It is with pleasure that I have Laura Resnick here today to talk about yesterdays release of her Planeswalker novel, The Purifying Fire, which is based on the popular fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering. Laura has written romance as Laura Leone, as well as fantasy and most recently the urban fantasy Disappearing Nightly. Laura will be dropping by to answer any questions you may have about her writing so don't be shy or just say hi!
SFG: Your new fantasy novel The Purifying Fire is based on the character of Chandra Nalaar from the popular fantasy card game Magic: The Gathering. What kind of research did you do to write the story? What were the challenges?
Primarily, I had to learn as much as possible, as quickly as possible, about Magic, the Multiverse, Planeswalkers, the color wheel, and Chandra Nalaar. And since I was brand-new to Magic, I was starting from scratch.
So I studied (practically memorized) the excellent Writers Guide that Wizards of the Coast provided me with, which explains a lot about the setting and its premises. I met by phone with members of the game's creative team to learn more about the world that they've developed and which they continue evolving. On Magic's huge website, I got familiar with all the pages that relate specifically to my character or things I needed to know. I explored the Magic card database extensively (which was fun, since the cards are really cool). And I got some gamers (particularly a man named Craig Goodrick, who was in the gamers room at an sf/f convention where I was a guest speaker in October) to show me how the game works. Also, my editor was readily available whenever I asked for information or feedback.
All of the above was also the big challenge of writing The Purifying Fire, i.e. learning someone else's world and characters well enough to write about them. I had never before really worked with any worlds or characters but my own.
SFG: Tell us more about the book. Do you have a favourite scene?
The Purifying Fire introduces Chandra Nalaar as a fictional character for the first time (rather than as a gaming or webzine character). She's young, relatively new to planeswalking and trying to learn more about (and to learn better mastery over) her immense talent. She's also, like many people, wrestling with her own demons, and looking for her path in life—but, of course, in a high-adventure, action-packed way.
During the course of the novel, Chandra becomes the target of assassins, pursues a mysterious artifact, gets captured by a mad vampire prince, confronts a powerful cult and reluctantly teams up with an enigmatic stranger who she's pretty sure is trying to collect the bounty on her head. The story culminates in her confrontation with the Purifying Fire, an ancient and little-understood phenomenon that will change everyone's lives, though not in the way anyone expected.
SFG: Doppelgangster, the sequel to your debut urban fantasy novel Disappearing Nightly is coming out in January 2010. Can you tell us something about the book and the main character Esther Diamond?
Esther Diamond is a struggling actress who gets involved in bizarrely dangerous adventures with a centuries-old mage named Max, whose day job is protecting New York City from Evil. Esther's would-be boyfriend is a dedicated Irish-Cuban police detective, Connor Lopez, who thinks (with very good reason, even though he's mistaken) that she's felonious and Max is dangerously insane.
In the upcoming book, Doppelgangster, Esther is working as a singing waitress in Little Italy when Mafia wiseguys start dying mysteriously right after seeing their own perfect doubles. So Max and Esther join forces with semi-retired hit-man Lucky Battistuzzi in hopes of avoiding a full-scale mob war and/or becoming duplicated and whacked out themselves.
SFG: You’ve written romance as Laura Leone, and fantasy and urban fantasy as well. How do you go about choosing which genre to write in for your next project? Do you have a favourite?
Well, although I started my career as Laura Leone and wrote fourteen romance novels, my last romance release was over five years ago, and I'm so busy (and so happy) as a fantasy writer, it's not very likely that I'll write any more romance-genre novels. (However, never say "never.")
What I choose to write next often simply depends on what I'm scheduled to deliver next. But on occasions when there's a hole in my schedule that allows me to work on something brand new, I decide what to write based on a combination of what's coming to a boil on my mental stovetop (where there are always a number of potential projects brewing), combined with what I think I might be able to sell, combined with what strikes me as a good career strategy for me. (Ex. Writing a three-book romance-genre proposal would not be a good strategy for me at a time when my goal is to build momentum in my fantasy career.)
And my "favorite" genre is usually whatever I wrote last or am looking forward to writing next. Whatever I'm writing currently always feels, for about the first 95% of the project, like I was a fool to sign a contract for this, I can't possibly wrestle the book to the ground, and I will probably have to give the money back. (I have by now learned to accept that it always feels this way to me, and my job is to keep writing anyhow.)
SFG: You’ve said that reading books and watching films are two of your favourite activities. Do you have a favourite book and film or favourite genre? What are you watching and reading lately?
I'm an omnivoracious reader and film viewer. In fiction, I don't care what genre a book is in; the characteristic I look for in fiction is whether the writer's voice really speaks to me, just reels me in and keeps me engaged. That's a very personal, individual quality. Like making friends or falling in love, it's just not something you can achieve with everyone (or even with most people). In films, the storytelling style has to appeal me, which includes strong story logic (many films lack this), well-crafted dialogue (ditto), and engaging or compelling characters.
Some novels I've really enjoyed lately include The Laughter of Dead Kings by Elizabeth Peters, in which a semi-retired art thief and a couple of art historians dash around Europe and Egypt in search of a missing mummy; The Razor's Edge, by W. Somerset Maugham, which I've read several times by now, about a young man's active quest to find meaning in the world after fighting in WWI; Ten Thousand Lovers by Edeet Ravel, about a Canadian peacenik who falls in love with an Israeli army interrogator; Lord John and the Brotherhood of the Blade, by Diana Gabaldon, the second novel about a closeted-gay 18th British officer (in an era when homosexuality was a capital crime) on active duty in the Seven Years War who solves mysteries in his copious spare time.
SFG: If you could be any supernatural creature, what would you be?
Is there a supernatural creature that can eat and drink all it wants, and lie around all day reading books and watching DVDs, yet always be fit and trim? If so, that's the one I want to be.
I have 5 copies of The Purifying Fire to giveaway, provided by the fine folks at Wizards of the Coast. The contest is open to entrants world-wide until Friday July 10 at Midnight. Comments on this post count as an entry. Full giveaway details here.
Other Blog Tour Stops for Laura
Laura will be at Fantasy Café tomorrow to talk about her research process, her experiences living abroad, and what book she’d love to take credit for if history could be rewritten.
Laura was at SciFiChick yesterday to talk about what she enjoyed most about writing for the Planeswalker series, her writing career, what inspires her, how she spends her leisure time, and her next projects on the radar. SciFiChick is also running a contest for 5 giveaways of The Purifying Fire.