Ien Nivens




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Ien Nivens

Goodreads Author


Born
Enid, OK
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Member Since
September 2010


I am the author of Tangible Angels, an American Gothic novel about a girl who believes she has conjured a lost boy from the storm sewer system of her home town, and The American Book of Changes, a re-interpretation of the ancient Chinese divination system known as the I Ching. I am also the Eldritch Editor at Cosmic Roots and Eldritch Shores an online speculative fiction magazine.

I live in a former textile mill in the Berkshire Mountains of Western Massachusetts with my wife, the quilt artist Michelle Jensen and an under-employed cat named Barnaby.

Connect with me on Facebook (where you're most likely to find me hanging out at Fantasy & Science Fiction Writers in America), Goodreads, Twitter, Google+, and on Pinterest (at The American Bo
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Ien Nivens First, I reserve my mornings for writing and try to stick to a schedule and a quota. The most important thing is to get my fingers on the keyboard or…moreFirst, I reserve my mornings for writing and try to stick to a schedule and a quota. The most important thing is to get my fingers on the keyboard or wrapped around a pen.

When nothing else works, I write in the style of My Little Red Book. "See the girl with the big hair. Watch her walk in her high heels. Click, click, click. See the man in the pinstripe suit. He watches the woman walk by. Why is he watching her so closely? Maybe he knows her. Look at him check his watch. What is he thinking? What time is it?"

This does several things for me. It forces me to think in sense images and to focus on the physical activity of a scene. It also allows me to ask questions I may want to answer later, when I edit, which I will surely do. Because this kind of writing is so dull, I know I can't let it stand. That's the beauty of it. Deliberately bad writing lets the internal editor know that he's going to be needed...later, so he allows me to get the scene laid out without trying to fine tune every sentence as I write it.(less)
Ien Nivens It's the people I work with.

Questions about the self--what it is, how it is formed--fascinate me. Fiction is the art of creating selves. We may draw…more
It's the people I work with.

Questions about the self--what it is, how it is formed--fascinate me. Fiction is the art of creating selves. We may draw from life, using as our models other people we have known, or sometimes characters from other people’s fictions (with the serial numbers filed off), or we may build our fictional selves from the raw material of personal experience, creating more or less autobiographical children through whom we can live more dangerously and authentically than we do in the world where we have to hold down a day job.

More often than not, and consciously or not, a character derives from a recombination of elements drawn from multiple sources. My own characters tend to begin their journeys as imperfect imitations of people I know. I may base a physical description on a friend or acquaintance or borrow an outlook, a behavioral quirk, a personality trait or some part of the context in which I know the person, then build additions onto or fences around that snippet of real life. Exaggeration is part of the process. The character never remains recognizable for long. (I admire good biography but I have never aspired to write it.)

Character and situation are, to my mind, inseparable. I can’t make heads or tails of the debate over whether fiction ought to be character- or plot-driven. Plots are maps, and of course maps don’t drive anything. So I think the real question is whether, or to what extent, the writer ought to direct the action of a story or follow the lead of one or more of the characters in it. Tight control over the events of a story is important to some writers; others bring a more laissez faire approach to the craft. I tend to plot as I go, attempting to predict the behavior of my characters from one chapter to the next. Occasionally they surprise me and do what I think they’ll do, but my powers of persuasion are at their best when I work a kind of reverse psychology on them. “Don’t do that!” I warn them, and so they do, because terrible parenting makes good fiction.

So yes, characters drive my stories. And yes, I provide maps, gps coordinates, road signs and the occasional Associate Manager at a drive-up window who, when asked for directions, affects an ironic grin and says, in an accent that doesn’t go with her features, “I just work here,” then hands them the wrong change. Because, as nearly as I can tell, that’s the way life goes. Plans unravel, lanes merge, the blue line that looked like a county highway turns out to be the border between two new republics with names you can’t pronounce, and suddenly, you’re playing laser tag in a war zone.(less)
Average rating: 4.17 · 6 ratings · 4 reviews · 3 distinct works
Tangible Angels

really liked it 4.00 avg rating — 5 ratings — published 2015 — 2 editions
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The American Book of Change...

0.00 avg rating — 0 ratings — published 2014
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Tinna's Might

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it was amazing 5.00 avg rating — 4 ratings — published 2012 — 5 editions
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Ien Nivens is on page 29 of 176 of How to Write a Sentence: I am re-reading How to Write a Sentence.
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Storming by K.M. Weiland
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Michelle and I take turns reading to each other, usually at night just before bed. Our reading tastes don’t always line up perfectly, but there’s enough overlap that we rarely have a problem finding a story we’ll both enjoy. It’s rare, however, that ...more
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