The gods have woken!!
Gwenda Bond, author of the upcoming Woken Gods – 5th September 2013 by Strange Chemistry Books – a YA novel about gods running wild in modern Washington DC.
Gwenda is a contributor to Publishers Weekly, reviews for Subterranean Online and Locus and her non-fiction has appeared in the Washington Post, Lightspeed and Strange Horizons alongside others. She lives in Kentucky with her husband, author Christopher Rowe.
A warm welcome to this Q&A, Gwenda!
1. First Question – Why are you a writer? Where did that start?
I have always been drawn to books and stories, and I was lucky enough to grow up in a family that truly encouraged reading and supported my book habit. My parents were teachers and then later principals, so I had access to the school library even during summers. Just as I’ve been a reader as far back as I can remember, I always knew I wanted to tell stories of my own.
2. What is Woken Gods about?
The Woken Gods is about a world where the gods of ancient mythology woke up five years earlier, and a girl named Kyra Locke who lives in the transformed Washington, D.C., that has become the negotiating ground for humanity and the gods. When a powerful relic disappears, she gets pulled into high stakes intrigue with scary tricksters and the human Society of the Sun.
3. What inspired you to tell this story? How did this begin?
I knew I wanted to try something different, an urban fantasy with more elaborate worldbuilding than what I’d done before. And when I had the initial idea, I knew I wanted it to be set in Washington, D.C. (and that the Library of Congress would house the humans’ secret society) and that I wanted to use lots of gods and make them alien and intimidating. But that was it; I had to do a lot of development and several drafts to get to the finished story.
4. How much did you research, regarding the myths and the setting of the tale?
Mythology has always been an interest of mine, and so I feel like many of the ideas came from the reading I’d already done. That said, I did do quite a bit of more focused research on apocalyptic traditions and on ancient religions and revisited books like Lewis Hyde’s Trickster Makes This World, which was ultimately a huge source of inspiration. And I visited D.C. to location scout.
5. Tell us a bit about your inspiration for the characters. Especially Kyra and Oz. Are they based on real people?
My characters are never based on real people I know, though I might borrow a personality trait or a physical attribute here or there. Kyra was one of those difficult characters who I wished at times I could make more manageable! I had a really hard time getting into her head, because she holds her cards so to her vest, and I originally drafted this in third person. Once I switched to first, she opened up for me, and I enjoyed writing her. She’s so loyal and spirited and determined to do things for herself, even when she should ask for help. Oz I knew would be a character who started out with a very clear belief in the organization he belongs to and its leaders, and would have to figure out what he believes in is the ideals of it and protecting humanity.
6. Will there be any follow-ups to Woken Gods?
It’s certainly possible, because I very much enjoy writing in this world and these characters, and I know what happens next. It could happen. Though my next book will definitely be something different—a modern circus story called Girl on a Wire, which will be out from Skyscape next year.
7. We want to know your writing process. Spill the secrets. What’s your sacred routine?
I still have to fit writing in around the edges of my day, though I think about whatever story I’m writing any time there’s downtime—driving is great thinking time. When I’m drafting, I write first thing in the morning, then take a walk and write more at lunch, and often work long hours on the weekend. I would say the only sacred part of my process is never taking too long off between books; I like to always have a new story in the works. But each book is a little different in terms of process.
8. As aspiring writers we are always on the lookout for good advice. Can you give us your top four tips for getting those words out and finishing that novel?
First, best of luck to you! I don’t think there are any rules, except what works for you…but here’s some advice anyway. 1. Read tons (which you clearly already do!), all different kinds of books, and think about what works and why, and what doesn’t and why. This is good with both published works and if you’re part of a critique group—analyzing someone else’s work with an eye to helping them improve it can really help with your own improvement, I’ve found. 2. Once you’ve truly committed to a story, finish a draft. It can be easy to be seduced by new ideas, especially in the middle. But only with experience will you know when something really isn’t working and should be edged out by another story. 3. Put it aside long enough to come back to it with a critical eye. Know it’s a draft and figure out a game plan to improve it, whether that involves radical changes or not. But be open to the idea that it might take big changes. Be willing to let go of ‘good enough’ for ‘better’ (and shoot for ‘the best’). 4. Most importantly, remember this isn’t your only story to tell. Work on something as long as it takes to make it the best you can on your own, then send it into the world and start something new. The start something new is the important part, because we all face rejection. Careers happen because writers keep writing in the face of setbacks and rejection.
9. Tell us a bit about your other book, Blackwood.
Blackwood is a modern take on the Lost Colony of Roanoke. When 114 people disappear from present day Roanoke Island, the exact number as centuries earlier, two smart teenagers must unravel the mystery…if there’s any hope of bringing them back.
AND if people like e-books, it’s on sale super-cheap right now in the US and UK as part of Strange Chemistry’s first birthday sale—so give it a try.
10. What other projects do you have lined up in the future?
My next book is Girl on a Wire, and it’ll be out next year. It’s about a daredevil high-wire walker from a legendary circus family who, when mysterious attempts at sabotage begin happening at the circus, has to team up with her archrival to find the culprit. I’m very excited about it. As to what’s next beyond that, I’m working on a couple of things, but can’t talk about them just yet.
We wish you all the very best in your writing Gwenda and Happy Book Birthday! Thank you so much for taking the time to come over the blog for a chat.
Gwenda Bond’s book Woken Gods was released 3rd September in the US and Canada and is OUT TODAY IN THE UK AND AUSTRALIA!!!! So go grab yourselves a copy.
You can read my review of Woken Gods over at Fantasy Book Review.