The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer

Guest: Lori M. Lee

June 22, 2020 Marissa Meyer Season 2020 Episode 21
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: Lori M. Lee
Chapters
The Happy Writer with Marissa Meyer
Guest: Lori M. Lee
Jun 22, 2020 Season 2020 Episode 21
Marissa Meyer
Transcript
Speaker 1:

Yeah,

Speaker 2:

[inaudible]

Speaker 1:

Hello and welcome to the happy writer. This is a podcast that aims to bring readers, more books, to enjoy and to help authors find more joy in their writing. I am your host, Marissa Meyer. I'm so glad that you could join me today. One thing that is making me happy this week. Uh, it's not the most original thing in the world, but sun shine. Finally, in Western Washington, we have had some beautiful sunshiny days, uh, and you know, I, one of those people, I pretty much love all weather. Um, I love the rain. I love the snow. I love thunderstorms, wind storms, all of it. However, after the winter and spring that we have had being stuck inside so much, it has been really, really nice to have a little bit of sun. Um, and even as I'm recording this, looking out my window to my backyard and seeing all the birds and the butterflies, and it's just making me smile so big today.

Speaker 1:

Uh, so I hope that wherever you are, and whenever you were listening to this, you're also getting a little drop of sunshine. And of course, I am super happy to talk to today's guest. She is the author of the white fantasy, novel Gates of thread and stone, and it's sequel the infinite. She is also a contributor to the anthology, a thousand to beginnings and endings, which reimagines East and South Asian folklore, as well as the anthology color, outside the lines, her highly anticipated fantasy novel. Forrest of souls comes out on June 23rd. And I can't wait to talk to her all about it. Please. Welcome Laurie M Lee. Thank you so much. I'm so excited to be here. I'm so excited to have you, uh, how is life in your bunker? I, before we started the recording, you telling me that you you're coming to us from a closet today, my bedroom closet, it seems the best place to get away from all the noise of having a full family.

Speaker 1:

Yes, it happens. Um, well, I'm glad that you could be here. You're comfortable. I'm just sitting on the floor against the door. So in case anyone tries to open it, it will, it won't work. So it will be sent away. Um, good and life, life in your bunker has been okay so far. Yeah. I mean, you, you talked about the weather and it's been, it's been pretty nuts here in Wisconsin as well. Um, it was really cold. We had some weird snow and then all of a sudden, the last couple of days it's been so like hot and humid. Oh good. So is, is hot and humid a good thing to you? Or is that like, Oh, we've gone from, I actually hate humidity. I love the heat. I hate humidity. Yeah. Yeah. You know, it's funny. Cause I mentioned before, I love all kinds of weather. I think humidity might be the one exception. Yeah. The thing about Wisconsin, like the winters are so cold and so long. And then once summer hits don't even get, like

Speaker 3:

For many days you don't get like a lot of the really nice warm weather. You just get a humidity. Right. At least it doesn't help moisturize your skin though. If we're going to look for silver lining. So before we get started, I have to say, I just watched your book trailer on Instagram. I love good. Thank you. Yeah. How, how excited were you when you saw it? Yeah, my friend, um, Emily is the one who created the trailer. She's like, um, she dabbles in making music videos and um, just compilation videos of her, her trips and stuff. So I figured she'd be the perfect person to ask. And of course I commissioned her. I didn't ask her to do it for free. Um, but, but yeah, so I was with her creating or helping her create it, like through the whole process. Um, she would sketch things and like send them to me for approval and I just be like, everything looks amazing.

Speaker 3:

I have no critique for you. I should just be like, Oh, are you sure? Like, yes, it's perfect. Um, and then we, we, the, the, um, the longest, I think process was the music. Cause we had to listen to so many clips. Um, and then she would, you know, she should piece together like the music for it, which was amazing. I don't know. I don't even know how she does it, but yeah. Um, it was, it was a lengthy process. I think it was like three to four months. It wasn't continuously, obviously. Um, and in the midst of that, you know, uh, COVID-19 happened in the U S so, um, that, that sort of, um, delayed things as well, but, but yeah, it was a long process. It was kind of a hobbyist that makes these videos. Cause it's so professional. Yeah. Like she's, she's self-taught and she's just, she's been doing it for a very long time.

