Catherine, what scene was really hard for you to write and why, and is that the one of which you are most proud? Or is there another scene you particularly love?
The hardest scenes to write, for me, are the ones with lots of characters. I sometimes wonder if authors with film and theater backgrounds are better at this kind of thing, because they have some experience thinking about blocking. I have crucial, climactic scenes involving five or six characters at a time, I need everybody to be involved and have their moment, but bringing it all together just takes forever. Action scenes with a number of characters are particularly difficult because you also need to give the impression that it is all happening very quickly. I love my characters, but there are moments when I’m moving them around like chess pieces and grumblingly thinking, “I should have killed a few more of you off.”
I suppose that when I do finally get a scene like that right, I’m proud of it, but they are rarely the scenes I love the most. My favorite scenes are the Big Relationship Moments between two characters. In this book, my favorite scenes probably involve Julia and her brother Dek, and Julia with her sometimes-enemy-sometimes-sort-of-ally-or-is-she-really? Pia. A scene with a bath-tub, in particular. Also Julia piecing together a broken mud-woman with whom she has a fraught relationship. There are a bunch of scenes I really like and am proud of in this book, and they are all one-on-one scenes.
How long did you work on JULIA UNBOUND?
Technically, I worked on JULIA UNBOUND for about a year. But it’s hard to measure, because I never work on one thing straight through – I write a draft, and then I take a break from it to either revise the previous thing or start drafting the next thing. I always have at least two projects on the go and something else on the back-burner. Working on something completely different allows me to go back to my draft with fresh eyes. But if I add it all up I’d say it was somewhere between 8 and 12 months total.
What's your writing ritual like? Do you listen to music? Work at home or at a coffee shop or the library, etc?
My ideal writing situation involves first taking a walk to get my mind back in the story, and then silence, dark chocolate, and coffee. I work happily at home or in cafés. Silence and solitude were luxuries when my children were small; my “ritual” back then was just to grab whatever time I could get, type fast, and hope it didn’t suck. Then I’d look at it the next time I had half an hour to spare. If it sucked, I’d delete it and try again. If it didn’t suck, I’d tinker with it ‘til I liked it, and then I’d move on. It worked, sort of, but getting to the end of anything obviously took a very long time.
My kids got a bit older and I got spoiled, perfecting a ritual that made me very happy. Then we got pet rats. (They are great pets! Really!). Now, I write in what has become “the rat room” while our fuzzy critters climb all over me and try to get at my coffee. It isn’t ideal, I guess, but it’s taught me to work through distraction all over again.
ABOUT THE BOOKJulia Unbound
by Catherine Egan
Knopf Books for Young Readers
Julia has been ensnared in so many different webs, it's hard to see how she'll ever break free. She must do Casimir's bidding in order to save the life of her brother. She must work against Casimir to save the lives of most everyone else she knows.
Casimir demands that Julia use her vanishing skills to act as a spy at court and ensure that a malleable prince is installed on the throne of Frayne. But Julia is secretly acting as a double agent, passing information to the revolutionaries and witches who want a rebel princess to rule.
Beyond these deadly entanglements, Julia is also desperately seeking the truth about herself: How is it she can vanish? Is she some form of monster? Is her life her own?
With every move she makes, Julia finds herself tangled ever tighter. Should she try to save her country? Her brother? A beloved child? Can she even save herself?
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ABOUT THE AUTHORcatherineegan.com and follow her on Twitter at @ByCatherineEgan.
Have you had a chance to read JULIA UNBOUND yet? How do you handle the blocking of multiple characters? Do you work on multiple projects at one time? Share your thoughts about the interview in the comments!
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