Saturday, August 4, 2012
How She Does It Rochelle Weber plus excerpt Red Rage
Today, Rochelle Weber is telling us how she writes her stories. With glitches from blog maven and guest both Friday and Saturday's blogs are combined.
Hi and thank you so much for hosting me on your blog. I hope my answers are helpful.
1. How do you create your characters? Do you have a specific process?
Of the two books I’ve published, one was somewhat autobiographic, and the other started as back-story for a couple of the secondary characters. They sort of took over and became their own book, which I ended up publishing first. My current WIP is also rather autobiographic. I majored in creative writing in college and I asked one of my professors if we wrote from our experience how we differentiated between memoirs and fiction. He said, “Write it the way you wish it was.” So, that’s what I do.
My ex-husband worked outages at various nuclear power plants around the country. I gave up a good job, dropped out of college and we followed him on the road to try to keep our family together. When my oldest daughter started fourth grade, she was enrolling in her eighth, ninth, tenth school? I’d begged him to settle in one place and stop moving. He dumped me in a town I’d never heard of 750 miles from home because he “couldn’t stand my mood swings.” Later, I was diagnosed with bi-polar disorder. In Rock Crazy, Katie’s husband takes her to the Moon and dumps her. Katie knows she’s bi-polar and there’s a doctor there who can cure her. Scott stays close by hoping she’ll have the surgery, planning to ask her to come back to him when she does. I wish my ex had taken me to get help instead of just dumping me. I wish there was a cure—a chip they could implant.
2. Do your characters come before the plot? Do you sketch out your plot or do you let the characters develop the route to the end?
I guess the characters come first. Certainly in the case of Rock Bound, they did. I started working on Rock Crazy and then decided I wanted to write a couple of paragraphs about the political prisoners who originally settled the Moon. Katie looks down on them until she realizes the people helping her when she finds herself stranded after Scott dumps her were prisoners. So I started a paragraph or two about Annie and Jake Johnsrud and the next thing I knew, I had a whole book about how they were arrested and what they faced when they arrived on the Moon.
3. Do you know how the story will end before you begin? In a general way or a specific one?
Usually I have a beginning and an end before I start a book. It’s the middle that bogs me down sometimes. I’m a pantser and I sometimes get lost on the way from point A to point B.
3. 4. Do you choose settings you know or do you have books of settings and plans of houses sitting around?
The settings are pretty much in my head. I designed my Moon base with curved walls because I thought they would need to follow the curve of the walls of the shuttles transporting them. The heroine’s apartment in Crystal Lady, my WIP resembles the apartment I lived in when I started losing weight. The rock star she meets in treatment lives in my dream house—the floor plan I’ve envisioned for “someday when I’m on all of the best-seller lists or I win the lottery.”
4. 5. Where do you do your research? On line or from books?
Google is my friend! I can find anything I need without leaving my desk. The only thing I use a book for is grammar. I have two style books—the Chicago Manual of Style and Strunk & White. Everything else comes from on-line sources. When I have a question, I just look it up and go back to writing.
5. 6. Are you a draft writer or do you revise as you go along and why?
I’m a compulsive reviser. I guess it comes from having majored in creative writing in college. Our professors said the most important part of writing is rewriting, so of course we were required to do a lot of rewrites. We also would write in class, then type it up at home and bring it into the next class. Needless to say, what I wrote in class or on the El on the way home never made it back to class in its original wording. It always got revised when I typed it out. I also went through the days of working from typewriter to computer without a scanner. Things changed then, too. I wish I could say I write every day, but there are days when I have doctors’ appointments and I don’t get any writing done. If I skip a day, I re-read what I wrote the last time I worked and end up revising. I guess I’m just a revising fool. ;-)
This is the beginning of Rock Crazy.
Abandoned, pregnant and bi-polar, Katie McGown’s going crazy on that God-forsaken rock the Moon!
They were on Earth, at a bar near Champaign, Illinois, part of the Chicago metropolis, which had sprawled across the Midwest and even down to Cairo, Illinois, where it merged with the equally sprawling Greater Memphis Area. They were there to sing karaoke, and Katie McGowan was ‘sober,’ as usual. She was on too many medications to mess with alcohol.