Speaker 3:

So she's had a lot of practice. Um, I think she actually won like a fan video for my chemical romance. Like some years ago it was all for her. She cause she's a huge fan. So that is awesome. Well, give her kudos. It is beautiful. Um, book trailers can be so hit or miss and it's one of the nicest that I've seen. So thank you. That's really? Yeah. Everyone go check it out on Lorissa Instagram page because it was really, really gorgeous. Um, okay. Lauren, why don't you kick us off by telling us what forest of souls is about? Sure. So force of souls is about this girl named Sasha. She is a spine training and she discovers that she has the rare ability to shepherd souls, um, and that brings her under some scrutiny and it, um, she is tasked with controlling this ancient forest possessed by vengeful spirits that are slowly devouring. The kingdom's Denton.

Speaker 3:

I love this book. It's so atmospheric. Um, the forest itself is so creepy and the book is called the dead wood and just the idea of it being haunted by these ancient spirits. Um, and they, they seem so vengeful and angry. And then all of the little details that you put into, um, actually developing the forest were just so tangible. What was some of the inspirations for, for the book at large? Um, but specifically the idea for this forest of souls. Okay. So the dead wood, I've just, this sounds really silly, but I just love trees.

Speaker 3:

I love forests. And I just, um, I think they're beautiful. And I thought the idea of like, you know, a dead forest filled with spirits was so creepy, but also I was inspired by, um, the, the movie portrayal of the dead marshes in the Lord of the rings trilogy. Like the idea that those spirits of old warriors, um, you know, were still lingered in the water and that scene where they pull Frodo into the water that just like, I thought it was so creepy and so cool. It was very siren. Yeah. Yeah. So I wanted to do something like that, but set in forest because I love trees. Well, it worked really well. And that's, I love that you mentioned that scene. Cause I hadn't, I haven't seen those movies in so long, but now that you've mentioned it, I can kind of see that influence coming through.

Speaker 3:

Um, and you, you really do a great job of capturing that same sort of just overall creepiness all of the forest scenes. I was just like, Oh, this is so it's just a nightmare. Yeah. Those are some of my favorite to write because I don't, I'm not a big fan of whore. Um, I actually, okay. What's really funny is that, um, RL Stein was one of my biggest inspirations as a kid and I loved reading his fear street novels. I think I read, I just, I just read so many of them and my very earliest works were whore because I was mimicking, you know, one of my favorite authors. So that's really funny because I can't, I, I just, I hate, I'm not a big fan of horror now. Um, maybe in film, I should clarify. I'm not a big fan of horror in film.

Speaker 3:

I cannot watch it. I used to think I was like a bit of a badass and I could watch stuff like that. I'm not, I'm so not I've accepted now that I'm a chicken and I just cannot. Um, so, but books, I I'm totally okay with horror books and being able to write that into a fantasy, I thought would be a lot of fun because I don't think I could write a horror on its own. I don't know that I could maintain that tension from like beginning to ending like horror, horror writers or have like a specific talent, but it was a lot of fun to bring that into a fantasy world. Yeah, no, I agree. And I love that you bring up Earl Stein. Um, cause I was the same way he was. I mean, there was a, maybe a year period when I was,

Speaker 1:

I don't know, maybe like 10 or 11 when like the goosebumps books were all that I read. Oh yeah. And yeah, I was so upset. Um, and here a few years ago I was at, uh, a writers festival. Um, and at the, like after party with all of the authors gathered together, just hanging out, um, I'm sitting at a table and RL Stein came and sat down across from me, like one of those bizarre moments where inside I am completely freaking out fan girling and on the outside I'm trying so hard to like remain calm and yeah, like don't be that person. Um, but yeah, that's like one of the highlights of my writing career. Oh my God. I still envious. Yeah. He was great. Oh my gosh. He's so funny and charming in person. Um, yeah. Yay. I'm the same way to horror movies. I can't do it. I'm such a scaredy cat. Um, so solidarity. Um, so you mentioned in an email, um, that forest of souls is the sort of book that you feel like you needed. Um, growing up as, you know, an Asian American, um, someone who loved fantasy literature and had lots of, you know, quote unquote traditional Western literature to draw from. Um, but not with a lot of Asian influences. Um, can you just talk about, about that and what do you mean it's a book that you needed?

