Happy Friday! I had the amazing pleasure of interviewing Derek Molata for the Write Brained Network, an online writing community connecting writers at every stage of development. The interview posted earlier this week for members of the WB, but I wanted all my faithful blog followers to get to know him too.
Without further blahg rants, here’s the interview!
This month, meet Derek Molata, writer of adult and YA Science Fiction and Fantasy. Today, he shares his thoughts on writing, revising, and querying, as well as his “mild” obsession with Blade Runner.
AM: How did you get into writing?
DM: Starting this off nice and easy, I see. :)
Well—like most writers, I would think—I started out with an unquenchable thirst for reading at a young age. For as long as I can remember, I’ve always been a voracious reader. Even though I was quite entrenched with videogames during middle school and high school, I’ve always read. I dabbled in poetry during high school, and actually had a poem accepted into a national poetry publication when I was sixteen, but that was it. Besides running a lot of Dungeons & Dragons sessions with my gaming group, I never really thought about writing—even though, unbeknownst to me at the time, that was exactly what I was doing whilst running D&D campaigns, albeit abstractly.
Later in life, after getting married and a home and career, I was reading Bram Stoker’s Dracula on my couch one day after work, a nice big glass of Shiraz sitting beside me, and it hit me: I could do this!
Then I hit myself with the naivety-hammer. Little did I realize, then, of the long, arduous process ahead as I cut my teeth on craft and spewed out my million words of shit.
But that’s how I got into writing, and I haven’t looked back since.
AM: Wow! That’s incredible back story!
I understand you write both adult and YA sci-fi and fantasy. What drew you to these genres? Do you see yourself branching off into other YA genres? And which came first? The adult or the YA?
DM: Is this the token chicken and egg question?
I’ve always read genre. Always. I clearly remember back in grades 3, 4, and 5, how our school librarian, Mr. Flatt, would read to us weekly. And he’d read the most fantastic stories, from The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, to Alice in Wonderland, to The Hobbit. These stories were mesmerizing in how they could transport me to different worlds. I fell in love with genre then.
I’ve dabbled with contemporary before, but I’m not sure I’ll pursue it seriously anytime soon. My mind always wants to bend contemporary storytelling into the fantastical. It seems that’s where I’m most comfortable—outside the walls of reality.
And as for which came first? My adult projects came first. It’s only been within the last few years that I’ve started writing YA, and I’m having a lot of fun with it. I’ve even been flirting with writing a MG, but we’ll see how my project schedule goes in the next while before I commit to that.
AM: From where do you draw inspiration for your writing—the settings, the characters, etc…?
DM: I’m definitely a worldbuilding whore. I love it. So I guess you could say I draw a lot of inspiration for my work from creating fantastical landscapes to populate with equally fantastical characters… but the stories wouldn’t be what they are without strong, solid characters that you want to read about.
At the heart of every good story is character, and without that, you’ve got a lot of window dressing without the window.
AM: LOVE that analogy. And worldbuilding whore? Awesome.
Do you have a method to your writing? A plotter or pantser? A certain time of day you need to write? Or are you more whimsical about the whole process?
DM: Pantser. Although I prefer the term organic. As an idea for a story or novel percolates, I always have a clear vision of Point A (the opening, including the catalyst), and Point C (the conclusion and how things wrap). Part B—the murky middle—is just that, a big convoluted network of options in my head, and although I have a clear direction of where I want to go, and what I need my characters to do in each chapter, it’s really the act of writing and putting words down that I organically drive the unlimited maze of possibilities in my head into a story. And to me, that’s one of the most exciting things about writing.
As for time of day, or being whimsical? I’ve dropped words at all hours of the day, from getting up at 4:30 am and writing into the day, to brewing a pot of coffee at midnight and writing until exhaustion. Really, it’s a matter of ‘ass in chair’ for me. My life schedule is hectic, so I take what I can get. Sometimes the words come, and sometimes they don’t. You just have to roll with the creativity punches and accept that it won’t happen when you want, all the time. And that’s okay. You can use that time to revise. :)
AM: Do you have a writing hero? An author or mentor who helped shape who you are as a writer? If so, how did that person have that effect on you?
DM: I definitely have my writing heroes, and I guess you could say they’ve mentored me by their works. I’m a slow reader, so I don’t just take in story as I go, but I read at a detailed level, taking in sentence structure, mechanics of plot and character, and how my favorite storytellers use subtle tricks to reveal information so subtlety you take it in without knowing until the aha moment.
A few of my favorite writers include Haruki Murakami, William Gibson, David Eddings, Lewis Carroll, Neil Gaiman, and China Mieville.
