Today we discuss furry writing and the writing process with R.A. Meenan. Every writer has a different method of writing, and takes different inspirations from both within and without the furry fandom. Though we are seeing a bit of a pattern emerge with plotting vs pantsing!
Tell us a little bit about your most recent project (written or published). Was there a particular inspiration for it?
My most recent published story is called Some Things Remain, and it’s a story about draft dodgers living in a community during a catastrophic world war. On the surface, it’s setting up for my third novel which is set in that war, but deeper down, the story talks about xenophobia, self-hate, manipulation, and the horrors of war. Since all of these, even war, are big social issues right now, they’re important to touch on and are constant themes in my stories.
What is your favourite thing about the furry fandom? Why write furry fiction?
I love the inclusion of the furry fandom! I know it has its issues, but for the most part, I feel like I can be fully myself in this fandom.
As for writing furry fiction, I just find furries more interesting to write than humans, especially for speculative fiction and I write pretty much exclusively spec fic.
What is your writing process like? Do you outline and plot, or are you a “pantser”?
Hoo boy, my writing process is a mess. I do several forms of detailed outlines and then end up just pantsing a lot of it. But it usually starts with vague ideas, then a “big picture” outline, then a very detailed outline based off the Take Off Your Pants method. Though I frequently find that I modify and change outlines a LOT while writing. So I suppose I’m in-between.
What do you consider your biggest strength as a writer?
For the process, probably my ability to tell when I need to change something that just isn’t working. I can get a feel for it and just KNOW this isn’t working. For the writing itself, it’s worldbuilding without infodumping. It was a hard-earned skill, but I think I’ve nailed it.
What is your favourite kind of story to write? Does it align well with what you like to read?
I like to write psychologically gritty stories, with a lot of man-vs-self. I also love to write stories with a lot of suspense. The kind that has cliffhangers at every chapter (though with a non-cliffhanger, satisfying ending).
It definitely does NOT align with my reading preferences though, haha. These kinds of gritty cliffhanger stories tend to stress me out while reading and I’ll often skip ahead in them to see if my favourite characters are going to die so I can prepare myself… emotionally.
Which character of yours do you most identify with, and why?
The character I WISH I identified with is Matthew Azure. Idealistic, optimist, self sacrificing, always checking in with himself to make sure he’s doing the right thing, etc. These things tend to bite Matt in the tail – he has a hero-complex and the tendency to overthink things – but overall he’s the person I wish I was.
However, I’m definitely more like Trecheon Omnir. Cynical, pessimistic, mad at the world, sick of seeing racism and xenophobia everywhere, wants to change things, but has no idea how, or feels like nothing he could do would ever be enough, so it stops him from even attempting, etc.
Trecheon and Matt are definitely foils of each other, but as their friendship grows, their good traits tend to rub off on each other. I like to think my husband, who is definitely more of the real-life Matt, has done this for me.
Which authors or specific books have most influenced your work?
MCA Hogarth’s Pelted universe was a huge inspiration for world-building for me. Her worlds feel so REAL, both physically and culturally, like you could just pick up and move there.
Jess E. Owen of the Summer King Chronicles is one of my biggest inspirations not only as a writer, but also as a self-published author. She’s done amazing things with her world, and I eat up every new novel she writes. She’s the writer I want to be.
Michael Crichton’s style of character voice, POV, and description has influenced my writing style since high school. He’s fantastic at character voice and the way he jumps seamlessly from one POV to the next with simple section breaks is fantastic.
What is the last book you read that you really love?
K. Vale Nagle’s Eyrie was the last book I read in entirety, and I immediately fell in love with it. I read the whole thing in two days. The world was really fantastic, and I loved the characters. I bought almost all the rest of his books and once I get my next book ready to publish, I’ll be diving in again. I can’t wait!
Besides writing, how do you like to spend your free time?
Pretty much all of my hobbies are creative – knitting, sewing, cosplay, etc. Mostly I do art though. I mainly draw my own characters from my books, but I’ll occasionally do fan art too. Beyond that, my free time is dedicated to my toddler… and video games. Mostly Destiny 2 these days.
Do you have any advice to give other writers?
The most common bit of writing advice that you hear from writers is “write every day.” For a lot of us, that’s almost impossible. Many of us have families, day jobs, or even just mental issues that make it difficult to write every day. For me, that’s ADHD. If I’m hyperfixated on art, writing is really hard for me and I have to work through the art fixation before I can think about writing again.
So rather than “write every day” I say “live in your stories every day.” Sometimes that’s having a mental conversation with your characters. Sometimes it’s making art. Sometimes it’s just jotting down ideas or outlines. Sometimes it’s just daydreaming. And it doesn’t have to be long either. Give your stories ten minutes of your time if everything else is too wild. It’ll help keep you focused and give you ideas when you’re ready to write again.
Is there anything you would like to see more of within furry fiction?
More contemporary fantasy stories. There’s plenty of fantasy set in the time of rogues and knights and dragons, but not a lot set in modern or future times.
Where can readers find your work?
The best place to find my work is at Zyearth.com! There’s lots of art, worldbuilding, character profiles, free hidden short stories, and links to all my novelettes and novels.
Thank you for the interview!
Tomorrow we speak to the person behind one of the oldest active furry publishers. We hope you’ll join us for that.