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Brittany Hughes graduated from the University of Washington with a Bachelor's degree in Creative Writing, and subsequently earned a Masters in Teaching. She recently spent two years living in the Midwest, a landscape that inspired the setting of her novel, "Breaking Clay." ... [more]

As a kid, A.L. Torres fell in love with fantastic stories of worlds beyond our own such as "Animal Farm," "On the Beach" and "Metamorphosis." More recently, he's added "The Giver," "The Road" and "Hunger Games" as some of his favorites, ... [more]

Robert Steedman is a proud native New Yorker, receiving his B.A. in Art History from State University of New York at Geneseo and an M.S. Ed. in Art Education from Nazareth College. His first YA manuscript, FALLING, took First Place ... [more]


Janet Zupan earned her M.F.A. from the University of Montana in 1996. Her work appears in the collection, MONTANA WOMEN WRITERS: A GEOGRAPHY OF THE HEART (Far Country) ... [more]


           




• The Six Act Two-Goal Novel

• Maximizing Opps For Verve

• A Dose of Antagonism

• Guide to Best Comparables

• Crossing the Epiphany Line

• Novel Coverage Counts

• Storyboarding Scenes

• Sympathy Factors in Hook

• Third Person Point of View






Algonkian Emerging Author Interviews            More Emerging Author Interviews

A Talk With Chance Maree About Her Writing Life and Novel

TITLE:  DARK MATTER TIDING
GENRE:  Science Fiction
COMPS:  Working on it!
WORDS:  75,000+

There once was a young man, fiery by Sicilian and Cherokee blood, who served in the U.S. Marines and then won the love of the woman he most desired. He and this tall, blonde-haired, blue-eyed German beauty renounced their scrabble upbringing, that concrete box of city life--lured instead by country roads, nature's serenades, and untrimmed pastures. To their daughter, Chance, they offered arm loads of books from the library every Sunday, a college education, and the certainty that if she worked hard enough, dreams would become real. Accustomed as she grew through literary travels, the daughter fled rural serenity to taste the complex textures of cities, work in executive positions for high-tech companies, earn a Master's degree, and travel the world.


I tend to explain the world through stories and I love novels that succeed in blurring reality and illusion, especially if the ending enlightens and surprises. In DARK MATTER TIDING, a puzzle is presented that allows for multiple interpretations. At its core--and my interests tend to have philosophical issues at heart--the plot presents an explanation for the increasing lack of empathy and general darkness rising within humanity. The difficulty, of course, exists for the tender few with hearts light enough to peer into the darkness.

- Chance Maree


A: Tell us something about yourself as it relates to your writing life. Also, what inspired you to begin the novel?

During my quest to become a better writer, I often toyed with the idea of pursuing an MFA. However, after a bit of research, and considering I already have one Master's degree, I decided against a traditional program in favor of intensive self-study. Beginning in 1999, I wrote short stories, attended writers' workshops and seminars, poured through How-to books, and of course, read extensively. In 2009, inspired by Donald Maass's WRITING THE BREAKOUT NOVEL, I undertook the writing of a tome. By 2011, ALEXIOS BEFORE DYING was published, and I was hooked. The following year, while continuing to hone the writer's craft, I published UNDAZZLED. The reviews for both novels encouraged further effort. For my third novel, I turned to a screen play I'd written which won an award. Thanks to Algonkian's novel writing program, DARK MATTER TIDING has evolved well beyond the screenplay into a tale that I hope will be my breakout novel.

A: Who are you reading now? Which authors and novels have been an inspiration to you, and why?

Ever since I began writing novels, while continuing to work full time, I manage to read around 50 books a year. The most recent works I've enjoyed are MEMOIRS OF HADRIAN by Marguerite Yourcenar, Angela Carter's THE BLOODY CHAMBER AND OTHER STORIES, Sherwood Anderson'S WINESBERG OHIO, and THE KING OF ELFAND'S DAUGHTER by Lord Dunsany. I'm finishing up FIGHT CLUB by Chuck Palahniuk, MONEY by Martin Amis; and PARALLEL WORLDS: A JOURNEY THROUGH CREATION by Michio Kaku.

