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Interview with Carol Wolf and Giveaway - April 19, 2012

Please welcome Carol Wolf to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Interviews. Summoning (Moon Wolf Saga 1) was published by Night Shade Books this month.  You can read Carol's guest blog - A Peripatetic Writer's Life - here.


TQ:  What would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

Carol:  My husband tells me he can tell how my writing day has gone. If the kitchen floor has been scrubbed, the porch is swept, and the bathrooms are clean, he'll walk into the house, look around and say, "Ah. Plot problems, I see."

I prefer to take a long walk to work out ideas, but when things get tough, scrubbing a floor really works. Of course, if the idea solves itself halfway through the job, then the floor can finish scrubbing itself; I'm off to write.

TQ:  Who are some of your favorite writers? Who do you feel has influenced your writing?

Carol:  Since my background is in playwriting, I have to start with Shakespeare. Anybody wincing or ducking right now, please know, Shakespeare was not written to be read. His work was written to be seen. And in fact, it wasn't the English academics who carried his work forward all these centuries; it's theater folks. Once you've performed the balcony scene from Romeo and Juliet, or the mad scene in King Lear, or the scene where Puck mixes up who loves whom in Midsummer Night's Dream, you never let the play go. I love Shakespeare's scene work. I love his understanding of the proportions of plot. Most of all I love and envy his masterful ability to set a tension level at, say, five (on a scale of one to ten), hold it there for three hours without raising or lowering it (try that some time!), take it up to a seven, and end the play. I tend to pump the tension level all the time, just to make sure people are still reading. Shakespeare leaves a lot to aspire to, and that's completely leaving aside his being one of the master word wranglers of all time. (What's that story of the woman who saw Hamlet for the first time, and came out saying, "It's just a bunch of old clichés!")

Contemporary authors, Lois McMasters Bujold, Terry Pratchett, and Diana Wynne Jones (RIP) have my complete respect and attention. If I'm being influenced by other writers, I hope it would be to try and plot as masterfully at Bujold, to be as joyful and clever as Pratchett, and as imaginative as Wynne Jones.

TQ:  Are you a plotter or a pantser?

Carol:  The way I see it, you get this idea, and you add to it another idea, and another and another, and then there's this other idea running parallel to it, and another one over there, so you weave them all together . . . and you go on like that for a long time. Have you ever made a wax candle? You dip the wick in the wax, you wait for it to dry, you dip it again. If you don't wait, the new wax melts off the old, and you'll be left with waxy string, but if you wait, the next layer will come on all thick, and the one after that . . . and you get something that will burn well for a long time. Doing head work for a books, I find, is like that.

Then, when you get it all worked out, and you know the beginning, and it's blaring at you to get to work and write it down, and you know all your major plot points, and you can see your ending and it's fantastic, (no, really, you have to be that in love with what you're doing, or you'll never do all those hours and hours and hours of work, this moment is not the time for humility or any sense of proportion whatsoever), then you start to write, and all kinds of things explode out of nowhere and pile on new layers, new events, and unimagined reverberations. It's like, you bring a certain amount to the endeavour, and then your unconscious brings a whole lot more. It's magic. It's breathtaking. It's a joy.

TQ:  What is the most challenging thing for you about writing?

Carol:  I wrote my first book over thirty years ago. Summoning is about the tenth book I've written. Now, admittedly my early books are bad. It took a long time to get the proportions right, and also to learn to write narrative fiction, after writing plays for so long. But still. Thirty years? Who could ever have imagined it would take thirty years to get a novel published? So, to all you fifteen-year sloggers out there, keep on writing! It can actually happen!

TQ:  Describe Summoning in 140 characters or less.

Carol:  Shape-shifting wolf girl runs away, finds herself the key player in a fight to save the world helped by a beautiful demon servant who claims her as his mistress.

TQ:  What inspired you to write Summoning?

Carol:  I wrote a play in which Dr. John Dee, the magician to Queen Elizabeth I, is conjured into the modern world by a historian who has gotten her hands on a 16th century spellbook. John Dee tried all his life to raise a demon/angel. (At that time, scholars argued that demons and angels were the same creature; which one they were depended on whether they sided with Satan or God in the Great Battle). So, I got to thinking, what if Dee had succeeded? So, that's where the demon boy came from.

