come out of just a tossed aside comment. I have a love/hate relationship with the “Crap. That won’t work because…” lines. I’ve learned to spot Heather’s look that says we have a problem, so we go back to where it was working, determine the problem and go forward. It’s much quicker after three books than it was when we first started out. Oy, still have nightmares about the circles we wrote ourselves into with our first attempt.
What, in your opinion, are the most important elements of good writing?
H: Wow. I’m going to just say this and it could get me into a whole mess of trouble, but all my friends know this is my theory so I might as well share it with everyone else. I think authors are broken into two categories: writers and storytellers. Am I a great writer? I’m the first to say, no. I’m not. However, I don’t think a lot of authors are. J.K. Rowling, my absolute idol, isn’t really a wordsmith either in my opinion. What she is is an amazing story teller. You start reading her work and become so immersed in her world and characters and story that you stop noticing that every line of dialogue is tagged with “said Harry.” I’m no J.K. Rowling, but wow, what an amazing gift she has. If I sway toward one side more than the other, I sway to the side of the story teller. My advice… do the words matter? Of course. Do they matter more than the story? HELL NO. A lot of writers I know forget that. Every sentence has to be perfect and so the important stuff falls short. They impress themselves with their poetic prose or take a week to find the perfect way to describe a damned sofa. If you have to cut 200 pages in order to honor the story you’re trying to tell and make it better, then for God’s sake, do it and don’t whine about it. The story is what matters. Not the author’s attachment to the words. Not the author’s ego. The story and the reader. That is ALL that matters to me.
L: I think Heather said it best. There’s no one element of good writing. Craft is important, but I can forgive a lot if the story grabs me from the first page and refuses to let me go. To me, that is the best, and most important, element of writing.
Can you share a little of your current work with us?
How about this? I’ll just pull up a random page from the manuscript of Ascension….
““Drink, damnit.” He flexed his fist to make the blood flow faster. “It’s the only way.”
Blood filled her mouth and spilled down her throat. She coughed against the burning taste of alcohol as her throat closed around the thick drink. She fought against him like a drowning victim fighting the waves for air. Years of suppressed need flooded her. Kyana gave in. She gripped his wrist in both hands and drank deeply.
Is that enough? LOL. Sorry but there’s so few passages to share that won’t give away some key twist somewhere in the plot!
I LOVE following you ladies on twitter. In Twitter Fashion use 140 characters or less, sum Ascension for us.
Kyana Aslan…you’re going to hate her… until you love her.
I didn’t count. Was that under 140?
How did you come up with a story that was such a whirl wind of events?
H: I have an undiagnosed form of A.D.D? If I’m bored, I think the reader will be, too, so when I sit down to write, I have to be able to surprise myself! A lot of twists came from dropping a bombshell in just so I could send to Laura and wait for her WTF message, and then I get to sit back and see where she takes it.
L: LOL This is so true… about the undiagnosed ADD. We take great joy in stopping in a place where we have to duck because you know the other is going to throw something at you when they reach our stopping point.
How long did it take you to write it, and did you have any writer’s block along the way?
H: I don’t believe in writers block or excuses. When I’m on deadline, it’s write or die. Do I take a day off? Sure. But I think burn out is a different thing than writers block. I never not know how to write the next scene or, if I come close, then I’m not afraid to sit and write until something sparks – scrap what I wrote and start again. But I have days where my brain is on overload and I just need a rest. Everyone gets a weekend off. Sometimes my Saturdays fall on a Monday. That’s all.
L: We completed the first draft in eighty-two days. (from 8 June to 28 Aug) I can calculate total days including revisions but that number doesn’t impress me as much (LOL). I agree with Heather about writer’s block. I get stuck sometimes, but it’s because I’m in the wrong POV or the wrong scene completely, but I’ve learned that even if I’m just throwing crap at the page there’s usually something in all the mess that can spark an idea that solves the problem and get the words flowing a full speed again. Saying that, let me add that it’s easy to let life and its problems get in the way and use that as an excuse not to write—cause yeah, I’ve done that—but it’s not that I don’t know where to go in the story, just that I’ve allowed myself to shut down mentally. Takes some effort to push through sometimes, but if you make yourself put words on the page, even if they have to be deleted later, then everything falls back into place and is right in the world again.
Will we be seeing a following book to this story?
Book 2, Bedeviled, is set for release in January 2012. It pretty much picks up where Ascension leaves off and follows Kyana and Ryker again as they try to clean up the messes made in this book. Book 3 is already turned in to Avon and book 4… we’ll be starting shortly.
How did you come up with the character Kyana?
She was a surprise. For anyone who’s already read Ascension, the original heroine was supposed to be Jordan Faye, the Chosen who replaces one of the Fates. Kyana was just her bodyguard. But her personality was so overwhelming, we couldn’t remember Jordan’s name half the time. So we started over and Kyana took control.
I always must ask, If you could pick one actress to portray Kyana on the big screen who would it be and why?
Because two of us are writing the series, I think it’s more important to have specific pictures so we’re both on the same page with every single person who walks into the scene, so this is an easy one! Morena Baccarin from Firefly, Serenity and the t.v. show V is who we cut out for Kyana.
Was there anything you found particularly challenging when writing this book?
Finding the right pace. We went through a hellish cycle of revisions because the book is so action packed we couldn’t find the right scenes or downtime to develop Kyana. Every time we put in some down time so the reader could get to know her better, it slowed the pace drastically. I think this is part of the reason a lot of readers have said they have trouble liking Kyana for the first ¼ of the book or something – because there was just no time for her to be soft until she could interact more with the people she cares about.
What were your feelings when you first saw the cover of your finished book?
Squeal! Apparently Erika (our amazing editor) had found our cover long before she ever bought us and had held onto it. She’d just been waiting to find a book she loved that would fit it. She was right. It did. Perfectly. We can’t wait to see what they do for Bedeviled.
Where To Find Sable Grace:
and three signed cover flats
4 Winners ~ Us Only ~ Open Till May 31st