Author Interview with Tabitha Chirrick
This month I have an interview with an author who has perhaps the best Twitter name of all, ‘tabkey’. It’s good for me to see that some of the challenges I face are those that others have to deal with. For me this is grate news because it means that it’s normal, i.e. nothing to worry about.
When you develop characters, do you already know who they are before you begin writing, or do you let them develop as you go?
Tabitha: I usually have a general sense of who my characters are before I start writing. Maybe it’s just their archetype, or a twist on that archetype with a flavoring of personality, but I don’t start with nothing. I don’t put in more effort than that because…well. You put new characters on a page with a plan, and most of the time they take that plan for a ride. They end up having more romantic chemistry with their supposed nemesis than their destined true love, and they always acquire a much dirtier mouth somehow, or an impossibly clean one.
And I get that it can be a little off-putting for me to talk about characters like subliminal beings with their own free will rather than fictitious creations of my own mind, but actually writing the story dredges up a sort of subconscious influence. I’ve sort of accepted this as part of my process.
Writing the first draft is a game of “get to know you” with my characters. By the second draft, they can be completely different people. Case in point: when writing Overshadowed, I actually cut an entire character and merged her ghost with the MC’s sidekick-sort, and the result was not only a much more well-rounded character but a much cleaner, more effective cast.
Is there anything you find particularly challenging in your writing as far as content?
Tabitha: I struggle with transitional scenes. Getting characters from point A to point B while maintaining intrigue. If anyone reading this has ever read my work, you’ll know I try to keep the transitions implied through chapter breaks. Tayel and her friends will end a chapter planning a fuel heist, and the next chapter will open with them executing the plan. No hand-holding transitions required.
But sometimes I need to get characters to the next plot point within the chapter, and those parts are always a massive pain in my ass. Such scenes need to exist to maintain flow and a sense of time, but intrigue has to be maintained, as does the current level of tension. It also doesn’t hurt to have some character or plot development happening in the narrative so it’s not just filler space.
Obviously every scene should take these things into consideration, but transitions are the hardest because finding a unique way to do all this while showing my characters travel or complete a long, mundane task can become tedious. It’s always worth it in the end, though!
What are your views on social media for marketing, and which of them have worked best for you?
Tabitha: I do very, very little “hard marketing” on social media, which for me entails twitter, a blog, and goodreads. I don’t post buy links for my books unless they’ve just come out or there’s a sale or a giveaway, and I definitely don’t spam DMs to new followers. Basically: I don’t do to other people what I don’t want done to me. I don’t like spam, seas of buy links, or accounts that basically exist as a shop front for their work.
In my mind, social media is about being social. It’s about engaging with other people on popular issues or like interests, so I make my time on those sites about that. I try to talk about things in my life I find exciting – like writing and video games and books – and I support people who are doing exciting things. Just by engaging on a social level, I hope to draw people who like the same things I do, and maybe one day they’ll see a sale or giveaway and try out some of the content I create.
Is being a writer a gift or a curse?
Tabitha: It’s a gift!
Writing is about humanity, about capturing the world or inventing new, better worlds. Fiction can carve through biases and create objective platforms for discussing liberties, it can unveil the true face of depression and make people empathize with something they themselves have never even experienced, and it always opens us up to new ideas, or at the very least, new adventures.
I think about the way Harry Potter affected my generation, about how millions of us were so deeply touched by a world of magic and bigger-than-life characters. One story told across seven books inspired a generation of new readers, took over Hollywood, got its own theme park, and constantly makes an impact in people’s lives (just check tumblr!).
To have the ability – or the drive to create the ability to write stories that have an impact is an incredible gift. We may never get to J.K. Rowling levels of status, but if one person reads your story and loves it, is maybe changed by it, isn’t that worth it? It is for me.
Maybe that’s a little pie in the sky. Of all the writers in the world, I’m certainly one of the least insightful and interesting, because I like writing about explosions and lasers (pew pew). But at the end of the day, sitting down to create stories others may love is the best feeling.
What is your favourite movie and why?
Tabitha: Okay, that’s kind of a big question. I love movies. The first one that popped into my head was Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, though, so let’s go with that!
I know it’s not the quintessential film-lover’s Citizen Kane or anything by Hitchcock or Scorsese, but Scott Pilgrim is such a lively and fun film. The story is pretty darn basic, but the characters are rapidly characterized, crazy and quirky, and the interactions between their vastly different personalities are hysterical. Edgar Wright’s directing is fantastic, and the visual humor adds just as much as the spoken.
I saw the movie first (didn’t read the graphic novel. I know. shame. shame. shame.), so knew hardly anything about it before watching. It of course opens as a typical love tale with a nerdy twist, which was neat, but then the movie explodes into an action flick and none of the characters bat an eye at the genre change, like superhero fights in the middle of rock shows are just everyday occurrences for them. Just fantastic. I freaking love that movie! I’m gonna go watch it again now.
Tabitha Chirrick is an author of all things speculative, geeky, and/or badass. Her most recent release is a YA Space Opera called Overshadowed, which she feels includes an about-right number of explosions. She makes her base in a little-known town so close to San Diego that it’s just much easier to say “San Diego.” She lives in San Diego.
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