Sunday, February 7, 2016

0 Diane Duane, author of GAMES WIZARDS PLAY, on never being afraid that you won’t be original enough

GAMES WIZARDS PLAY is the latest novel in the Young Wizards series, and we're thrilled to have Diane Duane with us to chat about writing.

Diane, what's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?

I do love to work away from home when I can, and some of my favorite books have been written that way. I’ve written a Spider-Man novel in a Bavarian country beer hall and an X-Men book in a medieval townhouse in Bruges, and I’ve outlined a Star Trek novel in a flat buried inside the walls of a Scottish castle. My all-time record daily word count (13,000 words and a bit) happened when I was writing in a chocolatier/cafe in the Swiss capital city of Bern, while I was working on the fantasy novel A Wind from the South. …But I also get good results at home, which is probably just as well, as that way I get to see my husband a lot more. (Of course he has his own writing to do too, so when we're not working at home, sometimes we wind up in the same city but different cafes…)

Generally speaking I don’t listen to music when I’m writing, these days, because I find it interferes with me clearly hearing character voices when creating dialogue. I do listen to it, though, when writing action scenes or when I need to get myself into the mood to do a particular kind of emotionally loaded scene.

In terms of ritual, the only one I’ve got is that I do my best to write something every day, whether it’s contracted work or one of the too-many-other-projects presently choking my to-do list. A good day’s writing for me varies widely in terms of word count: it might be as few as a thousand words or as many as ten, but about four thousand would be average — a couple thousand in the morning, a couple thousand in the afternoon/evening. For screen work, since for me that's much harder work than prose, ten pages of screenplay would be a good day. Either way, I alternate between composing at the computer via keyboard, or dictating using Dragon Naturally Speaking (sometimes I do this while out walking).

What advice would you most like to pass along to other writers?

Never be afraid that you won’t be original enough. At one level, it’s simply impossible for you not to be original. You occupy a unique position in spacetime. By definition, no one else can be right where you are, right when you are, with your unique worldview, your outlook, your developmental history, your “tone of mind”, your reading and writing history. But more to the point, our craft is such that you could give two writers exactly the same idea for a novel and turn them loose to write, and their works would still be significantly different and unique. (In fact I’m betting that you could give two writers the same outline for a novel and each work would still be radically different.) …If you’ve honestly done your homework—if you’re clear about what you want to be writing and what effect you mean to produce—your voice, and your writing’s uniqueness, will inevitably show through. Just concentrate on telling your story.

What are you working on now?

The sequel to GWP (still untitled), the fourth and final book in my first fantasy series (The Door Into Starlight), a third book that unfortunately I can’t talk about, and a miniseries screenplay (ditto).


Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane
HMH Books for Young Readers
Released 2/2/2016

Every eleven years, Earth's senior wizards hold the Invitational: an intensive three-week event where the planet's newest, sharpest young wizards show off their best and hottest spells. Wizardly partners Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan, and Nita's sister, former wizard-prodigy Dairine Callahan, are drafted in to mentor two brilliant and difficult cases: for Nita and Kit, there’s Penn Shao-Feng, a would-be sun technician with a dangerous new take on managing solar weather; and for Dairine, there's shy young Mehrnaz Farrahi, an Iranian wizard-girl trying to specialize in defusing earthquakes while struggling with a toxic extended wizardly family that demands she perform to their expectations. 

Together they're plunged into a whirlwind of cutthroat competition and ruthless judging. Penn's egotistical attitude toward his mentors complicates matters as the pair tries to negotiate their burgeoning romance. Meanwhile, Dairine struggles to stabilize her hero-worshipping, insecure protégée against the interference of powerful relatives using her to further their own tangled agendas. When both candidates make it through to the finals stage on the dark side of the Moon, they and their mentors are flung into a final conflict that could change the solar system for the better . . . or damage Earth beyond even wizardly repair.

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Diane Duane has been a writer of science fiction, fantasy, TV and film for more than thirty years.
Besides the 1980's creation of the Young Wizards fantasy series for which she's best known, the "Middle Kingdoms" epic fantasy series, and numerous stand-alone fantasy or science fiction novels, her career has included extensive work in the Star Trek TM universe, and many scripts for live-action and animated TV series on both sides of the Atlantic, as well as work in comics and computer games. She has spent a fair amount of time on the New York Times Bestseller List, and has picked up various awards and award nominations here and there.

She lives in County Wicklow, in Ireland, with her husband of twenty years, the screenwriter and novelist Peter Morwood.

Her favorite color is blue, her favorite food is a weird kind of Swiss scrambled-potato dish called maluns, she was born in a Year of the Dragon, and her sign is "Runway 24 Left, Hold For Clearance."
Have you had a chance to read GAMES WIZARDS PLAY yet? How fun does it sound to write in all those exotic places? Do you make sure to tell your story in your voice? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!

Happy reading,

Jocelyn, Shelly, Martina, Erin, Susan, Sam, Lindsey, Sarah, Sandra, Kristin, and Anisaa

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