Nancy Fulda is an up-and-coming author with some great short fiction out there, and a novel in progress–often based on some very interesting science ideas.
1. What was the inception of the project you’re most excited about? What were your first steps in building that idea into a viable story?
The project I’m most excited about is my novel. You know, the one that’s based on an idea I fell in love with in high school, and that refuses to leave me alone even after I’ve published nearly twenty short stories. It’s my first novel, and I’ve been working on it for an embarrassingly long time, but gosh dang it, I’m going to finish it! My first step in building this idea into a viable story was to hone my writing skills. I’d taken a creative writing class in college and done well in it, but I still had a lot to learn about exposition, character development, and tension. So I spent the next five years writing, submitting, getting rejected, and occassionally getting published. Now, finally, I feel like I’m ready to tackle novel-length work.
2. What kind of research and/or world-building did you do before beginning?
Lots of extrapolation, lots of brainstorming. The book is set on an arid planet with a ver-r-r-r-y slow rotational cycle. The only habitable areas are are along the twilight regions. Day’s too hot and night’s too cold, so you have these massive roving caravans that circle the equator struggling to stay alive. Obviously the native ecology on this planet is going to be very different from our own. I started from basic biological principles and asked how vegetation might survive in this environment. Does it migrate? How? Do trees survive the deathly cold of night by tapping into geothermal heat fissures with their roots? Do they grow a hardened shell to preserve water during the day? I just kept going like that, and eventually I had a balanced, intriguing ecosystem.
3. What’s your first-draft process? outline, edit as you go, speed-writing?
I use all three. For short fiction, I often write blind, without a plan or anything except an opening scene and an empathetic character. The longer the story gets, the more I find I have to lay out plans to keep from wandering off topic.
4. How do you start revisions?
I envision a story as being a lot like a painting. You start by blocking in the main areas of color, then go back and add increasingly more intricate layers of detail. When I do revision work, I start by looking at the overall structure of the story. Is there enough action? Too much exposition? Does the main character arc resolve properly? Once those elements are in place I go back over the story looking at individual sentences and paragraphs, streamlining the prose. Then, of course, I show it to my critique group and they tear it apart, and I rebuild the story out of the ashes. ;)
5. If you could choose a few descriptors that would go in a blurb on the front cover of your book, what would they be?
Ok, now we’re really getting ahead of ourselves. I’m still trying to finish this novel; I wouldn’t dare to presume to guess what should go on the cover.
6. What cool thing would you put in the DVD extra version that didn’t get into the published work? research or created detail you had to cut or couldn’t use?
Odaf’s backstory. Odaf is this old, cranky, psycho Technologian who turns out to be quite a driving force in the plot, but we never learn much about where he came from or how he got to be the way he is. I’d love to explore that.
7. Where should readers go to find out more about your work?
http://nancyfulda.livejournal.com. It’s got links to recent publications and random ramblings about everything from artificial intelligence to childraising.
8. Care to share a link (aside from your own work) to something amazing you think everyone should see or know about?
SchlockMercenary (agreed–good stuff! E.C.)
Thanks so much, Nancy!