Member Spotlight: B. A. Maddux

1. Tell us about your most recent project (written or published). What inspired it?

On the top of my list currently is a novel-length collaboration with a good friend. The working title is Forging Rust. Chapters are being posted on several sites as I get them done. After everything is completed, the novel plus some bonus material might look for a publisher, but I need to get it finished first. This work is actually a roleplaying series my friend and I started as a change of pace from the normal setting we had been using. After it went on for a while, it became apparent that we were building a larger plot line and the friend made a comment on how it might be fun to novelize the story. Reworking the sessions from chat into prose and filling in gaps has been taking me more time than I had originally suspected, but it’s also been satisfying.

2. What’s your writing process like? Are you a “pantser,” an outliner, or something in between?

Lab Rat coverI usually start out being some level of an outliner with a work. Even with short stories, I like to have an idea of where I’m going. Sometimes it is just a concept of characters, how things look at the start and where the ending needs to be. Sometimes it is a closer to a detailed outline. But I have something in mind that’s at least an image of a rough outline.

That said, while writing, I’ve had things change from the original plan completely. I may come up with something new to add or just feel that something works better a different way. Sometimes a character will just write itself, it seems. I usually let these adjustments happen, even if it means having to make big changes to the earlier parts, which – for some stories – tips me further towards a “pantser” while writing it than an outliner.

3. What’s your favorite kind of story to write?

Adventure. I enjoy the concept of exploring new things and overcoming obstacles (you’ve always got to have problems to face and find solutions for.)

4. Which character from your work do you most identify with, and why?

I think I’ll have to go with Randy, the character narrating the series For Every Door that Closes. To be fair, that’s kind of an easy answer, though, as the concept required me to put a lot of myself into the character. To some extent, the author is in most of their characters, but Randy was based a lot more off of me than most.

5. Which authors or books have most influenced your work?

I have read enough different authors that I know I will miss some, if for no other reason than because it’s hard sometimes to see what all is influencing yourself.

Let’s start with the author that got me into reading adult-level books seriously. When I was young, the family traveled many weekends, and I had taken up grabbing whatever romance the parents had along just to help burn time sitting in the vehicle. I never really got into those. They were above my level and other than expanding my vocabulary through learning words in context, I don’t think I got much from doing that. Seeing me read the larger books, however, did make my parents get me a gift box of the first three Xanth novels by Piers Anthony. This got me hooked on science fiction and fantasy as I got newer books of this prolific author and also looked for older ones.

I’m going to include Chris Claremont in my list because a lot of his comics (Uncanny X-Men and The New Mutants in particular for me) showed how side characters were characters too, as well as how many plots and sub plots it was safe (and unsafe) to juggle. While prose is different than comics, there’s plenty of aspects that carry over between them about good writing.

The Eye of the World by Robert Jordan and Wizard’s First Rule by Terry Goodkind both refreshed my love for epic fantasy, as well as made me recognize the different forms that fantasy tropes could take. In this way they both recharged my desire to write, even if I eventually got frustrated with the series that followed them.

Laurell K Hamilton has shown me how both romance and eroticism can work and be a part of more serious plots and characters. When she does the mix right, it’s a great novel. She’s also shown me how too much of those good things can overpower a novel so that the reader is left wishing something other than sex and relationship drama happened. Certainly there’s a balance that works, but doesn’t always get hit.

Within the fandom, Phil Geusz gives great advice at con panels as well as writing a good story. He gave me a small confidence boost about approaching publishers when I was hoping to start that process.

6. What’s the last book you read that you really loved?

“Really loved” is hard for me. I tear through lots of books. While I have ones that I occasionally find and don’t enjoy, I rarely have one that wows me greatly. While I know I occasionally have a book that I can’t put down, I can’t remember which title I did that with last. I just got through with The Undead Pool by Kim Harrison, which I greatly enjoyed. The series has had ups and downs, but this one was well done.

7. Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?

I read a lot. I play games either on PC or console from time to time – though I don’t always play them well as I’m usually more interested in the story aspect of them than developing killer skills. I enjoy the occasional walk, especially if I can drag a friend along. Roleplaying – either table-top or online through one or another messaging service – is a favorite pastime, though technically there’s writing in the chats.

8. Advice for other writers?

I’m not going to just go with the “always be writing” advice, not because it isn’t the most important thing, but because it is something most writers should hear and remember all the time already. That is certainly good advice, and the first step is always getting something written.

I would also say that while having an end goal of getting published can be great, don’t forget to have closer goals as well. There’s a lot of steps between first word and getting published, and a lot of folks get discouraged about the end goal long before they reach it. So always have a closer goal that is a step on the way.

For me the NaNoWriMo taught me a lot of tips for getting a word count out and done. The writing is rough, but it gets done. No matter what size I’m writing, I find it is important to focus on the writing and worry about editing after it is all done. Editing while writing distracts and can make you re-write the first part twenty times. Even if I KNOW I have to make changes to something I already write, I find it more constructive to jot a note down to do it later and keep on with the first draft.

Once a writer has a first draft of any size, it’s time to edit it, which can be a drag. But you’ve written it all already, so doesn’t it deserve to be polished? Once you’ve polished it, if you have folks you trust to do a read over to look for what you’ve missed (because you almost certainly have missed things), isn’t it worth having other eyes look over it to make sure all the rough edges are smoothed out? Then you have to share it with a larger audience – either posting or publishing. And after you have put a lot of work into this by this point, so there’s no reason to be shy.

My final advice is to listen to criticism, but don’t consider all criticism gospel. No one can please everyone all the time, and trying to do so will only lose your own unique voice. There will be things you can take and use constructively, which will be good. There’s things that won’t be designed to help, and it’s okay for that person to not have found your work to their liking, so don’t take it personally.

9. Where can readers find your work?

Links to where to find my published work are gathered at (I really need to start updating it again.)

As Reserved Rodent, you can find my work at the following sites. I’ve been with SoFurry longest, so it has my complete short story listings. There’s formatting I have to do to get my stories to look like I want them to on FurAffinity, so not all of my older stuff has made it here. I do my best to get the formatting done for this site as I post new stuff to others, so it’s not falling behind. This is also the site where I could follow the Acceptable Upload Policy and post all of the comic book issue I did long ago when I uncovered it recently. It’s not exactly furry, but still was able to slip in. I’ve only recently started posting on this site. It has chapters from my current project, Forging Rust, but other than getting all of those added, I’ve not gone further back. It will continue to get updates of new chapters and stories the other two sites get, so long as they fall under the Acceptable Content Policy.

10. What’s your favorite thing about the furry fandom?

I love how wide a range the fandom has. It’s full of many different creative people who like the concept of furry and bring it to life and into others’ lives in so many varied ways. You don’t have to like everything about the fandom, but you absolutely can find many things that you do appreciate, and likely find new friends with similar interests along the way.


Check out B. A. Maddux’s member bio here!

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