The Incomplete Nature of Writing: A Guest Post with Author Mary Maddox
Welcome to another exciting tour with Novel Publicity. Today we have a guest post with the author! In this guest post, we take a closer look at Mary's writing process. Be prepared for weird, quirky and fun guest post from the author we just had to invite back for the last day of their tour!
Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post. It has some unique and super fun prizes including a photo essay book, gift card and signed books! There's also a release week sale on, so grab your copy of Darkroom before the price goes up!
From Author Mary Maddox:
Anything I say about my writing process will be incomplete since it doesn’t follow a predictable pattern. But there are some things that I typically do when I write.
I often experience a moment when a story comes to me in its entirety, a flash of inspiration with a strong emotional component. In that moment I experience the story and understand its meaning. The story is complete and perfect. What I eventually write falls short of that perfection. Inevitably. In T.S. Elliot’s famous words, “Between the conception / And the creation . . . Falls the Shadow.” But some stories are less overshadowed by my limitations than others.
A long time ago I wrote a short story about a woman who falls in love with her parakeet. From the beginning, I knew the last line would be “Daniele would love Yubi as long as she lived.” I began the story with Daniele's brother giving her the bird as an unwanted gift and simply aimed toward the last line. It felt easy. (“Yubi: A Love Story” is available as a free download here.)
My fiction isn't always conceived in a magic moment. For my horror novel Daemon Seer I set out with only a goal, to write a sequel to Talion. And Talion began as a story about the friendship of two very different teenage girls. The serial killer's role was to unite them against a common enemy, but somewhere along the way the son of a bitch highjacked my story.
Since Daemon Seer ends with a cliffhanger, I pretty much have to write a follow-up. Fortunately, Daemon Blood came to me in a flash of inspiration. I'm in the middle of the first draft now.
Before I can write, I have to discover the story's tone. Sometimes this requires reworking a paragraph several times. This part of my process contradicts the advice of writing gurus who advise never, ever stopping to revise a first draft. But I can't help it. I can't continue until the prose sounds right. Once it does, I move ahead at a decent clip. And sometimes tone isn't an issue since I have it right from the start.
I outline my novels, for all the good it does. An outline is like a rough map of uncharted territory. You begin the journey and discover there's no path where the map clearly indicates there should be a path. Instead, you spot something off to the west that might possibly be a path. So you head that way instead, trusting that it eventually leads where you need to go. No matter how elaborately I plan, I come to a place where I have to trust my sense of direction.
Occasionally characters refuse to go along with my plans for them. In Darkroom, bartender Nina Ivan gets drugged and raped at her place of work. There's a scene in which the protagonist, Kelly Durrell, persuades Nina to report the rape to the police. That's how I imagined the scene anyway. By then I was working on a later draft of the novel. In earlier versions Nina was a much less important character and I hadn't thought much about her background or motivation. I didn't really know who she was.
While writing the persuasion scene, I reached a point where I got stuck. I couldn't figure out why. The dialogue wasn't coming and dialogue is usually easy for me. I stopped in frustration. When I came back to the scene the next day, I understood. No way was Nina going the police. She isn't that kind of character. I wrote the scene her way and altered the story to accommodate her. Everything worked out.
It usually does.
About the Books
There’s plenty of room for another grave in the mountains . . .
Talented but unstable photographer Day Randall has been living rent-free in Kelly Durrell’s Colorado condo for eight months. Day needs someone to keep an eye on her. Kelly needs someone to draw her out of her stable but not spectacular life. The arrangement works for both of them.
Then Kelly comes home one day to find Day gone. There’s no note, no phone call. Day’s car is still parked out front, but her room is starkly, suspiciously spotless.
No one seems to care. The police certainly aren’t interested in a missing bipolar artist, but Kelly knows something is wrong. Day wouldn’t just leave.
Alone, Kelly traces Day’s last steps through shadowy back rooms of Boulder nightclubs and to a remote mountain estate, where the wealthy protect themselves behind electric fences and armed guards. Along the way, she uncovers a sinister underworld lying just below the mountain snow, and a group of powerful people who will do anything to protect the secrets hidden in Day’s enigmatic photographs.
If she trusts the wrong person, Kelly herself will be the next to disappear.
“. . . tight, compelling, and convincing writing that is also witty and insightful.”
— Jon A. Jackson, author of Hit on the House and No Man’s Dog
“I couldn’t put this novel down. Darkroom is suspenseful and beautifully written. Kelly Durrell is a deftly-drawn, intelligent, and likable heroine.”
— Daiva Markelis, author of White Field, Black Sheep: A Lithuanian-American Life
“. . . unexpected plot twists and suspenseful action. The murder mystery is dark and menacing, and the characters are multi-faceted.”
— RT Source
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Mary Maddox is a horror and dark fantasy novelist with what The Charleston Times-Courier calls a “Ray Bradbury-like gift for deft, deep-shadowed description.” Born in Soldiers Summit, high in the mountains of Utah, Maddox graduated with honors in creative writing from Knox College, and went on to earn an MFA from the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop. She taught writing at Eastern Illinois University and has published stories in various journals, including Yellow Silk, Farmer's Market, The Scream Online, and The Huffington Post. The Illinois Arts Council has honored her fiction with a Literary Award and an Artist's Grant.
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