Guest ~ Why Did I Write That Book by Skhye Moncrief
Hi, everyone! And thank you, Adriana, for inviting me to mesh with the pulse of your little neck o’ the woods in your part of the universe. I thought I’d share one of those crazy little moments I had that turned into what I think is an excellent marketing tool for a blog post. This epiphany sparked when I saw a friend promo-ing her blog post–Why did I write that such-n-such? I can even recall what in the heck the post was about. But I immediately thought A BOOK! You know, that moment an idea is born! That initial idea the birthed a novel…So, this is the post I created to discuss the significance of the first novel in my Werescape series–set on post-apocalyptic Earth. Get your howl on because we’re talking werewolves! *wink* I’d like to discuss what I tried to do for anyone who wants to give this type of promo post a shot.
1. Keep the subject matter focused.
2. No excerpts, blurbs, quotes. This post is a WHY post. Not a few minutes of forced feeding readers with blatant promo. I keep my blog posts extremely focused to avoid blatant promo unless I just outright post an excerpt. Then I use the title EXCERPT: Story title (genre) or First Chapter (story title/genre). Then people know what they’re getting into. 😉
3. I navel gaze. Always have after studying 80 hours of anthropology. This type of post is introspection. You spill your guts in a focused manner.
4. I’m a pigeon-holer. So, I categorized my reasons the chosen story came to be. Remember, this is an explanation to reveal anything that someone might try to explain after you die. Think analytical!
5. I always have links to previous WhyDidIWriteThatBook posts. This way you have an excuse to list other posts of the same species, hoping the curious might hop over and read another. You know, promo more!
Why a Futuristic Setting?
I love to read and write about other cultures. This means world build. It’s a byproduct of studying anthropology and geology ad nauseum. So, I always seem to write about the future. You can do anything you want in the future if you make sense out of it. And in the future lies the past. That pretty much explains the subject matter of my stories. Where humans are today. Where they are going. What they did along the way that placed them where they are in the future, i.e. cultural context. Equally important is how change through time is perceived by the members of a culture. Before I became consumed with writing fiction, I pretty much lived to read about the origins of everything in hard and soft science (focus in school–geology [my BS] & bio-archaeology in grad school). No, I never learned everything. That’s impossible. But I realize my interest in such things is definitely an outgrowth of my fear of things being lost…
I remember where I was sitting when I heard the last wild white rhinoceros had been killed. I also remember the shock on the faces of the old timers who ran the facility the semester I did my museum-curation internship at a small local museum when I insisted they save all the paperwork they’d accumulated through the years. They wanted to trash PROVENIENCE. Sorry, but you just never know what’s hidden in those documents that might make a difference in future analyses. Call me a killjoy. But they muttered and stacked their piles and piles of printouts and ledgers back on the shelves. Archaeology is just one of those fields of science that will improve with time. Don’t throw the baby out with the bath water! You might need that original documentation for something one day…
So, when excavating in grad school, I often struggled to record everything as accurately as possible while other students were just there for the grade, eyeballing me like I had spiders crawling out of my nose. Call me obsessive compulsive now. They didn’t care about the past whereas I worried some tiny little scrap of evidence, the missing piece in the puzzle, would be lost. I’m not about to hurl my body in front of a truck to save the evidence though. And I’m not one to man a picket sign. But I’ll prop them up along my characters’ paths in my futuristics. This accounts for the subtle or blaring doom and gloom in my stories. I can’t help myself. I’m a pessimist. Gloom and doom is my reality.
Why a Post-apocalyptic Setting?
My main reason for writing the WERESCAPE series is my love of post-apocalyptic stories (rooted back in my teenage years) and the TV series, THE COLONY. Even my 5-yr-old daughter got hooked on THE COLONY. My mind was crunching ideas every episode… Like when the refugees found a truckload of rotten pig carcasses. Yes. They did. Then the little troopers hauled the putrid flesh back to their camp where one knowledgeable old fellow had them melt the fat down and make bio-fuel. AWESOME! My mind was reeling then. Not because of all the refugees were gagging during the episode. I’m certain the smell was horrendous. OMG, then they tried to cook and eat the rotten meat. Ugh! I’m so not going there in my series. But I was enthralled with this TV show because I love survival. Things that intrigue me most are cultural ecology and cultural evolution. Both of these theories will have a huge impact in writing a post-apocalyptic world. And as much as I read post-apocalyptic stories as a teen, I snatched up survivalist fiction as well. Yes, I was a tomboy! One that read bodice rippers when they first circulated in the 80s. I was thirteen. How was I supposed to know better? And Mom, bless her heart, bought them for me with all the other crazy stuff I read back then.
My mind is always crunching ideas, coming up with different twists on a scene I plan to write, splicing these ideas together, sometimes making something that’s half an apple and half spaghetti. Other times, the ideas really work together and aren’t recycled into new potentially-viable ideas. This is how COUGAR gasped for breath. I’d already written psychic werewolves and suffered from werewolves on the brain (still do because I’m still working onthat series), but I had another werewolf image that just wouldn’t piece together nicely within my original werewolf story world. So, I yanked the spaghetti-apple monstrosity apart. One half rooted into WERESCAPE, my latest werewolf series. The other half, who knows where it went?
