Colleen Houck Book Club discussion

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Past Chats > Live Chat With Rysa Walker

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message 1: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Welcome to the group! Rysa will be answering questions on Thursday, March 31st in this thread only. In the meantime if you have a question for the author or just want to introduce yourself feel free to do so in this thread.


message 2: by Miranda (new)

Miranda (moodreaderdiary) | 26 comments I just read the summary for Timebound. I love time travel stories! I'm so excited to start reading this series! What was your favorite part of writing this book?


message 3: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Miranda (MirandasBookBlog) wrote: "I just read the summary for Timebound. I love time travel stories! I'm so excited to start reading this series! What was your favorite part of writing this book?"

Hi, Miranda! Apologies for the delay -- I didn't see this. I've been deep in the Writing Cave for the past few months, however, so I'm guessing there are a lot of things I've missed. :)

I have a lot of favorite things with the CHRONOS Files. and especially Timebound. The historical research was a blast, because there's so much fascinating stuff out there on the Chicago World's Fair and H. H. Holmes. But I guess my favorite thing, since Timebound was my debut novel, was the experience of watching these characters grow from vague ideas in my head to friends that I was very sad to say goodbye to when the series ended.


message 4: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Halbrooks (JohannaHalbrooks) | 12 comments Hi. I'm a huge fan!!! How do you pick your characters names??


message 5: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Jrose wrote: "Hi. I'm a huge fan!!! How do you pick your characters names??"

Hi, Jrose! So glad that you've enjoyed the series!

Character names are really a mixed bag for me. Most of the characters in The CHRONOS Files came with their names attached. Kate was Prudence Katherine Pierce-Keller from day one. I remember a little back and forth on Trey, and Connor had a different name in the early chapters of the first draft, although I can't for the life of me remember what it was.

Peripheral characters sometimes get a name change, but the core characters always seem to pop into my head fully formed. In my new series, The Delphi Project, only one key character had a name change, and he actually had three. But that's because it took me a while to figure out exactly who he was and what he was up to. :)


message 6: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
It must be super hard to keep track of everything especially when the characters leap around through time like they do. How do you do it?


message 7: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Will we learn more about Kiernan's original Kate?


message 8: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Can you tell us a bit more about the Cyrists? I noticed in book three that some of the time travelers think its best to let them continue to exist.


message 9: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Who are some of your favorite authors?


message 10: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
What genres do you like to read?


message 11: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "It must be super hard to keep track of everything especially when the characters leap around through time like they do. How do you do it?"

I kept some notes, but mostly it was in my head--which meant that my head was a bit of a mess by the time the series wrapped up. ;) I think writing the three novellas actually helped in that regard, since they allowed me to dig a bit deeper into some other timelines and focus on what happened when, where, and to which version of a character.


message 12: by Rysa (last edited Mar 07, 2016 03:42PM) (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "Will we learn more about Kiernan's original Kate?"

An older version of "Other-Kate" will actually be making an appearance in an upcoming CHRONOS short story, which will be part of the CLONES Anthology. (***) There are several short stories out there that have been published in sci-fi anthologies, and I'll probably end up collecting them into a single volume, along with the novellas, at some point.

She'll also play a role in an upcoming graphic novel series that debuts this summer. I can't say much about that officially for another month or so, but I will say that I jokingly refer to it as CHRONOS: The Next Generation. So I'll let readers make of that what they will.

**Editing this, because I've had to change tracks for the CLONES Anthology. The originally planned Other-Kate story has been bumped because it's just too complicated for a standalone short. So I'm going with another Kiernan story, detailing his efforts to save Kate from H.H. Holmes. But Other-Kate should still show up in the graphic novel. :)


message 13: by Rysa (last edited Mar 03, 2016 05:41AM) (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "Can you tell us a bit more about the Cyrists? I noticed in book three that some of the time travelers think its best to let them continue to exist."

The Cyrists were born out of my own distrust of (most) televangelists and the long American history of religious hucksters. I'm talking about the churches that focus more on money and possessions, and how you can succeed if you just fork over some money to help their ministry buy a new jet, rather than feeding the poor and taking in the homeless. Someone I know calls these places Six Flags over Jesus, and I think that's a pretty good description. Seeing how easily some people *without* the benefit of time travel are able to accrue wealth and power made me wonder how much easier it would be if they could go back in time and toss a few miracle cures and prophecies into the mix.

Kate never quite reaches the point where she would prefer that the Cyrists continue to exist, but yes, there are members of the Fifth Column who feel that way. I guess this is tied into my own religious journey. I was raised in a fundamentalist religion, and even though I no longer embrace those specific beliefs, I know how important the traditions are for some members of my family. I firmly believe that one family member found the strength to combat alcoholism only because of his faith. And some aspects, such as certain songs, have a special place in my heart. I can easily see how people, even if they learned that the core of their religion was based on something they could no longer support, would still want to maintain some aspects of the faith, would want to *reform* the religion, rather than abandon it. So that's where I think the Reform Cyrists are coming from.


message 14: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "Who are some of your favorite authors?"

