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.

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