Good morning and good Friday, my cuisine hearts! It’s time once more to serve up a steaming hot review as well as spend some time in the kitchen with the chef behind the meal. Today, we break bread with Lori Alden Holuta, author of The Flight to Brassbright, book 1 of The Brassbright Chronicles! Let’s get down to it!
Please introduce yourself to my literary foodies!
Hi! I’m the support system for a cast of characters who can’t reach the keyboard without my help. The ‘real world’ insists I go by a name though, so I use the one on my driver’s license. That’s handy for reference in case I have an identity crises.
Do you do any work outside of the writing kitchen? Any non-work interests?
I spend my weekdays at a big-ten university helping students find jobs on campus, paying the bills, and eating all the jelly donuts in the staff kitchen.
When I’m not writing or hiding in the ivy-plastered halls of academia, I’m often… cooking! I’m addicted to sites like Yummly and the Food Network and I do a lot of experimental cooking. I host Kitchen Parties for myself and my cat named Chives. We set up the iPad, stream a movie and have a great time throwing food around.
I’m also a crafter, and I have the hot glue gun to prove it. Oh, and I socialize with other local Steampunks in the Mid-Michigan area and attend cons as I can, so I spend a lot of time assembling costumes and trying on hats.
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?
I’d love it if people grabbed a copy of The Flight To Brassbright. It’s my first novel. It sets the stage for just about everything else I’m writing. I have two more novels in rewrites that I hope to have published very soon – soon being a relative term meaning ‘as life allows’. At this moment, I’m also participating in NaNoWriMo, writing two novellas that delve into the backstories behind two of the characters introduced in The Flight To Brassbright.
What made you want to put on the chef’s hat and whip up your own books?
The voices in my head demand it. Besides that, I’ve loved writing since I was a young kid. I started with whimsical poetry that my teachers always seemed to think was good enough for the creative writing books my grade school produced. I wish I still had those. I’ve always dreamed of being published. I want something of me that’s still on people’s bookshelves long after I am gone.
Do you have a genre or specialty or do you dabble? Why?
Victorian era comedic steampunk. That’s a genre, right? Lighthearted Young Adult books are what I enjoy writing. Books with heart and adventure and a lot of silly stuff, that’s my style.
Style! Every literary chef aspires to have their own unique one! What do you think sets yours apart and why?
My puns! My sense of whimsy. My characters are usually happy, and their problems get solved by the end of the book. There’s already plenty of dark-fiction in the Steampunk genre, and I don’t feel inclined to do that sort of writing. I think there’s room for fun and joy-of-life in Steampunk.
Even the best of us find inspiration in the dishes of others. Do you have any literary inspirations, heroes, and influences?
Absolutely. Pip Ballantine and Tee Morris have created the characters of Eliza Braun and Wellington Books in their Ministry of Peculiar Occurrence series. I can’t get enough of them.
Then there’s Gail Carriger’s Parasol Protectorate and Finishing School series. I love Gail. Besides being my favorite role model, she’s a very nice woman who I’ve been lucky enough to meet. She’s shared meaningful, useful advice with me.
And I can’t forget Shelley Adina and her Magnificent Devices series. What a hoot. Shelley’s not afraid to go over the top, sometimes quite literally. I’m looking forward to meeting her at AnomalyCon in Denver next year.
There’s many authors that truly amaze and inspire me, but I’ve chosen to highlight these, since I feel we’re all writing in a similar sandbox, so their inspiration has a direct impact on me.
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?
I write in either first person or third person. Second person is just creepy. First person is great for exploring a character experiencing a change in their life. Third person is great for action adventures, I think.
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?
Put it this way: A friend once nicknamed me ‘The Wall Of Words’. I like words. I love eye popping descriptions, I like fanciful wordplay. Words are amazingly fun toys to play with.
Picking off the menu of base literary conflicts, what’s your favorite and why?
Internal conflict. I enjoy watching my characters find their way through life and grow in the process.
What do you think is more important to your recipes, plot or characterization? Why?
Characterization! If I’m not invested in a character, why should I care what happens to them?
We all know that the first taste means the most! What do you do to get that first bite hook with your readers?
That first taste is a challenge. I probably rewrite my opening paragraphs more than any other part of a story. I try to drop the reader into my protagonist’s situation, and give them just enough information to get them wondering what will happen next.
The most important of questions: Cake or pie?
Boston Cream Pie. That means I get BOTH. Nyah.
Finally, if you could give one piece of advice to aspiring literary chefs out there, what would it be?
Stop plotting and dreaming in your mind and pour it out into a document. If your story only lives in your brain, how can I read it too? Don’t be afraid to put yourself out there. The worst that can happen is you’ll learn what doesn’t work, and then you can improve. As long as your book is trapped in your head, you won’t improve or grow.