February 2015 First Friday Breakfast with an Author

We are having breakfast with author Rebecca Lang. While other children played tag, Rebecca Lang spent her recesses reading novels in the clover. Knowing that she wanted to be an author, she created a Bachelor’s degree in Crafting Fantasy: Creative Writing, History, and Japanese, and immediately set off to Japan to have adventures of her own. After three years of teaching English, Rebecca returned to the United States to pursue her dream and currently works as a substitute teacher in Brea, California. 

The Changelings is the first book of her fantasy series Matthew’s Prophecy, which follows the course of the eponymous prophecy and the characters tangled within it, as they battle through revolutions, betrayals, and secrets. Her stories have also appeared in Ether Books and Daily Science Fiction.

For my breakfast, I’m having scrambled eggs, rosemary roasted potatoes, and an arugula salad topped with blueberries, banana, pecans and cranberry walnut olive oil. Rebecca, what are you having for your virtual breakfast? 

Most Fridays, I have English muffins with butter and blackberry jam and a cup of coffee, but on this special morning, I’ve decided to splurge. I’m daintily devouring Eggs Benedict smothered in Hollandaise sauce with a salad of mixed berries, while sipping caramel macchiato with an extra dollop of whipped cream.

I’m drooling! Tell us about your writing process from concept to draft to revision.

After inspiration strikes, it usually leaves me with a lot of unanswered questions. I might see a vivid scene, but I don’t know why it’s happening or where it’s going or what it means. So I write and write until I understand it. I’m what’s known as a pantser. I write by the seat of my pants and hardly ever outline. To me, half the fun is the discovery.

Once I have a rough draft, I read through it and make note of the good, the bad, and the unknown. If I have too many bad or unknown elements, I brainstorm by scribbling ideas into a cheap notebook. I may also research.

Next comes my radical re-writes. I simply open a blank document and write the chapter all over again. It sounds horrifying, but it’s actually the quickest way for me to revise. As long as I’m looking at old words, old ideas clog my mind. When forced to start over, all sorts of new ideas appear.

After 2-5 revisions, I have a pretty solid story. Now I start looking at the prose itself. Can the audience see what’s happening? Is anything confusing? Are there any words I can get rid of? Hard to believe, but I cut quite a bit out. My goal is to make the story as clear, concise, and clean as possible.

I am rather horrified with the radical re-writes, but I see your point about old ideas blocking revisions.  Now tell us about The Changelings while I whip you up a caramel macchiato.  Why this series, why now?  

Lang_Changeling cover_jpeg

In The Changelings, five fantasy creatures are transformed into humans as children. All but one grows up unaware of their dual identity. Matthew, the only one who knows his true form, is also the prophet who foresaw a horrific catastrophe unless the Changelings were made. At the start of the book, the prophecy, which has been dormant for seventeen years, begins to move again and the lives of the Changelings intersect in surprising ways. Not even Matthew knows how the Changelings will shape the course of the world.

When I began writing The Changelings, I initially wanted to deliver my own twist on a prophecy, making it fragile and unpredictable. But as I went deeper, the story really became about the characters and their journey into young adulthood. I wrote this as a college student just learning what it meant to grow up, and it’s my secret hope that my experiences will help others in the same boat.

What did you find fun/intriguing about writing this story and what was difficult?

I started writing The Changelings a few days after I turned nineteen, and back then, I really didn’t know what I was doing. Every time I typed a new paragraph, I’d get pummeled by problems on every side, from world-building to point of view to not knowing where the heck the story was going. The main problem, though, was that I hadn’t learned to trust myself. I was full of doubt and frustration.

What got me through the hard times was my main character, Sylvie. She was my rock, which is ironic, because she’s the one who grapples the most with losing her identity. Initially, Sylvie thinks she knows who she is, but as she sees more of the world, she’s forced to change. New aspects of her personality spring to light, and she’s not sure she likes them. I poured a lot of my own emotion into Sylvie’s journey, and it helped me figure out what kind of story I wanted to tell.

Eventually, I learned to let go of what I thought I ought to write and just let the story be. After that, it got easier. Yes, I still had to worry about world building, point of view, and not knowing where the heck the story was going, but I trusted that the problems would get resolved in the end. That made writing much more enjoyable.

Tell us about your next project and when it may be published.

For the past few years, I’ve been working on the sequel to The Changelings, tentatively titled The Originals, but because of the epic nature of the story, I still have a long way to go.

In the meantime, I’m finishing up a Middle Grade Reader called Three Floating Coffins that I plan to release in 2016. It’s my take on an original, fully fleshed-out fairy tale. A king, fearing one of the princesses harbors magic that will destroy his kingdom, casts his three daughters into the ocean in floating coffins. The evil princess will sink, while the two innocent ones will wash ashore. But youngest princess Odele doesn’t believe that will happen. She escapes her coffin and begins a quest to save her sisters which will uncover the dark secrets of her family.

I also hope to publish Company, a gentle YA paranormal romance about a ghost and an imaginary friend, by 2017, 2018 at the latest.

For lovers of epic fantasy, The Changelings is the book to buy now! I’ll be dancing in the aisles when Three Floating Coffins and Company come out. Thank you for visiting with us, Rebecca.  Let me pour us all another virtual cup of coffee.

Learn more about Rebecca Lang and her writing at:

Amazon link: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00RORNZJU

Website: http://www.rebeccalangstories.com/

Blog: http://www.rebeccalangfantasy.blogspot.com/

Happy reading …

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About mlknowlden

In 2011, I left engineering to write full-time. Between the years 1992 and 2011, I’ve published 14 stories with Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine that have featured the hypochondriac detective Micky Cardex and two stories that did not. The 1998 story “No, Thank You, John” was nominated for a Shamus award. Many of these stories have been included in anthologies and translated in multiple languages. With Neal Shusterman, I’ve also published a science fiction story for the More Amazing Stories anthology (Tor) published in 1998 and co-authored with Neal Shusterman an X-Files Young Adult novel (DARK MATTER) for HarperCollins in 1999 under the name Easton Royce. For Simon & Schuster in July 2012, we published an e-novella UNSTRUNG in Neal's UNWIND world. I have graduate degrees in English and Electrical Engineering.
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4 Responses to February 2015 First Friday Breakfast with an Author

  1. Rebecca Lang says:

    Thanks, Michelle. I’m honored to make it into the Friday Breakfast Club. 🙂

  2. Kaye Klem says:

    Sounds intriguing. I’m a pantser, too. My first two novels, I outlined chapter by chapter–which is good when you’re starting out. Then I realized with a general thrust of the story in my head, leaving room for serendipity to chime in makes the story better–those great moments when something you’ve just thought of or found in your research fits perfectly. Later I learned of the classic power of myth structure, and realized the novel I’d just written had hit every step. There’s a reason those are such satisfying tales–the human brain has been wired to follow them from the time of storytelling around fires in caves to today. A lot of the story is also in my head, of course, even if not outlined. It just give me more room to create. : )

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