Monday, February 19, 2018

Lace and Blade 4 Author Interview: Judith Tarr

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Lace and Blade 4 offers a bouquet of sensual, romantic, action-filled stories. Order it from iBookKindleKoboNook. Table of contents is here.

Deborah J. Ross” Tell us a little about yourself.  How did you come to be a writer?

Judith Tarr: I've always been a writer, in the sense of telling stories. I can't remember not doing that.

DJR:  What inspired your story in Lace and Blade 4?

JT: A piece of jewelry. The wonderful Elise Matthesen names all of her pieces, and they're all part of her Writer's Challenge. Those of us who are so inspired can write the story or poem or article or whatever else seems to us to fit the name of the piece.

I bought a beautiful pendant of silver and boulder opal, called "On the Peacock Path." I could see the path and the colors, and realized that it had something to do with the (or a) Peacock Throne. And that led me to Iran, which was ancient Persia. The rest came as I followed the path into the jewel.

DJR: Why do you write what you do?

JT: Because that's what happens when I get ideas. I love history, especially ancient history. I love to mix up genres. I get in trouble for that, but I can't seem to stop.

DJR: How does your writing process work?

JT: Horribly slowly now, but it still works, after a fashion. I get ideas and prompts from all kinds of places. I keep a file of them, multiple files in fact, and when one really needs to have a story, I pull it out and make notes and brainstorm and throw things together and see what comes of it. I do outline, but it's an ongoing, circular, organic process, which grows and changes as the characters wake up and start talking (or often yelling), and the settings make themselves visible, and the gears of story--the friction, the "what does this character want?" and "what are the stakes here?" questions that move it all forward--start to turn. Sometimes in totally unexpected directions.

With this story, I had a visual first, a scene viewed from above. Then I became aware of the viewpoint, and the character started telling me the story. I knew what had to happen in the end, but not how to get there, until I started telling the story. The resolution didn't come clear until I wrote the scene. What I thought was going to happen was not what actually happened at all.

DJR: What have you written recently? What lies ahead?

JT: I've written Dragons in the Earth, a contemporary fantasy with magical
horses, and I'm working, terribly slowly, on a space opera. Various shorter works are in process, as the ideas grow and transform.

DJR: What advice would you give an aspiring writer?

JT: There is no wrong way to write a first draft. Your process is whatever it is. Embrace it. However you get the words on the page, that's right for you. You can worry about the rest of it when you revise.

Judith Tarr’s first novel, The Isle of Glass, a medieval fantasy that owed a great deal to Katherine Kurtz’s Deryni books, appeared in 1985. Her short novel, Dragons in the Earth, a contemporary fantasy set in Tucson, was published by Book View Café in 2016. In between, she has written historicals and historical fantasies and epic fantasies and space opera, many of which have been published as ebooks from Book View Café. She has won the Crawford Award, and been a finalist for the World Fantasy Award (for Lord of the Two Lands, her novel of Alexander in Egypt), and the Locus Award. She lives in Arizona with an assortment of cats, a blue-eyed spirit dog, and a herd of Lipizzan horses

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