Wednesday, 13 August 2014
We have recently revived the WEbook Newsletter and will be sending out an update on WEbook to our members on a monthly basis... We have however been notified by some of our members that they noticed our newsletter had landed in their junk mail!! We've decided to post our newsletter here on the blog too so that those of you who missed out on the newsletter the first time around, also have the opportunity to enter our brilliant competition and submit your book for publication!
Posted by Writer at 03:35
Friday, 1 August 2014
This June we set you a rather tricky challenge! We asked you to write us a story which omitted the senses of sight and sound - two of the most commonly used sensory descriptions. Many of our WEbookers found this a bit tricky, but it did nevertheless produce some beautiful results - which is, after all, what we're after. With the focus resting on what we feel emotionally, what we touch, taste and smell, a whole new view on the world was opened up...
The brief was interpreted in many different ways, and out of our six winning entries, no two followed a similar strain. The focus on the emotional really let people delve into their inner feelings and exploit these for the benefit of their characterisation.
Well done to everyone who entered!
We sat down with Sue (virtually) and had a chat about how she approached the challenge, and how she was able to craft such a wonderful, winning entry...
WEbook: Congratulations on winning the June challenge! Your entry, 'A Friend Like No Other', was written from the perspective of a deaf-blind woman, did you find writing from this perspective challenging?
Sue Grainger: Very much so. Sight and sound are an integral part of how most of us live. So taking that away, and experiencing the world around us without them, is always going to be hard. There were several points when I had to just sit, with my eyes closed, and try to recall all the details that I could use to describe an action clearly—like the feel of a seat belt, movement, and the texture and smell of different foods. The details were all there in my head, but it took a while to pull them forward.
WB: I think we are very used to using words and sight to communicate to interact with other people, WEbook were very impressed with the way in which you were able to create such feeling and interaction between your characters without the use of verbal communication. Do you feel that the way in which they express their feelings makes their relationship more intense?
SG: Absolutely! In a way, I think that sight and sound are the ‘easy’ senses. Taste, touch and smell add depth to our life experiences, so a relationship where these are in control and physical contact is a necessary part of daily life—for simple things, like making a person aware of something new in their environment, right through to showing strong emotion (a passion-filled glance isn’t going to be much good!) is bound to be more intense.
It’s not a one-sided experience either. Men like to feel valued as much as women do, and in this story the trust that’s essential in any relationship becomes an even bigger necessity. Jake will have to focus on his partner’s needs more than most men but, at the same time, he’s found someone who won’t judge him on his looks or whether his clothes are the latest fashion; she won’t hate his taste in music, be disapproving if he shouts obscenities at the TV whilst watching sport, find his laugh annoying or complain if he snores. She’ll always have a sense of what really matters. She’ll love him, and appreciate his efforts without any of the usual visual/sound ‘markers’ - and that’s going to strengthen/deepen the relationship for both of them.
WB: By removing the sight and sounds from the story you clearly show how deep human feeling can be, do you find when you write you use your own experiences to help to convey those deep emotions?
SG: Without a doubt. I always use my own experiences in my writing, and don’t mind admitting that. I’ve heard writers say that you shouldn’t put ‘yourself’ into your work, but I honestly don’t see how that’s possible. How do you write about an emotion (with any conviction) if you’ve never felt it for yourself or at least a variation of it? Yes, it’s possible to put yourself into the shoes of a character who’s going through something you’ve never experienced, so you have to guess what their response would be… but the actual emotion needs to be something that’s touched you personally at some point, otherwise you haven’t a hope of describing it.
There’s a well-known pearl of authorly wisdom: ‘Write what you know’ – and that’s the best bit of advice any author could hope for if they want their writing to have depth.
WB: You can’t help but feel an overwhelming sense of joy from your story, but at the same time, do you think this is mixed with a sense of sadness?
SG: It depends on how you interpret the story. When the female protagonist wonders about how other people see the world, she’s actually showing a keen interest in how they live their lives and feel about certain things, which is something writers spend a lot of time wondering about, especially when creating new characters. Perhaps she is sad that there are some things she’ll never experience for herself, but there’s more to it than that. I wanted the reader to realise that, even without vision and hearing, she’s found other ways to be happy, and other ways to enrich her life. How many people, when watching the view from an open car window, would also spend time appreciating the smell of the air, or the sensation of the wind tugging at our hair?
This character isn’t someone to be pitied – she’s someone to be admired.
WB: Finally, do your characters live happily ever after?
SG: Of course they do! In fact, they grow so close, even though they’re very different, that their relationship becomes almost symbiotic… They get married, have kids and grow old together and, through it all, they’re true partners.
Thanks to everyone who entered the Challenge, submissions for the July Challenge, 'How it feels to be feee', have now closed - but the August Steampunk Challenge has opened today. To enter head on over to the Challenge page and see if your entry will be enough to crown you our next winner!
- The WEbook Team
Posted by Writer at 09:22
Tuesday, 8 July 2014
Winner of the May Challenge, Caitlin Easter, chats to us about her brilliant winning entry, Blue Sky!
This May we set the WEbook community a slightly different challenge... we asked you to develop a story based on an image. But while this may seem like an easy ask, we decided to make it a little trickier by asking you to do this without utilising the obvious connotations that you would usually associate with the style of image we supplied as a writing prompt.
|We wanted you to think outside the... um, door... so to speak...|
However, having said that... we had no battle over the winner! Caitlin Easter's, Blue Sky, was picked unanimously for it's brilliance as a stand alone piece and also because, man, were we desperate to read more! Hint, hint Caitlin...
As per our usual monthly routine, we sat down with Caitlin and had a chat with her about her winning entry, how she came up with the idea and some other titbits.
So, without further ado...