Speaker 3:

Um, so when I was younger, I just, I, like I said, I began with the whore. Um, and then I picked up and, um, this is going to get total cliche, but I picked up the Hobbit. Um, and I just absolutely fell in love with this sweeping world and this Epic quest. And, um, I knew first of all, that this is what I wanted to read. And second of all, that this is what I wanted to write. Um, I wanted to create these kinds of worlds as well. But the thing is that I, although like as much as I love fantasy, I just never saw characters who looked like me in them. And like, as a kid, you internalize these ideas that the world is telling you without the, without the understanding that you can push back, you can change, you can, you can press her, you don't have to go with the status quo.

Speaker 3:

But so like as a kid, you don't know that yet you sort of just absorb, right? So what I absorbed, what I internalized was that people like me, we didn't belong in fantasy. We didn't have, uh, the happy ever afters or the, we didn't get to be the princess or the night or whatever you didn't, we didn't get to go on the hero's journeys. So I felt like desperately in love with fantasy while also feeling painfully excluded from it. And so it was this weird, weird place to be where I just wished I could be a part of this world. And if I could be a part of this world, I would, I knew that I would have to change myself to be a part of this world. Like, like plainly I would have to be white. I couldn't be Asian if I wanted to be, to start in these worlds.

Speaker 3:

And it took a really long time to dismantle that it really long time to unlearn that sort of, um, that sort of very problematic thinking. So when I say that force of souls is the sort of book that I would have needed. I say that in that forced of souls is a mishmash of the classic traditional Western fantasy tropes that I loved growing up, but populated with patient coded characters because seeing myself in those sorts of stories would have gone a really long way towards dismantling that self hatred a lot quicker, a lot sooner. And also because being Asian American, it just feels truer to who I am. I see my identity versus just the Western fantasy or just like the Asian aspect. It's like a marriage of the two. Yeah. I love that you bring that up because I went into reading the book, um, you know, having, you know, read about it from your publicist when she first contacted me.

Speaker 3:

Um, and I went into it very much expecting a, a fantasy version of Asia. Um, and I didn't know where, where in Asia, we were going to be drawing on inspiration from, but that was my expectation. And in reading it, uh, to me, it very much, it felt like a love letter to both. Um, you know, there's a lot of references, um, to, or not references so much, but you can tell that there's an inspiration there from token, um, and you know, classic quest stories, um, that so many of us grew up on and loved. Um, but at the same time you give us so many just delicious details, um, you know, drawn for more Asian cultures. And I love imbalance that I don't think I've ever seen before. Oh, thank you. Well, I'm glad I came across that thing. Um, was it intentional, like when you were writing it, were you trying to strike this balance between East and West?

Speaker 3:

Um, or is it something that just kind of came about organically from, from your own personal interests? Um, it was intentional for sure. Although it was done with hesitance because, um, when I first began writing it, I would say I, it would, it leaned more towards the Western fantasy when I began writing it. Um, at that time I hadn't really yet embraced the idea of drawing from my own culture, um, and my own experiences simply because I was struggling with the idea of, um, representation, accurate representation, um, because we just, we don't get much of it in general. Like, like Asian Americans in general, don't get too much a bit Hmong American in general, we get none.

Speaker 3:

Um, which, which is what, I'm, what I am. Um, so I was struggling with the idea of doing this because I didn't want it, I didn't want to misrepresent the monk community because we just don't get that representation period. Um, so, so it took me some time to sort of accept that I would just have to do what I have to do like to give myself permission to play around with my own culture, my own, my own experiences, my own, like my own draw from those cultural influences without worrying about, um, accuracy, because I, because you don't really see that sort of hesitance from, um, from white authors writing about Western fantasy cultures, you know, they, they twist fairytales and they, they, they retell and they draw inspiration and they mishmash, you know, whatever, um, details from various, uh, traditionally white cultures. And I just didn't want to have that double standard for me.

