I met Misty (M.D.) through Maryland Romance Writers. By some stroke of fate we ended up in the same critique group. At the time Misty had recently gotten a contract through Dutton for her debut novel, Archetype. While I had been critiquing another WIP of Misty's, she asked if I would read Archetype and critique Prototype (Archetype's sequel) as she wrote it.
I didn't really expect Archetype to wow me the way it did. The best part was that while I read it, I could text or tweet Misty whenever I wanted to talk about the book. About every other tweet/text I sent went something like, "Oh my God, I can't believe you wrote this." It's one of those books that when you recommend it to people, the only thing you can think to say is, "It's sooooooooo good."
Misty has taught me a lot about writing, especially plot development, but while I have the luxury of being able to pick her brain whenever I want, I realize the rest of you aren't so lucky. Sorry folks, she's mine and you can't have her. You can, however, gain some insights from the interview I did with her.
- When did you first really say, “I want to be a writer.”?
- I’m not sure I ever did! When I first got the itch in high school, I kept it very much to myself because my dad was very against the idea of someone becoming an artist or writer. Not that he doesn’t have an appreciation, because he very much does. He has a lot of respect for artists. BUT he’s also seen a lot of struggling artists, so it was like a glaring warning in my house.
- We both know writing isn’t a solitary effort. We brainstorm with our critique partner and our husbands. If we’re struggling with a scene or a plot point, or in the case of you and me, a character’s attire, we reach out to our “team” for help or answers. For those writers who don’t have a team, do you have any advice for going about building one?
- Social Media! I met my first critique partners (Jodi, Tracy, and Charissa) on our blogs through commenting. I’ve since met other writers in my writing group (Maryland Romance Writers), as you know. But starting a conversation with someone can happen anywhere. Twitter or Facebook or Tumblr or even Google+. You then just have to be brave enough to share.
- You’ve told me you’ve taken several workshops, as well as read many books on the craft of writing cover to cover. Which workshop was the most beneficial? If you could recommend just one book, what would it be?
- I think that’s impossible to narrow down to one. All aspects of writing are as important as the next. Every workshop was necessary and eye opening. As was every book I picked up. Each has there own merits, and we’ll all take away something different.
- How much did Archetype change from the version that landed you your agent, to the version that is now published? Were there things you were asked to change? If so, was there anything you refused to change?
- It’s almost the same, believe it or not. The changes were minor. VERY minor. A name change and one additional scene were requested from my agent, Jennifer Weltz. Then when my editor, Denise Roy, got it, she asked we add a little subplot to Dr. Travista’s character. Each request barely touched the version I submitted.
- The main character and narrator in Archetype, Emma, wakes up in a hospital with no memory of how she got there or who she is. We’re only given her point of view, and as a reader we’re piecing together the puzzle with her throughout the book. As the writer, you knew who the bad guys and the good guys were, but you constantly threw in little details to keep the reader in doubt. Any advice on how to do this?
- Cross your fingers. I honestly was in fear of messing this up the entire time I was writing it. The one thing I wish I’d thought of while doing it was to keep a spreadsheet or something similar to track the information dropped. It was difficult to remember what I’d allowed Emma to know versus what I knew, or what Declan knew, or what Noah knew. It was all very confusing. I swear it was a miracle I made it through that novel.
- Archetype is set in the future, but as someone who is often turned off by futuristic sci-fi, I found it realistic in a way that kept me reading. It wasn’t far-fetched, but it was imaginative enough to make me wonder, “what if?”. I could see the future being the way it is in Archetype so much that it took my breath away. How did you keep the balance between reality and fantasy?
- I’m not sure. I saw the entire story like a movie, and I love futuristic sci-fi movies. Especially those where everything looks totally normal to us, but then a hologram appears. There are some movies that get gadget heavy, and make the living situation crazy, but I wanted this to feel clean and welcoming. I wanted this to be a novel everyone would want to read, not just the hardcore sci-fi readers.
You can read more about M.D. Waters at http://mdwatersauthor.com/