Good day, ladies and gentlemen! It’s time to take a visit to the kitchen of another literary alumni of the Starving Reviewer process, the author of Death Defiant, S. Paige Reiring! You might also recognize the name as I am a fan and common reblogger of her Tropes of the Week articles. So, without further ado, let us begin!
Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
Hello! My name is Paige Reiring. I’m a senior student at The Ohio State University, and I’m studying English with a research distinction and minoring in creative writing. I’m a full-time student, so most of my life from September to April is dedicated to schoolwork and writing.
Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
Reading (obviously) is a big one, but I read everything from novels to comic books to manga. Basically anything that involves a good story. I love video games, as well, and I spend a lot of time playing them if I can or watching others if I can’t.
What is your latest dish to be served up? Are there any past pieces of literary cuisine you think we should take a bite out of?
Last October, I published Death Defiant, my first full-length novel. I’m currently working on the sequel to that, God Grounder. I hope to have it out by the end of November, so I would definitely suggest checking out Death Defiant before that comes out!
What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
I’ve been writing stories since I was a kid. My first story was about a man named Nicotine who was working for an evil sorceress in an alternate dimension. He murdered my parents, and I had to use the power of friendship to defeat him and the sorceress. I was writing a lot of horror as a kid, but having grown up, my work’s a lot more fantasy-focused (even if it’s dark fantasy like Spawn).
Do you have a genre of specialty or do you dabble? Why?
I love fantasy – of any kind. One of my works that I’ve been developing for the past few years is technically science-fiction, but I like to think it’s got a lot more fantasy in it than anything else. I’ve tried doing more realistic stuff, but it just doesn’t hold my attention like fantasy. I love doing world-building and culture-building, and sci-fi/fantasy really lets me explore those.
Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
I try to focus a lot on breaking tropes, clichés, and conventions commonly found in whatever genre I’m writing in. I love stories that defy expectations, so that’s what I strive for in my writing.
Even the best of us find inspiration is the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
For a long time, 1984 by George Orwell was my favorite book. I’ve read it several times, but now that I’m older, I’ve recognized some problematic aspects to it that have somewhat soiled it for me. Nevertheless, it’s been a huge influence on my writing and reading choices. Most recently, Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn has served as a huge influence. Same goes for A Song of Ice and Fire series. Both have made me put a stronger focus on the political aspects of my books, and I think you can see that a lot in Death Defiant.
Let’s get into the meat and potatoes: the art and craft of writing itself! Do you have a preference of points-of-view when you write?
Third-person limited. When I was younger, I role-played a lot, and that was often the only accepted way to participate. That’s seeped into my current preferences even though I don’t RP anymore, and I even have a hard time reading first-person stories because of it.
Sparse or wordy, how do you like your descriptions served up? Are you a Hemmingway man or do you like some saucy adjectives with your nouns?
Not quite the Hemingway sparsity, but I do prefer to keep my descriptions as short and to the point as possible. It’s actually been a complaint I’ve gotten from beta-readers that I don’t give enough description. I’m trying to find the perfect middle-ground right now, but I’m so distracted when I read lengthy descriptions that I try not to write them.
Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Human versus human or human versus pseudo-god. For me, nothing can ever beat the intricacies of human interaction.
What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
Characterization! If you make your characters interesting enough, they’ll turn even the most boring plot into an interesting one. However, plot, no matter how interesting, can make your characters better.
We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
Either I start with the inciting incident – the event that changes the status quo for my character – or I create a scene that introduces the world and something interesting about my character. This keeps things interesting and hopefully doesn’t bore anyone with cliché or nonsense descriptions.
The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
Let’s be real: you have enough room to eat both.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
Never stop writing. Write as much as you can, as often as you can. Don’t kill yourself over it, but don’t think you’re going to get any better if you don’t put in the work. Let people read your stuff. Let them critique it. Don’t take it personally. Always strive to get better.