Speaker 3:

It's like, why do I have to bear the burden of, um, this 100% accurate representation, especially in fantasy fantasy, especially I should be allowed to like play around and to, I mean, throwing magic in the book, you know what I mean? Like I shouldn't be allowed to play around with like these good ideas. Yeah, no, I think, and that makes sense. And it sounds just the way you're talking about it sounds like you felt a lot of pressure there. How did you go about kind of overcoming some of those fears and those pressures and kind of giving yourself permission to think like, okay, yes, I want to treat, you know, this culture and this heritage with respect, but also it's my fantasy world and I can do what I want. Like how did you bridge that gap? Um, honestly, I think it was just time because I wrote this, um, the first draft I wrote as a NaNoWriMo in 2014, six years ago, really long time ago.

Speaker 3:

Um, and then, you know, so much happened between then and now, like we need diverse books happened. Um, we've gotten this wave of, um, of why a fantasy that we're Asian inspired by Asian authors, B the diversity movement has just been really amazing to watch in real time. Yeah. Um, so, so part of it was just time and sitting with it, sitting with it and just getting exasperated after a while and just, just being like, I have to stop worrying about this and I have to write what feels right to me. And is it too? Cause I know the book hasn't actually come out yet. Um, so maybe it's too soon for this question,

Speaker 1:

But, um, have you been able to hear yet from any other readers who maybe really loved being able to see the, the, this culture,

Speaker 3:

You know, I've gotten a couple, I haven't been able to hear from any, no, but I have gotten a couple, um, messages from, uh, Mon readers who said they were excited about it. And then I have to give them like a caveat, like even though the magic in the world is inspired by mung shamanism. And there are some home words sprinkled throughout and yes, there's bits of the culture thrown in. I have to warn them that this is a fantasy, you know, I, I don't want them to go in expecting to see Hmong culture as it is represented because it's, it's definitely not, I don't want anyone to have that misconception.

Speaker 1:

Right. Right. Well, I, I think that, I agree with you 100%, the, the diversity movement has been phenomenal. Um, and I think it's so great that we're in this time both as readers and writers, um, but still different cultures and ethnicities and, and so much just represented more, um, on the page. Yeah. I agree. Um, I want to ask you about the system of magic because I love what fantasy authors do with magical systems. Um, it's just one of my things I always want to talk to fantasy authors. Like, how did you do it and what were the inspirations, um, and in this world that you've created, um, you mentioned shamanism and there's, you know, you're playing with very clever elemental tropes, uh, you know, fire, water, air earth, but you really took it a few steps further. And all of the Shumon born characters have like really into these different elements. Um, so what were some of the inspirations, or how did you go about kind of developing this magical system?

Speaker 4:

Okay. So, um, I mentioned that it was inspired my hung shamanism. And by that, I mean, in mung shamanism, we have this general belief because it may differ depending on the region, um, that everything is, uh, influenced by spirits by that. I mean, if something bad happens to you or if you have a bout of bad luck, well, maybe you've got a bad spirit hanging around you, or if you get sick, something's wrong with your spirit hour. Or for example, when I went on a trip to California, my mom, uh, did a little thing and title, um, a Houseman sort of thing around my wrist. And it's meant to, um, keep your spirit in your body to bind the spirit to you because when you go to a new place or, um, when you travel abroad, sometimes your spirit gets startled by not being a familiar place.

Speaker 4:

And then it gets, so when you come back, you get ill and, um, and then a shaman has to perform a ritual to call your spirit back. So like just the idea that spirits all around us and spirit, the spirit inside you influences a lot of your world. So to that regard, I wanted that to be an element in the magic and shamans. Also, when they traveled to the spirit realm, they also have the ability to call on familiars to help them in the spirit realm. So like, that's where the idea of the familiars for the shamans came from in that shamans in force of souls, they cannot use their magic unless they have a bond with a spirit familiar. So I really loved that idea. And also it helps me to sort of ground the magic in that. I always want the magic to the magical system to have limitations and to have specific guidelines.

Speaker 4:

Like they can't literally just do anything. So for these incredibly powerful, this incredibly powerful race of magic users, they're powerful, but they're only powerful if they are bonded to a familiar and a familiar is very vulnerable. Like if they, if they lose that familiar, then say literally cannot access their own magic. And then in terms of building the different callings, I literally just wanted like elemental magic because I loved avatar last Airbender so much. I was just like, I'm going to do this thing. And I'm just, I'm just going to run it. I'm going to lean into it.

