Special Issue: Interview with Author Karina Fabian
I just love the creative process. I love to hear interviews of writers or TV show creators tell how they developed the stories that we the readers and viewers thrill to.
In a way, that’s what Catholic Creativity is all about: to use the creative process to bring others to Christ in such a way that they would get immersed in the story and the themes that before they know it, they are immersed in the Gospel message. It takes real talent to do that. The greats like J.R.R. Tolkien and C.S. Lewis give us the inspiration to do just that. Then, there are those writers that are among us who prove that this is not a lost art in our day and age. Karina Fabian is one such writer, in the genre of Science Fiction and Fantasy.
Karina’s latest can be found at Live and Let Fly
#1. When Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen received his Emmy Award for his show “Life is Worth Living”, like many other Emmy Award Winners, he thanked his writers . . . Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. As a Catholic author, what sources and resources do you depend on for inspiration and to keep you grounded in your faith?
I pray the Divine Mercy chaplet every morning when dropping my son off to school (or when I’m driving somewhere. I developed the habit two years ago, thanks to a lovely CD I got at the Catholic Marketing Network Trade Show/Catholic Writers Conference-Live.) I read the Daily Gospel Online, which is an e-mail service that sends the day’s readings plus a “homily” from a famous saint or Catholic writer. Depending on what I’m writing, I turn to the Bible or the Catechism (and that goes for fiction as well, even though I write secular science fiction, fantasy and horror because I need to fact check). Otherwise, I have some terrific friends online who are far more faithful Catholics than I. They keep me grounded, even if it’s just through their Facebook posts.
#2. I am most fascinated by the “creative process”. This creative process is different for each person, but my guess is that for everyone, it enlivens us and motivates us. Do you have a “creative process” and how does it work for you?
That’s a tough one for me to answer, as my “process” is varying and intuitive. Usually, a character or idea grabs my fancy, and I let the story unfold. Most often, I know the beginning, end and a few steps in the middle. That’s enough to get me moving.
I’m always mulling over scenes in my head, so I write these briefly in a program called Storylines for the day I can concentrate on that book. Right now, five books are vying for my attention—two to edit and three to write, plus I have a few non-fiction ones that would like to be done. It gets crowded in my brain.
I think the most important part of any creative process is simply to do it. If I don’t sit at the computer and put words on the screen, I am not creating; just daydreaming.
#3. In one of your articles, you mentioned that one of your recent works was an attempt to challenge yourself as a writer by doing something you’ve never done before. In fact, to attempt the very thing that one fears most can be the challenge that a good writer needs. Can you describe how this works for you?
Well, there wasn’t any fear involved. After all this is fiction; there’s no big risk other than my time, and if I’d “failed” at it, then I’d have at least learned something new. The one time I was a little afraid—or rather, intimidated—was when I was asked to write a devotional. Writing about faith is a big responsibility, and I wasn’t sure I would get it right. In the end, I decided not to handle it alone, and invited my father, who is a deacon, to write it with me. Why God Matters: How to Recognize Him in Daily Life (http://amzn.to/dI7jbp) turned out better than I expected; we still get e-mails or mentions online about how someone was touched by that book (and not just Catholics.)
I’m a firm believer in challenges, whether it means answering the call to write something completely different, like the devotional, or seeking a way to stretch my writing skills, like when my husband challenged me to write a science fiction based on The Old Man and the Sea. I asked for that challenge. I’d been doing a lot of light stuff, mostly humorous, and felt like my writing had reached a plateau. I learned a lot from the experience—how to (almost) follow an outline, and that I have some habits of phrasing I need to mix up before all my books sound alike! The Old Man and the Sea is a novella, and I was aiming for a novel. I had thought to expand the text, but instead, the story insisted it wasn’t finished. It was very exciting to see how all the foundation I’d laid writing the first part just took off when writing the last 30,000 words.)
I try to challenge myself with the DragonEye books, of which the latest, Live and Let Fly, came out this month. The key to those stories is to try to find a new twist to an old tale. In Live and Let Fly, I wanted a new look at the Norse myths that still remained true to the old legends. So, for example, when Vern visits the goddess Hel, her dog has dug in the garden, her servant, Sloth, drops laundry and leaves it, but her father Loki visits sometimes and makes Hel laugh. These are minor details, but to say more would be spoilers.
#4. You are also an accomplished teacher of the craft of writing, especially in On-Line venues. In what specific areas of the writing craft do specialize? Do you see yourself expanding this in any way?
I’m a jack of all trades when it comes to writing and online marketing, and I do enjoy teaching, so I tend to teach at the basic level rather than specializing. I had hoped to do more teaching this year and next, but my husband is deploying to Baghdad in July. (Ironic, isn’t it?) I’ve canceled all my online classes for the year he’s gone, although I’ll still teach at the Catholic Writers Conference Online and the MuseOnline Writers Conference. I’d really like to take a class in HTML for website design and for PhotoShop, however. Eventually…
#5. Aspiring writers out there of any age, just starting out in developing that “writing muscle”, may read the somewhat bleak situation of the publishing industry out there and wonder whether their enthusiasm for creating stories and worlds with words is worth the effort. What words of wisdom can you give to encourage them to keep writing?
The other day, my husband and I were talking about our old dream of owning a used book store when we retired, and how there just aren’t any anymore. He said, “Things are changing, and that’s okay. You don’t see any buggy whip stores anymore, either.”
The industry isn’t bleak so much as in flux. That’s going to mean challenges, sure, but also rewards for those who are willing to adapt and learn. The internet and growth of electronic books means there’s been an explosion of opportunities to be published, whether by small press or by self-publishing. Of course, the larger presses are still anxious to find new talent.
However, it’s harder because the market is glutted. Anyone with a computer and time can write a book (not necessarily a good one, mind you, but it’s one more submission on an agent’s desk, one more title in Amazon, etc.). So you have to be better as a writer, really do your research in how to pitch and approach agents and publishers, and when the book is published, to reach your audience and sell them on the book.
There are thousands, maybe tens of thousands, or writers (not counting staff writers), who make a comfortable living off their craft. However, there are millions of plumbers, teachers, programmers… In other words, it is possible to make a living off your writing, but it’s not common or easy. So set your goals accordingly. Personally, I’d love to be able to live off my writing, but realistically, I’m content knowing my books get published and sold, and that I get that occasional review or letter that tells me how much they enjoyed the book. I write because I love to tell stories.