Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Author Bites - Janice Gable Bashman and Jonathan Maberry on Research and Writing

It was only natural that after reading the awesome that is Wanted Undead or Alive that I'd want authors Janice Gable Bashman and Jonathan Maberry to stop by and say a few words on it. It's obvious from the get-go that the effort that went into this book was massive, not only on a collaborative scale but on a research one as well. If what you're writing even hints at the notion of good versus evil, then this is one book you should pick up. And if you're writing anything non-fiction, or even fiction as these points travel beyond the confines of non-ficton writing, you'll want to read the guest post below. Short but sweet, Bashman and Maberry offer up some valuable tips and neat insight into their own writing processes. Thanks, you two, for stopping by!

TIPS FROM THE TRENCHES by Janice Gable Bashman and Jonathan Maberry

When writing a book there’s a whole lot that goes into the process. It’s more than just putting down one word after the next and hoping it all just comes together. That’s even more apparent when you’re writing non-fiction—there’s research and interviews and facts to deal with. You just can’t pull a story out of your head and throw it onto the page to create a first draft.

In our book WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, we deal with the struggle of good vs evil in film, comics, pop culture, world myth, literature, and the real world. Everything from vampire slayers to paranormal investigators to FBI serial-killer profilers. It includes interviews with folks like Stan Lee, Mike Mignola, Jason Aaron, Fred Van Lente, Peter Straub, Charlaine Harris and many more; and the book is fully illustrated by top horror, comics & fantasy artists.

To research and gather all of this information takes time, as does reaching out to hundreds of people to interview them for the book. But it’s whole heck of a lotta fun. So, how do two authors create a book that’s chock-filled with facts and also a fun read? Here’s our tips from the trenches:

1. Know Your Stuff—There’s a lot to be said about knowing your material; it’s difficult to write a book without the knowledge. So, if you’re writing about vampires or ghosts or serial killers, like we did, take the time to do the research. It’s exciting if you’re interested in your topic—there’s so much information out there. We’re not complaining though; we got to read books and comics and watch movies to research WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE. Know your stuff but enjoy the process.

2. Find Experts For the Stuff You Don’t Know—Okay, maybe this is apparent, but if you don’t know something, find someone who does. It’s not about writing what you know; it’s about knowing what you write. We reached out to sooo many authors, filmmakers, comic writers, actors, FBI profilers, and more to get their take on the subjects in WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE, and we’ve included their responses in the book. Sure, we don’t know everything, but we have a great gang of people who do. It’s amazing how exciting these folks get when you approach them about an interesting project—they’re stoked to help you out and want to participate. So, reach out and find those who can help. With the internet and social media sites, it should be a snap.

3. Make it Fun—Non-fiction can be boring if it’s not done right. When you make it fun for the readers, the book takes them on a thrilling ride. We delved into the whole concept of good versus evil and mixed it up with movies and books and comics and a whole slew of stuff. There’s lots of sidebars and artwork and fun facts mixed in with a quirky sense of humor. We’re already getting great reviews because WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE is a fun book.

4. Build on Your Strengths—Co-authoring a book may seem like a difficult process—two people with differing opinions and the potential to seriously butt heads—but it’s not. Know your project, know your goals, and know your strengths. If one person is better at interviewing or researching than the other, then that’s who should do that part of the project. If one person is more versed in vampire lore and pulp fiction, as Jonathan was, or more knowledgeable about FBI profilers and serial killers or ghosts, as I was, then that’s who should tackle those chapters. Of course, you have to communicate and trust your partner. Co-authoring means just that—two people sharing and executing a vision. If you’re committed and lucky, you’ll end up with something fantastic that both you and your readers will enjoy.

5. Enjoy the Ride—We had a blast writing WANTED UNDEAD OR ALIVE and the people we interviewed had fun too. Remember to enjoy the process, meet the deadlines, and enjoy the ride.

Jonathan Maberry is a NY Times bestseller, multiple Bram Stoker Award-winner and a writer for Marvel Comics. He has written a number of award-winning nonfiction books and novels on the paranormal and supernatural, including THE CRYPTOPEDIA, VAMPIRE UNIVERSE, THEY BITE, ZOMBIE CSU and PATIENT ZERO. His latest novel is ROT & RUIN. Visit Jonathan’s website at http://www.jonathanmaberry.com/.

Janice Gable Bashman has written for THE BIG THRILL, NOVEL & SHORT STORY WRITER’S MARKET, THE WRITER, WILD RIVER REVIEW, and many others. Visit Janice’s website at www.janicegablebashman.com.

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