Fantastic authors talk about the writing life

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Through Andrew Warrick

This Saturday afternoon at C2E2, fantastic novelists Rachel griffin (The nature of witches), Scarlett St. Clair (King of battle and blood), and Maxime Martineau (Kingdom of the Exiles) gathered for the Witches, Gods and Monsters panel to discuss the life of writing. To begin with, each writer described himself in six words:

Griffin: “I am Rachel and I love nature. “
St. Clair: “Daddy’s Girl, Mythology Obsessed, Dog Lover.”
Martineau: “Lovers of cartoons, video games, coffee, dogs.

(Left to right) Rachel Griffin, Scarlett St. Clair, Maxym Martineau

Then the conversation shifted to how witches, gods, and monsters functioned in the authors’ novels.

“I’ve always viewed witches as people first and foremost,” Griffin said, “who have this incredibly deep connection to the earth and the natural world around them. And so when I was making the story [of The Nature of Witches, a novel whose fantastical world is centered around the seasons], it became clear to me that it must be witches who are able to use this magic.

St. Clair explained that “all of my books are steeped in mythology… I always try to find a way to put the women of mythology in power… because traditionally, even in Greek mythology, [women have] powers that have been taken away from them. So I’m always trying to do that… that’s kind of how I play with mythology. To keep the mythology fresh, she looks at how “it’s still relevant today because I don’t think society has changed much unfortunately… [for example] looking at Apollo… I compare him to Harvey Weinstein, like he’s chasing women until they beg to be turned into a tree.

“Yes, I write monsters,” Martineau said. “All of my books are inspired by… video games and anime and really weird and mythical creatures.” Martineau imagines his beings by “looking like the scariest creatures in the world … [and] also before i graduated in english i started as an animal behaviorist and wanted to study big cats… if you read my series the 10 legendary beasts are all felines in a way… i got a lot out of it , and then obviously like Pokémon.

The writers then turned to characterization. Martineau described how “I read a lot of literature where the main female characters didn’t really have a say or a lot of influence and I wanted to change that. I wanted my character to have a decision on her fate even though it was as if the cards were stacked against her. So she’s smart. She is actively trying to work against the hand given to her and she’s okay with killing people to make it happen.

Griffin’s novel is “very deliberately character-driven… You know, the plot is a huge part of the story. And obviously there is a plot but it’s a very internal as well as an intimate journey with a character… How does she feel about herself and how her narrative and her thoughts on who she is change throughout the book because of this magic that she has? Griffin also “wanted a strong, sensitive and emotional heroine who would cry and allow herself to feel things deeply,” explaining how a fifth-grade teacher told her that she would never get away without thick skin. “Well I’m 36 and I’ve never had thicker skin… I wanted to show that in a story because the two are not mutually exclusive. You can be sensitive and strong and badass and Take the things over control.

When I write, I write about my experiences, my journey to become who I am and comfortable with who I am … society and the people in my life … it takes a lot of courage to do that, especially as women in our society when we have all these conflicting expectations of us… I just work on myself through my characters… and I know it works and I know people identify with themselves because they send me messages. posts about it all the time… I’m definitely giving myself the means to write this article. So at the end of the day, I love my readers, but I write for myself.

Martineau agreed: “If someone says ‘no’ to us, that gives me even more incentive to go out and do it anyway. So I wanted the same for my main character Lena. She was exiled. And like, all she wanted to do is say no, I’m gonna prove you wrong.

St. Clair gives each character an emotional arc. Griffin does the same, viewing even his most magical characters as “humans; they still have fear and grief, anxiety and love and you know, insecurities. And I think giving them a really intentional character arc… it really grounds it and makes it personal. Martineau intervened to say that no one is perfect and that “the best way to anchor people and make them believable is to give them flaws”.

The next topic was fantasy as an escape. Martineau uses the genre as a refuge, while also addressing real-world issues. St. Clair struggled to write his novel Malice due to her themes involving mourning – she had just lost her father to COVID-19, calling the process “the most difficult thing I have ever done in my life … writing was my escape.” I think it will eventually do but since I write myself in books, here we are.

For Griffin, reading is “my escape” and writing is “my way of loving, of dealing with the world around me and also of understanding how I feel about what is going on.” She remembered having a revelation in the shower on the subject of a certain book and bursting into tears, even though the book had been four months past. “So that’s how writing plays its role in my life. I also really like fantasy, because it allows us, I think, to talk about unexplored things …

The next topic was the dedication of the three writers to sexual positivity in adult and young adult fiction. “In all honesty,” said Martineau, “do you want your kids to learn sex in porn or in books? … There are so many opportunities for great relationships in books.”

The authors then turned to social networks. St. Clair started out as a self-published author – “because I’ve been told ‘no’ so many times and I’m like ‘Well fuck you. I’ll do it myself’ – and went viral on Tiktok, which she quotes as “probably why I’m here today.” After its viral moment, the self-published St. Clair novel has sold more print copies than e-books, which is a “huge deal.” She’s the most active on Instagram, however, saying her biggest benefit is the interaction with the reader.

Griffin used Instagram to find his community of writers, which was invaluable in launching a novel in the event of a pandemic. Martineau enjoyed “posts from readers that are like ‘your story changed my life.’… You just don’t realize the level of impact you have on people, and social media allows you to have that kind of connection. She noted that “Twitter is where writers live” and uses social media to assess “what I’m doing right, what I’m doing wrong” as a writer.

“Don’t tell me what I’m doing wrong,” St. Clair replied.

The panel moved on to a Q + A part. One fan asked how writers have battled self-doubt. “I hate myself everyday,” joked St. Clair. Martineau promised that the “monster of doubt never goes away”.

Griffin however reminded the audience, “We all have a voice and… you can only tell a story the way you can tell it and that makes your words important and unique… we can only do our best, something. who When I write I feel very comforted is… I really look at the things I love. For his novel The nature of witches, she embraced her “weather geek”, saying that following her passions makes it easier to fight against self-criticism.

St. Clair added not to “compete with other authors, leave that to your editor… They are your allies”.

The authors were asked what fandom had prompted them to embark on genre fiction. Martineau, visibly in tears, opened up about her former love for Harry Potter, but said that now she’s “very disillusioned with some of the things JKR said and the way she acted – I’m not at all okay with them So it’s hard for me… I grew up with these books and… at the beginning of my writing i was inspired by them, then i now feel completely overwhelmed by it. to the point where like , I don’t buy anything from her… it kills me to know that this person who was my idol said these things.

Griffin’s inspiration was dusk. She read the first novel on a flight to Spain and spent her trip trying to find an English copy of New Moon. “I just loved that focus on the emotions of an 18 year old, and there was angst, and there was desire… and I was like ‘wow, I could do that. ‘”St. Clair chose Tolkien, although he was” very white. “

The women ended up explaining their fantasy writing process. “It’s very simple,” said St. Clair. “I just hear the voices in my head and write a bunch of scenes until I can put them in chronological order. And once I do, I write a plan and then flesh out the book. Martineau admits that she is “very bad” to describe – – “which is great when you write a series of six books”. Instead of a preview, it relies on “really in-depth character sheets”. Griffin, however, explained that “the drawing is the part that I like the least about the process… I am an extreme draftsman and plotter.”

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