I'm a huge Stephen King fan, and have been since I was a teenager. He has an incredible talent for making his characters come alive, and that's the most important element in a good book, at least for me. I have a difficult time suspending disbelief if I don't accept the people in the story as real, so strong characters are doubly important in speculative fiction. I can't usually watch the movies made from his books, however--spewing arteries put me off my popcorn.

Other writers who immediately go to the top of my Kindle queue: JK Rowling, JD Horn, A.G. Riddle, Libba Bray, and a bunch of indie writers who contribute to the Future Chronicles series edited by Samuel Peralta.


message 15: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "What genres do you like to read?"

Pretty much anything in speculative fiction, both adult and older YA. If it could actually happen in this world, I'm less likely to pick it up. I'm the same way with reality TV. When I take the time out to escape, I want to to *really* escape. :)


message 16: by Sarah (new)

Sarah Warwick | 2 comments Hi
I love your books!
I've only read two of them how do you begin to write a story? What helps you get a great idea for a book
:)


message 17: by Rysa (last edited Mar 04, 2016 09:08AM) (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Sarah wrote: "Hi
I love your books!
I've only read two of them how do you begin to write a story? What helps you get a great idea for a book
:)"


Thanks for the question, Sarah--and I'm glad you're enjoying my work! It's actually different for every story. Timebound emerged gradually, although several of the characters (Kate, Katherine, Kiernan, Harry, Trey) were fully formed almost from the beginning. And once the main character is in my head, the process is more like uncovering the story in most cases. There are things that I don't know until the characters sees them occur, and I'm frequently a bit surprised at the way things turn out. If I try to force it, try to make the characters do what my conscious brain thinks they should do, I end up ripping those sections out.

That's been true with my current series, although music may have had a role in sparking the main characters in this case. The first scene with Anna, Molly, & Porter just sort of popped into my head when I was on the way back from driving the boys to school. I'm a night person by nature, and my brain is never fully awake until noon, so I think it's easier for music to affect my subconscious. I was listening to an OK-GO song, "Lately It's So Quiet," that compares the memory of someone who's gone away to being haunted. The very next song that came on was Coldplay's "42," with the lyric those who are dead are not dead, they're just living in my head, and wham...the first few chapters of The Delphi Effect were there. I actually quit writing Time's Edge for a few weeks to get those chapters written before the idea and the character faded.


message 18: by Colleen (last edited Mar 05, 2016 09:43PM) (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
I love the novella Time's Echo and that it takes us back to the first time Kiernan meets Kate. Were you always planning on writing novellas and what made you choose Kiernan's perspective?


message 19: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Rysa wrote: "She'll also play a role in an upcoming graphic novel series that debuts this summer. I can't say much about that officially for another month or so, but I will say that I jokingly refer to it as CHRONOS: The Next Generation. So I'll let readers make of that what they will. "

Wow a graphic novel? Very exciting! How did this come about? Will Skyscape be publishing it?


message 20: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Rysa wrote: "Colleen wrote: "What genres do you like to read?"

Pretty much anything in speculative fiction, both adult and older YA. If it could actually happen in this world, I'm less likely to pick it up. I'..."


I'm the same way. Contemporary is the last genre I'll pick up though I have admittedly read a few good ones.


message 21: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Your books are pretty heavy! How long does it take you on average to write one of your novels?


message 22: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Halbrooks (JohannaHalbrooks) | 12 comments When you want to bounce ideas off of someone who do you go to? Mine is always a family member but I was just curious as to who you would go to. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions. It means a lot :)


message 23: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "I love the novella Time's Echo and that it takes us back to the first time Kiernan meets Kate. Were you always planning on writing novellas and what made you choose Kiernan's perspe..."

The series was originally planned as three books and two novellas, and I always knew that they would be from Kiernan's perspective and from Prudence's (Time's Mirror) since they know key elements of the story that we can't really learn from Kate's point of view. My publisher, Skyscape, wasn't interested in the novellas, but they agreed to let me self-publish them, so it worked out great. The third novella, Simon Says, was written because Simon refused to get out of my head when I shifted gears to work on The Delphi Effect. So I decided to let him tell his side of the story...which was actually a lot of fun. :)


message 24: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "Rysa wrote: "She'll also play a role in an upcoming graphic novel series that debuts this summer. I can't say much about that officially for another month or so, but I will say that I jokingly refe..."

It will be with Jet City Comics. And yes, it's so exciting to watch the artwork as it develops. I'm really, really happy with the team they've put together.


message 25: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Jrose wrote: "When you want to bounce ideas off of someone who do you go to? Mine is always a family member but I was just curious as to who you would go to. Thank you for taking the time to answer my questions...."

I bounce *most* of my ideas off my husband, and he's definitely the go-to person if I have any science questions. He's my "alpha reader" and often gets sections of the book as they're in progress. But over the past few years I've assembled a team of beta readers whose opinions I really value. The draft of The Delphi Effect is currently in their capable hands, at the same time it being read by my developmental editor. That way, I can incorporate all of their feedback at the same time.


message 26: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Colleen wrote: "Your books are pretty heavy! How long does it take you on average to write one of your novels?"

