RF Long, YA and adult author, spoke to Verushka about her writing, her world-building and dropped some hints about her newest novel, The Treachery of Beautiful Things.
What is the advice you wished you had got, the first time you realised you wanted to be a writer?
To find the rules that work for you and ignore all the others. There is so much advice out there for the beginning writer, some of it great, some of it awful and all of it entirely subjective. If a method of writing works for you, go with it.
Your work involves detailed world-building – can you tell us a little about the process of building these worlds for your story?
I work out the world-building as I work on the initial draft. I put in the things I need for the story and then once that draft is finished I go back over it and make sure that everything hangs together logically. My world, my story and my characters rely on each other so they all grow together as I progress through the first draft. I don’t tend to plan in advance, usually going back to write the synopsis once I have a draft. This helps me with the second draft, the story logic and the world-building.
Do you have a map of your world before you begin writing, or do you build your world as you write?
I usually world-build as I go along, but this requires a lot of revision to ensure that it all slots together properly. The lovely thing about world-building is that your can make up your own rules, but these rules have to be consistent. I think I had a map of the Holtlands, long ago, but I kind of lost it. I have a map in my head though.
When it comes to fantasy, do you have a preference to the worlds you write in as in, do you prefer to write in a world of your own making, or as in Soul Fire, and do you prefer writing within the confines of our (real) world?
I’ve used both as a basis and enjoy both. The same amount of world-building tends to go into both. In Soul Fire, for example, while it is set in our world, Weathermere is a made up place, the forest and the Sidhe gateways are invented and the logic of how the gateways and the keys work all had to be thought through. While I based the magical system on stories of the Sidhe and their origins, I adjusted it for the story I was telling and invented new elements.
What has been the greatest influence on your writing?
Music. I find songs the most inspiring thing, and all of my books have songs or a series of songs associated with them. It can be anything – classical, traditional, pop music, heavy rock, opera… love it all.
Have you ever found yourself stuck in your writing? How do you get yourself “unstuck”?
I try a variety of things. I take a break, read something I’ve been dying to read, or work on something else entirely. But there has to be a cut off point where if nothing else works, I have to force myself to put my bum in the seat and get back to work. Deadlines are excellent motivators.
I am completely enamored by the fact that you live in Ireland – I’ve always wanted to visit! Do you ever think you’ll write something based there?
I’ve written two novels set here, particularly in the greater Dublin area where I live and grew up. Both are fantasy novels, one for young adults and another for adults. They’re both currently with my agent so fingers crossed.
As a writer, what fan reaction has resonated with you the most since you started writing?
All feedback from fans is always a tremendous thrill. And now with Twitter that feedback can arrive at any second. It’s amazing and I love it. My favourites have been for Soul Fire, I think – it’s a story very close to my heart. And I got a negative one for The Scroll Thief which makes me smile – they felt there was too much blood. I’m sorry, I do like to torment my characters and things can get pretty gory.
Now I’m starting to get feedback from review copies of my forthcoming novel The Treachery of Beautiful Things, and that’s really incredible. The novel isn’t out until August but the early reviews are great. I tend to squeal and run around a bit when something arrives.
Is there any genre or creatures that you hope to write soon, or you’ve always wanted to try?
I’ve a Space Opera story I’m hoping to get some work done on this year, which is something of a different genre for me. It’s making me work, that’s for sure. I’m also working on a book set in a library, which is enormous fun as I’m a librarian by day. I’m the type of writer that tends to get accosted by plotbunnies with the slightest provocation, so there are always new ideas to play with. As for creatures, I’m not sure, although I have an idea about time travelling assassins…
What can your fans expect from you coming up this year?
My young adult fantasy novel The Treachery of Beautiful Things by Ruth Frances Long will be out on the 16th August 2012. I’m so excited about this one because it’s my first young adult book, it’s packed full of scary fairies, folklore and Shakespeare. A pretty potent combination. There’s currently a preview of the prologue and first few chapters up on my website – www.Rflong.com
R. F. Long always had a thing for fantasy, romance and ancient mysteries. The combination was bound to cause trouble. In university she studied English Literature, History of Religions and Celtic Civilisation, which just compounded the problem.
Her Holtlands Novella The Wolf’s Sister: a Tale of the Holtlands , its sequel The Wolf’s Mate (which are also collected in the print volume Songs of the Wolf) and her novels The Scroll Thief: a Tale of Ithian and the paranormal romance novel Soul Fire are now available from Samhain Publishing.
She also writes for young adults as Ruth Frances Long. Her YA dark fantasy The Treachery of Beautiful Things is coming 16th August 2012 from Dial Books for Young Readers.
She lives in Wicklow, the Garden County of Ireland, and works in a specialised library of rare and unusual books.
But they don’t talk to her that often. Or maybe she’s learning not to listen. Maybe.