Caitlin Easter: Blue Sky is an ancient history prequel to my ongoing book series, The Ark of Traeadon, which takes place in our far future. Fae and the Faerinnian (’fer-än-ēən) race have played an important role in my work for more than twenty years. This glimpse of ancient Fae was conceived entirely for this challenge and it was a very satisfying giant leap back in time.
WB: When writing, where do you draw inspiration from to develop such a rich narrative?
|The door to the soul...|
CE: My narrative is primarily inspired by my character’s perspective. Rather than beginning with where the story is placed, I focus on who is there and why. I find that environs become most tangible as fully experienced through an intricate personality. My process involves being a character ‘medium’. I become them, one and all, internalizing who they are at that moment and then I decide how they fit in, what they will do and reveal. I interpret what they see, hear, smell, taste, feel and intuit. Their distinctive personalities have insights that insist I enlist suitably unique language. I don’t expect a reader to necessarily care what some high-rise hallway looks like, so my goal is always to first engage some emotional interest. I try to marry anything that I find tedious with a suffusion of attitude. From there I build the physical environment. It is very often peppered in later when found ‘missing’—wait, where are we?
WB: Your story refers to hierarchy and governing bodies, was it your intention to question power and dominance through the character Tineka who challenges the Councillor?
CE: I took this story a bit further (3,000+ words) before realizing the can of worms it truly is. I might write the book, but after my current ongoing arc-line is finished. The limited continuation did reveal quite a bit more of these characters and their relationship. The short version seriously required imaginative extrapolation.
Rather than wax overboard here about this race, I’ll speak directly to the question: Nope.
And now to the relationship:
Tineka is a model exception in a crowd of faereys. This is why Atlan expects a lot and must be mindful of tolerance; her emotional ‘failings’ are quite normal. Tineka has an intelligent, independent streak, but is not rebellious. Actually, she is soon to graduate with honors from the Diplomatic Corps (mentored for early admission by the Orrend himself, as favor to her father, his distant cousin). The challenging and/or disgruntled tone of this relationship is instead mildly playful.
The stoicism that is adopted as the respectable norm for an elder is a behavior, and so does not necessarily authentically represent an elder’s emotional state. The tradition of the Kron (stoicism) is employed to learn control over the emotional upheaval that accompanies the physical change to elder. Most have no trouble regaining a moderate degree of most emotions, though they are usually exhibited privately. Tineka has no intention of parading the stoic show that she deems farcical. There is a bit of arrogance in that, sure, but she highly respects the Orrend. Her teasing with willful spark comes from a hopeful place. She simply wishes to encourage his hidden levity.
Typical faereys are dynamically emotional and willfully fickle. They are curious little people and mischief often follows, but there is not much cause for civil unrest. The faerey stage of life is, in a way, an extended mature childhood. They do not rebel against the elder hierarchy because it provides them with fair, socialist support and education. They are aware of the grander opportunities that will also be afforded them in elder-hood. At the time of this story, although Fae was once overseen by a monarch, the royal bloodline has no preeminent power. This council of thirteen is an executive ministry, elected to represent each of the bloodlines equitably.
Why, yes, I think that is some wax that got all over the board…
WB: The story uses powerful imagery of pollution, you mention the ‘acrid residue’ and the ‘putrid, greenish smog’ - what does the Smog represent?
CE: The first Faerinnian home world was over populated and rendered uninhabitable by waste and pollution. The space trekking survival mission of this advanced race was to find and colonize New Fae. Eventually, the colonists had been forced to settle for a star system with many passably sustainable orbs, none of which were optimal. They’d left ruin in search of another Eden, only to find similar greenhouse worlds. Now, for millennia they’ve been managing the gasses and mapping the heavens for a new mission.
Given the background, obviously, the smog portrays a grim irony of technological advancement that is not tempered with foresight for ecological responsibility. In the ‘short’ I hoped it would serve as a symbolic parallel for Earth, that it might remind our calling to be vigilant caretakers of our own precious ecology.
WB: In life, I suppose it is fair to say, that we all have something that represents the Blue Sky in your story. What does the Blue Sky represent for you.
CE: Blue sky reminds me to be reverent. On a cosmic scale, it represents intelligent life as one cog in natural alignment. We evolved into this intricate balance of nature, beneath this blue sky. I belong to the cycle with this precious life, right here, right now.
WB: Can you give us a teaser as to the future of the portal - does it eventually vanish like previous portals you mention in the story?
CE: I can promise that it lasts long enough for Atlan of Orrend’s clandestine delegation (including Tineka, of course!) to strike a beneficial allegiance with one spiritually and technologically advanced society of ancient earth. The alliance educates both cultures in potentially transformative magnitude. They discover there is a time variance between the planes. Time always passes more slowly in Fae, though unfortunately with no predictable relativity—which does create some trouble for diplomatic race relations.
FINAL SPOILER: The portal itself will outlast its purpose. Tineka and her new friend, an eminent priestess, will study the force within the gateway threshold. They discover that the energy can be mimicked; it can be sourced from one’s own life-force. It can be used to manifest temporary travel portals for ‘curtaining’ with one’s spark at will—a valued talent that is still employed in the future!
Thank you, WEbook, for the interest and for rewarding me with my first-time-ever writing win! The invitation to talk in depth about my work is a rare and decadent indulgence. My motivation to publish has been fully recharged!
WB: Thanks for taking the time to talk with us Caitlin, we really enjoyed reading Blue Sky and look forwards to reading more of it as you post to your project page on WEbook!
As ever, we would like to thank all of our members who took the time to enter the May Challenge, well done to you all on your fantastic entries.
Don't forget that the July Challenge, How it Feels to be Free, is now open to submissions...
The WEbook Team
Posted by Writer at 07:49