EelKat Wendy C Allen - Dark Fantasy Author

How I Write:
My Answers to Your Questions
About My Writing

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Below are questions which have been sent to me from my readers via the Ask EelKat advice column. Each question is a link. Clicking that link will take you directly to the article which I wrote to answer said question. I have tried to arrange them by category in order to make it easier for you to find the answers you need.

As my long time readers will already know a server crash took down most of the old free-hosted site on June 4, 2013 (which was online since 1997 and had reached 6,000+ pages). Thankfully everything was saved on a separate hard-drive and the site is being rebuilt with a new host and for the first time on it's own domain. YAY!

I am currently moving all 6,000 questions&answer articles to this site one page at a time, at a rate of about 4 to 7 new pages being added each day, so be patient. Not all links are yet clickable. This process started on September 2, 2013 and will be ongoing at least through to January 2014. (And it may be well into 2017 before all 6,000 pages will be back online if I continue at this rate of 5 a day.)

Your Questions Answered

Who can I contact if my questions are not answered here?

When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Is the main character a reflection of you, if yes, how?

A lot of your settings are places I can’t find on a map, even though they seem real.  Do they exist?

Why is there so much incest in your stories?

Do you actually go to all the places you write about?  What balance do you strike (if any) between primary and secondary sources?

To what extent is your fiction autobiographical?

Do you go through a lot of drafts?

Do you consider writing to be a form of activism? Do you think novelists have a duty to address political issues?

I’m a school teacher.  What can you offer to help me prepare 3rd graders to appreciate writing, now and for the rest of their lives?

Do you write for money, pleasure, or both?

Do you write every day? Should I?

I need help with my writing. Do you offer any education programs?

Can you help me get published?

Will you help me become a better writer?

How do you begin a novel? What techniques do you use?

How do you begin a short story? What techniques do you use?

What are some things readers pointed out that made you slap your head?

Have you ever written a short story/novel whose ending was not the one you originally intended? What caused the change?

Can you tell us a little bit about yourself?

What do you do when you are not writing?

Do you have a day job as well?

When did you first start writing and when did you finish your first book?

How did you choose the genre you write in?

Where do you get your ideas?

Do you ever experience writer’s block?

Do you work with an outline, or just write?

Is there any particular author or book that influenced you in any way either growing up or as an adult?

Can you tell us about your challenges in getting your first book published?

If you had to go back and do it all over, is there any aspect of your novel or getting it published that you would change?

How do you market your work? What avenues have you found to work best for your genre?

Have you written a book you love that you have not been able to get published?

Can you tell us about your upcoming book?

Is anything in your book based on real life experiences or purely all imagination?

What was your favorite chapter (or part) to write and why?

How did you come up with the title?

What project are you working on now?

Will you have a new book coming out soon?

Are there certain characters you would like to go back to, or is there a theme or idea you’d love to work with?

What has been the toughest criticism given to you as an author? What has been the best compliment?

Do you have any advice to give to aspiring writers?

Is there anything that you would like to say to your readers and fans?

Is there any book(novel)(short story) whose ending you were dissatisfied with? Which one? Why?

How does your writing process look? Consistent with regular amounts of word counts daily/weekly… or more sporadic with a gush of words all at once and then a dry bed for a while?

Which character speaks the loudest, to you? Do any of them clamor to be heard over the others?

Do your characters try to make like bunnies and create ever more convoluted plots for you? Or do you have to coax them out of your characters?

What sort of Starbuck’s coffee would your characters order? Simple coffee, complicated soy-non-fat-extra-espresso-half-caff-nightmare?

What would YOU like your readers to know about this book or you in general?

Why did you feel you had to tell this story?

How does your family and others ‘in the story’ feel about the book?

What does your protagonist think about you? Would he or she want to hang out with you, the author, his creator.

what has been the toughest criticism you’ve been given as an author. What has been the best component.

I always like hearing about books other authors read. Or, what books they read when they were kids? What were some inspiring books?

If your book were made into a movie, who do you picture playing each characters part?

I find it interesting to know what environment people write in. Do they use a pen and paper, laptop? Quiet room, music or what? Dog at their feet? Cat on the desk? Just whatever makes it comfortable to be productive. Just a thought.

What led you to write this book?

What is best writing advice you can give?

What make the sci-fi (or romance or suspense) genre so special?

I also try to ask at least one question that applies only to the author I’m interviewing. For instance, if the protagonist is an art historian, I might say, “Your MC is an art historian. Why did you choose this profession, and how did you prepare to write about art?”

 How did you get involved with your publisher or press?

Which of your characters would you like to meet in person and why?

When was that point in your life that you realized that being an author was no longer going to be just a dream but a career you were going to turn into reality?

E-reader or print book?

Have you ever written something you absolutely hate?

Did you want to become a writer when you were young?

Do you write on a computer?

What color is your ink?

Do you recorrect?

Do you have a daily ritual?

Has e-mail disrupted your writing and your intellectual life?

When was the first time you tried to publish something?

Has anyone ever given you a hard time for publishing yourself?

