Rie Sheridan started writing as a very young child, encouraged by
parents with a love of science fiction. At the age of nine she started working on a fantasy story about elves. She worked on it off and on for several years-her elves getting taller after she read
Tolkien-before putting it aside for high school and college. After college, she started writing again, and paid her major dues writing in the fan fiction arena back in the 1980's, in the DOCTOR WHO and SHADOW CHASERS fandoms. Tired of writing in other people's worlds, she decided that she would like to try resurrecting her elven fantasy, THE BLOOD THAT BINDS. Once she started seriously visiting with her elves, she was never able to go back to writing fanfiction.
Below is an interview I had with Rie Sheridan on AOL
Come join me and get to know a little about Rie and her
Welcome to our spotlight of Rie Sheridan
Anita: Welcome Rie. Ready to go?
Other works by Rie Sheridan
Rie: Ready when you are.
Anita: Ok. For our readers, what genre do you write?
Rie: I write fantasy, fairly exclusively, though I also have published horror and science fiction.
Anita: How did you get started writing and how old were you?
Rie: I've been writing as long as I can remember. My mom has saved stuff from third grade at least...about 30 plus years...
Anita: Did you take any writing classes?
Rie: TONS...but I learned more from my editors in the last year and a half than from all the classes I attended.
Anita: Were these on-line classes, or at school classes?
Rie: Some of each. I took a college class that I hated, community school classes I loved, and several on-line classes that were very helpful for getting back in the groove.
Anita: Do you read a lot? What genres do you read?
Rie: I read constantly--fantasy, horror, mystery, science fiction, historical--you name it, if it catches my attention, I'll read it.
Anita: Was there any special author or teacher that helped you get your start in writing, helped you break into the field?
Rie: That's a tough one. I don't think so--though Lynn Flewelling has been very encouraging about keeping me going.
Anita: Do you have a favorite time and place for writing?
Rie: Lately, I haven't had much time to write at all. But I can write any time and anywhere the mood hits. I always carry a notebook with me.
Anita: How many hours do you think you spend writing weekly?
Rie: Right now is a difficult time for me. I went from having four days a week to write over the summer while I was working part time, to having two days a week to do everything not work related, like normal people. I am still trying to get back into a routine to write a specific amount of time a day. So...lately only three or four hours a week, but I am trying to get it back to at least ten or twelve.
Anita: What kind of work do you do?
Rie: I work for Motorola Semiconductors as a Training Coordinator.
Anita: In what order do you write? For example: Starting at the beginning and working to the end, combining parts, in random order, or in some kind of development cycle?
Rie: I usually write a scene first--the parts I think I need to get down on paper. Then I go back and smooth and fill. Other times I TRY to outline, but that is rare. Usually, I have a key--often a last line--that I work the whole piece around.
Anita: So you're a 'by the seat of the pants' writer as opposed to a 'plotter?'
Rie: DEFINITELY--I let the characters show me what they want captured. Often they go in completely different directions from what I would have planned.
Anita: Where does that "key" you mentioned above come from?
Rie: It depends. I had a story accepted by ShadowKeep that was inspired by a page from my left-handers calendar. It was an Irish proverb that I had never seen before that caught my imagination. In THE RIGHT HAND OF VELACHAZ the key was the title--it was both literal and figurative--and the driving thrust of the story.
Anita: Do you revise as you write, rather than waiting until a rough draft is complete? In general, how many revisions do you find necessary?
Rie: I do both. Usually, some revision as I go, and then complete revision on completion. Lately, I have learned that longer pieces should be filtered through a third party edit if at all possible. I used a professional book doctor on both of my NBI books. Some books require more editing than others...LOL.
Anita: A book editor? That's interesting. Is that before your editor sees it?
Rie: Yes. Those edits occurred before the books were ever submitted. It was on the advice of an editor in Canada who rejected THE BLOOD THAT BINDS.
BLOOD was started when I was nine--it NEEDED a lot of edits. THE RIGHT HAND OF VELACHAZ, recently accepted by LTD, on the other hand, was finished the day before it was submitted, and has never really been edited.
Anita: Nine? Wow. Can you describe some of your writing process for me? Which comes first for you, character or plot?
Rie: Usually, character. I love my characters. They ARE my children. I only have the barest plot most of the time, and then the characters tell me how they would fit into that sequence of events--or where they wouldn't!
Anita: In THE BLOOD THAT BINDS your protagonist Steavil is an elf prince. What was your inspiration for this story? Where did the idea come from? How long did it take you to develop the story?