The CHRONOS Files grew with each book. I was worried that my editor was going to ask me to trim Time's Divide since it was *way* over the target length, so I breathed a huge sigh of relief when she said the length was okay. And the amount of time really varies. I usually work sporadically on a book for a couple of months, letting ideas and characters sort of "steep" in my brain while I actively work on a short story, a novella, or something of that nature--because, you know, I've got plenty of time.

And then, with my deadline hanging over my head like a cartoon anvil, I freak out and do most of the writing in a two to three month stretch, fortified by gallons of coffee and the adrenaline that only true panic can provide. I am much more creative between the hours of midnight and dawn, so I become a suburban vampire, dropping my kids at school and then collapsing into bed for the better part of the daylight hours. My kids and husband have gotten used to this schedule and know the phone number of every restaurant that delivers. I plan to start earlier this time...but I've planned that every time, so they all just say, "Yeah, r-i-i-i-ght" and keep Red Dragon on speed-dial for the months when I'm in the Writing Cave.


message 27: by Miranda (new)

Miranda (moodreaderdiary) | 26 comments Hi Rysa!
Do you have any writing advice for someone struggling with dialogue?
Also what is your favorite POV as a writer? Is it the same for you as a reader?


message 28: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Miranda (MirandasBookBlog) wrote: "Hi Rysa!
Do you have any writing advice for someone struggling with dialogue?
Also what is your favorite POV as a writer? Is it the same for you as a reader?"


Hi, Miranda! The best dialogue advice I know is to *listen.* I was stuck in an airport for about twelve hours over the past week, and most of what I did was watch and listen. This is especially true for adults who write younger characters. If you don't have teens of your own, find some and lurk...but not so closely that they call security ;) Note especially the differences between individuals, and use those differences (accents, pet words, etc.) to keep your voices distinct. And be true to the voices in your head. Read your dialogue aloud. If it doesn't sound natural to you, then you need to revise.

My favorite POV is first person...and usually I write in present tense. This was something that I adopted purposefully in The CHRONOS Files beginning with Time's Echo (even though Timebound was not present tense), because time travel is already complicated enough in terms of what happens when. Allowing the reader to see events as they unfolded from Kate's perspective (and, in the novellas, from Kiernan and Pru) just made things easier and less clunky. I went back to first-person-past with Simon Says, however, since it's looking back on his experiences beginning with childhood, and I wanted Simon's snarky voice to make commentary throughout.

To me, first person makes it much easier to build nuanced characters--not just the protagonist, but also the other characters, because you're seeing them as she (or he) does. The downside is that it can be hard to handle complex plots from a single point of view. That's one reason I wrote the three novellas. Readers can follow the main story without the novellas, but they add a lot of detail and information from Kiernan, Prudence, and Simon--details that Kate couldn't know and therefore the reader couldn't experience from her POV.

I usually prefer first-person as a reader, too. It makes it easier for me to identify with the characters. But there are definitely exceptions. I love Stephen King's writing style, and he very rarely writes in first-person. He has such an incredible knack for writing deep POV in third person that it's like sailing from one mind into the next--and you still have the overall narrative thread tying it together. That's something all too often missing when writers try to pull in several different first person perspectives in a single work.


message 29: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments Mrslabraden wrote: "I loved your comments, especially about listening for dialogue and what you like about first person point of view. I'm a teacher, and my classes are working on understanding why authors do certain ..."

Please use anything that you think would help your classes! I'm also happy to answer questions from students here at Goodreads or in another forum. I also have a YouTube video that I put together for students on writing fiction with primary sources if you want to check it out--https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5AfuO.... As a former teacher, I'm a firm believer that anything that gets kids writing is great!


message 30: by Johanna (new)

Johanna Halbrooks (JohannaHalbrooks) | 12 comments How long do you think on a book idea before you start writing the first draft?


message 31: by Rysa (new)

Rysa Walker (rysawalker) | 15 comments It varies pretty widely, Johanna. I've got three or four ideas that are "gelling" right now, and I'll probably write at least three of them at some point. One of those ideas has been around for about five years, but I've been busy with other projects, and it will probably have to wait until I finish the Delphi trilogy. And Delphi itself had to sit in a "file drawer" for about three years, since my publisher wanted to get the CHRONOS books out first.

I'm also a "revise as you go" writer. The differences between first and final draft are very minimal, because I move things around and reshape the manuscript before I reach the end. I sometimes wish I *could* just write up rough drafts for some of the ideas I have floating around when I get them -- I know a few writers who can crank out a rough draft in less than a week while the idea is hot and then go back and polish it up later. But the one time I tried that it was the literary equivalent of soggy, day-old oatmeal. ;)


message 32: by Colleen (new)

Colleen Houck | 1525 comments Mod
Thank you all for joining the Rysa Walker chat! Our winner this month is Mrslabraden! Msg me your mailing address and don't forget to join next month's chat on my blog with Mel Salisbury as we talk about her book The Sin Eater's Daughter!


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