AM: What does an average day look like for you?
DM: Alarm. Coffee. Chaos. More coffee. More chaos. Crash into bed. Sometimes I write within the chaos. Sometimes there is chaos within the chaos.
Wash. Rinse. Repeat.
AM: Sounds super familiar. Any advice regarding revisions and submissions?
DM: Revision is hard. But no matter what you think, or how much you may want to throw your laptop against a brick wall, or move into a padded room for your own safety, it’s a necessary evil. Do it. The rewards of revising and polishing your manuscript are countless. You—and your manuscript—will be in a better place because of it.
As for submissions? Fasten your seatbelt. Surround yourself with comfort food and your favorite alcoholic beverage. And hold on tight.
AM: What was querying like for you? Is there something you wish someone would have told you before you queried?
DM: I may lose some friends with this answer, but the querying process for me was rather painless and—dare I say it?—fun. I sent out a few queries to a few choice agents, most of which returned with full requests. I had one agent refer me to another agent who was closed to submissions at the time. Said agent read my manuscript overnight and offered the next morning. *waves goodbye to friends*
The biggest piece of advice I can give about querying is to know the agents, know their guidelines, and know the market. A lot of people waste agents’ time by not knowing any of the above. Do yourself a favor, and be knowledgeable about your target. There are numerous online resources to assist in your agent research, and most agents blog or tweet. Follow them and play nice.
AM: Excellent advice! And congratulations on the expeditious agent find!
I also understand you’ve been published in Hub Magazine. Awesome! Can you tell us more about the short fiction that made the page?
DM: I wrote "Fragments of an Alternating Current" as an experiment. I’m a huge cyberpunk fan, always dabbling with it here and there, and that story is the product of me playing around in the cyberpunk sandbox. I’ve been asked if I’m going to return to that world, in which I usually answer with an “I’d love to.” So we’ll see. It all depends on the above mentioned chaos and how my current projects shake out.
AM: Any workshops or conferences on the horizon?
DM: Funny you should ask. I’m typing out this interview on a plane to San Diego for the World Fantasy Convention. :)
AM: Sounds like a fantastic time! What do you do when you’re not writing?
DM: I have a very busy family life, with 3 daughters who dance competitively, as well as a hectic day job that keeps me red-lined. One of my other interests is videogames. I’ve been gaming since the early Atari, and have owned almost every console since then. Right now I sink a lot of hours into my beloved Xbox 360. I’m also a huge fan of cinema, and watch as many movies as I can, both genre and non-genre. And yes, my favorite movie is, and will forever be, Blade Runner.
AM: Yes! Blade Runner! Although I’m sure I love that movie for different reasons than yours. ( *cough* Harrison Ford)
And finally (for fun): If the reincarnation wizard allowed you a choice in the afterlife, who would you come back as? Magnum P.I. or Sonny Crockett?
DM: Wow! This could very well be my favorite question of all time! It’s also the hardest question for me to answer of all time!
I could write a pro/pro list a mile long on whether I’d rather sport the awesome Magnum moustache and Hawaiian shirt, or the baby blue sport coat and deck shoes of Sonny Crockett.
So I will answer with this:
(Interviewer’s Note: For our non-Blade Runner junkies, Rick Deckard = Harrison Ford’s role.)
AM: Awesome! Thanks, Derek for an incredible interview! So glad we could get to know you!
If you’d like to connect with Derek, visit him at http://www.derekmolata.com/ or follow him on Twitter.
And I haven't done a Friday Fives in a while! PS--it's sponsored by Paper Hangover -fabulous blog! Awesome writerly advice and insight into the writing and publishing world. You should check it out!
This week they want to know
1) James Patterson - will always be my writing hero, and his Maximum Ride series kindled my interest in writing. He pens AMAZING stories and OWNS the title, King of the Page Turners. I may never be Queen of the Page Turners, but I would definitely settle for Little Miss Princess Page Turner. That'd be cool.
2) Jandy Nelson - if you've not read The Sky is Everywhere, all I can say is WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU? Just kidding. But seriously, the woman is writing brilliance defined. Her prose is inspiring. I totally want to be Jandy Nelson when I grow up.
3) John Green - literary genius, Nerd Fighter. And his stories are hilarious and touching and all kinds of awesome.
4) My super awesome writer-ly friends. Their support is inspiring. Their writing is inspiring. THEY are inspiring.
5) God - stories from the Bible, His whispered support, His creation...He feeds my hungry soul with daily inspiration.
So, how about YOU? What writers inspire YOU?! And don't forget to check out Derek's website! He's awesome and you should totally follow him.
Have a great weekend!