Rie: Well,this story actually started (back when I was nine) as the story of Roland, and Stefan/Steavil was a minor character. I must confess, a lot of that early inspiration is lost in the mists of time.
But as the story originally went, it was discovered that Stefan was Roland's brother who was raised by a farm family after the queen's death in childbirth. I later decided it was STUPID for a king to subject his own son to vassaldom, no matter what the grief, so that scenario was revised. I must also admit that the elves started out as more the Grimm's shoemaker's variety--and then I read THE LORD OF THE RINGS and they got taller. But NO pointed ears! I really HATE pointed ears on an elf, because it takes TOO much from Tolkein
and shows no imagination. But that's a personal prejudice.
Anita: How do you develop your characters? Do you pattern them after any real people you know? Do you use character sheets or other tools?
Rie: I've created characters in various ways. Sometimes, they are cut from the whole cloth. Other times, they start with an actor as a physical base so that I have a picture in my head. I have a theatrical background, and visualization is very important to me as I write. For example--Collyn Silverbrook started out with Arnold Swartzenegger as a conception, though he morphed into Kevin Sorbo as time went by, LOL. I have done character sheets on most of my main characters at various times, but usually, they just live in my head and I KNOW whether or not something would fit their personality. I often write bits and pieces of what a character would do, and then plot around it. I have scraps of sequels lying around everywhere. Some of the characters are more "vocal" than others.
I have had characters start talking in the grocery store! And I have started whole novels from dreams. For example, Ravenwing (he's a HANDFUL) started off to be a minor character too, and he has DEMANDED that the sequel be his story.
Anita: How do you research your story--what tools do you use?
Rie: That is another sticky wicket (can you tell I am an Anglophile?) I am very bad about research. I hate having to get that specific. That is why I write fantasy. Though I did quite a bit of online research to start a historical I'm working on, and I used my class studies in Asian culture to start a mystery.
Anita: Do you have any writing resources that you'd like to recommend--books or sites?
Rie: That is another of my problems with research--I get flighty. I start something and lose interest. As far as resources go, one of my favorite sites contains the complete works of Shakespeare and I can always find a quote there. I made a point of each of my columns on writing for VERGE having a Shakespearean quote as a basis.
Anita: What do you consider your strongest writing skill? Your weakest?
Rie: I think my strongest skill is characterization. My weakest is the same as most writers--getting a handle on showing instead of telling.
Anita: What do you think is the most important thing for you to do to continue to improve as a writer?
Rie: This is a question I have been asking myself a LOT lately, because I have been reading a lot of FABULOUS fantasy, and trying to decipher what it is that is core to its appeal. I think that it is the maturity of motivation that I need to work on. My characters may be compelling--and for the most part, I think they are--but they need to have more depth. And the description could be stronger too.
Anita: I know THE LUTE AND THE LIAR is scheduled for release by NovelBooks, Inc. next June. Anything else in the works?
Rie: Yes, as I mentioned, THE RIGHT HAND OF VELACHAZ (a Young Adult fantasy) will be out next fall from LTD books. I am in edit with my book doctor on a science fiction novel I've been working on for some time.
And I have a collection of short stories (fantasy, horror, and science fiction) called "Rie Visions" available from SunnySide Up Publishing.
Anita: Aside from writing, what subjects are you passionate about? Do you try to write these subjects into your stories?
Rie: I try. I love myth, magic, and history. I am a fool for languages, though not very good at them. I always try to make sure that the mythos and languages of the characters show through. I've tried to write in my love of music (though I can't play ANY of my musical instrument collection) and the mystery I'm working on involves the Terracotta Warriors of China with key significance.
Anita: Are you involved in any activities just for the experience--to improve your writing?
Rie: I read a LOT of fantasy, and I look at it very carefully to see what works and what doesn't. I also like to role-play to work out scenarios and characters, and I enjoy going to the Renaissance Festivals to gather ideas for costumes and details.
Anita: What advice do you have for the aspiring writers in our audience? What would you do differently if you were just starting out?
Rie: I would learn as much as I could about grammar and style, because those things CAN be taught. Passion and creativity can't. You can learn a craft though, and it might spark a latent creativity. I would write, write, write!
Anita: Thanks so much for meeting with me tonight, Rie. I enjoyed hearing about your books and your writing technique.
Rie: Thanks for the opportunity! I have really enjoyed it too.
Book on Simegen.com today.