The World Snake about to swallow Los Angeles, well, if you live in L.A., when is it not?

Barbara Hambly pointed out that every culture in the world has a tradition of vampires. What is also true is that every culture on earth has a tradition of shape changers.

So, wolf girl + demon boy + World Snake, and from this (and a few thousand dips into the well of imagining) came Summoning.

TQ:  What sort of research did you do for Summoning?

Carol:  Aside from all the research I'd done for the Dee play, I read a lot of books about wolves and other canines. Having two border collies, one of whom is a genius (they say that about lots of border collies, but Tay is, really, ask anyone who knows him), has been a great help. And anyone who has lived in L.A. has done a lot of driving, which was a necessity for telling this story.

TQ:  Who was the easiest character to write and why? Hardest and why?

Carol:  Amber, my main character, leaped off the page from the first word. When I was re- and re-reading the book in preparation for publication, I was still finding out more about her, just from the way she expressed herself. It can't be easier than having them throw themselves at you, narrating at full volume. The hardest character? There's a priest who kept changing aspect on me. I think he's insane, and I didn't quite nail that. Maybe I'll have to revisit him sometime.

TQ:  Without giving anything away, what is/are your favorite scene(s) in Summoning?

Carol:  There are a couple of scenes where Amber and Richard, which is what she calls the demon (Dr. John Dee commanded him into the guise of a beautiful youth, in which he's been stuck all this time), have adventures together, like good fighting comrades. I like those.

TQ:  What's next?

Carol:  Well, Night Shade bought the second book, too, Binding, which I just finished writing and am now doing the rewrites prior to turning in. The project after that is to finish my playwriting manual, that I've been working on for, oh, fifteen years: Playwriting: the Merciless Manual, Techniques of Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Playwriting, which has been accepted for publication by AmbushBooks (I am having a really good year!). Then, I have a play to rewrite, a short film to shoot and edit, and after that, it is my hope that there will have been enough interest, whereby I'll be asked to write the third book of the Moon Wolf Saga, Crossing.

TQ:  Thank you for joining us at The Qwillery.

Carol:  Thank you for letting me play!


About Summoning

Summoning
Moon Wolf Saga 1
Night Shade Books, April 2012
Trade Paperback, 300 pages

Interview with Carol Wolf and Giveaway - April 19, 2012
The World Snake is coming, devourer of Thrace and Atlantis... and the only one standing in its way is Amber, a sixteen-year-old runaway, recently arrived in Los Angeles.

Amber is more than just a girl with a stolen ID and an attitude; she is a daughter of the wolf-kind, a shapeshifter able to change forms at will. One night, as Amber prowls the Hollywood Hills in wolf form, she stumbles onto an occult ceremony, interrupting the ritual. As a result, Amber finds herself the unwilling mistress of a handsome demonic servant, Richard.

Appearing as a fair youth of eighteen years, Richard is a demon accidentally summoned, then captured, by Dr. John Dee, court magician to Queen Elizabeth I. Richard has been trying for four centuries to free himself from a succession of masters and mistresses, but finds himself bound to Amber, the only one who can protect him from his greatest fear, the herald of the World Snake, the Eater of Souls.

The last thing a girl of the wolf-kind needs is a boy following her around like a lap-dog, but Amber agrees to help Richard reclaim his soul from two of his old foes, hopings soul from two of his old foes, hoping to grant Richard his freedom. But all hell is about to break loose, and Amber and Richard are going to need some allies to stop the Eater of Souls and avert the World Snake, and the battle has only begun.
From Carol Wolf comes the urban fantasy debut Summoning, a novel of a wolf girl, a demon boy, and a city on the edge of disaster.


