Let’s get right down to it: what motivates you to write?
If we are going to be honest here, respect. I love stories and admire writers who are good at what they do. I want to be recognized as being good at what I do, and I acknowledge that it will take decades to hone my craft—So I write, knowing I get better every time I do.
What have you learned since publishing “Dying for a Living,” that you are doing differently with “Dying by the Hour?”
If we are talking craft, the POV and tone have changed. Dying for a Living focused on Jesse and her experience, but Dying by the Hour alternates between Jesse and Ally’s POV. You get to see Jesse from someone else’s perspective, which I think deepens the story. You also get inside Ally’s head, which makes her more “real”—or so I’ve been told ;) Also, the tone is darker. Jesse comes face to face with the series “bad guy”, whereas in the first book (Dying for a Living), he was mostly causing trouble from afar.
I love Jesse’s sense of humor; her voice throughout the narrative is great! How much of Kory went into Jesse?
I’ve definitely loaned her my sarcasm and snark, but I don’t have the chip on my shoulder that she does. Jesse is a good caricature of me in my late teens and early 20s—I remember what that was like and I’ve definitely kept the humor, but I’ve learned not to take things so personally as I get older. Jesse isn’t quite there yet ;)
I wanted an interesting occupation for my character who I’d “failed” to write properly for a couple of manuscripts, but I hadn’t found the job yet. Then I was hiking up the Italian mountainside, hauling all my luggage, sometime in August 2008. It was hot and I was pretty sure I was going to die on this dirt path just outside Cinqua Terra. By the time we located our little bungalow and I fell panting into my bed—that was for some reason in the kitchen—I was half delirious. The next thing I know, I was panting “She dies for a living. She dies for a living.” I’m told I was laughing hysterically. But delirium or no, the idea stuck—and I built Jesse’s world around it.
Would you give us a little insight into your writing process? Do you Outline, or “pants it”. Do you take extensive notes prior to drafting?
I do a lot of my writing in the shower, bathtub and when walking the dog—in my head anyway (not sure the laptop is water-resistant). First, a couple of “high points” usually come to me on the fly—out of nowhere—just real dramatic moments/scenes. I have these in mind when I sit down to write and I build the story around them. I’ve noticed that I do a lot of this “collecting” of highpoints for weeks or months before I actually write the book. And I know it is time to write the book when I know how it ends. When that shows up, I just “pants it”, keeping this target scene in mind. And that’s usually how it goes—Beginning and end planned—middle, by the seat of my pants ;)
You forgot poetry! :) Yes, I write a little bit of everything. And I wish I could say I have a “favorite” but that’s a tough call. I like the way a novel is complicated and involved. For me, it offers more depth than short stories. You can enter into the world of a novel and really stay there. But recently, my love of shorter pieces has grown. From a writer’s perspective it is a great way to capture an interesting idea before it’s lost. And it is less demanding than a novel. I cry and wrench my garments over a novel for months or YEARS, but I can wrap up a short story in days or a week—so there is something really powerful, creative, and liberating about short stories—though they don’t have the payoff that novels do. As for my poetry, I don’t write it as much as I like—and though short, I think they are harder than short stories. The attention to language and imagery in poems can be maddening—but in a good way. Like falling in love.
What drove you to writing?
The possibility of attending medical school. I needed a reason not to go ;) But really, what drives the blue jay to build nests or the carrion to pick at road-side carcasses? Hunger—just a hunger that I don’t fully understand.
Stephen King. Neil Gaiman. Laurell K. Hamilton. Octavia Butler and TV…I’m trying not to feel shame as I admit that last one, but it’s true. I find certain TV characters just as stimulating as those on the page.
Do you have any advice for new writers out there? What would be one or two things you know now that you wished you would have known when publishing your first book?
Write. A Lot. And don’t stop for ANY reason. It gets harder if you stop writing—the muscles get cold.
I was mistaken in thinking that publishing one book means I’ve “done” it! All the greats (most famous writers), have DOZENS of books under their belt. Name an author who is famous having written only one book? They are the exception, not the norm. The first book is just the beginning.
What’s on the horizon for Kory?
A YA trilogy about a witch and her demon-hunting aunts and more Jesse novels of course :)
Thanks for hanging out and best of luck on your new novel!
Thanks for having me! :)
To learn more about Kory, her blog and upcoming new releases, head over to her website: www.korymshrum.com
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