After ===, did you ever have the desire to write another “conventional” novel?

It feels as though your work grows organically, like a live creature.

Do you consider yourself religious? Surely you cannot write about these themes without being somehow connected to the unknown yourself.

What is happiness for you, as a writer and creator?

Which part of your work do you think will be remembered?

Was being a prodigy important to you?

Do you think of yourself as a genre writer?

When did you decide that sex was important to your work?

In your writing, you seem fascinated with cities and the contact they provide. Where does that come from?

You were an adult and a published writer when you first came upon the word dyslexia and realized it described some of the difficulties you experienced with writing. Did having or not having a word for it make a great difference?

Was it fun to write?

Did you intentionally want to make something the reader could only speculate about, rather than be certain of?

 What was it like to reconstruct the novel? Did the story change as a result?

A number of critics have called the work autobiographical.

Do you revise every day?

What inspired you to write your first book?

Do you have a specific writing style?

How did you come up with the title?

Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp?

How much of the book is realistic?

Are experiences based on someone you know, or events in your own life?

What books have most influenced your life most?

If you had to choose, which writer would you consider a mentor?

What book are you reading now?

Are there any new authors that have grasped your interest?

What are your current projects?

Name one entity that you feel supported you outside of family members.

Do you see writing as a career?

If you had to do it all over again, would you change anything in your latest book?

Do you recall how your interest in writing originated?

Can you share a little of your current work with us?

Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing?

Who is your favorite author and what is it that really strikes you about their work?

Do you have to travel much concerning your book(s)?

Who designed the covers?

What was the hardest part of writing your book?

Did you learn anything from writing your book and what was it?

Do you have any advice for other writers?

Do you have anything specific that you want to say to your readers?

While you were writing, did you ever feel as if you were one of the characters?

What were the challenges (research, literary, psychological, and logistical) in bringing it to life?

What books/authors have influenced your writing?

What genre do you consider your book(s)?

Do you ever experience writer's block?

Do you write an outline before every book you write?

Have you ever hated something you wrote?

What is your favourite theme/genre to write about?

What are you reading right now? Are there any authors (living or dead) that you would name as influences?

What was the book that most influenced your life — and why?

What are your 10 favorite books —and why? Favorite films?
Favorite music? Favorite quote?

Best and worst part of being a writer?

What sparked the idea for your novel?

How personal is your writing?

Do you outline?

What is your writing routine?

Which comes first? The character's story or the idea for the novel?

What advice do you have for someone who would like to become a published writer?

I love that your books are set in places that I have been or can easily relate to. Are any of your characters or stories based on actual events or real people? If not, how do you come up with your story lines?

How did you get interested in writing this particular genre (historical novels, mysteries, sci-fi, children's books, etc.)?

What kind of research did you do for this book?

What's a typical working day like for you? When and where do you write? Do you set a daily writing goal?

What is the hardest part of writing for you?

What’s the best thing about being an author?

Do you write with a detailed master plan, or take a general idea and characters and see where it goes as you write? Why?

How do you develop your characters to make them seem like real people?

How much research did you have to do on [title] and could you do most of it online?

What's your schedule like as a writer? Do you work 9 to 5, or fit it in where you can around other things like a job or running a household?

Other than Creative Writing or English, what college major would you recommend for someone who hopes to be a professional writer of fiction?

Would you ever consider self-publishing? Why or why not?

How pleased have you been with the cover art your publisher puts on your books? What do you do if you don't like it?

How much do you incorporate real life experiences (your own or others) into your work?

How much if any influence do you have on cover art

Does working to deadline inspire or annoy you?

How useful do you find agents to be?

What were your favorite books when you were growing up? (See if they are similar to what you write now.)

How did you get started as a professional writer? (Did you start with magazine articles and then go on to books?)

Where do you get your ideas for your books?

How do you deal with writer's block? How do you get past those bumps in the narrative that slow down your writing? How much time do you spend writing every day?

How does a wanna-be writer find an agent?

Who do you think is the most underrated author?

What inspired the novel?

Do you see yourself in any of the characters?

Did you base any characters off of friends or family?

What made you decide to end the book the way you did?

Would you say you know your characters well?

What part of your novel was the most fun to write?

What part of your novel do you like the best?

What inspired the character of so-and-so?

What was the climax like to write?

Do you have any thoughts on so-and-so's behavior throughout
the novel?

Who's your favorite character?

Were you aware of how the novel would end when you started it?

What author would you compare yourself to?

How close is your writing area to the fridge and do you gain more weight according to the length of the book?

Are you as good as the hype says you are?

How much of your own personality is in the book?

Which is more important for an author, experience or imagination?

How long do you spend researching your books?

If you could work with any author who would it be?

Who is your favourite author and is you writing style similar to theirs?

What's your favorite part of a book?

When naming your characters, do you give any thought to the actual meaning?

Do you use real-life facts based on true stories?

 Did you ever think you'd ever become an author?

Which do you think is easier to write: a short story, a poem or a play?

What's your writing flaw?