Tuesday, August 07, 2007
Interview with Caprice Hokstad
What inspired you to write this story?
AOL used to have a huge free-form roleplaying forum. That's where I caught the "bug" to write. It completely amazed me that anyone outside the group I actually played with were reading my posts and told me they looked forward to what I would come up with next. When the forum dissolved and all my story-weaving partners went their separate ways, I found I missed the creative outlet. If no one would write with me, I was going to have to write by myself.
It lost something without the interaction, but there's also more control when you do it alone. No more crazy twists that forced my characters into weirdness that didn't go anywhere, or went in a direction I didn't like. I also didn't have to wait on anyone else in order to advance the plot. My novel's hero was based on a roleplay character created by a brilliant writer named Rhoderick C. Hayes (Duke Vahn was adapted with his permission and blessing).
At first, the story was just kind of a way for me to extend the fun I'd had in the forum that died, and it was only going to be a novella shared with a few friends. But the more I wrote, the more it mushroomed until the idea became a trilogy and the story (in my opinion) blossomed into novel quality.
Who is your favorite character and why?
Hermione Granger. I see a lot of myself in her. Yes, I'm the nerd who would read ahead in the textbooks and read stuff that wasn't assigned, just for fun. And yes, I did, on occasion, find myself reading a big unabridged dictionary for hours on end. I'm not as likely to break rules as Hermione is though. I was always too goody-two-shoes for that. But I'm way too boring to make any kind of decent fiction character.
Oh, wait. You meant you want me to name which of my own characters is my favorite? You realize this is like asking a mother to say which of her children is her favorite. Didn't the story of Jacob and Joseph teach you nothing? At the risk of condemning my beloved child off to slavery in Egypt, I'd probably say Duke Vahn. Chivalrous. Handsome. Kind. Devoted father. What's not to like? But as I said above, I can't take full credit for Vahn.
How have your personal faith and beliefs influenced your story?
I think my faith shows in the themes. Jesus said the greatest in God's Kingdom would be the servant of all. My heroine is a servant. She's not especially beautiful or physically strong or even especially intelligent by our standards. There are a few other Christian themes running throughout, but I don't try to hit readers over the head with them. They're there if you look, but the story appeals to people of all faiths, or so I have been told by Wiccans and agnostics as well as Christians.
What was the hardest part of writing this book?
Accepting that some of my natural tendencies weren't best for the story. I originally wrote "The Duke's Handmaid" in totally omniscient point of view. After attending a writer's conference and hearing over and over that I could never sell it the way it was written, I finally broke down and rewrote the entire book. Now I didn't go so far as to make it what the commercial market prefers (Deep Limited) because I write very cinematically. My descriptions are written like a camera which can see everything, even things the POV character might not see. But I cut the head-hopping and limit the thoughts to one character at a time. Maybe someday someone will convince me that dropping the Cinematic POV for description is "better" but so far, I'm not convinced.
What was easiest?
Anything related to writing fiction is infinitely easier than anything related to promoting. Writes. Rewrites. Critiques. More rewrites. All of that is easy as far as I am concerned. But ask me to fill out an interview such as this and I am a fish out of water. I also don't particularly like writing query letters, synopses, proposals, or anything like that. Yes, I know all this promo stuff is a necessary evil, but it's still evil.
What's next for you?
I've just finished the sequel to "The Duke's Handmaid". The second book of the trilogy is called "Nor Iron Bars a Cage". It's a much longer book. My cover artist just finished and I'm letting my fans chime in on their favorite of the different color combinations for the front cover (
http://members.aol.com/hokstads/covers/ ). I am hoping to release "Nor Iron Bars a Cage" around September 15. I'm also working on a long-neglected study guide for "The Duke's Handmaid", a project I started a while back, but had to put on a back burner in order to focus on getting the second book done. Eventually, I'll be starting work on the third book in the trilogy, but with my less-academically inclined daughter in high school now, I may not have much time for writing. (I am homeschooling her)