Illustration by Amelie Fontaine
"I'm too exhausted to think of a blog post and I NEED to write one. It's been like a week. All this writing. What do you think I should blog about?"
"How about your research?"
"What do you mean, research?"
"Like how you come up with where the book is happening, and who the people are. Like how did you decide to have Janna happen in the South?"
"What South? I didn't decide anything. It just...happened."
I stare at @roycedaniel and I don't get it.
"See, you can't tell me how you come up with it, but you come up with it SOMEHOW. Think about it and blog about it. I think it would be interesting for people to read."
I got stumped. I thought and thought about it, and I thought, "He's right. I don't think I have blogged about this much. It just happens, but it happens SOMEHOW!"
And here you go. I will try to dissect this process of coming up with specific shit in my books and maybe that will help you too. I remember when I was writing Siren Suicides I obsessed over research, to the point of going on actual locations (!!!) like I was filming a fucking movie and it was no movie, it was just a bloody book, and I did learn some things better, but now I know I didn't really have to spend all that time on it. I could've just trusted my instincts.
I guess that's how I do my research. I trust my instincts.
I'd say the majority of what Janna is is shamelessly stolen from every other book I read and mixed in with my own life and lives of those whose stories I heard. Beginning with the title.
Before I start writing a book, I always come up with a title. It's like a hook into the story, an image, something it's about. It gives me a name to think about, and in a way it's a name like a name of a person, only it's a name of a story. Originally Janna came to me as Laska, which popped into my head, and then Janna G. Noelle commented on one of my posts and we started talking about how I could make the character black instead of white and I was afraid at first, thinking how could I write someone black when I'm white? But then it grew on me and I wanted to understand what it's like to shed my white privilege and look out at the world through black skin and so I named my character and the book Janna, after Janna who inspired this change, and who encouraged me. See? Once I have the title, the book starts shaping up in my head in the background. I have now something to think about.