Today I’d like to welcome Pam Elise Harris, editor extraordinaire and author of Oblivion.
Can you give us your quickest description of your book?
Oblivion is the story of six acting students trying to achieve greatness despite the obstacles in their paths.
What genre would you say Oblivion fits into?
What are you working on currently?
Mostly, I’m working on my freelance editing projects. I edit for Booktrope among other clients. One of my clients is actually a real estate attorney. He’s doing continuing education courses that I am editing.
On the writing side, I just won my fourth National Novel Writing Month this past November. I am a hardcore NaNoer, having completed every NaNo and Camp NaNo since Oblivion in 2012. I am currently developing my second novel The Truth Will Set Me Free, which I normally describe as “Woman running for her life meets man who wants to save the world.” I am also working on a guide for newbie authors on working with an editor and finding time to write the last book of my trilogy.
Busy. 🙂 The guide for newbies is an interesting idea. Are you doing that because you see so many mistakes being made by others, so you want to offer specific, other direction?
It’s not so much that I’m seeing mistakes as much as I’m encountering authors who don’t know how the process works. The guide is meant to offer them direction. It will take them through the process from beginning to end, giving them helpful tips. For example, one of the main problems I encounter is authors who don’t read their work through before sending it to an editor. Authors can catch so many errors just by doing that and it saves the editor time from figuring out what the author means. This may be something that never occurs to the author, but it’s actually really important. Another issue is that newbie authors often aren’t aware of the type of edit they want, and often times it could be a deeper edit than they expected.
What is one bit of advice you’d like to share with writers?
Don’t rush the editing process. Really take the time to perfect your story. Your editor is there to help you. Don’t be afraid to let him or her help you.
I have to ask – as an editor, are you really tough on your own work right away, or do you let yourself write loosely and then go clean it up when you’re done?
Yes, I am tough on my own work right from the start. I am my own worst critic. I try not to clean it up as I go because you’re not supposed to do that for NaNo, but typos are evil and must be destroyed. I’m always cleaning it up where I can.
What is one question about your books that you wish more people would ask?
A lot of the places in Oblivion are actually real. I wish more people would ask about the stories behind them.
Cool – Can you give one such story behind a location?
Oblivion is set in 2012. I have a timeline with the actual dates that each scene occurs on. So, it turned out that during the dates in Oblivion there was an actual convention called I-CON on a local college campus. I-CON spans many fandoms, but my husband and I did actually attend for the Doctor Who programming. Well, one of my characters is a massive Whovian, so I figured he would actually go to this. Any programming referenced in the book is the actual programming from the convention that year. Even the food choices mentioned were what they actually had available.
That is a really cool way to add detail. Who inspires you to write?
Usually, it’s more of a what than a who. I get a lot of my ideas from movies or songs. Sometimes I’ll IMDB an actor and suddenly get an idea. (That’s actually what happened for my Awethology piece which became this past November’s NaNo.) I also take a lot of inspiration from Jonathan Larson. He had an amazing way with words.
Interesting. So would you say you’re visually stimulated? (Also, who was the actor?)
I don’t know if I’d say I’m visually stimulated because it’s more the story in a movie or song that inspires me or some aspect of it. Something just sparks. And the actor in question was Ansel Elgort. I had just seen Paper Towns where (spoiler) he has a cameo. So, I went home and IMDBed him, and I found out that he was originally from New York where I’m from and he’s a trained ballet dancer. My Awethology/NaNo piece just took off from there.
When you get stuck in your writing, how do you make yourself keep going?
I don’t think about it. I just keep writing. Just getting ideas down is the important thing, not how good they are. If you just keep writing, something good will come out if it eventually.
Do you use your personal experiences in your writing?
To some extent I think that everyone does. But I don’t use the events of my life, so much as character traits. All six POV characters in Oblivion have an aspect of my personality. A lot of the places I use in my books are real places that are or have been part of my daily life.
Thanks, Pam, for sharing!