She didn’t remember, later, what the woman said that triggered her. She didn’t remember deciding to react. She just remembered the hot, red rage. And the split. She watched herself do it as The Voice kicked in.
“You can’t do this,” it said. “This is inappropriate behavior.”
Katie tried to stop herself, but she couldn’t. Her arm rose, as if of its own accord, and poured the pop on the woman’s bleach-blonde, over-processed head. The woman came off the stool and shoved Katie. She flew across the room, seemingly in slow motion. Of course she threw her right arm out to break the fall, and she still hit her head on the floor. But the pain in her wrist was worse than the headache.
“I told you not to do it,” The Voice said. “Now, at least stay down. Don’t try to fight her. You’ve already lost.”
Katie lay there gasping for breath, smelling the old, stale, spilled booze and beer that had seeped into the floor. Someone helped her up. It was Scott, her husband, and she was wrapped in his arms while holding her wrist. The woman wanted to come after her again, but people restrained her.
The screaming started. Katie cowered in Scott’s arms screaming and screaming and screaming, while The Voice told her to stop acting this way, and people tried to restrain the angry woman, pop dripping from her soggy bangs.
“Get her out of here!” the manager demanded.
“Looks like her temper matches her red hair.” She heard someone comment.
Scott half-carried her outside. She was hysterical and still screaming. The other woman followed them out to the car.
“What the fuck’s wrong with you, you crazy bitch?”
Katie couldn’t answer. All she could do was scream. Just scream. No words, just that high-pitched wail that was a good octave above any note she ever managed to reach when she sang.
“Now why can’t you reach this pitch when you sing?” The Voice asked. “Stop it or you won’t be able to sing at all. Ever again.”
She threw herself across the hood of the sky-car, feeling its warmth. She kept screaming, and the pain flared in her wrist again. Her throat was sore, and her voice was going…gone. The screaming subsided, and she began sobbing, hoarsely. Damn it. Her physical voice really was gone! The Voice was merging into the background, but now her mother was there. Linda Snodgrass had been dead for over five years, but she still appeared and yelled at Katie.
“You stupid bitch! I told you ladies don’t fight. What the hell did you think you were doing?”
“I don’t know why I did it, Mama. I think I broke my wrist,” she mumbled.
“Serves you right.”
“I’m sorry, Mama. I’m sorry.”
“Quit whining, or I’ll give you something to be sorry for.”
Her mother faded away, and she started hearing what was going on around her again.
Scott was there, and the manager, and the woman who had shoved her, and several bystanders, but all she could do was cry and say, “I’m sorry,” over and over.
“Who’s she talking to?” the woman asked. “She really is fucking crazy!”
“Katie’s bi-polar.” She heard Scott explain.
“Get her out of here!” the manager yelled.
“I’m so sorrrrrreeeeeee,” Katie wailed hoarsely. Someone stayed with her while Scott went back inside to get her sweater and his keys. She was powerless to stop this stage, as well. The sobbing and apologizing would go on for another hour or so. It was part of the pattern. She would apologize to everyone she met. And she would cry until she dehydrated herself and ran out of tears.
Scott came out of the bar and handed her sweater to her. She reached for it with her right hand and dropped it. He picked it up and put it across her shoulders. Then he unlocked the sky-car and helped her into it.
“Your wrist’s swelling up fast, baby. I brought you some ice from inside.” He handed her a bag of ice wrapped in a bar towel. “Your eyes look more red than green right now, and you’re so pale your freckles really stand out on your nose.”
“I’m sorry, Scott. I’m really sorry.”
He was oddly supportive this time. “I know you’re taking your meds. I’ve been giving them to you myself. And you still went off.”
“W-why?” Katie sobbed. “W-why? I’m s-sorry. I’m s-so s-sorrrrreeeee!”
“I don’t know. I don’t think the meds’re working,” he said. He reached over to pat her hand, but she was holding her right wrist, trying to cushion it and keep the bag of ice steady