Thursday, August 25, 2011

Today's Thursday Treat: Rita-Award Winning Author Alicia Rasley


Photo of James Marsters as Spike from Buffy the Vampire Slayer snagged by Denny S. Bryce

I am totally thrilled to have this mega-author, writing instructor, mentor and all around fantastic woman as today's Thursday Treat!!! 

Ms. Alicia Rasley and I met years ago at an event called Writercon, which was a conference created by the online fan-fiction community for Joss Whedon's Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Since those good ole days we've become buddies and her classes on writing a synopsis is one of the best out there. So here goes...

Q:  Let's get to the facts right up front. What's your full author name, website, your latest new release, the WIP that is keeping you up at night, your agent, your publisher, how long have you been writing…your successes? Yes, I want the mini bio right here, right now!

Alicia Rasley is the author of The Power of Point of View and The Story Within Plotbook.
- RITA-award-winning author.
- Writing instructor, Ivy Tech State College, University of Maryland.
- Nationally known writing workshop leader.
- Former small press editor.
- Editing blogger:  www.edittorrent.blogspot.com.
- Craft of writing author: Articles archived at www.rasley.com.
- Latest book is The Year She Fell, from Bell Bridge Books.

Q:  What's the best kept secret about your writing process?

Alicia said:   Write or Die.  Yes, I need threats of annihilation to keep me focused!  It's a website that lets you choose a goal of X words in Y minutes, and has helped me get back to my previous ability just to free-write without editing. I trust my craft—my ability to write pretty well no matter what—and anyway, I will always edit later. This tool helps me distinguish between the two essential stages, writing and editing.

Q:  What character have you written or are writing that keeps you up at night - just one, please:)?

Alicia said:  Jon Holt. He's a cynical man who finds himself falling in love with a woman he can't trust, and now he can't trust himself either.  He realizes that whatever it takes, lying for her, covering up a murder, even killing for her, he's going to do it for love of her. And he's really pretty shocked to find himself as passionate and reckless and in love as that, because he's a rational, modern, scientific kinda guy.

Q:  What television or pop culture fictional character has had the greatest influence on your writing style and why?

Alicia said:  Well, Spike, of course. He is, to me, the absolute model for a hero who will give up everything for love. His kind of love isn't modern at all. There's no instinct for self-protection, no caution, no considering of consequence.  He's as heedlessly romantic as Tristan or Lancelot or Romeo, a true romantic hero like those in the troubadors' songs, only with fangs.

Q:  What book/author is the current "hot read" on your bookshelf?

Alicia said:  I'm embarking on a re-read of Georgette Heyer's books, actually, and will be blogging about it at my new Regency website (under construction, so ignore all the nails and hammers left about). I am entranced as always by the precision of her prose, the acuity of her perceptions on human nature, and the irony embedded in each line.  I think, at her best, and heresy alert here, she's better, at least on a sentence level, than Jane Austen. And I think Austen's pretty good.

Q:  What's your favorite drink on a hot August evening - and who (fictional or not, friend or family, celebrity or historic figure) would be sitting at your side enjoying that drink with you?

Alicia said:  I'd like Sangria with lots of fruit in the summer, and the Duke of Wellington. Actually, the Duke wouldn't have time to talk to me, as he always has some battle to plan, so he is welcome to delegate the chore to one of the handsomer members of his junior staff, and if the young officer is in one of those extravagant Regency-era regimental uniforms (with a sword), all the better.

Q:  Who's your favorite romance author and what would you ask them if you had the chance (or when you had the chance)?

Alicia said:  Dorothy Dunnett, and I actually did have the chance. Years ago, caught up in the cynical subtext of the House of Niccolo books, I wrote her a letter, enclosing my long treatise on why Primaflora, the courtesan in Lady Dunnett's third Niccolo book, was actually a tragic heroine, sacrificing her honor, his love, and her own life to save Niccolo. I know I was right, but she replied with great tact that no, Primaflora was no more than she seemed to be, a heartless gold-digger. Ha. This only reinforced my belief that the author often cannot see her own subtext. I remain Primaflora's champion, long after Lady Dunnett has left her and Niccolo behind.  I just wish I could send my treatise to Niccolo himself, for I know he never did realize how much she lost for love of him.

Q:  Last question…what question have you been dying to answer but no one has ever asked?

Alicia said:  What type of character are you most drawn to? Answer: Hmm.  Spike the heedless romantic lover. Jon the cynic who finds out he's really a romantic. Primaflora who sacrifices all (even the love of her lover) to save her lover… and secretly, so that only I noticed.

I'm sensing a pattern here: People who can love so totally that they risk everything, even their identities, for the one they love.  They don't fall in love seeking happiness, in fact, they usually give give up any chance of happiness to keep on loving. Love is about intensity, not pleasure, for them.

