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Thursday, April 19, 2012

Celebrating with Julie Hayes

This week I'm celebrating 50,000 hits on my blog by giving away prizes and having friends over. Please welcome Julie Hayes.

I hear voices in my head.

No, I’m not daft or certifiable—at least no more than any other writer, I think. The voices that I hear are not the kind that tell me to do strange things or incite me to desperate acts, rather they belong to my characters, both those I know and those I’ve yet to meet. And I’ve learned something in over forty years of writing—when they speak, I listen!

Carrying paper and pencil or pen is wonderful advice for those moments when your characters begin to speak and you want to capture them for posterity. It’s all well and good to say oh, I’ll remember that, no problem, until  you’re sitting in front of your computer screen and your fingers are in place upon the keyboard and suddenly you’ve forgotten every single word you were sure you’d remember forever. As they talk, you should write, that much is just a given.

But sometimes you aren’t in a position to write—for example, while you’re driving, or when you’re showering (bathing isn’t quite so bad, at least you can take the paper and pen into the bathroom and write while you soak), or even when you’re having sex. So what do you do? If it’s just one line, you can keep repeating it to yourself until you’re in a position to write it down, and that can work. But what if it’s more than that?

I have a little trick for those moments. At least it works for me. I get a mental picture of the emotions involved, and capture them visually, imprinting them with the words, almost like a hot key. So that when I’m ready, I “press” the key, and then it comes out where I can capture it. If I let the character ramble before I’m ready, I find that I lose the words. But if I imprint them in this way, then they stay there, waiting for me to access them.

For example, last year my daughter and I went to see Inception at the theatre, the Leonardo di Caprio film. I wasn’t even sure at first that I wanted to see it, but she did  so I agreed to go. Before we went, I got to thinking about Leo and other films that I’ve seen him in over the years, including Total Eclipse (Leo and David Thewlis – totally hot! Kissing and nakedness, very delicious!), and I heard a voice speak to me.

“Did you know that Leonardo di Caprio is a vampire?”

Sounds like an odd beginning or introduction even for a character. But I thought what the heck, let’s listen. I realized that this was a new character, so I remembered the line, all through Inception. Afterwards, I decided to elaborate, as I drove home. First, I needed character names. In Inception, Cillian Murphy’s character’s name is Robert Fisher. He’s an important character, and his name stuck in my head, but I reversed it and changed it slightly. So Robert Fisher became Fisher Roberts. One character down, now for number two (I already knew this would be m/m, so I needed another male name). As I was driving, I scanned everything around me—billboards, businesses, vehicles, whatever—for the mate to Fisher Roberts. I saw an ad for hunting, and suddenly I had it—Hunter, who became Hunter Long.  It wasn’t til long after I began to write that I saw what I had inadvertently done – Fisher and Hunter. It might seem contrived to some, but it was totally accidental.

I knew nothing about these two guys, but I began to write, using that first line, and I kept writing until some 35k later, I was done. And that is how Leonardo di Caprio is a Vampire was born.

This isn’t the only time this has happened to me, far from it. There once was a time when I was researching a non-fiction book, a children’s book about composer Percy Granger, when a voice began to speak, and he told me he was a gay werewolf. I could feel that he was a nice man, so I politely told him to please wait til I was done with the other book.  But he kept talking, so to appease him I thought I would just write down a few notes and hold onto them until I was ready. Those few notes became the first chapter of To The Max. Which became an entire book. And which now has a sequel. All because a voice wanted to be heard. Oh, that other book never got written yet. Guess Percy needs to speak louder, eh?

Another time, it was Judas Iscariot that spoke, and that book became Revelations (for which I’m still seeking a publisher). Sometimes I only get to the first chapter, and then it sits as a WIP until I get back to it. But at least it’s a start.

I hate to think about all of the characters that I have lost or forgotten because I wasn’t able to keep their words in my head. Perhaps they’ll come back again someday, but I’m not holding my breath. That goes for the books I’ve written in my dreams, but forget the moment I wake up. Since I started using my little mnemonic trick, I haven’t lost a thing, and that’s a good feeling. I just hope my readers agree that it was worth it!

Do your characters talk to you? Do you have any tricks you use for getting your characters down onto paper?  I’d love to hear about it!  Thanks for having me, Sara, have a great day, everyone!



5 comments:

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Thanks so much for having me, Sara!

I'd like to say that Revelations has been spoken for, and I'm ecstatic! Great start to the day!

C. Zampa said...

Hey, lovely Julie!
Love the story behind Leonardo being the vampire! Very cool!
Enjoyed your post!

Jenny said...

wee! grats on your hits :) and OMG that cover is hot :O

Julie Lynn Hayes said...

Hey lovely Carol!

Thanks so much for stopping by! I find it interesting to see how a story grows from nothing to something lol


Jenny,

I know, right? When they asked me how much nudity I wanted on the cover, I said as much as the law allows lol I got it, didn't I?

You should see the cover for the sequel, it's a Reese Dante awesome! This one is Anne Cain. How lucky can one person get?

DHM said...

I love that mnemonic trick and I'll be using it. Great post!