Fridays 5 with E. P. Clark
1.) When did you first get serious about writing?
A.) I'd been thinking about it since I first learned to read and write, but I got serious about it in the sense of sitting down on a regular basis and completing a full-length work when I was 18.
2.) What is the hardest part for you about writing?
A.) NOT QUITTING. Doing it regularly even when I don't feel like it is hard for me but essential. I like to think of it as a practice, like with yoga. And like with yoga, I find I just have to get out my props and do it and then most of the time it's okay. After that, I think the hardest thing for me is probably keeping track of everything. I tend to write really long, complicated novels, and it can be difficult for me to remember what's already happened or even what characters are called, especially if it's been 6 months or a year or more since I've last encountered them. I find spreadsheets and lots of editing are helpful in that regard.
As younger sister to the Empress of all of Zem’ and the only one possessing her foremothers’ gifts of clairvoyance, Slava is both one of the most powerful and powerless people in the Known World. Desperate to escape the intrigue and hostility of her sister’s kremlin, Slava takes off on an expedition to the Midnight Land, the uninhabited, unmapped tundra on the Northern edge of Zem’. But as she travels North, Slava discovers that it is more than just the world of women that covets her gifts, and that fate is pushing her to become a most unlikely hero…
Combining motifs from classical Russian literature with the genre of high fantasy, this book is both a gripping coming-of-age tale and a subversive exploration of gender, morality, and subjectivity.
3.) How did you feel upon publication of your first completed project?
A.) Exhausted, drained, disbelieving. Also elated, giddy, and apprehensive.
4.) What is more important to you, story, or character? Why?
A.) Definitely character. I recently read an article by Gary Saul Morson about how literature is the only discipline that causes us to actively practice empathy, which clarified what for me is the most important thing about reading: understanding and empathizing with another person. All the action sequences in the world are meaningless if we don't care about what happens to the people experiencing them.
5.) What is a typical day like in your world?
A.) I'm a university instructor, so it varies by whether it's during the semester or during break, what my teaching schedule is, whether it's a teaching day or a writing day, and what part of the semester it is. I'm also trying to shift gears from writing to marketing now that I've released my first book, so that changes things too. But most of the time it's something like: Phase 1) Get up, check email, meditate, breakfast, walk dogs. Phase 2) If I have a morning class, go to campus, teach, plan lessons, answer work emails, attend any meetings that need attending, teach more classes, etc. If I don't have class, then I generally spend the mornings answering email and/or writing (sometimes my fiction, sometimes my academic writing or translation work) and doing outreach and promotion, either for my own writing or for my department. Phase 3) Come home, rest (I have health issues that require an annoying amount of rest), walk dogs, yoga, tackle more emails (dealing with email is a huge theme in my life and takes up hours of my day), do some writing and/or promotional activities, walk dogs, supper (possibly combined with more writing, although I'm trying not to do that), and then--and this is very important--PUT EVERYTHING AWAY AND REST BEFORE I HURT MYSELF. I'll often read during the evening and I'm trying to read more indie authors and post reviews of their work.