So, I opted to write two werewolf series. Both series deal with traditional horror-type werewolves. Forget people shifting into beautiful wolves running through pristine snow. I usually go for the jugular in conflict. So, we have large hulking monsters. The WERESCAPE shifters rip off heads and limbs. They bite too. But the biting doesn’t turn anyone into a werewolf. It’s for marking during mating unless the werewolf wants to kill you. In that case, you’re dead.
Why don’t the bites turn the bitten into werewolves? Because I write romantica, and what woman wants to turn into one of my horror-type werewolves? My stories also always have a happily ever after like traditional romance. But the emphasis works best when focused on sex like in erotica. Romantica has plot though. So, I used biting for reproduction and sex–erotic in that vein. WERESCAPE heroes and their inner Wolf don’t seem to mind the focus. Well, until a hero’s Wolf decides it’s found its mate. To me, that’s the common thread in werewolf romance.
Aliens again, Skhye?
Yes. It’s part of the strange kid I was. I had nightmares about nuclear war. I read everything I could get my hands on about extraterrestrials. Oh, don’t forget Sasquatch! Sasquatch was as interesting as aliens back then. Of course, I grew up. Edumacated myself. Even after debunking everything that entertained my young curious mind in earning 80 hours of credit studying archaeology–not to mention all the geology, I can’t resist writing about the things academics insist there is no proof of…Well, those academics who want to look rational. That doesn’t bother me. I stand there with the rest of them saying hogwash when someone says they found evidence of aliens. However, it’s tons of fun to write fiction about a subject that eats at the subconscious and makes people fidget while trying not to mutter “maybe” in deep thought! And in writing about the future, I get to fantasize that there will be one. Oh, humans and their weaknesses. *clears throat* I’m talking about mine!
COUGAR’s werewolf hero was one I’d challenged myself to write. Not because of the movie that inspired me, but because of one actor’s eyes. Okay, don’t laugh. I know everyone is going to gasp “Skhye!” But I couldn’t help it. I had to go to the theater to see REIGN OF FIRE twice. Most people probably didn’t go once when reviewers joked every theater during that summer would be filled with teenage males to see that film. Uh, I said I was there twice. I made my teenage nephews go with me to look like I wasn’t going for myself. Really. But I loved it. I had to go twice! Remember, I love futuristics and gloom and doom.
Then there’s the sweaty-muscle factor with ashes smeared everywhere. That bumped up the movie to a must-possess for the home library. But, to explain Jackal, McConaughey’s character had these eyes that just floored me when I pulled the movie out from where it was buried long ago, popped it in my DVD player to watch while riding my elliptical machine, and noticed all the emotion in his eyes. I don’t recall seeing it in NATIONAL TREASURE or other flicks he’d been in. So, I became obsessed with these eyes…And watched the movie every day for a very long time. Don’t ask. My husband thought I was insane. I just smiled and said I was researching the way the dragons moved. No lie. I have a post-apocalyptic with dragons halfway finished. Back to my point…So, Jackal is my first attempt at applying this strange analysis in a writing. The eyes definitely have it in COUGAR’s origins. And another WERESCAPE (book 3) with the same emphasis on the hero’s eyes but a different twist on how characters perceive him just released, BEAUTY & THE BRUTE (Read Ch. 1 ).
So, now you know way too much about me. *evil cackle* Everyone should be warned that these Werescape heroes have sex in their Wolfskins on occasion. Um, oh, well…It happened. I didn’t plan it. And COUGAR’s tough heroine uses it to her advantage against a man who grates on her nerves. But I worried about that sex scene not working for NCP. So, I sent it to my friend, another NCP author who encouraged me to submit FERAL FASCINATIONS to NCP because of the whole “blood fucker” Feral theme. She said Andrea DePasture would love that term. Well, my friend was right. I decided to ask for her slant on the heroine and hero in his Wolfskin sex scene. All she talks about now is getting big hairy wolf cock. I’m sorry. That’s so crude but sheds light on story theme and heat with COUGAR. And a reviewer saw that somewhere online and PUT IT IN A REVIEW at Night Owl Reviews. Well, COUGAR did earn a NOR Top Pick!
Thank you again, Adriana, for sharing your little slice of pie with me. I hope this post helps and inspires many authors! For loads of posts on SHOW DON’T TELL, other posts on the craft of writing–including world building, guest authors sharing references they used to write their books, or to peruse my Reference Book posts from everything I read in graduate school to things I’ve read to research my various fantasy/paranormal series, visit Skhye’s Ramblings: OTHER WORLDS & REALITIES. And don’t think that Google isn’t the place to research. Even Stormtroopers have been caught in the act. The links to where you can find me online (Twitter, Facebook, my website, my yahoo-group newsletter, etc.) are all there! ~