I've been inspired by many authors over the years—choosing a few to mention here will provide only a glimpse of my favorites. Off the top of my head, the classics are: Shakespeare, Virginia Woolf, Ken Kesey, China Miéville, Roberto Bolaño, Cormac McCarthy, David Foster Wallace, Isaac Asimov, Eco Umberto, Milan Kundera, Mark Twain ... The list goes on. Generally, my favorite authors are those who can turn out exquisite prose while articulating mind-altering insight. Likely upcoming favorites include Neal Shusterman, Hillary Jordan, Chris Wooding, Louise Erdrich, Genevieve Valentine, Wayne Barlowe, and Hannu Rajaniemi.

A: Can you tell us about your novel?

DARK MATTER TIDING is a science fiction novel about Camera Hence, a woman struggling with guilt who discovers her brother has been cursed with a condition in which he is severely maimed, and yet he can neither heal or die. As Camera seeks an end to her brother's suffering, she learns that a far greater crisis looms, for the Solar System has finally rotated outside the protective arm of the Milky Way and has entered a region of dark matter. At the brink of this cosmological calamity, Camera struggles to distinguish between truth and self-delusion, and between enemies and friends.

A: What gives you a passion for this story and why are you the one who needs to tell it?

I tend to explain the world through stories and I love novels that succeed in blurring reality and illusion, especially if the ending enlightens and surprises. In DARK MATTER TIDING, a puzzle is presented that allows for multiple interpretations. At its core--and my interests tend to have philosophical issues at heart--the plot presents an explanation for the increasing lack of empathy and general darkness rising within humanity. The difficulty, of course, exists for the tender few with hearts light enough to peer into the darkness.

A: What have you found to be your biggest challenges to writing a successful commercial novel?

I strive to master both the art and craft of novel writing. I wish to pen words that inspire the reader's imagination, provoke profound questions, and inspire insight. The challenge has been maintaining patience and perseverance, which is required for mastery of any form. It is my hope that commercial success will come with ripe imagination and artistic quality.

A: Is there any particular facet of the Algonkian novel writing program that has helped you more than any other? If so, why?

Algonkian's writing program modules have strengthened my novel. The most surprising was the section concerning the antagonist. I realized the character I'd identified as the antagonist was insufficiently dimensional. He was mostly off-stage, and questions pertaining to his actions and motivation revealed his lack of importance. I could have created content, but strangely enough, he was not a pivotal point. After second and third thoughts, I identified the true villain. Once I worked through the assignment, she became a fascinating creature intimately related to the theme.

Another assignment was to describe the history of a setting. I chose the novel's Texas ranch, which had been merely a literary device. After researching and considering this locale, I found it to have a rich component that added depth to the story. The discovery was thrilling.

A similar event occurred during the assignment regarding the protagonist's back story; I stumbled upon a scene that now plays a lynch pin role in the creation of a new, intriguing theme. The program's sequence, explanatory text, and assignments earned my trust early on, and I believe my novel has evolved immensely due to this strategy.

A: What bit of advice can you give to other aspiring authors just getting started?

I'll offer an observation. I consider myself a serious reader, and I interact online with readers whose analysis, insight and eloquent book reviews are often quite amazing. Being among bibliophiles is humbling and rewarding. However, they can be harsh on authors, especially those who enter social sites hawking their books with the same aggression and lack of awareness as telemarketers. Readers are savvy enough to know when an author contacts them only to sell a novel. With swarms of new writers out there, especially those who haven't read enough to know that their novel is not all that good or novel, readers are inundated with review requests that quickly lead to them swatting the authors away like annoying flies. Seeing authors become talking billboard ads cannot be helpful. Readers, being real people, respond much better to authors, being real people. The process of finding a good book to read is often like discovering a gemstone. I think authors are best set at polishing their gems rather than hawking their dull pencils on every street corner.



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