7 Questions With Author Riley Quinn
Riley Quinn is a Canadian author and musician. He grew up in Western Canada, dividing his time between the Prairies, the Rocky Mountains, and the shores of the North West Coast. Writing has been a lifelong passion for him, and he has laptops, note-pads, and tablets filled with unfinished stories.
When he’s not writing, Riley can be found performing and teaching music in his community. He regularly volunteers as music director for his local High School’s competitive theatre program. Riley writes primarily Young Adult Fiction. His new novel, The Cove, comes out in the spring of 2020.
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Are you a plotter or a pantser?
I am—according to my editor—a ‘plantser’ [‘plant–sər] from Middle English plot + pants + suffix, ‘ser……and..ahem…um…yeah, it’s pretty much just the two words smushed together.
I plot in a very sporadic style, where plot points are often far(ish) apart, then I ‘pants’ my way between the plot points. I enjoy freewriting, but without some semblance of a plotline, I’ll end up with a 200,000+ word manuscript, which is apparently too long for YA! And on that subject, *digressing here* we need to abolish the length restrictions in YA. When I was a teen, I hunted for books that long!
How does a day in your author life look?
I’m most productive in the morning, so I typically start working around 7am. I’m also a music coach, which means my late afternoon and evenings are often spent in my studio or the nearby high school theatre where I volunteer as music director.
When I’m writing a first-draft, I throw as much time as possible into getting words on the page. I average 2000-4000 words a day, and when I’m not writing, my mind runs out ahead and scripts the next chapter.
Once the first draft is done, I leave it alone for six weeks, to ‘ferment’. Then I can approach it with fresh eyes for the second draft. During these weeks, I catch up on the odd-jobs I neglected while writing. Networking, marketing, updating my website, and video chatting with my editor, Fiona.
Finally, the months of edits are a balance between preparing the manuscript for publication and beginning to generate buzz for the upcoming release! Once I’ve polished the manuscript to the point where I’m ready to send it to Fiona for the serious edits, I get more time to focus on marketing and publicity, and that continues to ramp up until the release.
What’s your definition of the first draft?
For me, a first draft is somewhere between a skeleton and a newly constructed house (bizarre analogy, I’m very aware). Someone once gave me the advice to never look back while writing a first draft, just throw the words on the page and polish them later. I tried that, and ended up with a very ugly looking skeleton. The manuscript had holes everywhere, the dialogue was laughable, and nothing had any substance to it.
However! For the first time in my life, I’d completed a manuscript, so the technique did have some merit after all. For the next manuscript I wrote, I adapted the technique a bit. I slowed down and took the time to fill in the gaps, I made sure the dialogue was engaging before I moved on, I often even reread pages and made edits, but I never let myself linger too long. I reminded myself to continue forward, reach the end of the book.
When I did reach the end, I found something closer to a newly constructed house; without any paint on the walls or furniture inside, but a strong, watertight foundation none the less. The ensuing drafts were fun and effective, since a strong story was already in place.
This is the technique I now use for all my first drafts!
*And then of course, your editor will come through, ripping down walls and attacking your kitchen with a sledge hammer, but it’s all for the best, trust me!
What are some common stereotypes related to the genre(s) you’re writing in?
Strangely enough, that it involves horror. At every signing, the most common question is, “It’s horror, right?”
When the question comes from teens & twenty-somethings, I explain that it’s dark fantasy, so not really horror, but still strange and exciting. When the question comes from grandmothers, and is phrased like, *with unveiled contempt* “This isn’t that weird, creepy stuff, is it?”, I reply, “Not at all! It’s fantasy, just magic and stuff.” Lol.
Looking back, what advice would you give yourself at the beginning of your journey?
You want to be a writer? Finish a f@#*ing book! I started writing so many books, and then abandoned them because they weren’t good enough, or I got a better idea, or a thousand different reasons. If I could go back and give myself advice, I’d say be patient, stick with an idea, and you’ll finish it so much quicker than you realize. Once you’ve finished a manuscript, the rest will fall into place.
What should readers expect from your next novel?
A bigger, brighter world, far more dangerous and far more magical than the Darkwoods! Pirates, sirens, sea monsters…Leonardo and company are in for a wild ride and I’m so excited to share it with everyone!
What are the steps you usually take from writing your first draft to publishing?
It goes like this:
- Write 1st draft.
- Put aside for 6 weeks.
- Edit 2nd & 3rd drafts .
- Send to Fiona for extensive remodelling.
- Work with Fiona for several months to polish into a finished manuscript .
- At some point during the previous step, contact Dan, my cover designer, to begin brainstorming.
- Once the manuscript is fully edited, Fiona begins a round of copyediting (fine-detail grammar, dialogue consistency, etc).
- Typeset into trim size.
- Register ISBN’s and metadata, and upload files to printer.
- Receive proof copy to review.
- Send ARC’s to advance readers.
- Begin promoting like crazy (The promoting is a constant thing, but it becomes a bigger push here).
Find Riley Quinn here:
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And check out Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance if enjoy girl power, adventure & a toe-curling love story.
She just wanted to mope over her breakup but the universe had other plans for Zoey Mills.
Read the full blurb here.