WELCOME BACK TO THE WRITER’S ALLEY AUTHOR SPOTLIGHT SERIES. TODAY WE ARE JOINED BY THE AMAZING R.F. HURTEAU, AUTHOR OF ANTIQUITY’S GATE, BOOK 1 OF ITS SERIES.
1. Does writing energize or exhaust you?
I’ve heard people talk about the boost they get from a nice big cup of coffee—I don’t experience that because I drink entirely too much of it to feel any effect. But I like to imagine that the buzz I get from writing is that same sort of feeling. After a long session I’m too excited to go to bed or relax. So it most definitely energizes me!
2. What are common traps for aspiring writers?
Rushing the process. It doesn’t have to take years to write a book, but if it does, if that’s what it needed to be the best version of itself, then that’s what it needed! Some people are quick, some are slow, none of them are doing anything wrong…but no matter how fast you can produce a story, it takes time to edit, revise, get feedback. The urge to get to the finish line is a strong pull and with our options it’s easy to skip steps sometimes. Take it from someone who has to learn everything the hard way—Do it right. Give your story the effort it deserves!
3. What is your writing Kryptonite?
My children! They’re obviously my first priority, and just as obviously the reason I don’t always get to sit down and write when I’d intended to! But somehow we make it work.
4. Do you try more to be original or to deliver to readers what they want?
I try to balance the two. The things I love about the stories that are dear to me aren’t always original, but because I love them they are familiar and comforting. The ideas, tropes, events that have moved me to tears or lingered with me long after the story ends, those are the ones that stay close to my heart. I don’t want to just regurgitate someone else’s story, but I do want to take the my favorite bits of things and spin them into my own creation. That’s the beautiful thing about writing. A hundred people can look at the same prompt and write a hundred different stories from it. Every stimuli we come across, whether from books, TV, or everyday life, has the potential to be transformed into the focal point of a “What if…?” question. Speaking of questions, did I even get around to answering this one? I think so. Maybe.
5. Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of work with connections between each book?
Antiquity’s Gate is definitely a series very dependent on each of the books working together to build the big picture. Don’t get me wrong, they each tell a complete story with a beginning, a middle, and an ending. But I don’t think the later books pack quite as much punch as intended if someone were to read them out of context.
6. As a writer, what would you choose as your mascot/avatar/spirit animal?
Totoro. He gets me.
7. What kind of research do you do, and how long do you spend researching before beginning a book?
I don’t research much BEFORE writing, I research as the process calls for it. The vast majority of my world-building is me wondering if something is just plausible enough to be believable. That results in hours spent researching all kinds of topics (you writers know what I’m talking about, the kind of stuff that lands you on a no-fly list somewhere.) It’s neat when I run into things I “thought up” and discover that something similar is actually in the works! Anyway, I don’t want to disrespect the science part of science fiction, so I definitely try to be within the realm of possibility…for the most part. There’s always that one outrageous piece of tech, you know? The other research is a lot of that stuff I learned in school that I thought I’d never use. If the population was cut down by x amount and it’s y years later and they are living in a city of domes with z amount of livable space what’s a realistic number of inhabitants? If x is racing down a maglev track in a stolen vehicle at y kpm and a train leaves the station heading in his direction at 9:18am at what time will he be flattened into a pancake…that sort of thing!
8. How do you select the names of your characters?
Most of the time they just come to me. Like magic! Haha. If they don’t, I text my husband something vague like “need name. Jerk. Likes bright socks and hates Tuesdays.” Then he texts me back a name and boom, there it is.
9. Do you hide any secrets in your books that only a few people will find?
Ohhhh yes. This is quite possibly my absolute favorite part of reading and writing. Easter Eggs. Replay value. Finding things in a story the third, fourth, fifth time I read it. I don’t reread too many books that many times—there are too many books I want to read the first time! But those I do are those I really love. And I so appreciate the nuance and tiny details the author placed there, like a love letter to us super fans to find tucked in the pages years later. My books have a lot of love tucked in for those who wish to find it. Things that don’t come in to play until much later, perhaps forgotten & then discovered anew! Perhaps not. J
10. What is the most difficult part of your artistic process?
Transitioning from one project to the next. Even between books in a series there’s something hard about letting go. When I finish the whole thing I’ll probably have to go through a traditional mourning period of some sort. Better buy some black slacks that fit. Or can you mourn properly in yoga pants?
11. How long on average does it take you to write a book?
To take a page out of Bilbo Baggins’ book… I don’t write half of them half as fast as I should like, and I write less than half of them half as fast as they deserve. Take from that what you will!
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