Dragon Soul Press sat down to interview Charity Ayres, an author featured in Dragons and Heroines.
1. How long have you been writing?
I honestly don’t remember the first time I wrote a story. Maybe in grade school? I know that I was working on my first novel in high school. I never finished it, but I worked on it for almost three years before entering the Navy. It was a vampire novel.
2. What comes first, the plot or characters?
The egg. Wait, the chicken? I don’t think there’s ever a true “first” other than the inclination to write. Sometimes, you catch an odd bit of conversation while standing in line at a coffee shop that triggers an entire character dialogue in your head. Other times, you’re taking a Geology class and realize that you could create a story where a random element horribly influences people. My characters tend to drive the story, but it doesn’t mean that the story wasn’t already lurking in the background, waiting to gobble them up. Writing is about that perfect cocktail of mayhem and connectivity between character and story.
3. How do you handle writer’s block?
When I teach Creative Writing or Writing Workshops, I always tell my students this: There is no such thing as Writer’s Block. There is such a thing as Procrastinator’s Block, and you have to decide to get over it. Writing can be hard work. Every time you sit down, you will not have the perfect writing session; sometimes, you have to push through and just write whatever comes out. That’s what first drafts are for. Get the story down, even if it means you spend the first ten, twenty, or sixty minutes of a session writing about everything in your head. Eventually, you will get what you need from writing so long as you just write through it.
4. How do you come up with the titles to your books?
Oh, I love finding my titles. Sometimes they come from a great one-liner a character says, and sometimes I want something that’s going to hint about what’s to come. If you’ve ever read or studied poetry, you know that the title is part of the prose. Stories are the same way. Titles are meaningful and give your reader a taste of sweetness to lure them in.
5. What is the most surprising thing you discovered while writing your book(s)?
I was amazed that writing novels got easier. The first one was like rubbing my brain with sandpaper. It was agonizing, but I learned so much about myself, especially what not to do in my writing. I equate it to running: once you do a big run, the others seem a little easier by comparison. Then, you go out and do it again.
6. How many plot ideas are just waiting to be written? Can you tell us about one?
I have to admit that every day is a different idea. My brain constantly picks up odd bits of fluff and swirls them around before putting them down and moving on to the next. My brain is very magpie-like. Today I was thinking about the Loch Ness monster as a dragon. Not just any dragon, though, the origin of life on this and other planets. What would the world look like with that approach? Why is the creature in hiding, and is it the only one? If so, how did it happen? That’s a story that could be fun to write.
7. Who is the author you most admire in your genre?
I read so many different genres and write whatever strikes my interest, so this is hard. I love Stephen King’s earlier works. Piers Anthony is phenomenal. Though, thinking about it, Marion Zimmer Bradley was one of my influences. I was heartbroken when she passed away. She was one of the first authors I submitted a story to. Even though she didn’t take it, she wrote me feedback that I was too stupid to take at the time. Beyond them, I could give you a near-endless list.
8. What was your dream job when you were younger?
Writing has always been my dream job. I have always been a voracious reader, and the thought that I could one day do that as a profession? What could be better than that? To live in a realm of my choosing as the hero or heroine so I could save the day and then and do it all over again the next day. It’s like living a million lifetimes or the truest form of immortality.
9. What is the best part of your day?
After the first sip (or gallon) of coffee hits me, and I’ve had one of a million “how to kill and hide the body” discussions, the best part of my day is when I can stop and enjoy a story. I make sure to read every day, and I do writing sprints with fellow authors almost every night. The best moments for me are the quiet reprieve of stepping into a different world and wiggling my toes in the sands of someone’s imagination. Sometimes it’s my own characters and their penchant for sarcastic quips, or maybe it’s following a trail of clues in historical fiction, or perhaps it’s a short story that makes me want to turn on all of the lights. Whatever it is, I’m there for it. All of it.
10. Where can readers learn more about you?