The My Writing Process blog tour
Posted June 10, 2014on:
Welcome to the My Writing Process blog tour!
Terena Scott, the fabulous author and publisher/founder of independent press Medusa’s Muse, invited me to participate.
Q & A with Kirsten Imani Kasai
1) What am I working on?
Right now I’m wrapping up the first draft of my fourth novel, The Book of Blood Magic. It’s a deconstructed Gothic horror novel novel about a time-traveling succubus and a Creole plantation in 1850s New Orleans. Lydia, a present-day architectural historian, discovers journals and letters from Isidore and Emilie Saint-Ange, owners of Belle Rive, the only Creole plantation in 1850s New Orleans. Through the medium of a dream realm and mysterious house, Lydia and Isidore become entangled in a supernatural shared psychosis.
The novel’s triple narratives explore: The onset of psychosis and mental health treatment as viewed through contemporary and 19th century lenses—BOBM contrasts modern care with the burgeoning revolution in psychiatric care and asylum reformations; Slavery, the abolitionist movement, caste and class systems as experienced by mixed race (mulatto/Creole) French and American citizens in the 21st and 19th centuries; The juxtaposition of religious Spiritualism, Vodou and the advent of rationalism (preceding Darwin’s Evolution of Species).
2) How does my work differ from others of its genre?
My writing is lyrical, poetic and dense. I’ve heard it described as “ornate.” I am just as concerned with the musicality of the writing, its imagery, sensations and textural impressions as the standard structures of dialog, plot, pacing etc. I like to write stories that leave “what happened?” open to interpretation, like a puzzle you can return to and solve in new ways each time. I believe fiction should be challenging, emotionally stimulating and intellectually nourishing. Additionally, it’s very female-focused, exploring the realities of women’s complex physiologies, the interplays of internal and external experiences, how the layers of our lives are impacted by and, conversely, affect the world around us. Sexuality is a topic I’m forever examining and dissecting: sometimes, that makes readers uncomfortable, but the topics that discomfort us tend to be the ones we most need to explore and evaluate for their roles in our own lives.
3) Why do I write what I do?
Hmm, see above! I’m drawn to the dark side, the seamy underbelly, the disturbing, creepy, weird and unusual. Humanity and life in this world is endlessly fascinating.
4) How does my writing process work?
I’ve learned to wait until an idea has completed its gestation phase and demands attention. Then I start work, writing just to get the feel of the idea and let the voice of the story express itself, for they are always distinct and unique from the other stories/poems I’ve written, and follow the trail to see where it leads. More of a discovery writer than a plotter/planner, I like to open myself to the process, almost as if channeling it. Sometimes I think of myself as a radio. I need to tune in to the right frequency to hear the broadcast, then I basically take dictation, and go back later with an editorial eye to technically shape and refine it. Sounds a little “out there” but it works. Storytelling is a collaborative effort between me and the characters who need to speak–I act as an interpreter of dreams and the hidden world. With the Book of Blood Magic, there’s more work on my part to piece together the story as its presented to me. It requires a lot of research to make certain I’m getting the details right so that they feel as real as waking life.
Next week, June 16, 2014, Page a Day guest blogger James Rhodes and Michelle Augello-Page will answer these questions. Be sure to visit the sites below to read more insight into the writing process.
James Rhodes is the author of The Hettford Witch Hunt series. He grew up in a small sheltered village on the Wirral where there was very little to do except read and write stories. After drinking his way through university he moved to live with his wife in Baltimore City. He has taught at university level, worked as a day labourer and spent a happy time working as a gardener. He currently lives in a small sheltered village on the Wirral with his wife and three children. He would much rather you read his books than paid for them. Read his interview at pageadaywriters.wordpress.com.
Michelle Augello-Page writes poetry, erotica, and dark fiction. Her work has appeared in art galleries, online and print publications, anthologies, and audio and e-book formats. Michelle’s collection of dark and erotic stories, Into the Woods, was published by Oneiros Books in 2014. She is also the editor of Siren, an online zine for artists of all genres who create new, edgy, and experimental work. Read her interview at michelleaugellopage.wordpress.com.