About Carol

Interview with Carol Wolf and Giveaway - April 19, 2012
Carol Wolf earned a BA in History at Mills College, and an MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, where she was a Levin Scholar. Her plays have been seen on both coasts and on five continents, and include The Terrible Experiment of Jonathan Fish, The Boss's Wife, Day/BlackNight/Morning, Walking on Bones, and The Thousandth Night, which won the London Fringe First, the Bay Area Critic’s Circle Award, and the L.A. Drama Critic’s Circle Award. Wolf taught Master’s classes in Playwriting at Manhattan College and Mills College, and for ten years headed the playwriting program at Foothill College. She wrote the scripts for the blockbuster video games Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. She co-founded the micro-budget film company Paw Print Studios, for which she wrote and directed two feature films, The Valley of Fear, and Far from the Sea, and is currently in production with the documentary, Letters to my Grandchildren. Her playwriting manual, Playwriting: the Merciless Craft, Techniques in Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Playwriting, has been accepted for publication by AmbushBooks and will be released in April, 2012. She lives in the foothills of the California Sierra Nevadas in with her husband, two border collies, and a varying number of sheep.

Carol's Website


The Giveaway

THE RULES

What:  One commenter will win a copy of Summoning (Moon Wolf Saga 1) from The Qwillery.

How:  Leave a comment answering the following question:

Which is your favorite type (or types) of shape-shifter? 

Please remember - if you don't answer the question your entry will not be counted.

You may receive additional entries by:

1)   Being a Follower of The Qwillery.

2)   Mentioning the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter. Even if you mention the giveaway on both, you will get only one additional entry. You get only one additional entry even if you mention the giveaway on Facebook and/or Twitter multiple times.

3)   Mentioning the giveaway on your on blog or website. It must be your own blog or website; not a website that belongs to someone else or a site where giveaways, contests, etc. are posted.

There are a total of 4 entries you may receive: Comment (1 entry), Follower (+1 entry), Facebook and/or Twitter (+ 1 entry), and personal blog/website mention (+1 entry). This is subject to change again in the future for future giveaways.

Please leave links for Facebook, Twitter, or blog/website mentions. You MUST leave a way to contact you.

Who and When:  The contest is open to all humans on the planet earth with a mailing address. Contest ends at 11:59pm US Eastern Time on Thursday, April 26, 2012. Void where prohibited by law. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 years old or older to enter.

*Giveaway rules are subject to change.*

Guest Blog by Carol Wolf - A Peripatetic Writer's Life

Please welcome Carol Wolf to The Qwillery as part of the 2012 Debut Author Challenge Guest Blogs. Summoning, Carol's debut, will be published in April by Night Shade Books.



A Peripatetic Writer's Life
by Carol Wolf

When I was in college my ceramic arts instructor, who was renowned for his teapots, told me that most of the artists of his acquaintance have a wide variety of artistic skills, but that they focus on the one for which they are first rewarded. Hence, his specialty in teapots.

So, now, all you artists reading this, how many different art forms have you pursued over the course of your life, and for which were you first rewarded?

I made up stories and acted them out before I knew how to write. I suppose the first reward I received for writing was when I embarked on an epic (15 page!) story in 3rd grade, and my teacher rewarded my efforts by allowing me, for an entire week, to do nothing but write. While everyone else had to do class work, I sat at a table in the back of the room and wrote all day, and no one was allowed to bother me. What a life! I did have to go out for recess. This was a bitter disappointment, especially since, of all the things we did all day in 3rd grade, recess seemed to me the most unimportant. Later, when I spent years as a substitute teacher, I understood that it wasn't I who needed the recess, but my teacher. I read the finished story to the class, and then was asked by the class to read it again. A triumph!

In 6th grade I wrote my first play, and all but two classmates took part in the production. The Five Murders of Cherryville Lane was presented to the school, and there was a second, special assembly for us to present it a second time. Another triumph! So, I was well-rewarded at an impressionable age for writing stories and plays, and kept on ever after.

When I was seventeen, my third play, a 20-minute one-act called Duel, won a playwriting contest and was published in At Rise Magazine the following year. Even more fantastic was the news that a theater in Waterloo, Iowa, planned to produce the play the year after. Thus it was that, on my junior year abroad at the University of Lancaster, in England, I had to fly back to the states for my play opening in the middle of the spring term. The Waterloo Playhouse produced three one-acts; the other two were written by old guys, one in his thirties and one in his forties. We were interviewed on radio and television to promote the production, and I remember giving a talk at a Rotary Club luncheon. Since the theater had paid my plane fare to come, put me up and paid for my meals, I was well and truly rewarded.

