Today I’m interviewing D.E. Atwood, fellow author in the TIMELESS anthology of young adult love stories by Pugalicious Press. Just enter a comment below for a chance to win your own copy!
Q: Congratulations on the publication of your story “In This Moment” in the TIMELESS YA anthology by Pugalicious Press! As a fellow author in the anthology, I know I began to brainstorm ideas as soon as I saw the call for submissions. Did you do the same, or had you already begun working on your story?
A: A friend passed along the call for submissions because she knows I write YA, and she wasn’t sure I had anything already written that might work for it. The answer was, I didn’t, but I really wanted to write for it. “In This Moment” isn’t actually the story I originally intended to write! I knew I wanted to write something crossing fantasy with a GLTBQ love story, and I had actually planned out something entirely different.
The first story I started to write was about a girl growing up on an army base in the 1960s who meets a water nymph in the lake behind the base. But the story, even though I could see it all in my head, wouldn’t flow. Then I woke up with the original first line for Roland’s story ringing in my head: The first time he escapes, he doesn’t know how it happens. And just like that, I had a story with fully formed characters in my head ready to burst onto the page and be written.
Q: No dates are mentioned in your story, but the details–including the doctor from Vienna and his practices–placed the story at the turn of the 20th century to me. I love this time period, and I assume you do, too. Care to share what inspired this particular setting for you?
A: Clockwork automata. The story grew entirely around Roland, I have to admit. I didn’t set out to write steampunk, but I quickly realized that Roland was a boy caught between two things in his life that hid him away from the rest of the world, and I wanted to give him hope on both fronts. I loved the idea of using both magic and steampunk technology to help draw him from his shell. The image of a future Roland, what he might be after the end of the story, was what drove me as I wrote it and helped formulate the world for me.
Q: I love how you threw us right into Roland’s POV and kept the reader turning the pages with all the mysterious aspects of the story. What had happened to him? Would he get well? Would he ever find real love? Did you outline these plot points, or did they develop more organically while writing?
A: I have to admit that outlining is the bane of my existence! I am an organic plotter, and I am a completely character-based writer. My plots are drawn from my characters needs and desires and goals, so making sure I knew exactly who Roland and Will were was the most important thing for me. Once I could put myself into their heads, the story grew from there. I knew what Roland was seeking from the start, but I didn’t know exactly where he had come from, or how he had arrived where he was. It was his conversations with Will that drew that out, so yes, definitely organic development there.
Q: Many books and stories alternate POV, but I found the way you used alternating past/present tense in your story to be an interesting and less-used technique. Did you find that this allowed you more freedom than if you had kept one tense throughout?
A: The tense shift was critical for me. I wanted it to serve multiple purposes. First, it’s a signal to the reader that the world is shifting between the reality (past tense) and Roland’s dreams (present tense). But it’s also about Roland’s point of view, where the dreams are immediate and very real to him, and very in the moment, but his reality is slow and more plodding. I wanted to show that shift in how life feels by changing tenses, so the world slowed down every time it shifted back to reality. I also wanted the distancing effect that seems to come with past tense. One reason present tense is so popular in YA fiction is because it places the reader right there with the character, while past tense sets a barrier of time between the reader and the character’s experience.
Q: Tell us a little more about your writing career. Any other works-in-progress you’re currently writing or revising?
A: In the past I’ve written, and had published, stories for adults under another name, but “In This Moment” is my first YA publication. But YA is where I want to work, writing novels and stories that mix fantasy and GLBTQ characters. I have one novel that needs to be revised, and one for which I’m currently seeking representation. I also have two more that I’m working on outlining. I’m hoping to have the first draft of one of those completed and ready for critique by the end of the year.
Q: What are your favorite YA books of all time?
A: I recently wrote a post about the top three novels that affected me as a teen! The full version is here: http://deatwood.wordpress.com/2012/04/27/the-top-three/. But in list form, the top three are:
RITE OF PASSAGE by Alexei Panshin
CHILDREN OF THE ATOM by Wilmar Shiras
THE COURSE OF TRUE LOVE NEVER DID RUN SMOOTH by Marilyn Singer
Q: A last question for a Timeless author: if you could time-travel to visit any time and place ever, where and when would you pick?
A: Hah, that’s a loaded question! I love historical time periods for fiction, but I have to admit, much of what I love is the romanticization of those time periods that happens when stories are told. The reality of history is darker and more difficult, and I’m not sure I’d actually be happy in most true historical locations.
But out of them all, my favorite era is probably Elizabethan, if only for Shakespeare. On the other hand, I’d want those story elements of Shakespearean fairy magic as well, unrealistic as that is. I want my history to have some fantasy in it, and if going back in time would get me that, I would love to do so.
Timeless is now available as an ebook through amazon and Barnes & Noble. Love stories that transcend time. From a thousand years ago to the unknown future, Timeless will show how love is timeless. This anthology of love stories contains “The Storyteller’s Daughter” by Gayle C. Krause, “And The Nightingale Sang” by Kip Wilson, “A Light Of Victory” by Jennifer Carson, “The Angel Of The Bastille” by J.R. Sparlin, “Stella’s Hero” by Kristine Carlson Asselin & Ansha Kotyk, “In This Moment” by D. E. Atwood, and “It Lies Beneath” by Magda Knight. Hope you enjoy it!
Interviews with other TIMELESS authors: