Write What You Are Passionate About by Roland Smith
If you’re like me you have a love/hate relationship with series fiction. You love reading about your favorite characters in the newest book, but you hate waiting a year, or more, to find out what happens next. Having written several series I understand this from the both the reader’s and the author’s viewpoint.
As a reader I try not to start reading a series until several books have hit the shelves. But if the first book in a series is written by one of my favorite authors, or friends, or if someone tells me I have to read this book, I can’t help myself. I usually (and probably always will) start the first book in the series even if it means waiting for what seems like an eternity for the next book.
As an author, I know how long it takes to write a book. I wish I could write book as fast as you can read a book, but I can’t. No author can. If readers waited until the series was complete to start reading, there wouldn’t be a series. No Book #2. No Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets, The Sea of Monsters, Insurgent, Rodrick Rules, The Scorch Trials, Lost in Babylon, or Tentacles. Readers keep series (and the author) alive by reading the installments when they are published. The author may give birth to the story, but the reader teaches it to walk, and if the author is lucky, to sprint.
With the publication of the fourth book in my Cryptid Hunters series, Mutation, my series days are over, at least for now.
Now that the series is complete I want to let you in on some of the series secrets, and I think the best way to do this is to interview myself, as arrogant as that sounds, and it probably is…a little.
Where did you get the idea for the Cryptid Hunters series?
The idea came from another novel I wrote called Sasquatch, which is still in print. Everyone kept asking if I was going to write a sequel. I didn’t want to write a sequel, I wanted to write a much broader story arc about cryptids.
While I was becoming an author, I had the good fortune to land a job as a zookeeper. This led me to becoming a wolf reintroduction biologist and an endangered species specialist for over twenty years.
When I’m writing about cryptids, I’m actually writing about endangered species, something I know and care a great deal about. If a cryptid existed it would certainly be endangered. I use cryptids as an allegory for these rare species that we actually know exist. There’s a famous saying about writing: “Write what you know.” I never quite understood this advice. I think you should: “Write what you are passionate about.”
I notice that some of your major characters make appearances as minor characters in your novels.
Technically that’s not a question, but I’m glad I brought it up. I am unashamedly guilty of character jumping. This is when an author has finished a novel but can’t seem to let go of a character, or characters, he or she has invented.
I’ll list only the characters I have jumped into the Cryptid Hunters series here. Jake Lansa (Thunder Cave, Jaguar, and The Last Lobo); Jake’s dad, Doc; Doc’s girlfriend Flanna Brenna; and Raul, all appear in Tentacles, Chupacabra, and/or Mutation. Dylan Hickock; Buckley Johnson; Agent Crow all from Sasquatch appear in Chupacabra and Mutation.
Do I need to read the Jake Lansa series, or Sasquatch, before I read Cryptid Hunters?
Why does it take so long to write a book?
It doesn’t take a long time to write a book, but it does take a long time to think a book, and even a longer time to think a series. Reading a book is an act. You simply sit down and read the book. Writing a book is not an act; it’s a process with thousands of decisions the writer has to make. The writer is constantly thinking about the story he or she is trying to write. What does the character look like? Should I have the character do this or that? If the character does that, what then? Would the character really say this? And on and on and on…
We think about our stories when we’re at our desks writing, when we are watering the garden, when we are at the grocery store, when we are watching TV, when we are reading other author’s books, doing the dishes, emptying the garbage, playing with our children, and on and on and on…until the book is finally published, then it is up to the reader to carry the story on by sharing it with their friends and family, holding the story’s hand, walking it into the future, while the author works on the next book.
For additional insight into Roland Smith’s work, check out his 2012 interview with 1859 Oregon Magazine:
New York Times Bestselling author, Roland Smith, is the author of more than twenty award-winning novels. Before turning to writing full-time he spent more than twenty years working with endangered animals all over the world. Roland lives, with his wife, Marie, on a small farm south of Portland, Oregon. Visit him online at http://www.rolandsmith.com or on Twitter at @RolandCSmith.