Monday, June 15, 2015

How Authors Write~Elizabeth Varadan

Today I'm pleased to have Elizabeth Varadan here as part of my How Author's Write series. As a huge Sherlock Holmes fan, I'm super excited for Elizabeth's book birthday today for Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls. Congrats and Happy Book Birthday!!!

Welcome, Elizabeth. Please tell us a little about what you write? 
Thank you so much for having me here today, Mary. I write for both children and adults. For children, I’m drawn to the middle grades, and I write both fantasy and mysteries. For adults, I write mostly short stories and flash fiction.

Do you use 1st person, 3rd person, multiple POVs?
Most of my fiction is in 3rd person, close, although I’m rewriting a historical novel/ghost story that is in 1st person. It just seemed to call for that point of view.

How do you get started with a book? 
For me, it does vary. For Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, it was the idea: What if a young girl became friends with Sherlock Holmes? What if she even helped him solve a case? [I can't wait to read this!!] For the historical novel with the ghost that I’m rewriting now, it was character. I actually dreamed the ending to the story and in my dream heard the voice of one of the characters and built the other characters around her.

Do you draft quickly, or are you more detailed in your draft?
I’m the epitome of the term “panster”, although I’m trying to be better about plotting things out in advance. I always have a general idea, and then I poke along from the start. I also revise a lot as I go, so that first draft can take a few weeks. The good news is that in my rewrites a lot has already been fleshed out. I still have to rewrite several times to get the story just right. [Your process sounds a lot like mine. I'm still trying to learn to do more plotting up front, in addition to the mental plotting I do. Maybe someday.]

Do you do research before your first draft, during?
I research both before and during, and sometimes even after, to go back and check certain details. [Sometimes it seems research is never done. Not that I mind. I actually like research :-)]

Do you outline?
I tried once to outline a story before sitting down to write it, and the story lost its zip for me. What works best for me is if I write out the general idea –main characters, problem or story kernel, ending I’m working toward – and then get that first draft out. And then I go through and outline what happened in each chapter, marking what I think are weak spots to be addressed before the re-write -- questions that need to be answered, conflicts in information, that sort of thing.

Do you name everything up front when you are drafting or do you leave comments for yourself to go back and fill in later so you don't lose the flow of what you are working on?
I have to have the characters’ names from the start. And then much of it is naming as I go. For me the “flow” doesn’t really work if I have blank spaces waiting to be filled. I have to fill them before I can go on.

Do you work with CP's or Beta's? If so, how soon into your draft do you let them see your work?
I belong to two really great writing groups. One group meets faithfully once a month, and we bring short work at any stage – no more than twelve pages -- to these meetings, both early drafts and rewrites. (It’s nice to see the progress in rewrites.) The second group meets more flexibly, around every six weeks or two months, and we bring more finished work to the meetings; often the whole book in a later draft, which is helpful in a different way. [These sound like great groups!]

What books/websites have you found most helpful to helping you write your best?
A really wonderful book is David Corbett’s The Art of Character. He has some exercises that are so evocative that just reading them makes characters come to life in my head, whether I actually do the exercise or not. Another book that I like to dip into for a mystery I’m writing, is Carolyn Wheat’s How to Write Killer Fiction. And one of my all time favorites is Ray Bradbury's Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity. Online, I’ve enjoyed Chris Eboch’s blog, Write Like a Pro. She publishes all kinds of writing tips and has book suggestions, depending on what you like to read or write. And Nancy Hardy’s site, Fiction University, has great articles on aspects of writing that I find very helpful.

What do you know now that you wish you knew when you started writing?
How many times you’ll have to rewrite a manuscript to get it just right, and how many rejections you might have to deal with. (It’s also good to know that you might be happy those early drafts didn’t get published.)

What do you have out now, or coming out?
My middle grade mystery, set in Victorian London, Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, released today from MX Publishing.

In Imogene and the Case of the Missing Pearls, a day after Imogene's obnoxious step-cousins pay a visit, her mother's pearls go missing. When Sherlock Holmes is called in, Imogene, harboring a secret desire to become a detective, sees her chance to learn from the great Mr. Holmes.

You can order your copy at Amazon or Book Depository 

Any upcoming events?
I will have two book signings in July:

-Hein Book Company, 204 Main Street, in Jackson, on Tuesday, July 7th at 6:00 p.m.,
-Swan’s Fine Books, 1381 Locust St. in San Francisco, on Saturday, July 11th, at 3:00 p.m.

A website we can find you and your books at?
You can find me at either of my blogs:

Additional links:
Twitter: @4thWishVaradan
Amazon Author page:

Thanks so much for visiting, Elizabeth!!!

1 comment:

Thanks for dropping by. I love reading comments and will respond by e-mail as soon as possible.