Yesterday I posted my review of Evie Manieri’s debut novel Blood’s Pride. But before I read Blood’s Pride, I was fortunate enough to interview Evie herself. As I hadn’t yet read her book and as such couldn’t ask very interesting question about that, I decided to focus on the writing side of things. Evie came back with some interesting answers and I finally learned how being published by two different houses works editing-wise! I hope you enjoy Evie’s answers as much as I did.
I like to make things; ridiculously complicated and impossible things. I’m drawn to people with odd and specific passions, and I admire people who pursue their passions fearlessly. I prefer edges to middles. I like to pick knots apart and I will happily sort out any collection of small objects, like beads or buttons, for hours at a time.
When did you start writing? Did you always want to be a novelist or have you written in other forms as well?
Our elementary school librarian, Mrs. Franz, let us write our own books for the school library. She laminated the pages, bound them with coloured tape and put them on a special shelf. I suppose seeing my mind’s outpourings enrobed in shiny plastic was a thrill I never got over.
I’ve loved books for as long as I can remember, and I can’t remember a time when I didn’t want to write. I’ve always been drawn to any kind of making, but writing had a particular appeal because it was so accessible. It didn’t require any money or someone to drive me to the craft store. I didn’t need to pass an audition or make the team. It was something no one could take away from me, and that was enormously important. It gave me a sense of security and permanence that I often found lacking. I started writing my first real book when I was twenty, the summer after my father died. I finished it not long after moving to New York after graduation. I was fairly proud of it at the time, but I would never want to see it published now. It served its purpose.
I’ve never written anything but novels. I don’t have either the passion or the mind-set for short stories. Thankfully, what everyone told me when I started out – that you can’t get a novel published without publishing short stories first – turned out to be untrue.
Authors often refer to themselves as outliners or pantsers. Which kind are you?
Oh, an outliner, absolutely. Outlines, detailed character sketches, story arcs, you name it. Unfortunately for me, that doesn’t buy me much more than a starting point. As soon as I start writing I begin to embroider, adding in all of those details that an outline can’t capture. That gives me new ideas; relationships take on new depth and new complications arise; justifications have to be found that more often than not take the story in some new direction or add a new complication that underpins everything that came before. I’ll keep updating the outline for a while, but after a certain point it’s all crammed into my head somehow and I just abandon it. That’s when I know I’m in the home stretch.
In the bio section on your site you profess your love for research, which pleased my librarian heart greatly of course. What kind of research went into the novel and where did you find your resources?
I decided when I started Blood’s Pride that I really wanted to build the world from scratch, rather than ground it in any particular historical period or existing culture. Consequently, research opportunities were limited. Someday I’m sure I will write something that requires real research, and then I’m sure I’ll just luxuriate in it.
Something I’ve been wondering about for a while is how the editing process works when you have both a UK and a US editor. How does that work? Do you work on the manuscript with both of them simultaneously or does one of them go through the main editing process and the other just gets a completed manuscript in which they only have to add or detract the extra u’s and swap some of the s’s for z’s?
I’ll admit that I was very worried about that at the start, particularly as a debut author with no experience at having been edited before. As it turned out, both editors worked separately and simultaneously, and I was given two separate sets of edits to work from. By all rights it should have been a disaster, but it worked out wonderfully. Jo Fletcher and Stacy Hill each brought a particular focus that complemented the others’ work, and it all synthesized beautifully. It was like a magic trick, really. I feel extraordinarily lucky to have had that experience. Both editors improved the manuscript immeasurably.
How scary is the editing process? If your fear of blueberries is about control, was it hard to let your manuscript out of your control for the first time?
No, actually it was a tremendous relief no longer having to rely on my own judgement. I had taken the manuscript as far as I could on my own; I was desperate to have someone tell me what was wrong with it so I could make it better. The difficult part came when the editing process had to end and they finally took it away from me (Jo Fletcher delivering a cordial and well-justified smack-down in the final copy edit.) It still feels dreadful to me that I can no longer make changes. I try not to think about it.
To be honest, I’m still waiting. It still feels like I’m playing out a fantasy of my own making. Perhaps that’s the price to be paid for having a vivid imagination; the lines blur both ways.
What’s next for you?
Fortune’s Blight! The manuscript for the sequel to Blood’s Pride is hurtling towards completion, and after that I’ll be getting straight to work on Strife’s Bane. After that will be another book or another series. I have a few ideas floating far back in my mind, but I’m trying to stay focused on the Shattered Kingdoms for now.
Is there something else you’re obsessed with other than books?
I have an obsessive personality, so I will take things up with ridiculous enthusiasm and ride them out for as long as they last. Knitting and crocheting is a constant; I always have a few projects going, the fussier and more complicated the better. I love embroidery, too. I get obsessed with TV shows, like any fan girl. I’m all over anything to do with clockwork, miniatures, drag queens or neo-burlesque. Happily, living in a tiny New York apartment has broken me of any kind of collecting habit. Otherwise, I’d be destitute.
Finally, I have to stay true to my roots and ask a librarian question to finish off with: Do you shelve your books alphabetically, by genre or do you have an ingenious system?
I would have to say… sentimentally? Some sections of the shelves represent certain periods in my life; others may reflect a particular mood, or an avenue of investigation. But I know exactly where everything is!