Speaker 1:

Oh, that's so great. Well, I am, I love this idea of all of it, the familiars and the way that they tied in with the magic. Um, you mentioned vulnerability and I just thought it all, it was fascinating. It was a really great take. Um, and I love this story about tying the Telus to your wrist. So your spirit doesn't get scared away. Yeah. There's something very internal about that. If you were a shaman or shaman born, what type of magic do you think that you would have?

Speaker 4:

This is funny because like, I always relate this question back to avatar. What kind of bender would you be? Which nation would you be from? I'm like, I don't know. You know, like I just, I love the idea of like, fire so much. Cause it's so cool. It's such like a cool element, but it's also like, like a terrifying element and like, um, there's even an avatar episode about this. You can lose control of it so easily. And like I have I'm terrified of Heights, so I feel like air would be out. Um, and then I have this probably irrational fear of drowning. I don't know where it comes from. Ever since I was little, it has a weird fear of drowning. So I'm just like maybe not water. Although if I wasn't water bender, there would be no fear of growing. Um, okay. So that was a tangent. I'm sorry,

Speaker 1:

Where does that leave us? Okay. So bring it back to forest the souls, I guess I'm just going to, I'm just going to lean into and say probably something with fire because I think fire is so cool. I agree. And I think fire is often the one that people would check. We would choose if given the choice. Um, and I think there's a reason for that. I mean, fire, it is so

Speaker 3:

Uncontrollable and so it can be so dangerous and deadly. Oh, so alluring, um, at the same time it provides heat and warmth and comfort and food. And I think there's, you know, there's, it's just walks that wonderful line. Um, yeah, I would not be fired. I am so afraid of getting burned.

Speaker 1:

You mentioned getting fear of drowning for me. It's 100%. I'm I'm I don't, I like fire, but like not anywhere near me. Um, one of my

Speaker 3:

Favorite characters in forest of souls is the spider King. Tell, tell listeners a little bit about who the spider thing is. So the spider King, his name is Ronin and he rules over the dead wood. Essentially his specific shaman craft allows him to control the trees in a way that no one else really does. And also because he's just very, very powerful. Um, he is his shaman, his spirit familiar is a spinner, which is a spider of a very large white spider. And it's not, it's never quite said in the books, but, um, familiars tend to be smaller creatures, like smaller animals, but him having this rare, familiar just gives him that much more power. And, and so he, he has, um, paired with his craft. He has the ability to control the Deadwood. Um, but in like recent decades, that control has, has been sort of thrown into doubt because the trees are growing or not growing, but they're moving the trees move. They spread a little bit more quickly than they have, which is why when SIA show reveals that she has this ability to shepherd souls, um, everyone's just like, okay, she's the answer we need to controlling the Deadwood for good. And Ronan sort of takes her and he's not a great guide. He's no, he's not a great guide or teacher, but he is, you know, the one who sort of gives her that chance to prove herself.

Speaker 1:

No, he was very much like, here's your job. You go figure it out. Um, but he's such a presence in the book. I got to ask why spiders to put it plainly because spider is terrify. People are scared of spiders. I'm terrified of spice. I'm not, I'm not actually. I mean, I don't like

Speaker 3:

Them. I'm not crazy about them, but if I see one, I'm not going to completely freak out. Like I, we get a lot of spiders where I am. And in fact, in the last couple of weeks, you've had a lot of spiders in the house and I don't even know what's happening right now. It's like, it's kind of driving me up a wall, but, um, if I see one in the house, I'll try to relocate it outside versus, you know, killing it. Um, I'll relocate it or I'll just let it be. Especially if it's like, there was one right above my patio doors last summer. And it began is like a very tiny spider, but I was just like, I'm just going to leave you alone and see what happens. And then so built a web up there and it started killing all those like Lake flies and all that, whatever that flew in.

