Part one can be read here.
Airship Ambassador: When people read Gold Mountain, what would you like for them to take away from the story and the characters that they could apply to their own lives?
Karin Lowachee: I’m not sure, specifically. I don’t tend to write for obvious “moral of the story” reasons. Stories grow from a collaboration of ideas and characters, and I don’t necessarily like to dictate what people should take from it. So as much as I can talk about what went into the writing of it (oftentimes, these things are unconscious and only become explicit when I have to talk about it), people can take away what they will from it all – or not.
AA: What elements did you specifically include so readers could feel the Gold Mountain world?
KL: Voice is important to me, so capturing Jules’ voice (which creates the tone of the story) and being specific in my choice of language—how I described the world and her emotions—was a conscious focus.
AA: How long did it take to write, and rewrite, Gold Mountain? What were the deadlines and publishing schedule like for you?
KL: I can’t remember…I think I struggled with it a bit, to capture the voice. And to figure out how to “land” the story so it ended on some solid emotional note. If I remember right. It’s been a few months! I was working on other stories for other anthologies around the same time too so my process on what went on for which story has blurred.
AA: What kind of attention has Gold Mountain generated?
KL: Not much yet, though not surprisingly I think I read one reviewer mention that it’s not very steampunky. But that’s all right since I wasn’t going for an overt steampunky vibe.
AA: With your writing experience, and your works being translated into several languages, how are new readers finding you – conventions, website, word of mouth, etc?
KL: From what I gather, a lot of word of mouth and wonderful bloggers/reviewers and interviewers like yourself continuing to write about my work.
AA: Over the years, what has your publishing experience been like?
KL: It’s been honestly great. I’ve been lucky to work with outstanding editors, copyeditors, artists…I don’t have a single negative thing to say about the people I’ve worked with. I enjoy every stage of publishing. I know some writers aren’t thrilled about edits, or copyedits, or reviewing page proofs, but I actually really enjoy it all. The best byproduct of publishing, though, is connecting with my readers. I have a very dedicated group of people who encourage and support my writing, and create art for it, and love to discuss the characters and themes. I’m open to their questions and comments. That dialogue is amazing. Some of them have shared their personal stories with me, their lives, and how my writing has affected them, and I consider that an honor. It’s why I don’t just write for myself and keep it in a drawer. Being able to communicate your work to the outside world and develop a dialogue with other people is a privilege.
AA: That sounds like a great experience and attitude for both you and your readers! For the aspiring writer, what lessons have you learned about having an editor, their feedback, and your writing?
KL: My first editor told me this on her editing notes and I’ve kept it in mind. She said, “Everything can be discussed but nothing can be ignored.” Meaning, if she flagged it then I have to address it at least. I go into the editing process with the least amount of ego so that we can have a dialogue about the work, because the book or story shouldn’t be held hostage because of vanity. I want to make the work better, that’s the goal always, and if the editor can help make that happen, then I am more than happy to make changes. I learned early not to be so attached to my writing that I can’t consider different angles.
Ultimately my vision is mine, but a great editor can help you realize it – and the ones I’ve worked with did just that. Always be respectful of their thoughts, and as the creator of the work, know what you want as much as possible. The clearer you are about your own writing, the clearer you can be about if something an editor suggests won’t work for it – and you’ll be able to back it up. I’m conscious about looking at my writing in different ways, depending on the stage of development it’s in. When you’re in editing mode, that’s a different mode than when you’re creating. I think it’s important for writers to understand their process as much as possible. The unconscious part of your brain will always be in play when you’re creating. But knowing how your process works is another way to hone your skills and it will allow you to articulate yourself to editors in that editorial stage.
AA: Those are all great points to keep in mind, not just for writers but for everyone and everything they do at work and in their personal lives. How have you and your work grown and changed over time?
KL: The two are inexorably linked. I don’t believe as a writer that I can change and my work won’t change, or vice versa. Whether that’s in positive or negative ways, or just in the gray areas. In my writing I’ve tried experimenting with different things stylistically, becoming more conscious of the use of language and what I can do with it – things like that. And as a person I’ve changed through experience and simply age. I’m trying to know myself better but that’s nothing new.
AA: Writing can be a challenge some days. What are some of your methods to stay motivated and creative?
KL: I love film so watching something well-written and beautifully visualized is inspiring. I read because that’s the best inspiration – reading good books. I don’t really spend time on books that don’t somehow resonate with me as a writer. I listen to music, investigate visual art. Read about the world or travel somewhere if I can. And I talk to my readers because their enthusiasm is really the best motivation. Mostly, though, I think discipline is more important than motivation and that’s something only the individual can nurture and implement.
AA: What do you do to keep a balance between writing and the rest of your life?
KL: It’s important for me to have a world outside of writing. Friends outside of writing. Interests outside of writing, even if those interests inevitably inform my writing. I am one of those people who’s interested in a lot so it’s not difficult. Spirituality is important to me too, because having a head only in the material world doesn’t fulfill me. It’s important for me to have an identity that doesn’t hinge on being a writer. Being a writer and loving to write is only a part of who I am – a large part, but still just a part. I dislike pigeonholes. Pursuing being a good human being, and understanding what it means to be human, is ultimately what it’s about and writing is a way of expressing and investigating that.
We’ll break here in our chat with Karin. Join us next time when she talks about inspirations, interests, and impacts.
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