So, I was set by that time on being a writer, and thought I'd be a lawyer and write on the side, or a biologist, and write on the side, or a teacher, and write on the side, as I have a broad range of interests. I was accepted to a graduate school to get an MA in education and a teaching credential, but then I got my acceptance, and a Levin Scholarship, to the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers University, to study playwriting. Playwrights took acting classes with the actors, directing classes with the directors, design classes with the techies, but none of them took playwriting classes with us. I was told by my department head that if I flunked all my other classes, but did well in playwriting, I'd still be in the program. I wrote seventeen plays in three years, and sixty-six drafts of nine of them. I also wrote my fourth novel, but like the other three, written in college, it was very bad.

One thing I did learn in those three years was that you can't -- I can't -- write on the side. The tool for writing is your brain, and what your brain does all day determines your output as a writer. Thus, I've been a temp, or a sub, and had occasional short-term full-time jobs. I write, and work on the side. If I've paid for that, economically, the upside is that no effort of mine was spared to be a better writer. In this culture where worth, and success, are measured by money, that is at times difficult to justify.

Three of my plays were produced at grad school, and upon graduation, The Terrible Experiment of Jonathan Fish, my feminist musical farce, was chosen for a workshop production in New York City the following year. So, I was well and truly hooked into being a playwright. The workshop was sold out, there were standing ovations, I was taken aside by dozens of people who told me that I would lose my integrity -- a sign that people think you're going to be someone, in NYC. But nothing came of it.

Years later, after writing about fifty plays, the notice on the front of the Dramatist Sourcebook, where all contests, grants, and productions are listed each year, penetrated: "Over 857 opportunities for playwrights!" Tens of thousands of us competing for 857 opportunities, and a good third of those for playwrights in New York, while I was living by then in Los Angeles. The light dawned. Did I give up playwriting? No way! The craft of playwriting is, well, it's an addiction. To sit at the back of a dark hall and watch a couple hundred people watch your play, is an experience that I wish on you all. To sit in rehearsal and watch really good actors bring your play to its feet is about as close as a human can be to being a god on this earth. (A general can send soldiers into battle, even to their deaths, but in their minds they call down curses on him. Actors work like fiends and are always wondering if they're good enough, or if they could do better, and if you give them more to do they thank you.)

The real problem, I realized, was in needing someone else's acceptance or permission to have my work produced. The workers should own the means of production! This was the year after the development of the Canon XL2 camera made it possible for low-budget productions to make theater-quality films. Two friends and I founded Paw Print Studios, and I co-produced, wrote and directed two feature films in the next three years, Far From the Sea, and The Valley of Fear. This required a whole new craft of story telling, through the eye of the camera. One result: pages and pages and pages of cut dialogue. Dialogue takes forever to shoot, and is the slowest way to convey story on film.

Summoning actually began as an idea for a film, but due to budget limitations I soon reworked it as a novel, where a girl changing into a wolf requires no special effects. I finished it, and reworked it, did a bit of research and sent it to a publisher, and after a year they sent it back, no, and I sent it to another, and by the time the next year and the next no had passed, I was on to other projects. Some time later, I was introduced to awesome agent Laurie McLean, and she loved it, and sold it to Night Shade Books. Hooray!

Night Shade wants the second book quickly, and here is where this narrative comes together. When writing a novel in a short time, handfulls of playwriting techniques are extremely useful. The need to set and sustain a significant tension level, knowing that the plot legs must be in proportion with the plot points, that everything that is paid off at the end must be set up in the beginning, and the more important the pay off, the earlier the set-up must be, offer short cuts to what would otherwise arise as a whole lot of story problems.