Speaker 3:

Right. And I was like, Oh yes, you are doing an excellent job. And then, and then like some months later, it tripled in size because it had gotten all these flies and it was eating really well. I was, I started getting nervous. I'm just like, okay. So I don't know if this spider is going to keep growing or if it's going to lay an egg and give me more spiders. So I had to get rid of it. But, but I mean, I'm not, I'm not terrified of spiders the way I would not say I have any sort of arachnophobia. Okay. I have expected the end of that story to be like, and now he's my familiar. That would have been great. Um, well, that's good. You're a good human being to relocate them out into the wild. I don't know that it's, I don't know that it's actually a good thing if their house do you mean, like, do you know if there's like how spiders versus just, you know what I mean? Like maybe they're not meant exists or they're not meant to, for like the habitat outside, but I don't know either way. They're not staying inside my house. So I think they all pretty much belong outside and I'm fine. I'm outside. Like, I'll leave a spider alone, but if he comes into my territory, we have trouble anyway, but he was such a good character back to your book.

Speaker 3:

And I think part of the reason why I liked Ronan so much is, is because he has control over this huge spider and as someone like that completely freaks me out. But it's also like kind of odd, inspiring in some ways. Yeah. So, and then of course we have, um, sear HSA. And one of something that I loved is that you craft this really lovely friendship. Um, I mean, really kind of at the heart of the book is this friendship between sear HSA and, uh, her best friend, uh, sing cyan go, how do you pronounce, I've been calling your son, but whatever works for you, we'll see what the audio book narrator lands on. Oh yeah. Speaking of which I meant to get her like a pronunciation guide. Oh yeah. That would be helpful. There's a lot of, a lot of very fantasy

Speaker 1:

Names and this guy, um, but they, so song gone, stair HSA, they just have this, this wonderful, this compassion and this loyalty that they share. And it's so bright and so refreshing and, and really kind of drives the narrative, um, trying to from the very beginning, uh, and it was refreshing cause there's not like a really huge romance element in the book. Um, instead we get this fags female friendship and I, I wanted to know what was kind of the catalyst. Was that a choice that you made at one point, like I want a really strong female friendship in this story, or was it something that just kind of grew as you were designing the book?

Speaker 4:

Um, that was also a deliberate choice. Like this is going to sound really petty, but I was just reading, um, a bunch of books prior to actually writing, um, getting into force of souls. I had read a bunch of white books where the best friends would, um, fall out for some superficial reasons, some reason concocted by the plot to like separate them. And like that is a, an acceptable thing in a book, you know, to, for the characters to stand alone, um, without that support system. Um, but just given that I had read like multiple books in a row where this happened, I was really exasperated. I was like, why can't there just be a book where the friends just stay friends and support each other and you know, whatever the plot throws at them, they stick together throughout that. Like, it doesn't mean they shouldn't have their friendship challenged. It doesn't, it doesn't mean there shouldn't be strain or conflict thrown at them, but they, they like, regardless of what happens, they still choose each other. And I really wanted that for, for forced us holes.

Speaker 1:

Yeah. No, and I loved reading it and I'm the same way. I mean, of course there are books in which if this device division happens in a friendship and sometimes it really works for the plot or it's necessary for various ways, but it was really great reading these two characters and the love that they share for each other. I really appreciated it. I'm so glad that they were a lot of fun to write together. Yeah. They seemed like fun. Some of the banter that they have, like you just could feel their very history they're together in a really lovely way. So you mentioned that this was a NaNoWriMo book. Uh, have you done NaNoWriMo a lot? Was this your first time doing NaNoWriMo?

Speaker 4:

It was my, let me think about that. Um, it was, it was either my second or third time I had done NaNoWriMo for the very first time. I think it was 2010, maybe 20 2009 or 2010, something like that. Um, and I had not written a full novel since like my high school years prior to that, because I spent quite a number of years writing fiction. Um, yeah. Yeah. Um, so I spent so much time writing fan fiction. I was just like, um, and I loved it so much and I specifically loved the community that Springs up around fan fiction, you know? Um, but at one point I was just like, I've spent a lot of time in fandom and I've sort of lost sight of what my ultimate goal here is, which is to be a published author. Um, so I heard about NaNoWriMo and I had not heard about it prior for some reason I have not, but I heard about it. I was just like, okay, I'm going to do this thing. If I'm going to commit, I'm going to do it. So I signed up on the website and November came around and I just, I started writing like a fiend and I, like, I was just sort of writing by the seat of my pants. I was just like, whatever happens, happens. And I learned multiple things in that process. I learned that I am not a pantser.

