If you’ve been around me for any length of time, you know that I eat, breathe, sleep the fantasy genre. But not just any fantasy books—they’ve got to be beautifully crafted, with compelling characters who aren’t perfect and wholly good, and the world has to be stunning. Teresa Frohock’s MISERERE is all those things:
Miserere: An Autumn Tale
(Night Shade Books / July 1, 2011)
Exiled exorcist Lucian Negru deserted his lover in Hell in exchange for saving his sister Catarina’s soul, but Catarina doesn’t want salvation. She wants Lucian to help her fulfill her dark covenant with the Fallen Angels by using his power to open the Hell Gates. Catarina intends to lead the Fallen’s hordes out of Hell and into the parallel dimension of Woerld, Heaven’s frontline of defense between Earth and Hell.
When Lucian refuses to help his sister, she imprisons and cripples him, but Lucian learns that Rachael, the lover he betrayed and abandoned in Hell, is dying from a demonic possession. Determined to rescue Rachael from the demon he unleashed on her soul, Lucian flees his sister, but Catarina’s wrath isn’t so easy to escape. In the end, she will force him once more to choose between losing Rachael or opening the Hell Gates so the Fallen’s hordes may overrun Earth, their last obstacle before reaching Heaven’s Gates.
Read the first four chapters online FREE!
Check out the book trailer!
Today Teresa is here to answer my interview question as part of her blog tour. I’ve asked her a little about her writing process, as I’ve only gotten to read those four sample chapters of MISERERE so far, but maybe we can convince her to come back later to answer more questions about the book, hmm?
Raised in a small town, Teresa Frohock learned to escape to other worlds through the fiction collection of her local library. She eventually moved away from Reidsville and lived in Virginia and South Carolina before returning to North Carolina, where she currently resides with her husband and daughter.
Teresa has long been accused of telling stories, which is a southern colloquialism for lying. Miserere: An Autumn Tale is her debut novel.
Teresa can be found most often at her blog and web site. Every now and then, she heads over to Tumblr and sends out Dark Thoughts, links to movies and reviews that catch her eye. You can also follow Teresa on Twitter @TeresaFrohock and join her author page on Facebook.
Lindsay: Welcome, Teresa! I can’t wait to read the rest of the book—you’ve made Lucian’s struggles against his past, his sister, his world so vivid, and I love it. There’s so much depth to your writing! You’ve said on your blog that you do not write quickly, and often edit as you write the first draft. What more can you tell us about your process, from that first feature spark to a finished draft?
Thanks for hosting me today, Lindsay, I always love visiting you here.
In terms of first features, occasionally I get “what if” plot ideas, but most of the time, my story ideas begin with a character. Lucian started with a dream, Guillermo came to me as I was daydreaming one day, and there was something intriguing about both men—I knew they had stories to tell.
So once I have my character, I choose a theme. I want it to be something that I feel really strongly about because I think that makes me and the reader care about the character and his or her story. Sometimes the theme comes to me and stays consistent throughout the novel like it did with MISERERE, and sometimes I pick a theme, but the character dictates another, like what’s happening with THE GARDEN right now.
I do character sketches and histories, and these are subject to change given how the story progresses. I do a lot of research on the front end of the novel; it’s amazing how much research I did on castles and battlements so I could describe the Citadel and its grounds. All that research translated to a few pages, but it’s worthwhile, because I feel that it makes the description easy on the reader. They can clearly see the scene.
Then I work out a rough synopsis with several scenes and how I intend to bridge those scenes so they turn into chapters. For example: in MISERERE, I knew that the exorcism would take place in an abandoned building. In the original synopsis and first draft, it was an old mill; in the final draft, it was an abandoned church. All the action remains the same, but the places changed in context with the needs of the story.
From that point forward, there is nothing to do but write. With MISERERE, I wrote the entire first draft, then went back to do edits. My climax rose then flat-lined, so I ended up re-writing the entire second half of the book. Then I had to re-write the first part to match the new second half!
I’m doing things a little differently with THE GARDEN. I’ve written eight very rough chapters and stopped essentially at the half-way point of the novel. Now I’m filling in those motivations in the first eight chapters, because events in the second half of the novel will be dependent on the motivations in the first half. I will average about a chapter every two weeks (maybe less, depending on how polished the drafts emerge) until the novel is finished.
My first drafts are always little more than stage direction: Lucian enters the dining room and sits down, dialogue, action, cut. Then I go through the scenes again and ask myself questions, for example in the dining room: what does Lucian think when Catarina tells him Rachael is dying? How does that make him feel? Have I adequately explained who Rachael is and why her death is so important not just to Lucian, but to the entire story? Those kinds of things.
Each evening when I pull up the chapter that I’m working on, I read what I wrote the night before, tweak or fill in anything that needs to be fixed, then move on to add the new portions. I ask myself questions: did I include or mention all the characters present in this scene at least once; is it easy for the reader to follow the action; I look for gaps in logic (one of my favorite logic issues was in the original draft when I had Lucian sitting in a “silent” room listening to a “crackling” fire).
Once I’m done, I pass it along to my critique group, and while they’re editing that chapter, I start on the next one. Once the novel is complete, I read through it once for each character to edit character motivations. I am looking for consistency in their actions and growth. I have to see a change in that character from the first time he or she enters the story until the end.
I work full-time, so my writing/reading time is in the evenings. I try to spend at least two or three hours writing or editing every evening, and my weekends are devoted to major edits. That’s why I’m such a slow reader right now, most of my free time is spent writing; however, I do try to carve a half hour to an hour out of every day to read.
My goodness—no wonder it takes me so long to write a book…
How about you? Share a little about your writing process in the comments or post a link to a blog post at your blog where you talk about your writing process.
Thanks for the insight, Teresa! Best of luck finishing THE GARDEN, and getting the word out about MISERERE. Teresa’s next interview question will be at Brenda Drake’s blog, talking about writing scenes—which are her favorite, and which are the most challenging. You can keep up with all the interview questions at Teresa’s blog.