That's actually a fun question: What sort of character are you most drawn to?

Thank you Alicia. Now readers it's your turn. Alicia has put down the gauntlet so let's talk characters or just ask her questions, and don't forget...Happy Thursday!

13 comments:

  1. Hi Alicia, nice to read you! To answer your question, I'm drawn to the loners of the world. I like their mystery. Your answer today about having confidence in craft made me think of my question for you. At some point, once I've written my first draft and am in the editing period, should I begin not to have the same issues pop up? Do writers eventually write those first drafts free of POV issues for example? Thank you!

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  2. And I just wanted to add how beautiful and intriguing your cover is for The Year She Fell.

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  3. Alicia, You aren't committing heresy to compare Georgette and Jane. For me, Georgette is funnier and her men more real. Sylvester is my favourite all-time hero. Who needs guns and guts when you've got such growth? Who's your favourite Heyer hero and heroine? How would compare them to current ideals?

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  4. Hi, Carlene!

    Hmm. I suspect there are two kinds of "opportunities for revision." The first we'll learn our way out of as we get more experienced. Like I've been working a lot on scene endings, and I think I've learned (forever maybe!) to end a scene on conflict and never (except at the end of the book, of course) on resolution, so that the story (and reader) are always propelled into the next scene.

    But there are the other issues which are more intrinsically bound to who we are and what we are and what issues matter to us in life and art. And those, I think, we won't learn our way out of in our fiction until we learn our way out of them in life. We keep "making the same mistake" or encountering the same issue because we're subconsciously seeking to revisit it, to worry it, to debate it.

    I wrote a really long discussion of this, only to be sternly rebuked by Blogger:
    Your HTML cannot be accepted: Must be at most 4,096 characters

    --
    So I'll put it as a post in my blog, since I spent all morning writing it! Anyway, it'll be at www.edittorrent.blogspot.com.

    And what do you think? Is there some reason one issue might recur for you?
    Alicia

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  5. Joan, I love Venetia and Damerel. But I also love the Corinthian, a very minor book, but one with that older, wiser mentoring man and madcap heiress dynamic that I still fall for, even when I know it's usually just him trying to get a bit of young and pert. :)

    Sylvester is good too. What about a heroine for you?

    Alicia

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  6. Love the post and nice to hear someone else like a good Regency romance. I appreciate you sharing your motivation to write. I am always interest in how people stay with it and get something done. As always Denny, you nab great folks for your blog.

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  7. Hi again Alicia, I am off to read your blog post! I think I will learn my way out of the recurring issues with experience. But I now am curious to pay more attention to the intrinsic nature of the issues. I love the way you explained that. Thank you for taking the time to answer so thoughtfully!
    And thank you to Denny for such a great blog!

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  8. Carlene, you are welcome, and Alicia is such a great resource. I am thrilled she agreed to do this for me. Also, here's hoping you'll be available to be a guest here, too. Would love to have you.

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  9. Hi Alicia,
    Always fabulous to see you. You're one of the people I owe my understanding of writing to. Your patience is amazing, your knowledge and the ability to teach writing a blessing.
    As to your question, I love characters who when the story starts seem at odds, so far apart that the reader has no idea how in the world they can ever get together. :) For me, the more impossible situations the better. Take care, my sincere thanks again for everything, and I wish you continued success! *Hugs*
    Love you!

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  10. Smooch, Diana! Good to see you. I'm trying my hand at regencies again, and it's so much fun.

    Carlene, thanks, some of my dh's facebook friends think that's actually me and have told him how gorgeous "his wife" is. LOL. Will they be disappointed if they ever meet me to find out that he isn't actually married to a 22-year-old beauty queen. :)

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  11. Tee, staying with it isn't really my forte. I'm more the "start out with a burst of inspiration and then peter out as soon as it gets difficult.: (g)
    Alicia

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  12. Diana,

    I could have written the same things you did. Alicia's brilliant writing about writing is what made me a published author.

    Alicia, A case could be made that your described mode of writing is why you're describing writing as fun. Working on one project until the damn thing's done may be lots of things, but fun? Rarely.

    Me, I'm drawn to characters who have to struggle to express the emotions they keep under stringent control--the Mr. Darcy type--probably because in real life, I'm incapable of suppressing any emotion, ever.

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  13. Jenny, yes, and the question is, ought it to be fun? I go back and forth on that. Yes, it should be fun! It's not A JOB!!!

    No, nothing good is easy! You have to work at it and get gratification from a job well done!

    Still no answer here!
    And what's really annoying are the people who intone, "If it's not fun for you, it won't be fun for the reader," which is a really mean and nasty thing to say.

    Alicia

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