Speaker 4:

I just like, yeah, I burned out. Like I reached 50,000 and now I just completely burned out. And I was just like, I don't know what to do with this book. It's a complete mess. Um, and I just let it sit for like six months before I finally got the inspiration to go back in and revise it. Um, and then I also learned more importantly that I can do it, you know, like I, I wrote, well, mostly a finished book, a complete manual, a draft. I wasn't, I call it a draft. I wouldn't call it a book that I, I completed a draft in one month. And like, it was a busy month too. I mean, November is like, and you've got Thanksgiving and all that stuff. But also during that specific month we had a funeral and we had like a whole bunch of stuff, like on the weekends and I still managed to complete the draft.

Speaker 4:

Um, so it was a really important lesson in knowing that I did it once and I can do it again. So that helped a lot. And then like with my next book, which was Gates of Thrones and stone, I just, I knew that I was not a pantser by any means. So I, I just, um, outlined, outlined outlined and that, and then like, I was able to complete a first draft in like three, four weeks, I think, because I had so thoroughly prepared myself to be, to draft and then with, um, with force assaults, same deal, you know, I, um, I thoroughly outlined I did this whole manual for world building, which I really wish I had not done this so much changed in the writing of it. Like I like I'll tell people definitely prepare like, and definitely world build, but don't spend so much time building that you never get to the writing because once you get writing, the details will change. Um, and then you'll have to throw away so much of that work you did, which is what I did. Um, I had to throw away so much, which was fine because I think ultimately it gave me the confidence to start writing and having that surety, that certainty of like, okay, I know my world, I can, I can write. And if it changes that's okay, because at least I have that groundwork.

Speaker 4:

Do you, have you done nano since I'm just a blur? Yeah. You know, I don't think I have, but like the thing about nano or like, I haven't done officially, but I feel like I've done it unofficially with teaching my drafts. Like I said, I outline now, so I outline it very thoroughly and then I just jump in and I write my drafts within usually within a month or less

Speaker 1:

[inaudible] yeah, no, cause I've also, I've done nano a number of times. Um, and similarly, like, I feel like doing nano kind of helped me refine my process, but now, like I don't always do it during November. And I should mention, like for listeners who have no idea what nano I should've started with that, um, it stands for national novel writing month. It happens every November and a bunch of writers, uh, try to write a 50,000 word novel during November. Um, and it's awesome. It's a lot of fun if you're an aspiring writer, definitely check it out. Um, but as I was saying that having done it a number of times now, I feel like even when I'm drafting a book outside of November, I still have that NaNoWriMo mentality. Like just outline the book and then get that draft written. Yeah,

Speaker 4:

Yeah. That really helped. Like, it's definitely a crash course in like a fast drafting. Um, so I, it definitely taught me like, just get the words out, get that draft done. And then once you have that draft, then you can revise.

Speaker 1:

Exactly. Exactly. We are. We are on the same page. Um, I think it's funny too, that you talked about like the one time you pantsed it and were like, okay, this is really not for me. Cause I had like the exact same experience where there was one NaNoWriMo that I tried going into it, like with just the seed of an idea and didn't prepare at all. And it was by far the most miserable and nano experience. It's like, if you're, if you're not

Speaker 4:

For me, if I don't have it outlined, I feel like I'm just wandering around in the dark for where this book needs to go. So like I would sit down and I would just spit out words, like meaningless words, you know, to like, just get the word count done. And then that doesn't help anyone. It was like, and now I have to go back and basically pull the entire book apart and rewrite everything. Right?

Speaker 1:

Yeah. It doesn't help with the anxiety. Yes. Yeah. Yeah. At the same time, of course there are writers that work really well without an outline. And you know, I don't know how they do it, but I'm, I'm kind of amazed what they can accomplish. It's amazing that they can keep all that in their heads. They just have that structure in their head already when, as they're writing and just like, Oh, I don't know how you do it. I know, I know I'm super impressed by it too. And it's funny how, how you know, totally different. And yet we all somehow end up at the same place when you look at the end of it. Um, okay. We are going to

Speaker 4:

Wrap this up with our happy writer lightning round. Okay. Okay. First up, what book makes you happy? What book makes me happy? Um, six of crows by Libra duo. Oh, I love Liebert so much. Like I wouldn't even call it a happy book because it's really intense. It's a really intense book, but it's also full of humor and amazing characters and they just, just the chemistry and the writing is so rich and yeah, it makes me happy. Yeah. I agree. 100%.