When you write a play, after finishing it, it is customary to get some friends together for a reading in the living room, usually called, the living room reading. If you are blessed by the acquaintance of some actors, you get them to read for you, but having your computer-programmer and insurance specialist friends read can be just as useful. If the words are said consecutively and audibly, the story must be told. If it is a poor story, the roomful of people will be bored, and there will be no disguising it. The number of trips to the bathroom and the snack table, the rustling and shuffling will be a dead giveaway, which you ignore at your peril. If the play works, no one will move, and no one will get up until the act break. Moreover, the strength of the play will be written on the faces of he audience like some stamp of joy and awe. And here's the other thing. The stronger the play, the more the mistakes will stand out. If there's not much play there, everyone will say nice things to you, offer a few small suggestions, and change the subject. But if the play is good, the mistakes will be annoying to the audience. More than annoying, they will just about piss them off. If, after your play reading, many of the people in the room are shouting at you about the things you HAVE to fix or they will come after you, you can know that you've done some good work.

A few really good novelists might benefit from the experience of their readers yelling at them for the small errors they have made, thus marring a terrific piece of work. Endings are often a case in point. If, in a play, the ending is not satisfying, after two hours of sitting in rising expectation, your audience really will lynch you if you disappoint them. The living room reading for Summoning will take place in other peoples' houses. Is it fortunate or unfortunate that I will be out of range if there is any shouting? Of course, thinking it over, now that the book has gone to the printer and it really is too late, this playwright-novelist has to wonder, is the ending of Summoning satisfying enough? The correct response for the writer is to go write the next book.


About Summoning

Summoning
Moon Wolf Saga 1
Night Shade Books, April 2012
Trade Paperback, 300 pages

Guest Blog by Carol Wolf - A Peripatetic Writer's Life
The World Snake is coming, devourer of Thrace and Atlantis... and the only one standing in its way is Amber, a sixteen-year-old runaway, recently arrived in Los Angeles.

Amber is more than just a girl with a stolen ID and an attitude; she is a daughter of the wolf-kind, a shapeshifter able to change forms at will. One night, as Amber prowls the Hollywood Hills in wolf form, she stumbles onto an occult ceremony, interrupting the ritual. As a result, Amber finds herself the unwilling mistress of a handsome demonic servant, Richard.

Appearing as a fair youth of eighteen years, Richard is a demon accidentally summoned, then captured, by Dr. John Dee, court magician to Queen Elizabeth I. Richard has been trying for four centuries to free himself from a succession of masters and mistresses, but finds himself bound to Amber, the only one who can protect him from his greatest fear, the herald of the World Snake, the Eater of Souls.

The last thing a girl of the wolf-kind needs is a boy following her around like a lap-dog, but Amber agrees to help Richard reclaim his soul from two of his old foes, hopings soul from two of his old foes, hoping to grant Richard his freedom. But all hell is about to break loose, and Amber and Richard are going to need some allies to stop the Eater of Souls and avert the World Snake, and the battle has only begun.
From Carol Wolf comes the urban fantasy debut Summoning, a novel of a wolf girl, a demon boy, and a city on the edge of disaster.
Pre-Order


About Carol

Guest Blog by Carol Wolf - A Peripatetic Writer's Life
Carol Wolf earned a BA in History at Mills College, and an MFA at the Mason Gross School of the Arts at Rutgers, where she was a Levin Scholar. Her plays have been seen on both coasts and on five continents, and include The Terrible Experiment of Jonathan Fish, The Boss's Wife, Day/BlackNight/Morning, Walking on Bones, and The Thousandth Night, which won the London Fringe First, the Bay Area Critic’s Circle Award, and the L.A. Drama Critic’s Circle Award. Wolf taught Master’s classes in Playwriting at Manhattan College and Mills College, and for ten years headed the playwriting program at Foothill College. She wrote the scripts for the blockbuster video games Blood Omen: Legacy of Kain, and Legacy of Kain: Defiance. She co-founded the micro-budget film company Paw Print Studios, for which she wrote and directed two feature films, The Valley of Fear, and Far from the Sea, and is currently in production with the documentary, Letters to my Grandchildren. Her playwriting manual, Playwriting: the Merciless Craft, Techniques in Beginning, Intermediate, and Advanced Playwriting, has been accepted for publication by AmbushBooks and will be released in April, 2012. She lives in the foothills of the California Sierra Nevadas in with her husband, two border collies, and a varying number of sheep.

Carol's Website
Interview with Carol Wolf and Giveaway - April 19, 2012Guest Blog by Carol Wolf - A Peripatetic Writer's Life

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