From what I can tell, writing processes and patterns vary from author to author. And I have found every book is a different writing experience and a different challenge waiting to be conquered. Starting a new book for me is like starting from scratch, learning how to write this book, as opposed to the last. Maybe that is because I’m still new at being a novelist. But I imagine I will have books throughout my career that will cause me to feel inexperienced all over again, as I struggle to learn how to write that book. Maybe every book I write will make me feel this new a writer, and maybe that is what will keep driving me toward new stories.
Each time I start a new book I have to shake off one voice and world, and find my way into one that is new and unfamiliar, one where I don’t know the people or the rules. Sometimes I know very little at all. And so far I have struggled with being able to work on multiple projects at once, first drafting one book while I edit another, for example. I still write very much through the voice of a character, and I haven’t yet developed techniques for being able to shift quickly from one voice to another, and then back again. I found it nearly impossible to write a new book while in the revisions stage for Personal Effects, resulting in what was essentially a holding pattern between books. I know I will need to find ways to better shuffle the voices of my characters so that I can avoid lags by working on something new while finalizing a book almost ready for publication.
But for me, part of the joy of writing is starting fresh with a world and a character not yet understood. A first draft can be an adventure (and a struggle), learning and exploring as I write, to find out not only who my main character is, but even what the story is really about. I often don’t know the story’s core until I have a first draft, and sometimes not even until a later draft.
I imagine that with a series there are surprises and joys from every new addition to the series, from building a world and a character that you can stay with for several books. And I’m sure there are unique challenges of continuity and pacing and maintaining readers’ attention over time for series writers, too. But in my still-young career as a novelist, I’m enjoying the sometimes-scary challenge a new book poses, with its world to be explored and its process to be learned, every book an adventure waiting to happen. I hope I can continue to approach the challenge with excited anticipation over and over again, even as I get better about jumping from world to world and back again.
About the Book:
After his older brother dies in Iraq, Matt makes a discovery that rocks his beliefs about strength, bravery, and honor in this page-turning debut.
Ever since his brother, T.J., was killed in Iraq, Matt feels like he’s been sleepwalking through life — failing classes, getting into fights, and avoiding his dad’s lectures about following in his brother’s footsteps. T.J.’s gone, but Matt can’t shake the feeling that if only he could get his hands on his brother’s stuff from Iraq, he’d be able to make sense of his death. But as Matt searches for answers about T.J.’s death, he faces a shocking revelation about T.J.’s life that suggests he may not have known T.J. as well as he thought. What he learns challenges him to stand up to his father, honor his brother’s memory, and take charge of his own life. With compassion, humor, and a compelling narrative voice, E. M. Kokie explores grief, social mores, and self-discovery in a provocative first novel.