Speaker 1:

Anybody who hasn't read LIBOR to go, go buy all of her books immediately. They're so fabulous. Um, what do you do to celebrate an accomplishment?

Speaker 4:

I'm really boring. I don't know that I celebrate other than just sharing it with my friends. Like I don't, I don't drink cause I wouldn't have like wine or anything like that. And I prefer not to leave my house not to, and I can't leave my house now. Anyway, I like, um, so I just, I share the news with like close friends. I share it with my family and then I move on basically, which, which is probably not helping. I should probably like linger a little bit more over it, but, but you know, it's, it's weird because I feel really, I'm always super uncomfortable with like celebrating myself, which I know is really bad. And I feel like it's something I'm trying to be better about, but I think it's part of it is just like, um, the culture I grew up with my culture, it's always about the community. It's always about the family. Um, it's, it's less about the individual and more about the collective, you know? So like, so that's, and it's not like it doesn't look good to brag too much about yourself. Um, so I'm still trying to be better about taking compliments and about celebrating my accomplishments. And of course you can celebrate without bragging. Um, you know, just kinda on a personal level, your book is coming out this week, June 23rd. Uh,

Speaker 1:

I challenge you to find a way to celebrate it totally worth celebrating. Thank you. Um, what is your favorite thing to do that has nothing to do with it?

Speaker 4:

Reading or writing binge watch TV series. Are you binge watching anything right now? Um, yes. I just started great,

Speaker 3:

Which is on Hulu starting Elephanta and then just about Catherine, the great it's a completely, um, on true story, not completely untrue. It says, it says occasionally true story. Um, the longest female Monarch of Russia and it's like, it's absolutely hilarious and I'm, I'm very, uh, I'm very, um, what's the word I'm very invested in the characters right now. So yeah, it's been funny. What advice would you give to help someone be a happier writer thinking about what makes me happy as a writer? And I feel like

Speaker 3:

I'm a really unhealthy writer, so don't do it because I just, I always feel like I'm wasting time if I'm not working and that's really unhealthy. So I guess what makes me happy is, is, um, like don't, don't force yourself to write if it's not coming. And like, I know that's really hard advice, especially right now because it's so hard to write in general. And, um, I've got, I I've had, I have two deadlines and I just recently turned into the two manuscripts, but getting those manuscripts done was like pulling teeth. It was just so hard because there's just so much distraction going on with the world and so much anxiety. And how can we, how can I get my head into this creative space? Um, when all I want to do is like spiral into like, you know, doomsday, whatever. Right. Um, but, but yeah, so I guess, you know, give yourself permission to just not work if, if it's not happening, like allow yourself that self care to just like do nothing for an afternoon except game or watch TV or do whatever, do what you need to do to refill that well, and or to, to shut out the world for a little while so that you can get into that creative space.

Speaker 3:

I think that was excellent. Excellent advice. Um, and I struggle with that too. I always feel compelled to be more productive. Um, it can be hard to step back and give yourself the space that you need sometimes. Uh, lastly, where can people find you? You can almost always find me on Twitter. I would just add Laurie and Lee or on Instagram, which is Lori, Emily H too. Awesome. Thank you so much for joining me. Lauria was so fun having you all. Thank you so much. I love doing it. Readers. Be sure to check out forest of souls, which comes out, uh, June 23rd and now more than ever, if you can support your local indie bookstore, we of course encourage you to do so. Please subscribe to this podcast. So you will always be in the know about new episodes. You can find me on Instagram at Marissa Meyer author and at puppy writer podcast until time stay

Speaker 1:

Healthy, stay cozy out there in your bunkers and whatever life throws at you today. I do hope that now you're feeling a little bit, huh?

Speaker 2:

[inaudible].